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One of the primary aspects of Hare Krishna worship is the practice of kirtan, or the musical chanting of sacred texts with particular emphasis on the Maha Mantra, a mantra composed of names for Krishna. Devotees teach that chanting Krishna's name constitutes a literal communion with him. Adding music to the chanting of these sacred words adds a dimension of beauty and celebration reflective of the personality of Krishna, who is known as "the All-Attractive." This thesis explores three aspects of Hare Krishna kirtan. First is the theological aspect of kirtan, the system of beliefs which give purpose to the practice of chant. Next is the personal, experiential aspect of kirtan, including the emotional intensity of the music, its ability to develop a sense of relationship between devotee and deity, and its potential as a transformative experience, lifting the devotee from the mundane physical world to the realm of spiritual experience. Last is the social aspect of kirtan, as chanting is used to spread the message of Krishna Consciousness and to provide opportunities for members of different social and religious groups to celebrate together. I will focus on the musical activities at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, in order to demonstrate the power of music as a catalyst for religious experience and an agent of transformation for individuals and communities.
Hare Krishna, Kirtan, Vaishnava Hinduism, Music and Spirituality, Meditation, Music and Emotion, Mormonism, Indian-American Music, Festivals, Music and Ritual, Religious Communities, Religious Experience, Chant, Embodiment
Date of Defense
October 31, 2008.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Benjamin Koen, Professor Directing Thesis; Frank Gunderson, Committee Member; Michael Uzendoski, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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