Nina Rao on Kirtan, Hanuman and Devotion (#42)
Nina Rao learned traditional chants (bhajans) from her grandfather in a village in south India when she nine years old. The chants quietly stayed with her until she rediscovered chanting with Krishna Das in New York in 1996. Her childhood was spent living in and moving between many countries around the world and when she settled in New York her working life began in the banking world, switched to organizing and leading photographic wildlife safaris in Africa and India, and now for many years, is Krishna Das’ business manager and assistant.
Nina tours with Krishna Das, playing cymbals and singing with him, and was honored in 2013 to accompany him at the Grammy Awards webcast performance. In 2007, she recorded the track ‘Nina Chalisa’ on Krishna Das’ CD “Flow of Grace – Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa”. In January 2013, she released her debut album, “Antarayaami – Knower of All Hearts”. The double CD includes devotional kirtan, bhajan, and a variety of Hanuman Chalisa melodies including a duet with Krishna Das. Nina regularly leads kirtan, chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa, and sings for yoga classes in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY and beyond.
In this Episode, we discuss:
- The theory behind the practice of Kirtan, and the purpose of repetition within the practice
- How the practice of Kirtan can support personal transformation
- How chanting long litany texts (like the Hanuman Chalisa) differs from more traditional call-and-response Kirtan
- The story of Hanuman, and the allegorical significance of the story
- How the practice of Kirtan can help us to access our own inner Guru
- How having knowledge around the meaning of a chant can add value to the practice
- The practice of yoga within western culture from an Indian perspective
- What it means to have a guru that is no longer alive/embodied