There are no external barriers to kirtan: people from different genders, ages, races, cultures and belief systems all around the world drink this nectar everyday.
Sound vibration has a powerful effect on our daily experience of life. We can clearly notice this difference in both mood and mind when we listen to various sounds. An angry Death Metal song can invoke a very different emotional experience to a gentle flute solo. Similarly, we feel inspired and can think clearly when surrounded by the natural song of the birds; a contrast to the stressed and anxious mind being swept along in the hustle and bustle of a downtown city.
Modern lifestyles have made it difficult to immerse ourselves in positive sound vibration,especially in the cities. Thankfully there is a solution in the form of mantra meditation, an ancient yoga practice. The literal meaning of ‘mantra’ is to ‘free the mind’. When we focus on these sacred sounds, we soothe the body, mind and soul, and gradually quench our inner thirst for a peaceful blissful existence.
Mantra meditation can be done alone or in a group. Its form can range from a simple chant to an exquisite melodic song. There are no external barriers to mantra meditation: people from different genders, ages, races, cultures and belief systems all around the world drink this nectar everyday.
Mantra meditation is a great way to let go of your worries, deeply explore your inner world, derive inspiration, express yourself and have a whole lot of fun at the same time. Try it out for yourself.
The easiest way to get started is through kirtan or group chanting. Kirtan is a form of mantra meditation where the leader sings and then everyone else responds.
Try listening to a kirtan intently. Whenever the mind wanders, bring your attention back to the sound of the mantra. For a more powerful effect, sing along in the response with as much energy as you can muster. The more you do it, the easier it becomes (and the more powerful the experience).
Below are some of my favorite kirtan videos. If you want more, search for ‘kirtan’ on YouTube. Taste the kirtans until you find a singer who resonates with your soul. Feel free to send me some of your favorites too and I will add them to the site if I dig them.
My favorites are:
Aindra Prabhu (Amazing. Search Youtube for many different kirtans by Aindra. You won’t be able to get enough.)
Madhava (very gentle and sweet kirtans)
Bhakti Lata (Very soothing)
Jahnavi (Divine says it all)
Gaura Vani and friends (I’m a big fan of the Back Bay Yoga recordings. These guys have a lot of fun with kirtan. Serious but jolly).
There are hundreds of other talented kirtaneers out there waiting for you. And if you have the opportunity to take part in a kirtan in your local area, jump at it. If not, grab some musical instruments (or clap your hands) and have your own kirtan with family and friends (use an online recording to help while you build the confidence to lead). There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Here are some great websites for developing your Kirtan skills:
1. KK Songs
A great resource for learning traditional kirtan instruments such as the khol (mrdanga) and the harmonium, as well as a collection of Vaishnava bhajans (songs of worship).