We live in an age where people can listen to anything. World music, R&B, jazz, classical, Carnatic and thousands of other styles and genres are accessible through an almost infinite number of mediums. The Internet and smartphones let us listen through YouTube, Pandora, Tidal, Shazam, iTunes, TuneIn…the list goes on.
What I’m interested in here is what we want to listen to when we want to listen to kirtan. Most of us have one or two CDs with pads, lectures or nam san kirtan, and a rare few of us have a whole library of Mangarh chantings on our mobile devices. My mother has a huge collection of audio cassettes of Maharajji’s speeches and chantings. I’m sure someone out there has a Hare Ram chanting on vinyl or 8-track.
In our digital age, there are incredible tools we have access to. We can record chanting in prayer halls the world over, and post them online for friends and family. We can stream live chanting sessions from India, tune in to TV Asia, watch videos online and do a million other things. I’m going to focus on three things I have found for devotional practice that are minimally complicated, and that integrate seamlessly into how we already listen to music.
Radha Madhav Dham’s Satsang Page: http://radhamadhavdham.org/do-devotion/
We have created “Satsang Modules” or “Daily Devotion Segments” listed as Satsang 1, 2, 3…ranging from 15 mins to 45 mins. When you play a particular satsang segment, say Satsang 5, it will take you through Prarthna and Aarti (Guru, Radha-Krishna), 1-2 pad kirtan and a short lecture by Shree Maharaj Ji.
Kripalu Bhakti Radio: http://radhamadhavdham.org/radio/
This has been around for a while, but I want to bring it up again and again because every day there is something different. This Internet radio station is wonderful to listen to in the background or for singing along. The schedule is posted online, and there are detailed instructions on installing it on your phone, in a web app, or integrating it into an existing digital radio player.
Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Maharaj on Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/4n36VhLlAP1g7aJfEAQMdA
I’m new to Spotify, and I’m not 100% sure on how it works, but what I am sure of is that for every track you listen to on this page, they donate approximately 10 cents to JKP. There are some beautiful chantings by Maharajji himself on Spotify. This app is one of the most popular music apps, and is an easy way to listen to kirtan online AND give back to the ashram.
Radha Madhav Dham on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/vishal-kapoor-15
SoundCloud is one of my favorite websites/apps. It’s extremely easy to use, and there is a wealth of content unparalleled by most other sites. Radha Madhav Dham’s presence there is small, but growing. The page has a lot of potential for growth, and if you don’t want to invest in getting Spotify, all the same tracks are on SoundCloud.
It’s important to note how important kirtan is to our devotional practice. Over and over again, Maharajji has told us that the easiest way to God is through bhakti, and the main way of practicing bhakti is through kirtan. By chanting and listening to the pads with an open, surrendered heart, we can shed tears of love and be united with our beloved Shyam Sundar. With these powerful tools at our disposal, we should feel empowered to immerse ourselves in the bliss of kirtan.