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from: Narayani
Category: Chanting & Mantra

What is Kirtan?


Kirtan is the call and response chanting of Sanskrit names of the Divine, led usually to melodious music. It is often called Bhajans which is a broader term meaning devotional song. It is a practice to open the heart and is often thought to be the ‘Yoga of the emotions’ as it helps us to transform negative emotions and connect with the silence and peace within.

Sound has an unbelievably powerful effect on us, and Sanskrit is a powerful language that resonates on a deeper level than most languages. It is said to be the most ancient language in the world and closest to the primordial sounds, or sounds of creation. So singing Kirtan can be an a deeply purifiying practice, transforming negative emotions and stilling the mind. When the chant ends and the whole room drops into deep silence and stillness, for a moment, maybe just a split second, you can feel the peace that lies within.

Kirtan is a practice of Bhakti Yoga, which is the yoga of devotion. like all yogas, Bhakti yoga is a practice aimed to unite the individual soul with the universal or supreme conciousness, through devotion. It is often considered to be suitable to those with an emotional nature, and is considered to be one the easiest practice of this time to achieve the state of yoga.

The are many stories that are associated with the Mantras and Kirtans I sing, but I find the best way to understand Kirtan is to experience it. Experience how it effects your body, your mind, how the different chants have different effects and how you feel at the end. This takes the practice out of the mind and straight to the heart. Because of the power of Sanskrit you do not need to understand the words to enjoy it. Its all in the experience!

I discovered Kirtan while living in an ashram in upstate New York. I was doing my yoga teacher training when not only did I discover the power of Kirtan but also of my own voice. It was 2004 and every student had to lead a chant during the early morning Satsang. I was terrified until I began to sing and saw that people loved my chanting. I went on to join the staff, leading the Kirtan almost daily in the Satsang and every time I sang people complimented me. It began a wonderful journey with singing, Sanskrit and Kirtan!

Since then I have been leading Kirtan Concerts through out the UK and Europe and have released two albums. My latest is Maatri Sharanam which has just been released this month and is available on

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