THE ‘BLISS OF KIRTAN’: TIPS FOR LEADING KIRTAN AND FOR DEEPENING YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THIS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
Calling all bhaktas (lovers of the Divine)! In this workshop we will dive deeper into the ecstatic devotional form of chanting that is namasankirtana, better known as kirtan and a central component of bhakti yoga (creating Union with the Divine through Devotional Love). We will address some basic elements in beginning to lead kirtan, including the voice, instruments, pronunciation, chant selection and other practical aspects. We will also explore ways for all to deepen their experience of kirtan and some of the benefits of incorporating more kirtan into your sadhana (spiritual practice). And of course we will chant. Recommended for all kirtan lovers as well as those just curious about kirtan.
Natesh has been chanting in this tradition for over 30 years, having first connected with kirtan in late 1979 in the Oakland Siddha Yoga ashram of Swami Muktananda (Baba) and diving deep into the experience of kirtan and other Siddha Yoga practices there and also at Baba’s South Fallsburg ashram and temporary ashrams in Miami and Santa Monica. For several years in the early 80’s he played guitar regularly for chants at the Oakland ashram, well known in Siddha Yoga at the time for the ecstatic chanting there.
Natesh became a devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi, (Ammachi, or Amma) in the early ‘90s following a powerful dream in 1990 in which he recognized Amma’s greatness as a spiritual master. He received his first “hug” from Her in this dream before knowing that is how She receives everyone that comes to Her. This powerful connection continues to deepen his love of the Divine Mother in all Her many manifestations as well as his long-standing love for Lords Ganesha, Shiva, Rama and Krishna. This deep love permeates his chanting and chant compositions, the latter of which have been called “some of the most beautiful kirtan melodies I’ve heard.”
Although he composed his first chant during his early association with Siddha Yoga, it was in the Fall of 2003 that Spirit began to inspire him to prolifically compose kirtan chants. He has since written over 170 chants (and has “retired” about 30 of them).
Several months after these chants started “downloading from Spirit,” Natesh sought out other musicians to create an ongoing kirtan experience open to all in Sedona, Arizona, and neighboring communities, and in June, 2004, the Kirtan Wallahs led their first kirtan program. They have subsequently led over 500 Bliss of Kirtan programs in Sedona (and a few outside Sedona), and continue to host weekly kirtan on Sunday nights and other special celebrations. Their annual December 31st ‘Chant in the New Year’ program in Sedona regularly draws 150 to 200 people ecstatically chanting one year out and another one in.
Natesh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and found on Facebook as Natesh Ramsell. The Kirtan Wallahs website is www.kirtanwallahs.com. The website has numerous live recordings from Bliss of Kirtan programs that can be heard at the site or downloaded for free. PDFs of the music for Natesh’s chants can also be downloaded for free. The Kirtan Wallahs can also be found on Facebook (Kirtan Wallahs) and YouTube (kirtanwallahs).