- …Drink in the nectar of these Holy Names
- Let Your heart be captured
- and opened to the flow of the transcendental ecstasy
- of Prema, Love of Godhead
- fulfill the deepest, most ancient longing of your soul
- to serve the Supreme Truth, Love and Beauty…
- beyond even the heavenly realms of liberation
- there is a land of pure, unalloyed love
- and unlimited, unwavering devotion
- where everything is eternally resonating in the highest harmony
- this is the true destination of your soul,
- the ultimate abode of your heart
- let these sacred sound vibrations awaken your divine awareness
- and guide your way home…
What is Kirtan?
Kirtan is a sanskrit word, originating from ancient India. Kirtan is the congregational chanting of God’s Holy Names. Usually there is a leader who sings solo the name or phrase, then the participants repeat in unison. The most traditional form of kirtan is done with just the mrdanga drum, kartals, and voice, but now there is much blending of and experimenting with instruments from different cultures to accompany the singing, especially in the west. One of the most popular modern kirtan instruments is the harmonium.
Kirtan is one of the principle activities of bhakti yoga, the path of devotion.
Bhakti Yoga, one of the main branches of yoga, is a spiritual practice for realizing divine union with God through devotional activities directed towards one’s deity of choice. It is considered the highest pursuit of God (quickest, easiest) and self realization, with a message of tolerance and love, accessible to all.
The devotees’ love, affection and worship flows out through their relationship with a personified Supreme God or Goddess, and/or a Guru (spiritual teacher) representing a divine lineage.
Although originating in India, bhakti yoga incorporates a number of universal principles also common in other world religions, such as singing God’s names (as in kirtan), hearing scriptures, and being engaged in selfless service.
In the Hindu traditions, popular dieties are Radha, Krishna, Shiva, Shakti, Sita, Rama, Kali, Durga, Ganesh, Brahma, Vishnu – some of them actually having been real historic figures, others exisiting only in the spiritual world (of Hindu cosmology) . In western spiritual tradition, devotees of Jesus are also practicing bhakti yoga as they seek a personal, eternal relationship with him, sing of his glories and engage themselves in selfless service and worship.
Kirtan is performed in many ‘Hindu’ traditions – in the worship of Lord Shiva, Shakti, Kali, Divine Mother, in Sikhism, etc. – in Gaudiya Vaisnavism it is considered one of the most important devotional activities. (see glossary for explanation of terms)
In Jaya Lakshmi’s kirtan, many of the chants and songs are dedicated to SriSriRadhaKrishna and the Maha Mantra, but other forms of the One Supreme are also honored, such as Lord Shiva, Sita Rama, and Divine Mother.
People of all faiths are welcome to take part in kirtan – it is basically an ecstatic meditation in which we celebrate the divine qualities of and experience union with our beloved creator.
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become my devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, speaking to Arjuna, in the Bhagavadgita 9:34)
“It is said that there is no difference between the name and that which is being named, and as the words roll off our lips in song, the Infinite is invoked, invited, made manifest in our hearts.”