A Canadian Bhakti yoga teacher and founder of a Nova Scotia yoga retreat offers an in-depth debut guide to the Indian chanting practice of kirtan.
In the mid-1970s, the 28-year-old author experienced a spontaneous spiritual awakening that inspired her lifelong pursuit of yogic chanting. Her book explains how to chant Hindu names and mantras and how to set up a kirtan chanting group with a leader and musicians. Prabha intersperses insights she’s gained from a lifetime of practice with personal anecdotes illustrating particular points. For example, she emphasizes in great detail the seemingly exceptional benefits of chanting: “If anger or worry overwhelms you,” she writes, “wield the great sword of chanting and swiftly annihilate it.” During kirtan chanting, she says, some devotees reach soaring heights of trance-induced ecstasy. She tells of one occasion when she chanted with one of her teachers, Swami Gyanananda, and she started dancing complex Indian dance moves that she could have only known through years of study, including intricate figures that experienced Bharata Natyam dancers recognized. In mostly clear and engaging prose, she reveals many of the philosophical underpinnings of Bhakti yoga and offers an interesting, detailed exploration of the relationship between Sanskrit sacred chants and various aspects of “the divine.” Overall, this book offers a thorough introduction to its subject. For example, it delves into Hindu sacred texts to talk about Hindu deities, their attributes, and stories that reveal their characters, their significance, and how, through chanting, devotees can realize the divine in themselves. The author also stresses the importance of correct Sanskrit pronunciation, including a pronunciation guide and glossary.
An insightful, detailed look at kirtan chanting and Bhakti yoga.