What is Kirtan?
In the classical Yoga system, Pratyahara is the methods used to draw the mind inwards. Kirtan (Bhakti) is Pratyahara, the fifth limb of the eight limb yoga practice. In Kirtan, we utilize the ancient language of Sanskrit, a language with a vibrational purity and a resonating power that is specifically formed in mantras.
Sanskrit forms the root of many a modern day tongue today. It is still a classical language in India and liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism. Sanskrit is one of the world’s most ancient languages and is derived from the same proto mother language as Latin and Greek, as so many of the words are common.
Mantra, literally means to be out of the mind to experience no conscious thought. Kirtan-style chanting can be a bridge between our outer and inner selves and an expression of our desire to know and love from a steady state within. The mantras are a recitation of the names given to Divine. The names have been created into lore and tale, icon and statue, archetype or emotional states of being. Before all of this interpretation, they were and still are, simply the names.
The music calls to the heart. The mind responds to the mantras. The power is inherent in the sound. If someone is totally present in the chant, the energy and power will be experienced and can awaken them into the Stillness within. Once experienced, the longing ceases. Repetition is a tool of the mind, which can help break through linear thought and reasoning. A chant’s length is determined in the moment and it has no real beginning or end.
What is the purpose of Kirtan or Sanskrit chanting? To speak of the purpose is to call forward an end point. Yoga is a practice. Kirtan and Sanskrit chanting is a journey. Meditation is not a static state.
Is the secret in the exact pronunciation of the words? Is it in the posture you sit in? Is it the intention you have during the experience? Is it the voice you bring forward? Is it the repetition or the amount of repetition? Is it prayer? Is it song? Is it chant? I invite you to discover your path here. When your cognitive mind ceases, when the words begin to burble out of you and they are your own and not a medley you have learned, and when gratitude, love and joy burst out of you; this is the beginning of Bhakti. Once this fire is ignited in you, it can not be quelled. In-Joy!