A new consciousness is emerging, not only in India, but worldwide. It is naam sankirtan, singing the name of God. Swami Sivananda used to say, “God’s name is the quickest, safest, cheapest, surest and best way to reach God.” He said “safest”. Kundalini yoga is not the safest, tantra is not the safest. No other way is sure except kirtan. The chanting of God’s name with devotion is the highest form of bhakti. In Kali Yuga, where the mind is easily distracted and confused, kirtan is the main sadhana.
God’s name purifies the mind. To purify the body and mind, one should sing kirtan and dance. Dancing at the time of the Lord’s kirtan is an aspect of sadhana. There is an ancient understanding that kirtan is the best way to be close to God, to be near Him. When you sing, God sings too. When you feel good, He feels good. Sing with full devotion. This is the basis of receiving God’s grace.
The path of devotion is not an exclusively Indian way of life; it is the outpouring of the heart’s feelings. Since every one of us has a heart, we know the secret of love and devotion. To love God is not religion, to love God is not Hinduism or Christianity. Love is a personal feeling, a personal accomplishment, a personal necessity. Either you love the transitory life or you love the eternal life. Either you love Krishna or you love the world. When the emotions go to maya, to prakriti, to the fleeting things of the world, then it is an anti-climax. When the emotions that usually go to the worldly senses and towards maya turn to God it is a climax.
At present we have everything, but we lack love. Love is that aspect of emotion where you think about others, not about yourself. Love is giving, not taking. Love is sacrifice. Love is not an act. Love does not expect anything. It is just giving, it is just dedicating, it is total consecration of your emotions.
Music and dance are the elixir of life. Children must sing and dance, because dancing and singing develop the body and mind, and their spirits will soar. If parents sing kirtans and bhajans, children will also follow suit. If you sit and chant kirtan or Ramayana, your children will sit there with you and participate in that chanting too. This would be the beginning of a very good culture in the family, one in tune with our ancient culture and civilization. Singing and dancing is not a new culture.
This is the era of music, song and dance. In every house and street you can hear music being played because people enjoy it. It is absolutely necessary. In the West, where boys and girls sing and dance for pleasure and entertainment, they lose their self-awareness, they become so emotional and crazy about the music that they forget their self-identity. Music and kirtan is so powerful that it can free the purusha from prakriti; it can free the jiva, the individual soul, from the bondage of maya.
Music has a great power which man has discounted. We should make use of it. Through kirtan you can reach the highest pinnacle of spiritual experience. Not by yoga or by any other means, but by kirtan alone you can have the vision of the Divine. You can have the vision of your Self. Music does the most important groundwork by taking your self away from you. Music has so much inherent power that it can free you of your ego.
To progress on the spiritual path and to go deeper, you will have to undertake the path of devotion and one way is through kirtan. Besides this, you will have to contemplate to proceed further on this path. The most important part is whether you experience God’s presence during this devotion.