Wednesday, March 13, 2013

So, what the heck is KIRTAN? by Julie Pasqual

So, what the heck is KIRTAN??
            Regular students might have noticed that every few months there is a notice about something called kirtan.  Or that some of the teachers, like me and Patrick pull up this thing called a harmoniun and chant/sing words in that sort of bizzare language called sanskrit.  You might be wondering, "What's up with that??"  While I often say that there is no real way that I can ever describe in words what kirtan truly is, I recently heard the best short explanation that I have ever heard - that kirtan is taking what is in your heart, and expressing it, fully, deeply, beautifully.
          500 years ago or so, a man named Sri Chaitanya took the chanting that, up until then, was reserved only for certain learned scholars and holy men, and quite literally took it to the streets - to the people.  These chants were all the names of the Divine, the Universal Spirit, - which means they were ways of saying, "Love, Peace, Bliss!!"  We all know the power of music to influence our heart, our mind, and our moods - I mean who doesn't have that song that just makes them feel like singing in public places, or that tune that we go to when we feel like the world "done us wrong".  Music is universal, it says things that cannot be expressed any other way, it gives wings to our emotions and thoughts. And so, when Sri Chaitanya (whose birthday will be celebrated all over the place the weekend of March 22-23) say, "Hey, Learned Guys, let's share these words with everyone", the kirtan "revolution" was born.
           He, and some of his friends took drums and bells, and literally danced and sang their way down the streets, and people who had long heard of such things were finally welcomed into this world where words of love were allowed to flow from their lips.  They felt their hearts open as these words "danced on their tongues".  It didn't matter if they could sing or not - any more than it matters that we don't care that we are not Adele when we are belting out tunes in the shower - it was the emotion, the feeling that counted. And because in  this language they used called sanskrit, it is thought that the word or name for a thing, is the same as the thing itself, when they called out the names of love and peace, those things were actually appearing right there besides them.
        Like I said, I am not foolish to think that I can EVER fully explain what kirtan is, but this is my humble introduction to the notion of what a kirtan holds - the words, and the vibration, of the trues,t most deep and loving parts of our hearts - coming from hidden inside of us, to dancing on our tongues - and maybe, like Sri Chaitanya did, dancing in the streets (or at least in the safety of a yoga studio!)    

Julie teaches: 
Monday Bhakti Basic 6:30pm
Friday Power Flow 5:00pm  

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