You ever have one of those weeks where everything just seems hard, even if some of what’s occurring possesses some elements of good?  Well, that is what this past week has been like for me. Work felt a little too hard, dealing with my moldy car (the back door is leaking and letting in the rain) seemed like it just might break me (I’m allergic to mold), meeting and disappointing family expectations seemed like a tragic train wreck … etc, etc.  BUT, in the middle of this hand-to-forehead-oh-my-good-gods-everything-is-too-hard week, the love of my life showed me great love and took me to something he probably wouldn’t choose as a way to spend his evening — a night of kirtan with Krishna Das, Deva Premal and Miten. 

For those of you who may not have ever experienced kirtan before, I think I will let Krishna Das’ very good words explain. Here is an excerpt from ‘Pilgrim of the Heart’ audio series by Krishna Das (which I highly recommend!):

“The words of these chants are called the divine names and they come from a place that’s deeper than our hearts and our thoughts, deeper than the mind. And so as we sing them they turn us towards ourselves, into ourselves. They bring us in, and as we offer ourselves into the experience, the experience changes us. These chants have no meaning other than the experience that we have by doing them. They come from the Hindu tradition, but it’s not about being a Hindu, or believing anything in advance. It’s just about doing it, and experiencing. Nothing to join, you just sit down and sing.”

There is something … primal and visceral about singing/chanting.  Humans have been expressing emotions and thoughts beyond common language for a millenia via music — whatever the instrument.  Musical expression is an amazing way to connect to each other and to places in our psyche we never get to access in our day to day lives.  And Kirtan adds a layer of being as it’s sung in Sanskrit (primarily) which is a devised language, a sacred language, a language of vibration.  Every syllable, every sound, vibrates within our bodies — physical, emotional, mental, and energetic.  So as one participates, as one repeats the chants, those chants can lift the individual past the mundane and move him/her into an ecstatic place of peace, joy and love. (Sounds pretty la la new agey, doesn’t it? But … you wonder… can *I* access that?)

I sat in the audience, as far and high back as one can get in the Somerville Theater, barely able to see the stage, feeling empathy for my large man (6ft and darn broad shouldered) who was squished into some tiny seating between me and the stereotypical hippy guy, and willing my heart to open to the gift of the experience.  I *needed* to be wrapped in love this past week, and voila! There I was, surrounded by it in its multi-faceted way.

As this isn’t a review website, I’m not going to wax poetic about the musicianship, or breakdown the logistics of Krishna Das’ new songs which combine traditional Sanskrit chants with his own English poetry or extol how ethereal Deva Premal’s voice can be, or even how fun it was to see and hear them all get funky closing the night with a blues tune. What I will say is that I sat there, listening to and chanting the Naam (Name) /Names of the ultimate Loving Presence — which lives inside us all — and I felt some hope. I felt some peace. I felt a moment of surcease in my pain.  And I realized that instinctually, I’ve been turning to yoga chants for several weeks and now with a couple new CDs bought at the kirtan concert, I don’t see myself ending that trend any time soon.  *grin* Anything that can transport me for even a few moments, is something to embrace.

“… And there’s nowhere else to turn.
Nowhere else to turn …

Bhaja Govindam, bhaja Govindam
My foolish heart,
My foolish heart,
My foolish heart…”

Krishna Das’ new song/chant embodied, for me, this night of kirtan and also what I need to remember when times get tough — Bhaja Govindam, which is “an exhortation to adore and love God” (from KD’s new album, Heart as Wide as the World)  because sometimes, there’s nothing to do but surrender.

Bhaja Govindam
Om Namaha Shivaaya

Om Shanti, Shanti, Namaste

Some Kirtan links:

3 Responses to “When there’s nowhere to turn … Bhaja Govindam”

  • Howdy there,Excellent article dude! i’m Fed up with using RSS feeds and do you use twitter?so i can follow you there:D.
    PS:Do you thought putting video to this blog posts to keep the readers more entertained?I think it works.Best regards, Stevie Celestin

  • Hiking_Yogini says:

    Thanks! Yes, I’m on twitter: hiking_yogini

    I actually haven’t thought about video …. interesting. What type of video content were you thinking about? Yoga instruction? Chanting? Something else entirely? 🙂

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