Why is Kirtan so important, and how can I do it?
Origin of Kirtan
Bhakti-yoga recommends kirtan as the most effective means for awakening the soul’s blissful spiritual nature, and reconnecting with the Lord. Such reawakening returns the successful practitioner to the spiritual world. There, according to the Bhakti tradition, the Supreme Lord is glorified with joyous singing and dancing. Although kirtan is an eternal principle in bhakti-yoga, it was Caitanya Mahaprabhu who brought kirtan to the masses 500 years ago.
What Is Kirtan?
Traditionally, yoga cannot be executed in a public place, but insofar as kirtan—mantra-yoga, or the yoga of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is concerned, the more people present, the better. This participation in kirtan, in the public chanting of the names and glories of God, is very possible and actually easy in this age; but as far as the meditational process of yoga is concerned, that is very difficult. (Extracted from The Perfection of Yoga)
Kirtan is the call and response form of chanting that characterises the Srila Prabhupada’s Hare Krishna movement. Kirtan usually offers a journey deep within the very heart of our soul. Kirtan is also an essence to yoga that links one with God.
In Bhagavad Gita As It Is, one of the world’s foremost yoga texts, Arjun noted that yoga and meditation are not easy for many people. That is where the kirtan comes in. Lord Krishna said that of all the yogis, those who have immense faith in Him and worship Him, are united intimately with Him the most in the form of yoga through kirtan.
What Is the Structure of Kirtan?
At a public kirtan, one person can chant the Hare Krishna mantra, while a group listens, and at the end of the mantra, the group can respond, and in this way there is a reciprocation of hearing and chanting.
This can easily be performed in one’s own home, with a small group of friends or with many people in a large public place.
According to Prabhupada’s principles, a good Kirtan lasts for half an hour to forty-five minutes. The first half of the kirtan tends to be slow then it takes speed. It speeds up to a crescendo in the last ten minutes. In public programs each party must consist of seven men, which are, two mrdanga, four karatalas, and one dancer. One of the karatala players needs to be a lead singer.
Basic instruments to be used during Kirtan
Kirtans are mainly performed with mrdangas and karatalas. The main motto of Kirtan is to spread Krishna consciousness.