Monday, September 01, 2008

the Art of Kirtan : a Revelation

"Perhaps the most ambiguous genre of dance music, Trance music could be described as a melodic, more or less freeform style of music. While there is no strict definition for trance, songs of this genre are usually characterized as being accessible and having anthemic and psychedelic qualities. The best way to generally describe the trance genre is that of dance music based around rifts and anthems, which can be either highly energetic or very chilled out."
- wikipedia

Now, whenever I listen to Trance music which I do quite often, it always reminds me of the similar psychedelic effect that the Kirtans or for that matter the Qawwalis of our sub continent produce on the listener.

By repeating simple mantras over and over, faster and faster, the kirtan is an easy way for people to experience some freedom from the daily chatter of the mind. And while it is true that we can sing these chants in the solitude of our own home, there is nothing like the magic of chanting live with musicians and hundreds of participants - from kids to seniors - all adding their energy to the chant. People often say they feel 'buzzed' for days following such a chanting experience.

So what gives us that buzz ?? Something about the kirtan experience goes beyond the music itself, goes to a deeper experience of vibration. We all resonate at different frequencies, and these frequencies change according to what we are doing and thinking. So when we are all doing the same thing - chanting, breathing, and moving to the same rhythms - our vibrations begin to synchronize and the resulting experience is very powerful. So even if you're having a truly rotten day, it may be difficult to hold onto those feelings during the chant experience. If you were only to sit in the room without participating, the idea is that you could still feel the shift. Something happens - the energy begins to activate the spirit that exists within us all.

Although the kirtan involves music, the underlying art of kirtan chanting is not actually about musical ability or training - it is about the heart. Everyone can participate, regardless of age or cultural background. The purpose of this music is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts. Typically, the songs can last for 20-30 minutes each with a few moments of silence in between each song so you can soak it all up. The longer songs allow for deeper experience of the effects, and with the simple, repetitive lyrics (it's a chant, after all !!) we really don't have to think much about the words.

In fact, because the ancient Sanskrit lyrics are not familiar to many of us, these words take us away from the mind's constant chatter a little easier. The powerful healing and transformational energies of these ancient chants can help to reconnect us to the Ever-Present and Eternal Being that lies within us all. All the mantras, melodies, and instruments of kirtan are designed to lead us toward this meditative state.

We provide floor seating in the traditional style of kirtan events in India (and yes, we also provide chairs for those who prefer chairs), and this living-room style music experience allows people to sink into themselves, to relax and ground themselves during the chants. Most of us spend the day in our heads, running here and there, thinking about where we have to be and what we have to do next. The kirtan gives us a time to come back to our center. And when this happens, beautiful things begin to unfold. Feelings of inspiration, peace, and a sense of connectedness are common experiences.

Kirtan helps the mind become quiet, and when the mind quiets, we can begin to perceive the mystical things, the sacred experiences, that are around us always. In the silence between the songs, when the song stops, you can feel something. And that something is you. There is no greater experience than the experience of one's Self. And that vibration is always within you, that vibration is you. That's the beauty of any chant experience - with little or no effort we can experience and enjoy the vibrations of peace, energy, healing and inspiration that are always within us.

' Siya Ram mai sab jag jani,
karahun pranam jori jug pani
- Tulsidas

Listen to this mesmerizing invocation by Jai Uttal on 'kirtan' and what it means to him :

Jai Uttal - An Introduction to Kirtan :  (Download)

Listen and live in peace !!

Excerpts courtesy : Ragani

1 comment:

Kedarnath M said...

Thank you for your great effort in helping us enjoy the bliss of music.

Religious music like Bahajan, Kirtan also has its own appeal and I appreciate your foray into this too. Looking forward to more on the KIRTAN

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