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Can someone explain Kirtan to me?

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I curious because singing and chanting is an essential part of Native American spirituality.

Is it a prayer that is sung?, or is it like our songs? The song itself is the prayer/meditation and the words sung are incidental. When Indians sing we sing to become one with the natural choirs of creation. The word just help us remember the song?

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Sukh Singh Jee,

I feel your comments, whilst accurate of modern day practice, is perhaps a little too simplistic in that whilst Jap Ji Sahib is never sung, one's journey through the Sri Guru evidently does lead through as Hari indicated "the sublime musical rendition of Gurbani" through to total indulgence in musical spirit ending with the Raag Maalaa.

So the impact of this on daily prayers, although rarely found today is that prayers such as Sodar Rehras and Aarti Sohila were in fact sung (see references in Bhai Gurdas Jee's Varan which clearly indicate this as the practice and recital of Jap Ji Sahib in the morning).

Gur Fateh!

keertan is just lines in our holy book (guru Granth Sahib), being sung with instruments.

our daily prayers do not include keertan, only reading some prayers.

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Well! Maybe I didn't hear what I thought I heard- because I'm again as confused as when I asked the question. So let me re-phrase:

Why do you sing? Do you sing words or do you sing.

For instance; When Christians sing 'Amazing Grace' the word are the substance and the singing is just an artistic way to convey the message of the words. Thus it can be said: 'Christians sing SONGS" there is nothing particularly spiritual about the act of singing in and of itself.

To an Indian (American Variety) singing is the substance. To sing with emotion, without music and in front of ones Kin and Clan exposes one to possibile criticism, rejection, redicule and other junk. Standing before your tribe and singing for days one end so a passed friend can follow your voice to the other side, places one in an extremely vulnerable emotional state but also yeilds a tremendous cathartic release. In many instances the entire community may sing/chant in unison creating a powerful resonance of a few hundred persons openly sharing powerful emotions without fear of judgement and utter unqualified acceptance of each others emotional "nudity".

Often the words sung translate into gibberish and make only slightly more sense in the original tongue but it doesn't matter. It is the singing that is important not the words sung. So the question remains---

Do you sing songs? or do you sing?

Which is Kirtan?

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When we're listening to kirtan we dont dance. One our ours Gurus said that devotional worship is not possible by dancing, Guru Ji said to let your mind dance to it. But it doesnt mean that we're banned from Dancing to Music.

When people usualy sing its usually heart-felt and pleasant. Muslims sing hyms too dont they? Forgive me if im wrong.


This Shabad is by Guru Amar Daas Ji in Raag Gauree on Pannaa 158

gourree guaaraeree mehalaa 3 ||

Gauree Gwaarayree, Third Mehl:

eik gaavath rehae man saadh n paae ||

Some sing on and on, but their minds do not find happiness.

houmai vich gaavehi birathhaa jaae ||

In egotism, they sing, but it is wasted uselessly.

gaavan gaavehi jin naam piaar ||

Those who love the Naam, sing the song.

saachee baanee sabadh beechaar ||1||

They contemplate the True Bani of the Word, and the Shabad. ||1||

gaavath rehai jae sathigur bhaavai ||

They sing on and on, if it pleases the True Guru.

man than raathaa naam suhaavai ||1|| rehaao ||

Their minds and bodies are embellished and adorned, attuned to the Naam, the Name of the Lord. ||1||Pause||

eik gaavehi eik bhagath karaehi ||

Some sing, and some perform devotional worship.

naam n paavehi bin asanaeh ||

Without heart-felt love, the Naam is not obtained.

sachee bhagath gur sabadh piaar ||

True devotional worship consists of love for the Word of the Guru's Shabad.

apanaa pir raakhiaa sadhaa our dhhaar ||2||

The devotee keeps his Beloved clasped tightly to his heart. ||2||

bhagath karehi moorakh aap janaavehi ||

The fools perform devotional worship by showing off;

nach nach ttapehi bahuth dhukh paavehi ||

they dance and dance and jump all around, but they only suffer in terrible pain.

nachiai ttapiai bhagath n hoe ||

By dancing and jumping, devotional worship is not performed.

sabadh marai bhagath paaeae jan soe ||3||

But one who dies in the Word of the Shabad, obtains devotional worship. ||3||

bhagath vashhal bhagath karaaeae soe ||

The Lord is the Lover of His devotees; He inspires them to perform devotional worship.

sachee bhagath vichahu aap khoe ||

True devotional worship consists of eliminating selfishness and conceit from within.

maeraa prabh saachaa sabh bidhh jaanai ||

My True God knows all ways and means.

naanak bakhasae naam pashhaanai ||4||4||24||

O Nanak, He forgives those who recognize the Naam. ||4||4||24||


Naam means Gods name, Waheguru, Allah, Raam, Shiva, all r One, theres no difference between them.

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log jaanai eihu geeth hai eihu tho breham beechaar ||

People believe that this is just a song, but it is a meditation on God.

jio kaasee oupadhaes hoe maanas marathee baar ||3||

It is like the instructions given to the dying man at Benares. ||3||

koee gaavai ko sunai har naamaa chith laae ||

Whoever sings or listens to the Lord's Name with conscious awareness

kahu kabeer sa(n)saa nehee a(n)th param gath paae ||4||1||4||55||

- says Kabeer, without a doubt, in the end, he obtains the highest status. ||4||1||4||55||


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