Kirtan as an expression of bhakti
Kirtan, or any chants that praise God, are reserved for the expression of one’s bhakti. By chanting the maha-mantra, which is the great mantra for deliverance, composed of God’s names, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, we are trying to connect with the Lord internally, within the heart. In this sacred space of transcendental sound, we try to become present within the moment, to hear attentively, to sincerely call out, asking for service as well as purification. We try our best to sing for the pleasure of Krishna alone, thinking of the Lord, and in this way we beg for His mercy. Kirtan is all about re-establishing our relationship with the Lord. Good kirtan happens by the mercy of the Holy Name alone. We can only try our best to sincerely call out to the Lord (like a child calling out his mother) and it is up to Him as to whether He will appear to us or remain hidden.
Kirtan as the eternal spiritual practice
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has emphasized that the eternal spiritual practice will manifest itself through the medium of kirtan or through the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. In his books he writes how kirtan is the future “church” of the world and he describes how kirtan will invite all classes of men, without distinction, to the highest cultivation of spirit; namely the expression of pure love or prema towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It does not matter which country, culture or society we come from because the expression of love that comes from the heart speaks a universal language, understandable to everyone. To understand God, we no longer have to become yogis or yoginis, priests or nuns, detaching from the world in some secluded place. In fact, to understand God, we are simply required to chant the maha mantra with our heart and the best way to do this is through the medium of kirtan.
The kirtan course organized by Bhaktivedanta College is inviting you to explore this sacred place of transcendental sound. You will be given the opportunity to learn about the philosophy, history, mood and purpose of kirtan. As well as this, you will learn techniques for playing various instruments, all for the pleasure of the Lord. Lastly, the most important aspect of the course is that you will be provided with a safe and sacred space for meditation in order to explore the bhakti that already lies hidden within your heart.