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Kirtan ecstasy – utopia or reality?

Have you felt bored chanting Hare Krishna but are afraid to confess? Do you find Hare Krishna kirtans and the melodies too long and repetitive? Is something wrong with the process or are we to blame. William Shakespeare said it poetically in Julius Ceaser, “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves

When a new melody is sung by an experienced singer, immediately the senses revel; the ears are excited, the heart throbs and nothing else seems relevant to our lives in the midst of such a kirtan. For some however, soon the euphoria fizzles off; the messaging starts on the phone, while the kirtan appears a drag and we wish it would immediately end. Soon other pressing things appear on the mind’s surface.

What’s going wrong?

Hare Krishna kirtan is our connection to Krishna; it’s a relationship with our dear Lord. And like any relationship, our relationship with the Holy Names also goes through three stages.

Easy/Exciting- First phase of Romance

Boy meets girl; they drool over each other, their hearts throb and everything appears fresh and exciting. The movies talk about it all the time; it seems easy to live with each other for the rest of their lives.

The new kirtan has a similar effect; Krishna gives a free sample; the kirtans just uplift the soul; many feel they are on a high, and just as when a plane takes off, all dwellings on land appear tiny, similarly the Holy Name takes one on a high beyond the meager problems of this world. This is Krishna’s causeless mercy and a free distribution of taste so that we could get hooked to Him.

Endeavour/Enthusiasm- Second phase of Responsibility

The boy and girl marry each other. Now they no longer run around the trees singing love songs. They learn to tolerate, forgive, respect and accept each other. They also serve and please the other person, and that alone keeps the relationship ticking. Love is no longer synonymous with romance; it’s now serious responsibility. Some may walk out when they realize there’s more to love than enjoyment; its serious commitment and service.

Despite the initial euphoria, we too may walk out of our relationship with the Holy Names when we see there’s no ‘kick’ or ‘high’ in the kirtans. That’s when Krishna withdraws the ‘free sample’ and wants us to take our relationship with Him seriously. Are we willing to tolerate our mind, forgive our enemies, respect other Vaishnavas? Is our heart soft with emotions for Krishna? Are we aspiring to serve or enjoy the Holy Names? In time these questions need to be answered by a chanter of Krishna’s Holy Names.

As the kirtan picks up pace, and the mind rebels, one simply needs to be present with the Holy Names. Just as when one’s spouse is talking, you are expected to be ‘present’ and hear his/her talk. Similarly now is the time to hear Krishna’s call in our hearts.

And this calls for hard work. To hear Krishna’s love call, we need to thank Him for the wonderful gifts He has showered us with. As one devotee said, “God has given us a gift of 86, 400 seconds daily. Have we used even one to say ‘Thank You’” During chanting, if we can constantly thank Krishna, we are connecting to Him, and soon spiritual wonders happen.

Experience/Ecstasy – Third phase of Revelation

After years of loving service, a couple may admit they do love each other, and its deep camaraderie and friendship. Their relationship has survived many storms, and now their hearts truly beat for each other. They do understand each other, and have accepted the twists and turns of their lives with gratitude, and forbearance.

When Krishna is pleased by our sincere service and gratitude in our relationship with Him, He may choose to reveal a spiritual experience. We would then trust Krishna, and accept Krishna’s plans for us. Our hearts would be rich with emotions for Krishna. And if we are absorbed in kirtans as a practice and a culture, one day we would surely feel loved by Krishna. For some it’s immediate, and for others it may take decades. But assuredly Krishna would make the soul feel loved before he leaves his body, and surely after.Krishna loves us much more than we love Him and He is more eager to receive us back in His loving arms than we are to seek His shelter.

Therefore the Hare Krishna kirtans are our desperate connection with Krishna. Let’s take our first step towards Krishna by staying present and patient in our service to the Holy Names. Let’s choose to love Krishna, and surely He’d reciprocate.

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