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Kirtana

Kirtana is a South Indian form of rendering religious songs that originated in the 14th century. A Kirtana aims to pray and invoke the Ishta Devata, the deity one believes. Words are more important in a Kirtana than the composition. The compositions in a Kirtana are simple, so any singer can render these. Around twenty thousand Kirtana-s from the 15th and 16th centuries are available on copper plates, composed by The Tallapaakkma Musicians. There are instructions with every song that it should be sung in which particular Raga. Annammacharya, Pedda Tirumala Angaar, Chinmaya, Purandaradasa, Bhadrachalama Ramdasa, Narayana Teertha, Giriraja Kavi, Vijaya Gopala Swami, Thyagaraja, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Arunachla Kavirayara, Ramalingaswami are some of the famous Kirtanakara’s of the Southern India. 


Kirtana is a South Indian form of rendering religious songs that originated in the 14th century. A Kirtana aims to pray and invoke the Ishta Devata, the deity one believes. Words are more important in a Kirtana than the composition. The compositions in a Kirtana are simple, so any singer can render these. Around twenty thousand Kirtana-s from the 15th and 16th centuries are available on copper plates, composed by The Tallapaakkma Musicians. There are instructions with every song that it should be sung in which particular Raga. Annammacharya, Pedda Tirumala Angaar, Chinmaya, Purandaradasa, Bhadrachalama Ramdasa, Narayana Teertha, Giriraja Kavi, Vijaya Gopala Swami, Thyagaraja, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Arunachla Kavirayara, Ramalingaswami are some of the famous Kirtanakara’s of the Southern India. 
Kirtana is also a part of the doctrine of Navavidha Bhakti, wherein Salvation can be attained by invoking God in nine different ways. To praise the Almighty by singing and describing his virtues and related stories, to chant His name is part of the Kirtana tradition. Over some time, it has become a social institution, due to  the services it provides in spreading the religion among the masses. In Maharashtra, the person performing the Kirtana is called a Haridas or Kathekaribuva. As he is a communicator, he needs to be well-read, sharp, witty to make an impression on the crowd. 
The Kirtana-s are performed on the occasions of religious festivals and are usually performed in the temple, in the Yatra-s, at the Teerthakshetra’s or during the festival of a particular deity. Usually, it is meant for the masses but as an exception, it can be performed for the self also. Dance is also a part of the Kirtana that is meant for the masses. 
Sage Narada is believed to be the founder of this institution. Holy books like Srimad Bhagavata describe the importance of Kirtana. The famed lineage of saints in Maharashtra to the likes of Dnyaneshwara, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas and their followers have followed and spread the tradition of Kirtana. Sant Namdev is considered to be the first Kirtanakara of Maharashtra. 
The Kirtana in the Narada tradition has two parts. The first half is Poorva-ranga, and the second half is Uttar-ranga. In the Kirtana of Varkari Sampradaya, the importance is given to the Nirupana & Bhajana, and the Akhyana or the story part is always secondary.
The institution of Kirtana is a powerful tool of public education and religious education. This tradition is followed in all parts of India with local variations and names.

Districts/Region

Maharashtra,  India.

Cultural Significance

The institution of Kirtana is a powerful tool of public education and religious education. This tradition is followed in all parts of India with local variations and names.


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