for radhanathswami.com on Aug. 31, 2012
Radhanath Swami, Jahnavi Harrison and her friends at the inauguration of "Kirtan London"
It’s no secret that London is one of the most musical cities in the world, boasting scores of bands that have become internationally renowned from the The Rolling Stones to Coldplay. A new project called Kirtan London is set to bring sacred mantra music to the attention of the city with events at universities and corporations, flashmob kirtans, as well as working with the existing London yoga community. As a first step toward the vision of creating ‘a diverse, London-wide community of kirtan lovers’, the team hosted a launch party in stylish Fitzrovia, on London’s West End, on the 11th of August.
Guests entered the flower strewn hallway of the Georgian terraced apartment and were greeted with refreshments before proceeding upstairs for an evening of kirtan with Jahnavi Harrison and friends. A short presentation on Kirtan London’s vision and upcoming projects was followed by a talk by special guest, Radhanath Swami. He was introduced by actor and comedian Russell Brand, who had the audience in stitches as he described his conversion from skepticism to spiritual seeker after meeting Radhanath Swami several years ago.
Radhanath Swami spoke on the power of devotional music and reminded guests of the popularity of mantra music in mainstream London, when George Harrison teamed with Hare Krishna devotees to record the Radha Krishna Temple album in 1969. The ‘Hare Krishna Mantra’ got to number 12 in the charts and the devotional band appeared on the television show, ‘Top of the Pops’.
Speaking of the potential of kirtan for self-transformation Swami said, “Yes, its enjoyable. Yes, it soothes the mind from the anxieties and stress of life. Yes, it liberates us from so many confusions and so many unhappy situations. But beyond that, this kirtan has the potential of awakening our deepest potential – our own very spiritual essence. And then we can be an instrument of that essence, which is the greatest joy of life. Taking just feeds the fire of our longings, but when we learn to find satisfaction in being an instrument, in giving, then there is actual fulfillment. Kirtan inspires us, cleanses us and empowers us to uncover that treasure within.”
The evening was enjoyed by all attendees, many of whom were experiencing kirtan for the first time. Events in the coming months look to expand and build community as well as providing inspiration for a more widespread project now in the works, called ‘Kirtan UK’.