Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Sankirtan Mean?

Sankirtan is a form of song or chanting that praises God and is performed in a public setting. The term comes from the Sanskrit root, kirtan, which means “praising,” “celebrating” or “glorifying.” San comes from the word, samyak, which means “complete.”

Westerners have been exposed to sankirtan through the Hare Krishna movement, whose followers publicly sing the praises of Lord Krishna, often to the accompaniment of drums or other percussion instruments and sometimes with dancing. When the sankirtan takes to the streets, it is called nagara-sankirtan.


Yogapedia Explains Sankirtan

Sankirtan serves to cleanse the mind and the spirit while praising God. It is often performed in Hindu temples, but it is a practice common to many religions. In Christianity, for example, singing hymns in church or at a revival would be a form of sankirtan.

In Hinduism, the name of the deity being praised is typically repeated. One of the most well-known chants performed in sankirtan is the Maha Mantra, popularized in the West in George Harrison's song, “My Sweet Lord”:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

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