The purifying power of the Name of God is mentioned in almost every spiritual tradition. In Yoga, Kirtan is the practice of singing and repeating the Name of God (in both male and female aspects), as well as using descriptive phrases or divine attributes.
The word Kirtan comes from the Sanskrit root “kirt” which means “to name, to communicate, to celebrate, to praise, to glorify.” Bhajan, another form of spiritual music in the yogic tradition, usually refers to singing prayers or hymns rather than the repetition of God’s name. Its root, “bhaj” means “to worship, to revere, to love.”
Kirtan is a devotional practice and an important aspect of the path of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. In the Ashtanga Yoga system, Kirtan is categorized as pratyahara (methods which draw the mind inward). Kirtan can be seen as a bridge between our outer and inner selves and an expression of our desire to know and love God within. Concentration on the different names, the meanings, or the ragas (melodic structures) increases the focus of the Kirtan.
For some, finding out the translation and meaning of the Kirtan enhances concentration and devotion, while others prefer to dwell on the name itself or on the raga. Concentration and focus are important aspects of singing Kirtan. To this end, closing ones eyes, clapping, and listening intently both to the song and to changes in rhythm can help. Rhythm carries the energy of the Kirtan; if the group is in sync, Kirtan is enhanced and the atmosphere becomes charged with spiritual energy.
Kirtan, then is a method of attuning ourselves with God, whatever inner meaning that has for each of us. As in any spiritual practice, what we bring to Kirtan will determine what we receive from it. If concentration, aim, feeling, rhythm, and repetition of the name of God combine, Kirtan can be raised to a level that may carry the minds of all involved to a higher place, where communication becomes Communion, an offering and a True Prayer.
Kirtan is nectar. Kirtan is singing God’s name. It is the easiest, surest and safest way for attaining connection to God. May you attain connection through Kirtan.
Please join Punnu’s Kirtan every Sunday night from 7:30 – 9:00pm at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali.