"The Way of Love: Kirtan as Worship" - An Interview with Vaiyasaki Das (Integral Yoga Magazine, Winter 2009).
In 1978, Vaiyasaki Das arrived in Bangladesh. On a boat trip down the Meghna River he chanced upon a local kirtan band
on its way to a festival. He decided to follow them and attend that festival. That night his life changed forever. He discovered the
ancient Bengali art of raga kirtan and was moved as never before. In this interview, the legendary kirtan singer shares the wisdom of
the art and heart of kirtan.
Integral Yoga Magazine (IYM): How did you get your
name and how did you become drawn to the ancient
Bengali kirtan tradition?
Vaiyasaki Das (VD): My guru, Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, gave me this name. It is the name of a great
sage who attained perfection through kirtan. Once I
discovered what the name meant and, because I loved
music, I felt that was a message there from my guru. Doors
opened and I went through them; the bridges appeared
and I crossed them.
In the early 1970s, I met some Bengali people and heard
their kirtan, and it blew me away. I was overpowered and
in tears. In that part of India, the mood is more open,
more emotionally expressive. I was very drawn to that
style. I was living in India in 1975 and studying Sanskrit.
Then a few years later, I heard some Bengali kirtan
groups and wanted to learn that style of kirtan. So I
went to Bangladesh and began studying Bengali. I was
traveling by boat one day and noticed there was a group
of musicians in the boat. I met them and began studying
with them. They did fantastic kirtans, a type of kirtan I
had never heard before, and I soon learned that this was
the raga kirtan style...
Download complete interview with Vaiyasaki Das.