Interviewer: Can you tell us a bit about what you have been up to since you left Radhadesh a few months ago? How has it been adjusting to “regular life” again?
Ananta: When coming home, I rested for a week. Ashram life is challenging and by staying on the 5th floor, going up and down many times every day, puts a lot of pressure on the body and the mind. I’ve lost a few kilograms, which is good. Looking forward to doing it again if the opportunity arises.
Interviewer: What was the biggest highlight of the Kirtan Course for you?
Ananta: Leading kirtan in front of Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha on Janmastami. I felt very nervous but at the same time I knew that the ice breaking would bring me a lot of success in the future.
Interviewer: Have aspects of the Kirtan Course changed the way in which you spend quality time with your family? Do you ever do kirtan together?
Ananta: Yes, we have kirtan evenings now every evening. Sometimes I sing for a while even during the Bhoga Offering. The kids play karatals as well.
Interviewer: How have you been able to incorporate what you learned during the course into your local devotional community?
Ananta: I help one of my friends with his Mantra Lounge here in Stockholm. Sometimes we drive to the temple and have a kirtan as offering.
Interviewer: How did the Kirtan Course help you further develop your relationship with the holy name? Have you found there have been changes to your sadhana since the course?
Ananta: Yes, of course. The chanting is increasing. Before we had only japa and sometimes kirtan and we clapped our hands. Now we do nice melodious kirtans, which sometimes last longer than planned. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Interviewer: You have quite the open-minded and humorous personality. How did this help you to inspire your fellow students during the course?
Ananta: Tough one… I encountered a few incidents caused by frustration. The tutors have put a lot of pressure on us to learn and practice a lot. My attitude was: let’s just take pleasure in learning the instruments and have some fun as well. People have different personalities and they are inspired in different ways. I always take it easy and go with the flow…
Interviewer: What is your favourite instrument? Have you found yourself continuing to develop your skills in certain areas of the practical aspects of kirtan since the course ended?
Ananta: My favorite instrument is harmonium. Since coming home from the course, I continuously learn new melodies. I ask devotees who have mastered the art of kirtan to teach me new things all the time. I must admit, it’s not easy and it takes a lot of practice and dedication. To be able to learn how to play the harmonium in order to make a pleasing offering to Krishna can take many years. It’s not just the skill; it’s the Bhava as well. Actually the attitude of having Nama Yagna is the most important, but the skill of the instrument completes the offering.
Interviewer: What is your favourite thing about kirtan and why?
Ananta: As we know, kirtan means the congregational glorification of the Lord. As I personally did, I used kirtan to engage people who were never, not in the wildest of their fantasy, would take to the chanting or listening of the holy name. Kirtan is a powerful tool, which knowingly and unknowingly connects people with Krishna. The real meaning of Yoga.
Interviewer: What advice would you give to future Kirtan Course students?
Ananta: Take the course seriously; take to your heart the teachings from the first week of the course, meditate always about the meaning of Kirtan, learn the instruments to your best ability and make nice offerings to the Lord. Srila Prabhupada says: Facility comes from chanting. By making this offer to Krishna by engaging your time, money, senses, mind and intelligence in learning how to sing His holy name your life will change forever and many wonderful things will happen in your life.