From the talks and writings of Paramahansa Yogananda…
Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe. Music is a divine art, to be used not only for pleasure but as a path to God-realization.
The sankirtans or musical gatherings are an effective form of yoga or spiritual discipline, necessitating intense concentration, absorption in the seed thought and sound.
In devotional singing, whether one is alone or in a group, one should not mouth a song unfeelingly or unthinkingly. The words in a song to God should never be sung without devotion. Rather, the devotional thought in a song must be predominant in the singer’s consciousness while the sounds of the words reverently, gently, softly follow the inner feeling of increasingly warm offering of love for the Lord.
A phonograph cannot give devotion, but a soul can. While praying or chanting, do not think of the words, but of their meaning, and intensely mentally offer the thought behind them to God, and your prayer will drop straight like a plummet into the depths of the sea of God’s consciousness.
Popular songs are usually inspired through sentiment or passing interests. But a song born out of the depths of true devotion to God and continuously chanted, audibly or mentally, until response is consciously received from Him in the form of boundless joy, is a spiritualized song.
To put this wisdom into practice, enjoy “The Divine Art of Kirtan,” a video and audio resource for devotional chanting on the Self-Realization Fellowship website. There you can participate in kirtans, led by SRF/YSS monastics, from recent SRF World Convocations; as well as read Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Prelude” to his book of chants, Cosmic Chants.
You will also find on the kirtan webpage a short video of Brother Chidananda, president of SRF/YSS, leading a guided meditation on the lyrics to one of Paramahansaji’s chants, “In the Temple of Silence.”