Friday, 19 December 2008

Vegetarian Mince Pies

We served mince-pies at last Sunday's kirtan and a couple of people asked for the mince-meat recipe, not having realised that most mince-pies are not vegetarian (they contain suet). So, it being the season, here it is. (It's very easy!):

350 g (3/4 lb) fairly sharp eating apples - peeled and finely chopped

25 g (1 oz) 1 tbls candied peel

2 tbls (50 g) 2 oz almonds - skinned, blanched and cut into fine slivers

125 g (1/4 lb) 2/3 cup green (seedless) grapes - halved

225 g (1/2 lb) 1 1/2 cups raisins

225 g (1/2 lb) 1 1/2 cups currants

125 g (1/4 lb) sultanas

grated rind and juice 1 lemon

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon

2.5 ml (1/4 tsp) cloves

little freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup (125 g) 1/4 lb Barbados brown sugar

2 tbsp (25 g) 1 oz butter

120 ml (8 tbls) 1/2 cup red grape juice

Method: Place apples, sugar and butter in a pot and cook, stirring, until apples are soft. Combine with all the other ingredients and leave to stand for a day or several hours.

Monday, 15 December 2008

The battle within

This is not a reflection of what happens at our kirtan sessions... but thought you might enjoy this one:

...or is this what happens in our hearts when we chant? :)

Thursday, 11 December 2008

December Kirtan This Sunday.

Our good friend Ranchor Prime will be leading the chanting this month, for a heart-warming winter kirtan.

Ranchor has many years experience as a leader of kirtans - beginning as a choirboy at Westminster cathedral. He is the author of several books on spiritual life and Vedic texts, including his telling of the epic Ramayana, which he wrote in conjunction with a Channel Four series.

He is also an adviser on religion and conservation to the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Britain and India and responsible for organising the planting of hundreds of trees in the pilgrim town of Vrindavana.

Ranchor's kirtans are meditative and melodious - so come, if you can, and join the throng for resounding this!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Christian Kirtan...

Slightly old news by now - but befitting the Christmas season - is this CD brought out in May, by monks at an ancient monastery in the Vienna Woods. They sing Gregorian chant every day as part of their devotions and were 'discovered' by a recording company, when they posted a video of themselves on YouTube.

They say: "The chant opens our hearts. We hope it purifies our souls and helps us regain clarity, light, strength and peace. Where there is chaos, we hope to restore order. Where there is emptiness we find meaning, and where there is sadness, joy can return."

Here's a sample of their singing: Chant

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Universal Mantra

We chant many different mantras at our Kirtan sessions, but there's one which quickly became the favourite of most of our chanters, both new and seasoned: the Maha-mantra or Hare Krishna mantra. Interestingly, it's also been one of the most famous and favourite mantras in India for hundreds of years, crossing all barriers of different faiths and persuasions. It's symmetrical rhythm and 'circular' nature, and it's particular combination of syllables makes it especially potent in drawing the chanter into a deep, blissful meditation.

This charming video shows a Chinese kirtaniya chanting the Maha-mantra at a Buddhist ceremony in Taiwan. I wonder how those monks managed, faced with such exquisite femininity!

The mantra goes like this: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Hare Hare

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Breaking News from Oxford

Breaking News: The sun was seen at South Park, Oxford, yesterday. The photo was taken by Brenda Myopi while on her evening reading walk. "It really took me by surprise. I had almost forgotten how bright the sun really was, so I stood there bewildered for a few minutes until I was composed enough to take a photo." Another person, seen on the photo, also saw the event.

The sun might also appear again this Sunday during a chanting session at the Friend's Meeting House in Oxford. Cante Moore, the group's spokesperson, told us though that "it doesn't matter so much if the sun won't appear that day, even if that would be nice. The clouds in our hearts dissipates by chanting sacred vibrations. And that makes you happy." Moore, who lets off a warm and mysterious shine, could be on to something.

The kirtan will be between 4-6pm this Sunday, 14th September.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Yoga of Kirtan

A new book has come out which will most probably interest you kirtan aficionados: The Yoga of Kirtan: Conversations on the Sacred Art of Chanting, by Steven Rosen*. This seems like a promising book. It consists of 21 conversations with accomplished kirtan masters from around the world, and gets into depths about the "philosophy, culture, dynamics, and lore of kirtan as practiced in India for centuries—and as a phenomenon that is now resounding in the West.”And in Oxford. A CD with kirtans is included.

And if there is any justice in the world we must surely deserve a free review copy! Don't you think?

Let us know how you find the book. Here's the website for the book.

*Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa) is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies, a biannual academic publication exploring esoteric realms of Eastern thought. He is also associate editor of Back to Godhead magazine and the author of over twenty books on Indian philosophy. His recent titles include Essential Hinduism (Praeger, 2006), Krishna’s Song: A New Look at the Bhagavad Gita (Greenwood, 2007), and Black Lotus: The Spiritual Journey of an Urban Mystic (Harinam Press, 2007). He is an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Special June Kirtan

You may remember the sisters Jahnavi and Tulasi who charmed us with their presence a few months ago... their father, Kripamoya*, a kirtaniya of some repute, will be leading us this month. He seems to be in great demand, as it's taken us over a year to be able to book him - so we hope you can come and enjoy his mellifluous singing!

* Here pictured with Tulasi and his son.

We're late with our postings

Dear, oh dear, time flies and we haven't posted our latest kirtans yet. We're two months behind. It will happen--not to worry--very soon. Just now coming (as they say).

Friday, 11 April 2008

April Celebration

We're happy to announce that Sakhyarasa (remember the coconut trees?) will come to our next kirtan, this Sunday, April 13. He's a jolly fellow, as well as a jolly good kirtan singer. Have look at the post from our December kirtan as a taster.

Next Sunday will be our 2nd anniversary of the kirtan programme in Oxford, and we might even get some cake as a reward...

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Nina Hagen sings the Hare Krishna mantra

I just found this little video (slideshow) with Nina Hagen singing the Hare Krishna mantra. It's calm and sweet - very different from the image she had as a punk queen. I once chanted this mantra with her and her fans--looooong time ago. It was fun.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Kirtans with a spring

It is easier to chant your heart out when you're surrounded by many enthusiasts. The March kirtan, which was quite a crowd, was thus especially sweet. Another great feature was that Claire, who now studies in 'that other place'* came to see us. She gave us her insights into how our spiritual practice connects to the rest of our lives.

(picture: Jonathan and Rasasthali at play)

Here are Claire's talks [Talk 1, Talk 2, Talk 3, Talk 4], Aja Govinda's invocation, and Rasatshali's wonderful kirtan, which got us going:

krishna govinda govinda,
gopala nanda lal

govinda govinda,
gopala ganda lal

he gopala nanda lal,
he gopala nanda lal,

he gopala nanda lal,
he gopala nanda lal,

gopala, gopala,
gopala, gopala

Meru used the accidental 'poetry' of the former US Secretary of Defense, Ronald Rumsfeld, to introduce the next kirtan, om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. One way of thinking about this mantra is to see it as a recognition and homage to an energy that is greater than ourselves. There are many things we do not know (and here is where Rumsfeld comes in) and are outside of our control. Just think about the English weather (there you go!), or death (par example). Without getting into the details of this, by acknowledging a greater power, or the unknown, we can let go a bit of our control and feel some peace. This mantra, as well as other mantras, can thus be used as a way of letting go a bit, which is a very safe of letting go. We only need to listen and chant, and let the mantra do the work. Relaaaaax.

(picture: the 'unknown' side of Meru)

Back to Donald Rumsfeld: here is his defense news briefing of 12 February, 2002 (you can also have a look at it on You Tube):

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.


Here is Meru's om namo bhagavate vasudevaya kirtan. As a proof that many things are out of our control, Meru lost her voice during her kirtan. Teaching by example...

Rasathali ended our kirtan session in style with a great melody:

hare krishna
hare krishna
krishna krishna
hare hare
hare rama
hare rama
rama rama
hare hare

We hope to see you at our next kirtan on April 13. Until then, chant, chant, chant. The photos (except the one of Rumsfeld) are by Param Tomanec.

[the sound is not as great as it should be, but we hope you'll enjoy the recordings anyway]

* Cambridge is 'that other place' for someone from Oxford. But Claire is of course an Oxfordian at heart.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

February talks

The redeeming feature of our February recording was that Shaunaka's talks came out quite well.

In the first talk he speaks about kirtan, and how this simple process helps us clear the way for us to experience the love an happiness that is already within us.

In the second talk, he further elaborates on how we can take kirtan with us outside of the kirtan sessions - both by singing the mantras when we go about our daily life and also by chanting on beads (japa).

Saturday, 15 March 2008


Well, how to put this.

We had a very nice kirtan session in February. Unfortunately, the recording didn't go as well... Yes, again. It was recorded with the internal mike, which didn't cut the mustard in terms of quality. But hope springs eternal, and so we'll cut the rug (or sit and chant on it) again tomorrow (Sunday March 16th).

Enjoy a few photos, and please come and chant!

I'll leave you with a little meditation from the Upanishads:

"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart." (Chandogya 3.13.7)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

January Kirtan

Our last kirtan was a real success. Jahnavi and Tulasi were such a treat to be with and their chanting was wonderfully inspired. We did fail though, and that was with our recordings... Sorry. We managed to record the first kirtan and talk, but only a bit of the second kirtan. Well, we'll just have to bring them back asap to Oxford again. Param Tomanec took great photos of the event and as a consolation we've mounted a few extra.

Here are the kirtans and the talk:


hare krishna
hare krishna
krishna krishna
hare hare
hare rama
hare rama
rama rama
hare hare


Short kirtan.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Next Kirtan

Our next kirtan will be on Sunday (20th January). We've invited two young and gifted sisters, Jahnavi and Tulasi, to come and chant with us. Jahnavi is trained in the Carnatic style of classical Indian music, and plays the violin. Both have participated in kirtans since they've been born, so they bring a natural and pure energy to their chanting. Not to be missed!