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Devotional Chanting

By Susan Helene Kramer

Kirtan, chanting sound syllables, is an active meditation that may precede a period of silence.

It is often in Sanskrit, but may be in any language. The universal peace chants from the Integral Yoga kirtan (ordering information below) include verses in many languages.

Kirtan can be practiced alone, as I am in this photo, or in a group for personal and world peace. Chanting the mantra sounds of kirtan elicits a feeling of well-being, calmness and harmony.

Instruments for kirtan include the harmonium, rhythm instruments, and others, or just voices.
Description: Susan Kramer playing the harmonium for kirtan
To prepare for your kirtan meditation, dress comfortably. Sit on a pillow or mat, or on a chair in a circle, if it is a group session. If the kirtan is in Sanskrit, begin by chanting 3 OMs and saying a prayer for peace.

Kirtan can be done responsively, i.e. the leader sings a line and the others echo it. Or, the leader or a choir may chant and others listen meditatively.

If chanting is responsive, there may come a time for being still; listening to the subtle vibration still sounding, or meditating on thoughts of world peace for at least 5 minutes.

During the silent portion sit with a straight back, eyes closed and hands in lap.

The session could be concluded with positive affirmations or prayers for world peace.

A universal peace chant in Sanskrit that I enjoy is Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om.

Since 1977 I've led many kirtans, and in the CD, Integral Yoga Kirtan, led in Sanskrit by Sri Swami Satchidananda, I lead the Sanskrit responses. The CD can be ordered by going to this website:

Integral Yoga Kirtan CD from Shakticom:


In conclusion, a verse I wrote ...

In stillness following kirtan
With a receptive open heart
What the mind cannot reason
Is found in the spiritual heart
As expansive love and care
For people everywhere.

Article copyright 2002-2017 by Susan Helene Kramer
Photo of Susan Helene Kramer playing the harmonium by Stan Schaap

Meditation Lessons for Teens and Adults book or ebook