Kirtan: Ancient Medicine for Modern Man
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das

Kirtan: Ancient Medicine for Modern Man

By Hansadutta das

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Chapter 1

God's Name

Kirtan--The Holy Names of God

O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda.--Shikshastaka

What is Kirtan?
Kirtan is singing and dancing to the holy names of God. Chanting the holy names of the Lord in the form of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare has been especially recommended for liberating the people of this fallen age of Kali, the age of darkness, quarrel and dissension. In spite of technological advancement, people in this age of irreligious, sinful, short-lived, always disturbed, impatient, impious and forgetful. Most of us born in this age are generally lacking in spiritual qualifications. Therefore a special concession has been given for this age to make self-realisation simple. That concession is Kirtan, chanting the holy names of the Lord.

Kirtan does not cost anything, and it can be performed anywhere--it is available to everyone. One can have Kirtan at home with his family and friends. One can sing God's names in the factory, in the office or on the street.

Kirtan is the most fundamental practice for reviving one's spiritual life. It is recommended in the Vedic scriptures, the world's oldest spiritual books, that one should chant this sixteen-word mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is called the maha-mantra. The word mantra is very popular, but most people do not know the meaning. Maha means "great," man means "mind" and tra means "to deliver." Therefore maha-mantra means "the great mantra for delivering one's mind from material contamination." For thousands of years this mantra has been used successfully. In this chaotic age, everyone should take shelter in the chanting of the holy names of God.

God has a Name
There are innumerable eternal living entities, but amongst them, one living entity is the leader. As the leader of the American citizens is the president, the leader of all living entities is commonly known as God. As the president of the United States is an individual and has his name. Bill Clinton, similarly, the leader of the living entities--the Supreme Eternal known as God--is called by the name Krishna. In one sense, God has no name, because He is unlimited. Therefore, the names which are indicated to address the supreme living entity, such as Krishna, Rama, Jehovah or Allah, are unlike mundane names like Tom, John, Bob or Harry. God's names have actual meaning. The names of the Lord are descriptive of His qualities and are identical with Him in every way.

God's chief name is Krishna, because that name is all-embracing or most broad. Krishna means "the all-attractive one." God attracts everyone, either directly or indirectly. Rama means "the source of all pleasure." Vishnu means "one who lives everywhere." Jehovah means "all powerful," and Allah means "all merciful." God has millions of names, which can be used or vibrated to appeal to Him.

Christ was not a Catholic, Methodist or Episcopalian. Christ said, "I am the son of God, and whatever I do, I do it on behalf of my Father in heaven." Similarly, God is not Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Muslim. God is God, and everyone is God's servant.

It does not matter which name of God one chants. One may chant whatever name of God is indicated in the various authorised scriptures of the world, such as Jehovah, Allah or Krishna. Chanting any one of God's names is acceptable. Generally, people have no idea what God's name is. They simply say "God." Most people think of God as something impersonal or void, incapable of reciprocation or expression, formless and ephemeral. Those who accept God as a person are at a loss to understand how to serve or love someone they know nothing about.

The Spiritual World
We can be happy only when we re-establish our lost relationship with God, the Supreme Person. God must be a person, because we are created by Him, and we are persons. The creator of so many persons must also be a person. But unlike us--the small, insignificant persons who are rotting in this material condition and struggling to enjoy sense gratification--God is eternal and not bound by the laws of material nature.

The entire history of the world is an affirmation by surrender or rebellion that God exists. One side is trying to establish the existence of God by worship, glorification and surrender, and the other party is rebelling against God and denying His existence. The faithful devotees are always attempting to establish God's laws, and the demoniac atheists are always attempting to conquer the laws of God. But the central point is always God.

Vedic literature gives detailed descriptions of the name of the Supreme Lord, His form, His activities, His qualities and His place. The president of the United States, the supreme head of state, resides in his place, the White House, Washington DC. He can have his place anywhere; nevertheless, his place is particularly in the White House. Similarly, God also has His place--Goloka Vrindavan. The spiritual sky beyond this temporary material sky is full of innumerable Vaikunthas or spiritual planets, just as in the material sky there are sun, moon and so many stars and other planets. In the material sky, the planets are temporary, created and destroyed at some time. The planets in the spiritual sky, however, are never created or destroyed at any time. The topmost planet in the spiritual sky is known as Goloka Vrindavan, or Krishnaloka. This planet is the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

In this age of darkness, the whole human society is in ignorance about the spiritual sky, the innumerable spiritual planets and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. Few people are aware that God is a person or what kind of person He is. Everyone is absorbed in a constant struggle to maintain the temporary material body, not knowing that to understand and glorify God is the perfection of human life. Thus everyone is always full of anxiety and various misfortunes.

The Power of Sound
Kirtan means to praise God and simultaneously awaken the sleeping, conditioned souls, who are in ignorance of their spiritual nature. As a sleeping man is awakened by mundane sound, similarly the soul is awakened by transcendental sound. Sound penetrates a man's dream and arouses him to consciousness. The materialistic men of this age can be very easily awakened from their dreaming, sense-engrossed condition by loudly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, accompanied by cymbals and drums.

The chanting of Hare Krishna not only awakens the sleeping, conditioned souls, but it keeps those who have already awakened awake, so that they don't fall again into the sleep of ignorance, the sleep of maya, illusion. As long as we are in this material body, the tendency is to forget Krishna.

Lord Chaitanya, who was Krishna Himself appearing in India 500 years ago, predicted that in every town and village on the face of the earth the chanting of Hare Krishna would be heard.

Chanting Hare Krishna is not something new, manufactured by a yogi, swami or guru. The Sankirtan movement, or the congregational chanting of the holy name, is recommended in Vedic literature. In this literature there are many references to the process of chanting Hare Krishna as the means of deliverance for the people of this age.

Contents | Foreword | Shikshastaka | Preface | Introduction | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 . . . Next | Previous
About the Author | Supporting References | Glossary

Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

©2004 - Hansadutta das
Chaitanya MahaprabhuChaitanya Mahaprabhu

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