An Introduction to Kirtan

29 Nov

Kirtan is pronounced keertana in Sanskrit and keertan in Hindi. It means telling and repeating. This is a well-known practice for all kinds of yogic aspirants. The full name of the practice is naam san kirtan. Nam is the sacred name or mantra of the divine. From the yoga point of view, all names are divine. Mary, John, Joseph, Paul and Adolph all came out of someone.’s mind and those minds came out of creation. Creation has come out of the unmanifest dimension about which we know little except that it is an infinitely energetic, divine state.

In chapter 12 of a famous book on yoga called Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna: “Who is the greater Yogi; he who worships you as you in front of me here or you as you in your indefinable unmanifest state?” To this Krishna gives a reply, which solves the riddle that is still being debated today. He says both are correct and the worshipper of the invisible God in the unmanifest is The greater yogi but he is in for a difficult path. Krishna here has solved the problem: .“Is God manifest or is he transcendent?.” The answer is: both are correct.

Kirtan is the repetition of the name and we use a sacred name so that we can develop a relationship from the name. By repetition of the name we can come to an understanding of the Nature of God and we can develop a relationship with the divine and that relationship is called bhakti. Bhakti is often Translated as devotion bringing us into oneness with a God using any name and any form. Yoga says name is more important than God. Repetition of the Name is the practice. When one practices name repetition you could call it Naam japa and when a group of people practice with rhythm and beat it is called kirtana.

There are no rules for kirtan. You can do it on a full or empty stomach. Criminals, atheists, communists, Christians, Jews, agnostics and nonconformists all practice kirtan. Kirtan is usually sung to music. It is better if instruments like a harmonium, guitar, drum, manjeera, mridang, dolak or tabla are used. The only compulsory instrument to use is the human voice and hands for rhythm.

The system is call and response. A lead singer is selected who has practiced and remembered the kirtan giving a good line or two to the accompaniment of whatever instruments are there. Everyone repeats with one voice and clapping with one beat. Whether or not you agree with the practice doesn.’t matter. Simply enjoy the haunting melodies and united rhythmic beat and transcend your ordinary mind set for a nip or two of spirit. Let the process unravel your personal mind set by expanding to the group consciousness. Alternatively, sit out the process with the thoughts: this is boring, it is not my cup of tea, they.’re having fun but it is not for me.

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