(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 13 January 2014, Mayapur, India, Lecture: Kirtan Academy 1)
I would like to say something about kirtan since I like kirtan. There are different sides to it. There is the essential side which is the service that we render by chanting the holy name; engaging our mind and senses in chanting; and then our heart eventually which of course takes some time because the heart is like stone and for stone-hearted persons, the heart doesn’t get so much involved.
Then, there is the musical side which is meant to enhance the transcendental side. It is secondary to the transcendental aspect of the name. In Bengal, there is a culture of singing that we have noticed; especially these long drawn out notes, “Haaaaaa…” that go on for a long time. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta didn’t have much enthusiasm about that and if someone was chanting like that for a long time, Bhaktisiddhanta would ask people who “couldn’t sing” to lead the kirtans just to get away from this mood of being professional singers.
It is just like decorating the deities. When you decorate the deities, you should bring out the deity with the decoration. You should not cover the deity with the decoration. If you put so much decoration and just cover the deity; it’s all far out but it doesn’t bring out Krsna then that kind of decoration or alankar, is not desired. One should decorate in such a way that the natural qualities of the deity are being emphasized and magnified!
In the same way, melodies and the voice are meant to support the holy name. Our focus remains on the holy name. So, although some long notes are very nice for musical embellishment but if everything just becomes like, “Haaaa reeee…” and it takes twenty minutes to get through one mantra then it’s a little over the top!