Kirtan is a practice where music and meditation are united through chanting ancient Sanskrit mantras to a melody. Unique and beautiful music is co-created in the moment. Chant and response begins a process charged with deep intention, which naturally unfolds into full and spontaneous expression of all participants.
Kirtan complements the practice of yoga asana beautifully and also offers relief and ease on a path of self reflection which can be tough at times.
Chanting might come easier to some than to others, but regardless of this, the aim is to tap into the source of voice within and to experience the beauty of authentic expression.
Sound is vibrational, it can penetrate and harmonise our very cells in a way that talking or other activities cannot, but it is often only by chance that this might be discovered. Kirtan is a very sure way to access this potential. Moreover, a deep silence can be found beyond sound, a space of connectivity that is truly universal.
As an introduction to Kirtan, it is good to start with simple mantras so as to remain relaxed with something new. However the meanings of even the simplest chants denote profound connection of the heart, love and unity. No prior knowledge is necessary.
Bhajans are formed of the repetition of mantra to a melody. This may be by one or many voices, but it is the intention and surrender which is most important. The mantras themselves denote in sanskrit the energies of particular deities of the Hindu culture. This literal description can be utilised in a western context but only when we allow ourselves to realise the universality of the meanings. Realise that all that is divine and thus depicted as an external form is actually contained within ourselves. Thus allow the essence of the mantra to permeate your cells as you sing, release a need for intelectual satisfaction and surrender to the heart.
Kirtan is the way in which Bhajans may be shared. Typically, one person will ‘lead’ the chant and an exchange of call and response takes place, allowing the call to the Divine within to be echoed externally and felt as we sing and then listen with our hearts. At other times the call becomes united and fully expressive, yet if a tender awareness is maintained particularly at the height of passion, the bridge between our hearts and minds may be revealed.