Kirtan is an ancient Vedic practice of chanting sacred Sanskrit words and mantras in a group setting. This devotional chanting is typically done in a call-and-response format. Chanting creates rhythmic vibrations that resonate throughout the whole body, including the mind and spirit. When a group chants together, they create a symphony of sound that frees up their minds, allowing them to be present and more easily access the fourth state called Turiya, the blissful state of consciousness.
Through Sadhana, Ashoka hosted a number of kirtan artists in Maine. It was a costly endeavor that he could only do occasionally, so out of a desire to increase accessibility and awareness of kirtan in the local community, Ashoka decided to learn how to lead kirtan himself.
Leading kirtan was a commitment that arose from his heart, rather than from any musical gifts or experience. In fact, Ashoka’s family and friends were quite surprised to learn he was singing, as it had not previously been a part of his life. His focus, diligence, and commitment have paid off in steady improvements in his musical skills. After losing his voice for a year and being told by medical experts in 2000 that he would never speak again, Ashoka has come a long way.
As part of his spiritual path, he has been playing the harmonium and leading chanting since 2011, singing in a traditional Indian raga style, and studying with Indian classical musicians including Kala Ratna D.V. Mohana Krishna, and Grammy Nominee Jai Uttal. He has been studying voice and Alexander Techniques at online school called Total Vocal Freedom since 2008. He practices chanting daily, regularly leads kirtan, and continues to host other kirtan artists from across the country through Sadhana spiritual center.
While meditating in 2016, Ashoka was inspired to name his kirtan ensemble Swan Kirtan. The swan symbolizes grace, beauty, purity, partnership, spiritual devotion, and transcendence. A truly elegant bird, the swan is also associated with music, love and poetry, and is the vehicle for Saraswati, the Hindu goddess symbolizing the arts. Without the “w,” Swan Kirtan becomes Sankirtan, which is the original word for kirtan in Sanskrit.
Swan Kirtan leads multi-faith chants with both western and eastern influences. The Swan Kirtan debut album, We Are All One, was released in the summer of 2017. Ashoka recorded it in India with classically trained musicians. Copies or downloads are available through CD Baby or iTunes.
Wow. Beautiful production in full Indian style! Sweet chants and sweeter feelings.
The balance [on Zoom] is very nice, Ashokji. But where is that orchestra hiding?? They sound so nice!
That was so kind of you to take time from your day to chant and meditate with the River kids. It was magical watching them all be so into it. And they all felt so "calm," as they said!
I think you helped me hit a growth spurt because I'm feeling a new sense of calm. I explained it to FB like this: "Class was a meditation, that’s not new--the experience as meditation, like hiking in the woods is meditation for me. It produces clarity and creates balance. But today, I felt weightless. The body I reside in felt like it was just part of the scenery. There was a disconnect between body and essence of self and acceptance of all, and union with all, a new dimension of oneness." So, thanks again.
It sounds great! It reminds me a lot of the bhajan recordings I've heard from Amma's swamis. Really beautiful. People will love it.
Namaste Ashok, Wonderful to hear from you and get to listen to the music you're creating. One can feel the presence of your beauty and love in this.
Ashoka's souring voice and kirtan melodies uplift the heart into a space of transformation and joy.
The sweet sounds of the divine are still ringing in my ears days later! You have a wonderful gift of allowing spirit to shine through you!
You really sing from your heart and it's palpable. I also was very happy that you were able to offer call and response through your CD--it really helped us at home.
Thank you so much Ashok for your generous offering to us all. It was many things…fun, beautiful, enlivening!
A very calming chant. Lovely Ashok!
Very peaceful, Ashok. Thank you.
Fun textures and instruments all woven together!
Ashok, that was so soothing. It made me feel very relaxed.
So soothing and nourishing, Ashok. The sound quality was GREAT.
Thank you Ashok. The sound was well balanced.
Thank you Ashok for bringing that beautiful sacred music to our group! Love the flute too! The sound was clear.
It was very relaxing.
Thank you Ashok. The sound was excellent. We heard all of the instruments and the singers and you perfectly.
Thank you, Ashok. I found that chant uplifting and calming at the same time.
Thank you Ashok; very peaceful. Sound was great.
Sound was great!
Thank you, Ashok. The sound was great. The balance was excellent, and it brought me peace.