Chanting by Krishna Das

Pilgrim of the Heart audio series by Krishna Das

Chanting (Kirtan) is a part of the path of Devotional Yoga. God or Guru is an endless ocean of love truth and presence. First we may hear the distant roar of the crashing waves of the ocean and we're drawn to that sound. As we get closer, we can smell the ocean air and taste the sweet moisture. When we reach the beach and see the ocean for the first time, we're transfixed by the vastness and Beauty. We run and we dive in and enjoy the freedom that comes from this ecstasy. Finally we merge with that ocean of love and somehow find ourselves back on the shore, returning to ourselves so that we can share the experience with others. Those that have returned have given us these Names of God. These Names are the sound of the surf of that Ocean of Love. They hold the power to help us find our way back to that ocean. We don't have to create anything; we don't have to manufacture any emotions or feelings. We can't make it happen. It already is. All we have to do is Remember. Everyone has their own path to this beach, to the Ocean, but we all wind up in the same place. There is only one...One.

"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."

Satsang is where people gather together to remember, to turn within and find their own inner path to the One. When we gather together to sing like this we are helping each other find our own paths. We all must travel this path by ourselves because each of us is our own path. All these paths wander on in their own way, but in truth we are all travelling together and until the last of us arrives we will all keep travelling. So let's sing!

The Bible

The Old Testament, which is also extremely important in Christianity, teaches many of the same principles of spiritual development as found in the Vedic system.

We can especially find these similarities in the processes of bhakti-yoga, mantra-yoga, and sankirtana (the congregational singing of the holy names of the Lord). The teachings in the Bible about the holiness of the name of God and the need to congregationally sing God’s name and praises are quite evident. This applies as much to the essential Jewish forms of worship and meditation as it does to the Christian, and almost every other religious tradition.

Yet, as we go through these verses that explain the need to do this as outlined in the Bible, we will find that they do not provide the reasons for it, the way it uplifts our consciousness, how it gives us the means to tune into the spiritual dimension or to reach God, or that it is a prime process to be used for our meditation in this age.

To further our understanding in this way, we need to consult the Vedic explanations as found in the Puranas and Sutras, and the teachings of the realized sages who follow the Vedic system. Some of this I have also supplied in my books or some of the many articles I have written and included on my web site.

In one of the foremost prayers in the Bible, it is said, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” The value and holiness of the name of God, as well as being the primary way to meditate on Him, is stressed throughout the Bible. Many verses instructing people to sing praises to God and sing His holy name are found therein. Even in the books of Moses we find evidence of this: “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously.” (Exodus 15.1) Furthermore, after delivering the ten commandments, Moses told his people:

  • Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might... Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; Him shalt thou serve, and to Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His name. He is thy praise, and He is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. (Deuteronomy 6.4-5, 10.20-21).