Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Ranchor plans to bring his Tamboura, which as it is probably the largest in Britain, is no mean feat. It has such a special sound, to enhance the chanting.
So - Kirtan by Candlelight - wonderful chanting, Christmas fare, lovely company - what more could a fellow want!
Date: Sunday, 20th December.
Time: 4.00 p.m.
Venue: The Friends Meeting House, 43, St. Giles.
November's Kirtan by Candlelight was beautiful - both the chanting and the candlelight!
A chanter took these splendid photos, to give you some idea.
Our next Kirtan by Candlelight will be this Sunday, 20th December at 4.00 p.m. It would be nice to see you there!
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Cows and the Earth is a book about ancient methods of cow-farming, in which cows are enabled to live natural lives and deaths, instead of being slaughtered; and how these are being revived and practised in a Vaishnava community in England. Ranchor presents the case for more compassionate husbandry of dairy cattle, showing how this may ultimately be of benefit to the Earth and to humans, as well as the cows.
A pair of oxen actually attended the book launch in the centre of London, with their good friend Chrissie Hyndes who was also there, and who wrote a foreword to the book.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Look at these beautifully carved ones, by Jahnavi! She carved them for a Mantralogy Kirtan in Australia at the end of October. Vastly superior to our humble efforts - she can come and carve ours next year!
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Photos courtesy of photographer Claire Williams, who is off to India for a few months - and takes our blessings with her for a wonderful retreat.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Mark Anderson led our September kirtan with the expertise born of a lifetime's chanting. His rich, deep voice varied in moods and expression, as he sang a variety of mantras and sacred songs, and we followed merrily on.
We were surprised to learn that Mark is a trainee firefighter, with a love of adventure and a desire to help others. Keshava remarked, in introducing him, that this is entirely befitting a kirtan leader: There is a 16thC Sanskrit poem which describes kirtan as "extinguishing the blazing fire of human suffering". So a fire-fighter in more than one sense!
Mark (aka Madhva) spoke of his involvement with kirtan. Although he grew up with it, he performs it now just because it is such a wonderful thing to do.
"Every Friday night I get together with a large group of friends, and we spend several hours chanting. Of all the things you could do on a Friday night, if I were to say I was going to spend it singing prayers and mantras, you might think there were more exciting things to do than that. Yet Friday night is the highlight of my week. "
He brings such concentration and enthusiasm to his chanting, that you can see how he gets so much out of it!
Although we'd been expecting Mark to bring his whole kirtan band, only one other member was able to come this time, but they left with promises of returning with more.
Many thanks to Mark on behalf of us all - looking forward to next time.
Monday, 21 September 2009
As we've been following Gaura vani in recent months, on his mantralogy tour, here's a sample of the more exuberant style of kirtan, recorded in the UK in August. Click here.
Above: Traditional kirtan in India.
Friday, 18 September 2009
"Kirtan is just the process of using chant and music to clean the heart," he said from his home outside the nation's capital. "It's like an ancient can of Scrubbing Bubbles to clean our hearts and help figure out who we are beyond the body."
We start our kirtan season again in Oxford on Sunday. What a great opportunity to let the Scrubbing Bubbles of chanting to set us off into new fresh autumnal adventures. Hope to see you there, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed...
All information you need about the next kirtan is in the post below.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Monday, 31 August 2009
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
We weren't as big a gathering as usual, but our MC - Shaunaka - encouraged us to chant loudly and with enthusiasm in the spirit of "let me think not what the kirtan can do for me, but what I can do for the kirtan" - the result was terrific!
Gopal led us in chanting Govinda Jaya Jaya - an ancient mantra from the Radha-Raman temple in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh. Rembert - who is just completing his DPhil in Sanskrit - led us in chanting the maha-mantra (Hare Krishna mantra) and Gopal finished off with the Pancha-Tattva mantra.
We have managed to buy some new recording equipment, and are in the process of editing the whole backlog of kirtan recordings, with a view to podcasting them very soon. Good news!
(With Shiva Rea at the Kripalu Yoga Centre)
Looking forward to having her and her sister with us in Oxford in the autumn (hopefully).
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Love this picture of the rain so had to add some lyrics below to justify its insertion. It's also quite topical.
"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'
So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin' [...]"
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Today is the day of the London Ratha-yatra - thousands gather together and join in kirtan while Sri Jagannatha is pulled through the streets in his 'chariot'.
I know there are several Oxford kirtaniyas there today, and maybe you are too... but if, like me you couldn't make it, here's a video I found of last years festival: ISKCON devotees in their bright robes of saffron, making a joyful sound, - and showing that you don't have to be musical, or even sing in tune to be able to take part in kirtan!
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Assemble at Hyde Park, South Carriage Drive 11.30am
Procession departs 12 noon
Arrives at Trafalgar Square 2.30pm
Festival in Square until 5.00pm
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
For myself, the CD was full of surprises. I was astonished at the energy and passion which comes through in each track and the variety of moods and styles throughout. By the middle of the second song I was in tears at the moving rendition of a Sanskrit poem, describing the power and beauty of kirtan.
Gaura-Vani and his band As Kindred Spirits, are all young and energetic and maybe this CD will particularly appeal to people of their own generation. But even as a middle-aged listener, I find it engaging and heart-stirring. If you'd like to buy a copy, you can do so here: Ten Million Moons. And read the two reviews below.
At ease in the village temples of India and the chic yoga studios of London or New York, Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits, in their new album Ten Million Moons, prove that kirtan comes in all shapes and sizes. The trendy, upbeat, and smooth world music style is equally matched with featurettes of every major musical style of India that has influenced modern kirtans.
To classic Vaishnava tunes, Gaura Vani and his team add a cool, vibrant, jazzy edge. The polished corners of traditional, spontaneous kirtans, might make this a best-selling album amongst the many Americans and Europeans who frequent yoga studios and meditation groups.
This album contrasts with the last album from As Kindred Spirits, Nectar of Devotion. Whereas the last album had a fairly uniform feel and style, the new album, Ten Million Moons, has almost as many styles as moons. We skip from yoga chic with tracks such as the very soothing Moods of Kirtan (Siksastakam) to the bouncing-off-the-walls ecstatic Pirate Song (Dina Dayal).
Gaura Vani & co take some leaps of faith as they explore the uncharted territory of bhajan fusion. We hear a Gospel version of the Bengali classic Jiva Jago; an American folksy tune inspired by the ancient philosophy of India more akin to Bob Dylan, and a Sufi Persian poem of Amir Khusrau. For the purists out there, traditional Indian Bhajans in Hindi (Meera’s Song) and Bengali (Worship the Golden Lord) can also be found.
Overall this album stretches the imagination of both hardcore kirtaniyas and World music buffs. I don’t envy the record shop owners who have to find the right label to put this album under on the shelves!
Nearly a decade after the success of their debut CD ‘Nectar of Devotion’, Gaura Vani and As Kindred Spirits have released a new album of kirtan and devotional songs, entitled ‘Ten Million Moons’.
The album presents kirtan through a variety of musical styles, from the traditional mridanga and karatal arrangements on ‘Bhaja Gauranga’, to the bassline driven beats on ‘Stop and Talk (Hey Natha)’. Instruments and vocals that span cultures are richly layered throughout, giving a sound that is both timeless, and refreshingly modern. This is particularly so on the energetic opener ‘My Body Is A Temple’, and the moving, strings driven ‘Moods of Kirtan’. There are some unexpected surprises too, such as the gospel choir and Hammond organ on ‘Sleeping Soul (Jiv Jago), which work surprisingly well!
Listening to the CD, it becomes clear that these are more than just musicians. Most of the performers on the album, like vocalist Acyuta Gopi, and multi-instrumentalist Vishvambhara, have lived and breathed kirtan since the day they were born, and the devotional moods they express are tangible and sincere. Combined with their natural musical talent, this makes for vibrant and inspiring listening. Gaura Vani and As Kindred Spirits aim to inundate the world with the sound of kirtan, and if their current success is anything to go by, they are well on their way.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
We were surrounded by roses, beautifully arranged by Shyama, and it was a warm, sunny day - all mingling together to make a wonderful kirtan.
Here's a slideshow of the event - the kirtaniyas in various rapt poses!
Sorry about the lack of podcasts - hope to have it all back in order soon.
Monday, 8 June 2009
Monday, 11 May 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
March and April kirtans were accompanied by gorgeous spring flowers. In March we were fortunate to have Kripamoya and his daughter Jahnavi to lead us in chanting. Kripamoya has spent the past thirty years pioneering kirtan in this country and is a stirring kirtan leader. Jahnavi (pictured above) a talented musician is currently finishing her BA in English and played violin, as well as harmonium. Two more young girls, Radhika and Janaki, completed the team, singing sweet kirtans.
April's kirtan was the third anniversary of the Kirtan Experience in Oxford, so we celebrated with cake! You can see a slideshow of the two sessions here.
Photos were taken by Claire and Pavel.
Friday, 6 March 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
ESTP - The Doers
The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities. The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
The etching is included in an excellent book by Robert L. Hardgrave A Portrait of the Hindus which you can investigate here.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
January's candle-lit kirtan had a special quality. A strong spiritual atmosphere rose up as the large gathering sang out heartily. This was a happy ending to a near disaster! Mariola, who was to have been our lead singer for the day came down with 'flu that morning, and it was only thanks to Ranchor's stepping into the breach at the eleventh hour that we had a kirtan at all! Thank you Ranchor. And thanks to everyone who came and made it so good.
It seemed easier, somehow, to focus on the chanting in the softer lighting. The evening ended with delicious pizza, fudge and peppermint tea.
One chanter wrote to us: "That was a wonderful kirtan yesterday! I really liked the candle-lit atmosphere and the lovely mood. Ranchor is perfect for Oxford. And it was wonderful to see so many new faces. I thought the fir-cone decor was chic and seasonal and cosy and Cathedral-like all at the same time."
Mariola is better now and plans to be with us in February.
Many thanks to Claire for these rich, Rembrandtish photos! (They get bigger and better if you click on them) . Podcasts coming soon!
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
The previous day, thousands gathered at the Church of the Holy City, within sight of the White House, and burst into exuberant chanting and dancing to ancient, sacred mantras - "O Rama, O Rama"
The first "Inaugural" kirtan, Chant4change, was a huge success. Tickets were sold out days in advance, and to facilitate those who hadn't managed to get one, there was a live webcast. All the most famous American kirtaniyas appeared and sang, such as Jai Uttal, Krishna das, Gaura vani, Shiva Rea, David Stringer and more.
From the very young to the quite elderly, everyone there felt it to be a tremendous occasion. Gaura vani who conceived the idea and orchestrated the event is a young kirtaniya of extraordinary energy and dedication - he has a website here. from which you can buy his CD. I have it and it is excellent!
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Monday, 19 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Mariola from Poland and Meru from Sweden will lead us in a variety of chants and mantras, accompanied by harmonium, clay drums and kartals. Refreshments of a delicious kind will be served afterwards.
Join us if you can!
Sunday, January 18th. The Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles. 4.00 p.m.
Friday, 9 January 2009
I like the way the cartoon shows chanting as transcending the differences between so many designations and bringing all into a consciousness of harmony and delight. And the inference in the name chant4change that the change so many people are hoping and longing for can only come from a purified heart, free from the negative qualities of greed and selfish desires.
The inspiration for the cartoon must surely have come from the episode pictured below of the medieval saint Sri Chaitanya, chanting and dancing with wild animals in Jarakhanda forest.