The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Students Sing, Dance to Exercise Soul

By: for The Daily Targum (New Jersey, USA) on April 2, 2010
Photo Credits: Isiah Stewart
Hundreds of students joined the University’s Bhakti Club on Thursday night in the Busch Campus Center to listen and meditate to kirtan bands like As Kindred Spirits, who play for audiences all over the world.
Students were able to tour the world through meditation and cultural celebrations on campus at the Busch Campus Center with the help of the University’s Bhatki Yoga Club.

More than 220 people experienced a night dedicated to musical meditation, cultural singing and dancing Thursday, as they listened to world-famous, Indian-style kirtan bands As Kindred Spirits and Mayapuris while performing Bhakti yoga.

“Kirtan is the sound of the soul singing. Its purpose is to reunite with the divine through the medium of mantra or sacred sounds and to clean the heart to reawaken our true identity. It helps us realize who we are really,” said Gaura Vani, leader of As Kindred Spirits.

Yoga in the western world is known typically as a physical workout leading to flexibility and muscle tone. But Bhakti yoga achieves a higher-level, inner awareness connection through the tradition of singing sacred sounds known as kirtan, according to the club’s Web site.

Bhakti yoga is in essence a workout for the soul rather than the body, said Irina Uhakov, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, who practices it weekly.

As Kindred Spirits initially began because of Vani’s desire to find something more fulfilling than his career as a film producer.

“I just felt like I was a zombie — a robot living someone else’s life. I felt like I was developing a personality that I didn’t want for myself,” Vani said.

It was after this realization that Vani became a musician. He drew on his experiences as a youth when he studied Sanskrit, learned to play traditional instruments and sang sacred music.

He formed his group in January 2009, and since then has traveled to encompass the world nearly three times. They have performed in countless countries, including South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Canada, England and India.

The event was unlike the traditional sit-and-listen performance because of the encouragement the performers gave to stimulate interactive audience participation in singing and dancing.

For example, Gopika Kapadia, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Kevin Jones, a School of Arts of Sciences senior, were asked to join As Kindred Spirits and the Mayapuris on stage to showcase their singing and instrumental talent.

Bhakti Yoga Club president Aksh Sharma said the concert was successful based on the feedback and the energy at the end.

“This kind of energy, love and group dynamic is really what attracts me to kirtan. … I think the University as a whole just experienced something different, and they’re going to be looking forward to this more,” said Sharma, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy junior.

Bringing this event to the University’s community truly diversifies the student body, Sharma said.
“I think it is important that college students get the opportunity and a chance to see different cultures and traditions and explore,” he said.

Ushakov said the experience was phenomenal.

“It’s probably the closest group of people on campus,” Ushakov said. “The fact that you get to participate in creating the music is just so beautiful.”

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