Kirtan is a practice involving the singing of devotional hymns or mantras in a call-and-response manner to the accompaniment of musical instruments. It is a form of Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion) that has the power to purify the mind and open the heart. This form of devotional chanting has roots that go back over 500 years to India. Singing is accompanied by musical instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed mrdanga or pakawaj drum, and kartal hand cymbals; while participants are encouraged to chant, dance, or clap along.
One of the early proponents of kirtan in the west, Paramhansa Yogananda, led a group of 3,000 people at Carnegie Hall in 1923 in chanting Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Hey Hari Sundara ("Oh God Beautiful"). Kirtan has become more common with the spread of Gaudiya Vaishnavism by ISKCON's founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the 1960s, and currently kirtan continues to grow in popularity in the West, with singers of Western kirtan including Krishna Das, Bhagavan Das and Jai Uttal as well as Snatam Kaur, Lokah Music, Deva Premal and Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits. Yoga centers report an increase in attendance at kirtan, and according to Pure Music’s Frank Goodman, kirtan, like the unpredictable rise and rejuvenation of the many forms of yoga in recent years, is everywhere now and there is a growing number of people flocking to the kirtan scene.
Human relationships can be very complex, superficial and dysfunctional at times. Many are beginning to recognize the mental, emotional and physical suffering that results from an exploitative approach to relationships. Thus we are all in much need of healthy and satisfying alternatives for enjoying ourselves and connecting with others. We all want to experience happiness instead of distress, forgiveness instead of judgment, freedom instead of bondage, and love instead of fear. This is only natural. The congregational chanting and dancing of kirtan, provides us this opportunity by bringing individuals together in a spirit of joining, enabling us to transcend the mind and body, and to enter into an experience of love and unity. By turning from our selfishness to an attitude of selfless service we can experience the beauty and the glory of God in kirtan. The Holy Name of God is said to be non-different from the Supreme Lord Himself. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.13-9.14) Krishna states that great souls worship and glorify him single-mindedly. These souls are always chanting the Lord's glories. Kirtan gives us the chance to come together for a higher purpose and glorify Krishna; a process which will transform our material desires and bring about real fulfillment.
Kirtan House is a site dedicated to the propagation of the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of God.
Kirtan House is a house in which the whole world can live.