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 3 Performing Kirtan (Cont'd.)

Kirtan--Natural, Joyful Consciousness

It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.--Shikshastaka

Transcendental Happiness
During Kirtan, the soul expresses its joyfulness by moving the body or dancing. It is not like a waltz, rock and roll or other popular dance. It is natural. We want to jump out of our bodies in expression of our joyful consciousness. Kirtan is not an exhibition of Zulu dancing or something fashionable. It is a pure expression of transcendental happiness.

In reference to Kirtan, Lord Chaitanya said:

I became mad! I did not care for any social convention. I was dancing and singing like a madman, without any consideration for social etiquette, fashion or convention. I thought I was going mad, so I went to My spiritual master and asked him, "What have you given Me? When I sing, I cry and I dance, and people think I'm mad, and I feel like I'm becoming mad. What is it?" And My spiritual master said, "Oh, this is good. This is a sign of love for Krishna. So You go on chanting and dancing."--Chaitanya-charitamrita

Free from Maya
Kirtan is not meant for pleasing the public; it is meant for pleasing Krishna. When we perform Sankirtan in the streets, we should exhibit for Krishna, unconcerned with making a show for the public. When babies see their mothers and father, they start making happy sounds, waving their arms, shaking their heads, smiling and drooling, with no consideration for anything. They are just overjoyed. We want to be like little children, dancing, feeling happiness, with no concern for social convention. Who cares for the people in the street? They are trying to make themselves believe the Kirtan is not there. We should not think about what they are thinking about us. That is maya, illusion.

Maya means to think, "What is he thinking about what I am thinking about what he is thinking?" Maya means that everyone is in a mental warp, in a web of mental anxiety. "What is he thinking? How do I look? Do I look nice?" As he is walking past a shop window, he is looking at himself. When we walk in the street and chant, we see that people are somehow or other trying to keep their profile. They really want to say, "What are you doing? What is that chanting? What is that singing? What does it mean?" But they are in too much anxiety. They are so frightened, because they are doing so many sinful things, and they don't have any knowledge.

Let others think what they like. Let them laugh or frown. Let the whole world go. It will go on without us . . . at least for one hour. The world will revolve without us. After we leave this body, the world will go on without us anyway. No one will miss us. Our body will become food for the worms, the birds and the dogs. Our dead body will become a rotting and horrible thing that nobody wants.

Exercise the Body and Soul
We are not so important. We are important only to Krishna. Everyone wants someone to care, but actually nobody cares for anybody but himself. People are just thinking, "What is he thinking about my suit, my tie, my briefcase, my shoes? Is my hair in place?" People are so bound up. Don't be bound up. At least one hour in the day, be on the transcendental platform. Have Kirtan, play the drum, cymbals and sing loudly. This is transcendentally beneficial.

Kirtan is beneficial for one's mental health and physical well being. It is better exercise than jogging, weight lifting or any other material sport. Kirtan includes deep breathing techniques. If we play the drum, we have to stand straight. We cannot play it bent over. When we play the drum and cymbals, we naturally do all those self-imposed, artificial, healthy exercises like breathing, jogging and so on. They are all included in Kirtan. Srila Prabhupada always told us, when someone was trying to practice yoga, "That's nonsense. Just have Kirtan." Everything is included in the Kirtan.

Nothing to Lose--All to Gain
Everyone should develop attraction for Kirtan. When we were younger, we learned to smoke and drink. The big kids would say, "You have to develop a taste for this." We would try it and get sick, nauseated. We didn't want to show it, but afterwards we would walk somewhere and throw up, because it was so awful. But we saw all the big guys, our parents and everybody we knew smoking and drinking, and we saw it on television.

We were taught or conditioned to engage in obnoxious, nasty, filthy rotten habits. We took our role models from the TV, the movies, our father, older brother or the big kids on the corner. Although we learned to smoke and drink, there is no bliss in smoking and drinking. One thinks, "Oh, I'm part of the group now." But his conformity has made him one of the many bums and derelicts, hippies and freaks.

Now we should learn that this is the wrong direction--"I have to give up obnoxious habits that make me miserable and learn this Kirtan." As we learned to do nonsense, so we must now learn to do the right thing, the Krishna conscious thing. We don't simply give up maya, the illusion of material happiness; we must replace maya with transcendental activities like chanting Hare Krishna, playing drums and cymbals, dancing and singing with joy. One loses nothing, and gains everything.

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

©2004 - Hansadutta das
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