A Kirtan is where you sit or maybe dance among your spiritual brothers and sisters in the group, in praise of the Divine. The leaders of the kirtan (a practice of celebrating the Divine presence within each of us), are playing instruments. You hear the harmonium, tabla drum, violin, and tingshas. At this moment, you truly embody how it feels to be alive. Unquestionably, you are One with Source. Most likely, for the first time in your life.
Sound and Mantra
Kirtan is about using sound and mantras (sacred sound formulas) to purify the mind, body, and spirit. This word originates from the Sanskrit root “kirt” or “kirti.” Subsequently, many spiritual traditions mention this practice. Bhakti Yoga is the name of this practice. Paramahansa Yogananda, a Bengali saint. was an early proponent of kirtan in the west, chanting Guru Nanak Dev’s “Hey Hari Sundara” (“Oh God Beautiful”) with 3,000 people at Carnegie Hall in 1923.
Kirtan is often practiced in conjunction with storytelling and acting performances. The subject matter is usually of religious or spiritual context, but may also cover mythology or current social matters. Usually, there is chanting among all of the attendees of the kirtan. “Om Namah Shivaya. (I bow to the Self.)” is the most popular chant. “Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu. (May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” Is another very well know kirtan chant.
Kirtan is Devotion
The devotion symbolizes our relationship with our Higher Self and our connection to God/Goddess/Source/Divine Intelligence. Our voice creates automatic pranayama (balance of vital energy). Basically, this purifies the mind and emotional body as we repeat these divine names. Chiefly, this develops devotion to the sacredness inside us, we feel a stream of connected energy. This energy flows effortlessly between ourselves and the Divine Intelligence.
Kirtan is not restricted to groups or live music. It is practiced anywhere, at any time. All one must do is focus on a mantra, silently or verbally. Then remain focused on these sacred words and sounds for a period of time that feels right. If you only have a few minutes, give yourself that time, no matter what your Ego tries to tell you.
Connection To Self
Some days all you can give yourself is 10 minutes. You find that purified space is created for mind, body, and spirit to be nourished. Every moment counts, every action creates karma. Hence, by committing to your spiritual practice of kirtan, you are deepening your connection to yourself. Ultimately, oneness with the Universe is experienced. Practice silently while standing in line at the grocery store. Try this loudly and proudly while driving to and from work in your car. Practice, practice, practice. Unquestionably, you are on the right path.
Ultimately, the true power of kirtan has nothing to do with how skilled a particular performer is tho. At its essence, the practice is about your own inner focus or bringing together people of all backgrounds while facilitating a shared spiritual experience in which all can earnestly cry out for God’s love.
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