Kirtan is a style of chanting, used in Hindi cultures for 500 years but now seeing growing popularity especially in the US. It’s a “call and response” style of chanting, meaning you “follow the leader” and don’t have to know anything about this style of music to participate and enjoy. It is said to have been introduced in the US in the 1920’s, when Paramhansa Yogananda (Author of Autobiography of a Yogi) chanted with 3,000 people at Carnegie Hall in 1923.
Kirtan is a devotional practice but not about religion. The phrases are traditionally sung are in Sankrit, but today you’ll also hear chants in English, Hebrew, Native American languages and more, I’m sure. Singing kirtan is a type of meditation keeping your “busy brain” occupied and allowing you freedom to explore depths within you. Rather than seeking for answers outside of ourselves, this and other meditation practices encourage you to explore the answers within.
The following is an excerpt from ‘Pilgrim of the Heart’ audio series by Krishna Das:
“The words of these chants are called the divine names and they come from a place that’s deeper than our hearts and our thoughts, deeper than the mind. And so as we sing them they turn us towards ourselves, into ourselves. They bring us in, and as we offer ourselves into the experience, the experience changes us. These chants have no meaning other than the experience that we have by doing them. They come from the Hindu tradition, but it’s not about being a Hindu, or believing anything in advance. It’s just about doing it, and experiencing. Nothing to join, you just sit down and sing.”
Do you wish to find a way to calm, de-stress and find more peace in your life? Yeah, I think that includes most all of us 😉 Have you tried seated meditation but found your mind just babbles on? Think you can’t meditate? Perhaps you just haven’t found the right style of meditation, yet. Explore kirtan if you have the opportunity and I’m hopeful you’ll find a bit more peace and have a lot of fun.
As always… have fun!