What is Bhakti Yoga?
Bhakti yoga is the yoga of spiritual devotion, vibration, yoga of the divine love. It is one of the six branches of yoga, which represents the way to love. Bhakti in sanskrit means a happy and generous love to God, a love like that one from a father, a mother, a son or a friend, a love from your heart.
Bhakti means devotion and loving attached to Divinity. Strictly speaking, the word denotes “participation” (from the verbal root “to participate, to take part”). The yogi or yogini in the devotional path takes part in literally the Divinity through surrender, devotion, service, worship and finally it is involved in mystical union with the Divine.
What is a kirtan?
A kirtan is a part of Bhakti Yoga that consists on singing devotional mantras. Songs that are aimed to the heart of each of the attendees. So we could say that a kirtan is a song to the heart. By chanting we dissolve our tensions and get to our hearts, where love resides.
Another feature of kirtan is that, although there are musicians and the audience, songs are sang mostly all together. They are recurrent songs and attendees often known them by its recurrence, or the songs are quite repetitive like ballads, so they are easy to follow.
What songs are sang in a kirtan?
Mainly we sing mantras. And what is a mantra? The word mantra, is broken down into “Man” mind and “Tra” which means “through”. Mantras are songs that sing to life, hearts, souls, your inner being. Sometimes they also sing to the gods, to the principles that unite us as as human beings. Religion, culture or beliefs are not at all a matter of interest. In a kirtan you can sing the Our Father who are in heaven or a Ganesha song other sing to Your innerself. Through your voice you connect with your soul and your heart and souls and hearts of the group.
Why we gather to sing kirtans?
Through the voice we express ourselves and we are free. No matter what you say, the mind comes out, there is not analyzing. It is your soul, your heart who speaks without fear and expresses itself. At the end of each mantra, through repetition your mind gives you room to enter into meditation.
Is there shouting in a kirtan?
We would say there is not shouting, but rather there are expressions of joy, ecstasy, overflowing emotions, passion, freedom, fullness. Kirtan music transforms yourself. So do not be afraid. Let yourself go and enjoy without judgment. Then you decide if you want to stay or even try again!
Are all kirtans the same?
I’m sure you already know the answer. Each kirtan is different, as each kirtan makes up a different group. The energy of each participant enriches and brings to the group. Sometimes one feels that gets a lot and other times he/she has energy to contribute to the group. It is a group activity and that makes it richer and beneficial for everyone. A group of women, men, youngest, oldest, children, teenagers, adults, … the difference of the individual enriches the group and makes every kirtan unique. The harmony created between all hearts involved enriches all participants.
Interesting data of a kirtan
- Usually it lasts about two hours, although there are all day kirtans, 24 hours special celebrations, …
- The origin of the kirtans is in India.
- The main instruments of kirtan are the harmonium, sitar and tables, but the flexibility of yoga is also present in their instruments. So depending on the culture of the musician that integrates his / her own instrument.
Try it, after a kirtan you get home with a heart full of love and joy. If you’ve tried yoga asanas and you are still impressed on how is it possible that you have changed so much. Try the kirtan. You will see that the sound goes far beyond your heart. Where there is love, the ego dies and fear vanishes.
A simple mantra, the Maha Mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama,
Rama Rama, Hare Hare