Back to Godhead March/April 2011
Kirtana, the call-and-response singing of God's names, is growing in popularity in the West, especially among people with interest or experience in yoga. Kirtana lies at the heart of bhakti-yoga, practiced by members of the Hare Krishna movement. Though Srila Prabhupada, the movement's founder, may not have been the first to perform kirtana in the West, he introduced and promoted it on a grand scale. And he more than anyone else explained the philosophical underpinnings of the chanting.
In his lecture opening this issue, Srila Prabhupada speaks on a verse from the Vedic scriptures that tells us that chanting the names of God is the only sure way to attain spiritual success in the current age. By chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, Prabhupada explains, we can transcend the influence of the material energy and come to realize God in His fullness.
When Prabhupada arrived in New York City in 1966, he soon attracted young people to the chanting, and at the end of the year, he and his students recorded what was most likely the first kirtana album in the West. In "A Spiritual Happening on the Lower East Side," Satyaraja Dasa tells the story of how that album came to be.
—Nagaraja Dasa, Editor