PLATTSBURGH — Kirtan, Sanskrit for “praise,” is a musical meditation to still the noise and confusion within and without.
Shubalananda and Ashley Flagg perform the ancient call-and-response chanting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bridge Street Yoga Place in Plattsburgh.
They will conduct a workshop on Sunday morning.
Practiced in India’s bhakti devotional tradition, it is also a component in Vasinava, Sikhism, Sant and some Buddhist traditions.
For the past quarter century, Shubal studied kirtan and bhajan with India’s great gurus and musicians.
Born Larry Kopp in New York, he was a guitar-playing hippie in the 1960s.
By day, he was a three-piece-suit businessman. By night, he was a cigarette-smoking bluesman. His vocation and avocation overloaded his body and soul. The student was ready and the teacher appeared: Swami Ramdas.
“I started working on myself … therapy and doing spiritual practice and meditation,” said Shubal, who lives in western Massachusetts.
“I was busy looking for a musical form of meditation. This spiritual practice of kirtan combines my musical talents with my spiritual practices. Kirtan is a non-denominational form of musical meditation. It’s similar to gospel music from the Christian tradition. It’s done using very simple melodies and very simple phrases using call-and-response. The leader sings a simple melodic phrase like om namah shaivaya.”
As the phrase is passed between the leader and the responders, the spend and intensity of the phrase increases.
“We use guitar, keyboard, drums and many Western instruments people are familiar with. It’s a form of meditation. You can’t think when you sing. The goal of yogic practice is to quiet the thinking mind to the degree you can access your small, still voice.”
On Sunday at the Bridge Street Yoga Place, attendees can spend two-plus hours with Shubal and Flagg.