What is Kirtan?
What is Kirtan?
Kirtan is the practice of yogic chanting. The practice of kirtan is sweeping the world as modern musicians are flavoring traditional melodies and adding western instruments to the mix. The practice is one of the major divisions of yoga belonging to the Bhakti path. Bhakti means devotion, and refers to your path and daily activities that bring you back to Source in the Heart.
Through chanting we tap into the frequencies of compassion and let the enchanting melodies carry us away to states of Bliss and harmony. Think of rocking out singing when your by yourself… Your favorite song comes on and everything disappears, time stops and suddenly you find yourself holding the broom like its a microphone stand and your a rockstar (yep, you know you’ve done it). Bring a bunch of people together to sing their favorite chants (think 1 line simple songs), and Wham!… everyone’s a kirtan superstar! (Or at least they think they are…heehee).
Common Questions on Kirtan:
Bhakti Yoga & Kirtan sound like religious practices, are they?
For some people this is true. In general, all of practices of Yoga are non-religious and not tied to any particular beliefs or belief system. Yoga is about experience, and sometimes when people experience states of Oneness or Bliss from their practice or meditations they shift away from seeing their practice as purely a physical exercise routine, and begin to view it as an addition to their current spiritual development practice(s). The practice in itself is not religious or spiritual, but some people consider their individual experiences of the practices to be of a religious or spiritual nature.
I’m not hip on chanting things in a language I don’t understand, what if I’m saying something I don’t agree with… why not just use English so people understand?
Kirtan chanting is traditionally done using Sanskrit mantras. A mantra is a mathematical formula of vibration and syllable to produce a desired effect. The mantras used for kirtan chanting are meant to induce a state of peace and compassion. Of all the languages on Earth, two hold the most vibration in human vocal chords…Hebrew and Sanskrit. Most of the mantras that have been passed through time for the practice of kirtan are in Sanskrit. Sometimes kirtaniyas will mix in a few English translations to keep things fresh, but for the most part the call and response is done in Sanskrit.
Most of the mantras ask for guidance from Higher Self, or from one of the many expressions of the One God of us All. Bhaktas, a name for people who live a devotional path (ie. saints, swamis, monks, holy people ect.) believe that by repeating any of the Holy Names of God that you imbibe the qualities of the Creator. Different Names refer to different qualities.
Ganesha: Calls on the Creator to remove obstacles
Shiva: Calls on our Higher Self to Transcend limitation
Rama: Invoking Devotion to Service and Duty
Sita: Highest Devotion, Unconditional Love
Shakti, Kali, Durga: Reverence for Life, Creation, Manifestation
Hanuman: Unwavering Devotion to God
Krishna: Divine Love, Perseverance to fulfill our Dharma (purpose)