About This Site


by Natesh

Acknowledgments
I am most grateful to the teachers of the Vedic tradition that I have had the great blessing to learn from and be in the presence of for over three decades: starting with Baba Muktananda, then Swamis Chidvilasananda and Nityananda (the latter for a much shorter time), and finally my beloved Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi).

Without their benevolent grace and the opportunity to do sadhana under their auspices, I would truly be lost. The chants in this collection are inspired by my connection to these masters -these embodiments of Divine Love -and the grace of awakened kundalini. I thank my wife, Monnie, who has steadfastly stood by my side through many tribulations and has actively participated in our weekly chanting in Sedona with the Kirtan Wallahs for over 10 years.

I would also like to thank all the other Kirtan Wallahs, past and present, who have helped me lead kirtan in Sedona and elsewhere and everyone who has attended our Bliss of Kirtan evenings over the years. Finally, I pranam to the Absolute, in its Formlessness and all its Divine Forms, without which there would be no Existence.

Please note that Natesh has elected not to copyright the chants, and permission is hereby granted to reproduce and record them at will without remuneration. Attribution in the event of recording any of the chants herein is appreciated.

‘I’d Rather Be Chanting’

Kirtan -a form of ecstatic devotional chanting -is a powerful and transformational spiritual practice that is a central component of bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. Chanting the Divine Name is considered the easiest path to moksha, or liberation, in this age of Kali Yuga.

Kirtan opens the heart, purifies the entire being and the surrounding atmosphere, and stills the mind for meditation.

The Great Beings have known about the power of chanting for millennia, and present-day masters still stress the importance of this transformational practice to their devotees. My teacher since the early 1990s, Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi) has said:

"Devotional singing is a spiritual discipline aimed at concentrating the mind on one's Beloved Deity. Through that one-pointedness, one can merge in the Divine Being and experience the Bliss of one's True Self."

My first teacher in this tradition, Baba Muktananda, said:

"Chanting opens the heart and makes love flow within us. It releases such intoxicating inner bliss that simply through the nectar it generates, we can enter the abode of the Self."

Putting it a slightly more vernacular way, chanting feels really, really good and it's good for you, too!

I’ve been chanting in this tradition for about 35 years and I love to chant the Divine Name! From my first experience of chanting in this tradition in 1979, I have loved to chant and to listen to chants. Even when my schedule creates obstacles to being regular with meditation, I have surrounded myself with opportunities to listen to recorded chants and to chant along if they are simple enough.

And while I composed my first chant almost that long ago, all but a few of these chants were written more recently, between early 2004 and the present. I also formed the Kirtan Wallahs in Sedona in June, 2004, in order to share my love of chanting with the community and have been leading call-and-response kirtan in Sedona almost every Sunday night since then. Our weekly Bliss of Kirtan evenings in Sedona are a big highlight of every week for myself and many others.

If you haven’t done so already, may you soon discover the bliss of kirtan! If you don't have the opportunity to chant on a regular basis in your area, I hope you'll consider creating one. This book can help get you started.

Happy chanting!

 

About the Chants in this Book

The chants in this book range from simple to more complex, from yearning to celebratory. They are directed to the many Divine Names and not to any particular teacher in the Vedic tradition, so devotees of many different paths can enjoy chanting them together.

There are chants for Devi (the Goddess in her many forms, such as Kali and Durga), and for Shiva, Ganesh, Krishna, Ram and more. Some of the chants are well known mantras or shloks that don’t fit neatly into one of those categories. All are presented in standard Western music notation with suggested chord accompaniment.

Please note I have not attempted to adhere to the specific melodic compositional requirements of the Indian raga system, but rather have allowed the free flow of whatever musical inspiration Source had in mind for me as I was in the process of composing a chant. There is a mix of major and minor keys and of different meters, although most chants are written in what is known as Common, or 4/4, time in Western nomenclature.

I really love to use the guitar to accompany chants because it's relatively easy and can simultaneously add both a rhythmic and harmonic element. I like to keep the chords simple, so that it is less taxing to play for a long time and the chord changes are easier when the chant gets fast, and many times that is accomplished through the use of the guitar capo.

The pitch range is meant to be comfortable for most people, reaching from a low G to a d' (about an octave and a half above). Actually, only a handful of chants go below A or above c'. I utilize a number of different keys to meet the triple goals of melodic interest, keeping in the vocal range and having simple guitar chords to accompany the chants (using a capo as needed).