What is “Kiirtan”?
Sounds and music affect our minds in powerful ways. Yoga uses the power of sound and music to elevate the human mind. One such Yogic practice is called Kiirtan. Kiirtan is the singing of a spiritual mantra aloud while “ideating on” (thinking about) the Supreme Being.
The Mantras used in Yoga are from the Sanskrit language. Mantra literally means “that which when contemplated upon leads to liberation”. The power of mantra is based on the yogic law: “As the mind thinks so it becomes”.
In Ananda Marga Yoga, the mantra used for practicing Kiirtan is:
Baba Nam Kevalam
Here, “Baba” means “Infinite loving Consciousness”, Nam means “essence” or “expression” and Kevalam means “only” or “everything, hence:
“Everything is an expression of One Infinite Loving Consciousness” or
“Everything is Infinite Love”
The practice of Kiirtan has many benefits. By singing, hearing and thinking about the mantra “Baba Nam Kevalam” the mind becomes introspective and moves from the physical and mental planes to higher levels of consciousness. By deeply ideating on (thinking about) Infinite Loving Consciousness, ultimately the mind will become Infinite Loving Consciousness – as the mind thinks, so it becomes. This is Yoga (Union). Kiirtan plays an indispensable part in attaining Union.
”That which makes the mind soft and strong and strenuous, so it may keep itself in a balanced state even in the condition of pain – that which perpetually creates a pleasant feeling within, is called love.” Shrii Shrii A’nandamurti
Curing mental ailments
As well as helping attain “Union”, kiirtan also helps cure many psychic ailments such as depression, anxiety, shyness, doubt, guilt, jealousy and shame. By cultivating feelings of love, kiirtan increases empathy and deepens one’s sense of welfare for other people and living beings. When many are gathered together in singing Kiirtan, the whole environment gets vibrated with spiritual waves.
The dance of Kiirtan
Kiirtan is usually accompanied by a simple yogic dance. The arms are stretched above the head in a gesture of celebration of infinite Love and the feet step side to side in a rhythmic movement with the big toe coming in contact with the floor. Pressure just below the tip of the big toe activates subtle channels in the body that ultimately stimulate two glands in the brain – the pineal and pituitary glands – which release hormones that help elevate the mind. It also loosens the joints in the knees making it easier to sit in meditation! 🙂