Shri Rama

Hindustani devotional music is based on Ragas and shares many elements with it. Those which create a participation with the audience or congregation rather than being a solo performance are called Kirtans or Dhuns. They are  simple unlike Bhajans which allow the presentation of a great poetic creation by sages saints and artists in song and music. The Kirtan just picks up one or two phrases in praise of the avatars or the supersoul (Param atma) and through a repetitive chant seeks to arouse ones spiritual emotions to levels of ecstacy and communion. Another feature of the kirtan is the echoing repetition of the leading chant by the congregation or audience following the master or Guru. This dual rendering adds volume richness and fervour to the chant creating a mesmerising effect. Kirtans are sung in temples before the diety on festivals and even without one, at village gatherings, and in urban areas by religious organisations for the devout. Often the mystical mood of communion is enhanced by singing the chant in a Raga which empowers the event with divine emotions and fervour.

It is quite interesting how this form of devotional music has travelled to the West. Today a modified version of the Kirtan with phrases in praise of Rama and Krishna has become popular in the English speaking world. A prime example is the HAREKRISHNA movement started by the sage Prabhupad. their signature Kirtan is Hare krishna Hare rama, rama rama krishna kreishna These sessions arouse a great devotional ardour in communion and worship even when the audience is not Hindu. A prime example is that of a pioneer who has adopted the name Krishna Das. He is a Jewish resident of long Island who happened to travel to India and was deeply influenced by An indian Guru. The Guru asked him to return home which finally he did reluctantly. Then to overcome his failings and addictions when in deep depression he sought to seek solace in Kirtans and found relief. Following this he began composing Kirtans which became popular on the media with a growing following. Some of his works earned him a nomination for the grammy awards. and today he is a celebrity and leading light in Kirtan presentations and participations.

When i posted an essay on the Classical North Indian Raga system of music which is often etherial and having to do with communion, I was asked if kirtans were in any way related to this traditional musical system. I replied in the affirmative. Because of this growing esoteric devotional growth of Kirtans in the West I thought I should present an album which in my view epitomises the spirit of the kirtan and helps in understanding why it has this amazing captivating quality which carries you to ethereal and mystical heights of communion. I was so deeply moved by it framed in Ragas and hypnotic praise of the Godhead that i felt compelled to share it with those who had been effected by the concept of kirtan in finding solace and communion of a rare intensity. Like all kirtan music it seeks to praise the great Avatars  and seek ecstatic communion with them . This album is sung by the great musical masters of Hindustani classical music which greatly enriches the experience with their sonorous voice and technique. I hope all in the East and West will find something extraordinary in it both for the Raga music, the chants and the fact that it seems to move our very souls in participation and worship.

This is being shared from YouTube This melodic theme is in raga Jhinjoti, a famous melodic structure that takes you immediately into communion. Some listeners have been moved to tears by its emotional power of love for the absolute.