“The song of voice is sweet, but the song of the heart is the pure voice of heaven”
Kirtan or mantra chanting is a very ancient group spiritual practice where everybody can participate. The wallah (leader) sings the mantra and the audience sings it back. As you sing with each other you experience a deep connection with the musicians, the other audience members and yourself. And when the music stops, your mind is quiet and your heart is content and joyful!
Singing is the heart of Kirtan and it doesn’t require any preparation or any singing skill. We just need to open our hearts and the power of the music and the mantra do the rest.
I still remember when, many years ago, I went to a meditation center. I was very new to meditation and didn’t know what devotional chanting meant. There I met the coordinator of the group and we spoke a while about our Guru’s teachings and all of a sudden, he said: “Come with me”. He took me to the meditation room where they were reviewing some devotional chants. I didn’t know why he brought me there and I didn’t know what was happening. But as I sat there and I started to sing those “strange” songs I started to feel my heart opening and I felt very joyful!
It was the beginning of a wonderful practice that would become, along with yoga meditation, such an integral part of my sadhana (spiritual path).
Later on, while living as a monk in the Self Realization Fellowship ashrams for 20 years, I started to sing in kirtans (devotional gatherings accompanied by musical instruments) and I felt the power of chanting even more because as we chanted all together we became one mind and one heart pointed towards the Divine.