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40 DAY Kiirtan Samkalpa, DAY 3 – Inspiration from Prakash

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This morning I had a beautiful conversation with Prakash from Boston Region in the U.S.A. Prakash has taken up his own kiirtan challenge and I asked hime to write about his experience. So here it is:

Namaskar Liilamaya

Wonderful to talk with you this morning about our inspiration from Kiirtan and spreading this more and more!
Here are my thoughts after 5 weeks of doing 1 hour a day of kiirtan.
On February 13th I began thinking about doing something to recognize my 40th year of meditation. I was initiated on June 19 1971 – so June 19 2011 will be my 40th anniversary of meditation!
I remember sharing your wife Nandini’s inspiration to do more and more Kaoshikii – 20 minutes a day – and decided I would like to do 1 hour of kiirtan a day up till June 19th (at least!)
As much as I love Kiirtan – especially at retreats and group meditation and in the past several years playing Kiirtan as a DJ at Dance Spirit and finding people inspired by the power and spirit of Baba Nam Kevalam – I often found myself doing short kiirtans or skipping kiirtans in order to have time for my meditation. On reflecting of my years of sadhana and hundreds of retreats – I realized that many of my most powerful spiritual experiences happened as part of kiirtan. The answer was to take an Oath do do an hour a day of BNK – singing and dancing! I have been very happy with the experience of this.
Here is what has helped me:
I have all of my kiirtan music (from in my Itunes – on my Ipod and Iphone – and I have created playlists of my favorite kiirtans.
In the first few days of this I would play a favorite kiirtan and sing along (I am not a musician). Sometimes I would use earphones but quickly found that it was much better to use only one earbud so I could hear myself sing! After I while I found it worked even better to play a kiirtan song for 1-2 minutes till I was confident with the melody – and then turn it off and sing on my own. When I got tired of that tune I would advance to a next song on my ipod or iphone .
I’ve also created a 30 minute alarm on my Iphone – but this can also be done on the Ipod or computer.
Kiirtan Selections –
By far my favorite kiirtans for dancing have turned out to be Prabhat Samgiita kiirtans – from Soja (Egan Amar, Diipavali) Jyosna (Sakal Maner – from Unity Hours II, Tiny Green Island) (Nayaneri Tara Tumi – Journey Within), PS Kiirtans from Down Under Three (Australia & Dada Nabhaniilananda), Anjali (Tumi Amar Kiirtan – Garland of Love Album)… and others

After several weeks I often don’t need to play music at all as I remember so many of these tunes – I still keep my Iphone/Ipod available so I can see the names of my favorite Prabhat Samgiita kiirtans – then start singing the first line of the PS song and switch to BNK. I’ve added more PS tunes on my own that I now – such as #1 Bandhu He.. #80 Svapane Eso

I’ve found my voice has gotten stronger – sweeter after singing more and more – I have even on a few so far invited people to join me doing kiirtan for 30 minutes (mostly acapella) – or maybe just for 15 minutes.

How do I find time – perhaps my meditation is a bit shorter as I don’t meditate until I’ve done 30 minutes of kiirtan But meditation is much better – more concentrated after 30 minutes of kiirtan.

I would love to have many more simple kiirtans – i.e. – solo kiirtans – voice/guitar voice/keyboard or drum or harmonium – recorded in 5 minute sections – simple MP3 files
Inviting our favorite (well known and lesser known) margii musicians to record 5 minute kiirtans – without all the complexity of studio recordings – multiple tracks, musical introductions/interludes – etc – that are wonderful for performances – recordings – but not as effective at teaching – inspiring margiis and friends how to sing kiirtan more and more – on our own and with others – even when we dont have musical instruments
We can call this Series – You Are Never Alone Kiirtans!!
I also invite margiis from all over the world to record kiirtans to their favorite Prabhat Samgiita kiirtans.
If everyone who can records 5 minute tracks of their favorite kiirtan tunes – sends to Brother Liilamaya of Soja Kiirtan – he would create a weekly podcast of favorite kiirtans that margiis can download and be inspired to do more and more kiirtan
These could also be sent for posting on Innersong – people could download their favorite solo kiirtans – perhaps paying 99 cents (or less?) to support the artists – or AMURT/EL projects around the world – and we could all create more and more playlists of kiirtans that are
to inspire us to do more and more kiirtan – individually and with others

In His Divine Dance
– Remembering – Dancing in Bliss is Seeing Everyone We Dance with as the Beloved!!


6 responses »

  1. Prabhat samgiita kiirtan tunes I always find, are the best for early morning (paincajanya) and late at night times. There is something subtle about thier vibration that seems appropriate for those times of day. In fact, I just now went and looked up Ravi Shankar’s website and here is what he has to say about the way that Indian spiritual songs are organised (I have cut out a few bits for sake of brevity):

    Indian classical music is principally based on melody and rhythm, not on harmony, counterpoint, chords, modulation and the other basics of Western classical music.

    The system of Indian music known as Raga Sangeet can be traced back nearly two thousand years to its origin in the Vedic hymns of the Hindu temples, the fundamental source of all Indian music. Thus, as in Western music, the roots of Indian classical music are religious. To us, music can be a spiritual discipline on the path to self-realisation, for we follow the traditional teaching that sound is God – Nada Brahma: By this process individual consciousness can be elevated to a realm of awareness where the revelation of the true meaning of the universe – its eternal and unchanging essence – can be joyfully experienced. Our ragas are the vehicles by which this essence can be perceived.

    Ragas are extremely difficult to explain in a few words. Though Indian music is modal in character, ragas should not be mistaken as modes that one hears in the music of the Middle and Far Eastern countries, nor be understood to be a scale, melody per se, a composition, or a key. A raga is a scientific, precise, subtle and aesthetic melodic form with its own peculiar ascending and descending movement consisting of either a full seven note octave, or a series of six or five notes (or a combination of any of these) in a rising or falling structure called the Arohana and Avarohana. It is the subtle difference in the order of notes, an omission of a dissonant note, an emphasis on a particular note, the slide from one note to another, and the use of microtones together with other subtleties, that demarcate one raga from the other.

    There is a saying in Sanskrit – “Ranjayathi iti Ragah” – which means, “that which colours the mind is a raga.” For a raga to truly colour the mind of the listener, its effect must be created not only through the notes and the embellishments, but also by the presentation of the specific emotion or mood characteristic of each raga. Thus through rich melodies in our music, every human emotion, every subtle feeling in man and nature can be musically expressed and experienced…

    In addition to being associated with a particular mood, each raga is also closely connected to a particular time of day or a season of the year. The cycle of day and night, as well as the cycle of the seasons, is analogous to the cycle of life itself. Each part of the day – such as the time before dawn, noon, late afternoon, early evening, late night – is associated with a definite sentiment. The explanation of the time associated with each raga may be found in the nature of the notes that comprise it, or in historical anecdotes concerning the raga.

    In terms of aesthetics, a raga is the projection of the artist’s inner spirit, a manifestation of his most profound sentiments and sensibilities brought forth through tones and melodies. The musician must breath life into each raga as he unfolds and expands it. As much as 90 percent of Indian music may be improvised and because so very much depends on understanding the spirit and nuances of the art, the relationship between the artist and his guru is the keystone of this ancient tradition. From the beginning, the aspiring musician requires special and individual attention to bring him to the moment of artistic mastery. The unique aura of a raga (one might say its “soul”) is its spiritual quality and manner of expression, and this cannot be learned from any book.

    It is only after many long and extensive years of “sadhana” (dedicated practice and discipline) under the guidance of one’s guru and his blessings, that the artist is empowered to put “prana” (the breath of life) into a raga. This is accomplished by employing the secrets imparted by one’s teacher such as the use of “shrutis” (microtones other than the 12 semitones in an octave, Indian music using smaller intervals than Western music: 22 within an octave): “gamakas” (special varieties of glissando which connect one note to the other), and “andolan” (a sway – but not a vibrato). The result is that each note pulsates with life and the raga becomes vibrant and incandescent.

    Hope you enjoyed that shortened explanation. I loved the last bit personally – which was why I put it in italics.

  2. PS
    All the tunes at my site are available for free to everyone. “Kiirtan Fusion” album is already at Innersong, available as a freebie. I hope the other albums from my site will soon be uploaded there for free distribution too.
    An upcoming album “Heart to heart” is a collection of simple home-recordings of various little-known Margis and their lovely new tunes with just their voices and a guitar. It will be dedicated to fundraising for AMURTEL Haiti…
    So, your dreams are rapidly coming true and I’m soooo glad they are so similar to mine. I guess it’s Cosmic Mind that dreams them through us, right?!

  3. Ba’ba’
    Dear Prakash, namaskar!
    If you get a chance, please, check out the kiirtans at my web-site

    In the section Music you may find a whole bunch of tunes that might be just what you are requesting: simple recordings of a voice and an instrument (mostly guitar).
    The tunes with piano are all waltzy and really suitable for a waltzy type of moves – hope that would not be too difficult when you are on your own…
    Sorry, no PS tunes (yet).
    By the way, I am also all for a-capella singing and am happy you’re also discovering the joys of its simplicity and power!
    All the best to you and Liilamay and every kiirtan-lover out there.
    By His Grace,
    Didi A’nanda Arpan’a’

    • Namaskar – Cosmic Grace! Less than 30 minutes ago and BEFORE I read this blog post and your comments I was on your website and downloading your music into my Itunes!! I definitely enjoy the simplicity of the kiirtan music you have on this site as it makes it much easier to sing along with. I see that Jyosna was also singing on the most recent album!
      In His Dance!! – Prakash

      • Ba’ba’
        Namaskar, dear Prakash, not sure if you will ever see this, nevertheless – great, I’m so glad you’ve found it and enjoyed it. Please, feel free to forward and share wherever you like, any time you wish to give a free gift to someone – here it is.

        The album with Jyoshna was actually the first one… for some reason in this section of my site the latest posts are at the bottom.
        It was only after being able to clearly hear my own voice on the kiirtan tune there that I’ve figured out Ba’ba’ really likes me to sing at least as much as I like to sing for Him. Not sure how to express that, but I’ve rediscovered what I’d really like to do the most in my life, and hope the de-tours here and there won’t distract me for much longer: Kiirtan, here I come!

        Thanks Jyoshna for bringing the mic along and getting us all around it in a non-fussy, supportive and fun way – it was a real pleasure to record that little album with a bunch of friends on Didi Ananda Prama’s MU in Ireland, just like that, out of the blue… and get a ball rolling.

        Wish you and all the fellow singers and dancers all the best, by His Grace,

  4. Reading this inspires me to go and sing some prabhat samgiita kiirtans 🙂


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