I started playing harmonium last month, and started learning and writing kirtan chants this week. I’m learning very fast, becoming competent on the instrument in record time. A few friends and I have plans to get together in August to put a larger group together.
Harmonium-based kirtan music is incredibly powerful, releasing a dynamic energy that stirs up passion and devotion for the Divine. For those that have experienced this music, the universal experience is said to be “ecstatic bliss.” But as someone who is playing and singing this music, I would say that it goes beyond bliss. It stirs up powerful physical and emotional energies in the body and mind. Not only is it blissful, but it also stirs up and releases so-called ‘negative’ energies of sorrow, longing, rage and desire. Each time I play, I experience the unleashing of passionate energies that threaten to overwhelm me. Once released, I must deal with these energies in a compassionate and skilful way. Combining shamatha mediation and chant opens up all the channels to an overwhelming experience of bliss, passion and transcendence. This is what Chogyam Trungpa calls “the lion’s roar”.