Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life ~Ludwig van Beethoven
Silence is the fabric upon which the notes are woven ~Lawrence Duncan
Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion and uses the dualistic nature of the mind as a way to move towards enlightenment. Bhakti Yoga practices include listening to scripture, service, surrender of the self, visualization, homage and singing the praises of the divine, or Kīrtan.
Music, like poetry, is a language of the heart and a form of Bhakti devotion. In the west, musicians and yogis are transforming the traditional chanting of Kīrtan and infusing it with western sensibilities.
The other evening, I attended a Kīrtan led by Girish, a man who embodies the convergence of Eastern and Western devotional practices. Once a Monk in the divine mother tradition called Dakshina Marg or Mahashakti Yoga, Girish gave up music to live in an ashram. For five years, his only music was daily chanting, until he came across a set of tablas which rekindled his connection to music.
The night I saw Girish, he had gathered a group of local players; a cellist, two percussionists, bass player and back-up singer, to create an atmosphere half way between an Hindu temple and a rock band. The music was a seamless marriage of ancient tradition and modern pop sensibility with ecstatic chants framed by unique western forms like folk and jazz.
Girish usually let the music instruct, but when he did speak, his words reflected an easy comfort with both Eastern and Western philosophy. He spoke of the deep vibration of the universe and Om being, “the sound of life,” referencing Quantum Physics as easily as Hindu scripture.
At the end of each chant, the silence was a tangible thing that shimmered in the air.