Deep in pranayama, I can hear the soothing melody sung by Jai Uttal, world’s renown kirtan singer. The deeper I go in my inhalation and for every exhalation, the melodious kirtan followed naturally, giving a sense of tranquility, spiraling in the heart with such incredible passion, tenderness, surrender that one is left transformed and sanctified.
Jai has been leading kirtans worldwide for over thirty years. ‘These ancient chants,’ writes Jai, ‘contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.
What is kirtan?
Kirtan is food for the spirit, a life raft of song.
Kirtan is the calling, the crying, the reaching across infinite space – digging into the heart’s deepest well to touch and be touched by the Divine Presence.
Kirtan is singing over and over the many names of God and the Goddess, the multi-colored rainbow manifestations of the One. It is said that there is no difference between the name and that which is being named, and as the words roll off our lips in song, the Infinite is invoked, invited, made manifest in our hearts.
Kirtan is part of an ancient form of Yoga known as Bhakti, or the Yoga of Devotion. But in Bhakti we redefine ‘devotion’ we expand the meaning to include every shade of color in the palette of human emotion, turned towards God through song, dance and worship. These chants have been sung for millenium by sages, sinners, devotees, and the great primordial yogi alchemists of old. And, as we sing, we touch the spirits of the millions of people across the centuries who have sung the same songs and cried the same tears. As we sing, we immerse ourselve in an endless river of prayer that has been flowing since the birth of the first human beings, longing to know their creator.
Kirtan is for all people. The practice itself is the teacher, guiding us to ourselves. Kirtan teaches itself by allowing us to enter into a mystery world, and we allow ourselves to expand into the mystery.
Some of Jai’s albums full of joyful Kirtan to celebrate your life with: