Kirtan is call-and-response devotional chanting.
Sweet Syrup & Medicine
The music is just the sweet syrup… the mantras are the medicine. – Krishna Das
Chanting the Names of God
Kirtan is simply chanting the names of God. The words are largely comprised of the various Sanskrit names of Hindu deities: Krishna, Ram, Sita (Ram’s wife), Gopala (the baby Krishna), and so on. There are also occasional honorifics such as “Shri” (“Sir”), exclamations such as “Jai” or “Jaya” (loosely, “praise”), and supplications like Om Namaha Shivaya (“I bow to the Self”). The purpose of repeating these names, in ever-shuffling combinations, is a simple one: to merge with the Divine. – Phil Catalfo
Removing the Dust on the Mirror of Heart & Mind
They say that these names come from a place in our hearts that’s deeper than our thoughts, deeper than our emotions. As we bring our attention to these names, it begins to pull us in that direction… It’s a way to let go…. Gradually—but inevitably—the presence hidden in the name begins to reveal itself within us. We don’t make it happen; we don’t create it. We just remove the dust on the mirror of our hearts and our minds. – Krishna Das