Cover Image for Sankirtan and Dancing
March 1, 2021

Sankirtan and Dancing

Excerpt from a lecture

Relationships that place Krishna in the center are sanctified sites where the Lord resides, keeping everything harmonized and balanced. Relationships become pure and holy by coming together, singing and dancing with the Holy Name in the center, and sacrificing false ego on the altar of sankirtan.

Without relationships we become stagnant, lifeless, and wither away, overwhelmed by the fears and insecurities that material life breeds. Therefore, Caitanya Mahaprabhu emphasized sankirtan, the congregational chanting of the holy name – yuga dharma. Moreover, singing and dancing in kirtan is deeply inspiring and healing on many levels.

Japa, our personal chanting of the Holy Name, is for individual purification of our hearts and souls. Thus, internal purity is a product of japa. Sankirtan complements our japa by purifying relationships. How? By singing and dancing congregationally, with the Holy Name in the center.

By coming together in harinam sankirtan, we are preparing ourselves for entrance into that land where all speech is a song, all motion is dance, and the vibration which activates everything is the sound of Krishna's flute. The song of Krishna's flute is non-different from the sankirtan of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in that they both inspire a love for Krishna.

Dance is an important form of worship in many traditions. Some of us are old and have health issues. Thus, we may think we cannot dance, but there is no mundane obstacle to pure devotional service. Narada Muni, always accompanied by his vina, made everyone in the universe dance. In the purport to the song "Narada muni bajay vina" Srila Prabhupada explained that those devotees who could not dance were dancing in their hearts.

Dance is an expression of joy and unity in the Lord's presence. We can dance in the spirit of love and connection. Dance involves graceful movements. We can extend that into our lives and be graceful in all we do, as grace is essential to moving through life and navigating different transitions and relationships.

We've all heard the phrase, 'a leap of faith.' It doesn't mean a dive into the irrational. A leap of faith means to lift your spirits beyond the weight of sin and sorrow which holds us down in this world. Srila Prabhupada taught us how to dance with arms up-raised, similar to how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his associates did. This style of dancing expresses communion with God and is a way of aligning our inner life with our outer relationships. It also means reaching outward and upward through time and space into higher realms of harmony, rhythm, and creative potency.

Dance is a way of expressing joy in a life of celebration, service, and dedication to the Lord. It is a means of moving beyond the world as we know it into the world as we would like it to be. This way, dance can help overcome the inertia that brings stagnancy to our spiritual lives.

This material world will never become pleasant, but it is a place to practice what we are meant to perform eternally in a world where love, sweetness, beauty, and charm reign supreme. By celebrating and preparing for eternal life, we can overcome the sorrow and stagnancy of living in a world where mortality reigns.

Krishna is the only male. That means there is only one independent enjoyer and everyone else is dependent. Therefore, our joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment depend on His pleasure. By serving Krishna's desires, our individual desires become sanctified and fulfilled. Thus, when we come together and dance in nama-sankirtan, it should be for the pleasure of Krishna, the guru, and the Vaishnavas. The Vaishnavas are personified in their divine archetype -- Advaita Acharya. The ontological form of Guru is Balaram, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, and the supreme male is Krishna. Therefore, we should come together to sing and dance for Their pleasure.

Sankirtan has two meanings. Everyone coming together to sing and dance is the first. The second is that everything is used in the missionary work of Srila Prabhupada and Mahaprabhu to develop love for Krishna, the purpose of our chanting.

The chanting awakens our dormant Krishna consciousness and counteracts all the evil tendencies of the age of Kali. It perfects the human form of life, benefits all living entities, and ultimately takes us back home, where everyone lives and dances eternally in perfect peace and harmony.