The Philosophy of Kirtan [download PDF]

What is kirtan?

"I don't know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections, or the beauty of innuendoes. The blackbird whistling, or just after."
— Wallace Stevens

Mantras quiet the mind, and music frees the heart.The intention of kirtan is consciousness-transformative, directing the singers to vanish into the song as drops merge into the ocean. The musicians and the crowd coalesce in a cloud of intelligence, turning together like a flock of birds, until the song itself vanishes into the skies of silence.

Kirtan (from the Sanskrit word for singing) is easily learned and instantly memorable. The form is simple: a lead group calls out the melodies. The crowd responds, clapping and dancing as the rhythms of tablas, finger cymbals, harmonium, tamboura, electric bass and guitar build and accelerate. The mantras are projected overhead, making them simple to follow.

Sanskrit is the mother tongue of many modern languages, and a kind of periodic table of elemental sound-meaning. The mantras are primarily recitations of names given to the divine. But perhaps the true understanding of the mantras can be found in the sense of unity, well-being and timelessness that they elicit. Ecstasy is both the process and the product.

"Listen friend, this body is his instrument. He draws the strings tight, and out of it comes the music of the universe."
— Kabir

Qu'est ce que le 'kirtan'?

Exubérant, poignant, et transcendant, le Kirtan est le mariage entre le mysticisme des instruments traditionels de l'Inde, l'intensité du gospel, l’improvisation du jazz, et l'energie du rock. Le mot kirtan est issu du Sanskrit et signifie chanter.

La forme est trés simple: un groupe dirige en chantant les melodies, l'audience repond tout en applaudissant et dansant aux rythmes des tablas, tamboura, harmonium, et d'autres instruments comme la guitare qui parfois accelère et augmente le rythme. Les mantras sont projetés, ce qui rend le chant facile a suivre.

Le kirtan est une extension naturelle de la pratique du yoga au travers duquel on se retrouve regèneré. le processus, aussi bien que le résultat du chanting est tout simplement extatique!