Tag Archives: Krishna Das

Kirtan fusion invades the American soundscape

New York Times Chanting Is an Exercise in Body and Spirit is about the rising tide that kirtan is riding on.

“It has left the churches and the yoga studios because it’s such a simple practice,” said Krishna Das, 61, who grew up on Long Island as Jeff Kagel and traveled to India in the early 1970s. “It’s not about belief in any religions, so people are coming from all walks of life. You give it a try and if it works, you’re in fat city. If not, you do something else.”

Although kirtan is rooted in India’s devotional religions and involves chanting the names of God, Krishna Das says the practice requires no allegiance to any deity or set of beliefs, and he is dismayed that many associate the chant “Hare Krishna” with people who begged on the streets and danced in airports in the 1970s.

As I’ve said before here, Krishna Das is the soundtrack of my yoga experience. What is really interesting is the fusion that’s happening in the United States as musicians and yogis take the Hindi core and combine it with pop, gospel, reggae, hip-hop and rapping, plus all the other world music influences, to produce a unique, innovative sound, nurtured in the small venues of yoga studios and churches. It’s part of the mainstreaming of yoga in America. Purists probably hate it and it will never achieve broad popularity, but that’s not the point. It’s what is happening to yoga itself, starting out with the “pure” Indian practice (which may be a relatively modern application of ancient rites) and then layering on multiple riffs and licks of Pilates, marital arts, gymnastics and dance. The market and society are bending it in new ways that make it more relevant and “marketable” in our society.

Krishna Das

Thanks to Daily Cup of Yoga, I ran across a recent audio interview with Krisha Das on CBC Radio. [MLS: A shame, but the archive only goes back to 2009 now.] I’ve commented before that he’s kinda been the soundtrack of my yoga practice. The lengthy discussion centers on his spiritual practice that parallels his experience with kirtan music. It really gave new insight into his music. I’ll Krishna Das speak for himself.

Krishna Das coming to DC in May

Krishna Das will be coming to the Washington, DC area in late May. He will bring his special interpretation of kirtan to Alexandria, VA at 8:00 PM on Thursday, May 26 at the George Washington Middle School Gymnasium, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA.

Tickets cost $20 each in advance, $25 at the door. Maureen Clyne of Prasada Yoga has more information and tickets on sale.

Kirtan is chanting as part of devotional yoga and is usually accompanied by harmoniums, tablas, drums and other instruments. Krishna Das has become the soundtrack of my yoga experience so I will try to make it to the show.

Music reaches deep

I bought Donna de Lory’s CD called The Lover and the Beloved, put out by Ajna Music [Gone out of business]. I really like it, more than all the junk on the radio these days. It’s mesmerizing. You can hear some extended sampling of the cuts at CDBaby — and also buy it there.

I’ve also bought a couple of CDs by Krishna Das who is much more traditional in his approach to kirtan chanting. He will be performing in Alexandria, VA on Thursday, May 26. More information is on his site.

Why do these artists insist on publishing their sites completely in Flash?