Bhakti Yoga and Kirtan
Bhakti yoga is sometimes described as Union through love and devotion or, " Love for loves sake". To that end, it is a path to Self Realization. Kirtan is a form of Bhakti yoga. It is a form of devotion through music, which employs singing by call and response, or shared recitation of chants and devotional music.
Gitanjali our Kirtan Band:
Mission Statement: Gitanjali offers Kirtan for the upliftment of society and connection to Universal Self. Their music is considered Bhakti yoga, an expression of the Divine Love and Union, which permeates all things. Gitanjali plays throughout the tri- state area, at yoga centers, ashrams, spiritual gatherings and similar venues. Their music, steeped in spirituality, has been described as exuding soulfulness and grace; it is uplifting- inspiring peace, unity and contemplation.
Style: Gitanjali’s music has roots in traditional Kirtan (call and response devotional music), and classical Bhajans. Their Bhajans are infused with gospel and soul. Rock, jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms and classical music have also influenced their unique sound. As such, their style appeals to listeners from a wide variety of musical genres. Each of Gitanjali’s band members lend a unique gift to the band’s style and sound. True to their roots, Gitanjali’s members practice Bhakti yoga and are engaged in rich spiritual and contemplative practices.
Band Member Bios:
Priyananda, Vocals, Harmonium, Guitar: Kirtan and Bhakti yoga have been an inspirational and integral part of Priyananda, (Healing Lotus'Founder) yoga practice and music has always been an important part of Priyananda’s life. As a child, she played the flute, she has played the guitar for over 30 years, and recently taught herself to play the harmonium. She credits Bhakti yoga, for helping her find her own voice. Her music, steeped in spirituality, soulfulness and grace, is uplifting- inspiring peace, unity and contemplation. Priyananda has been on the spiritual path since she was an adolescent. Her studies have included mediation and holistic healing, since 1981. She was blessed to have encountered several mentors and spiritual teachers along her path which have led her to multi-faceted, yet inter- related spiritual practices.
Priyananda is a certified Reiki Master Teacher and a certified Yoga Instructor. She has taught yoga and meditation practices throughout New Jersey and the Tri- State area for over 17 years. Some of her teachers include; Korean Yoga Master Sasson Seo, Parvathi Nanda Nath Saraswati, Dr. Jeff Migdow and Marisa Bonafonti. Priyananda trained and studied mindfulness meditation at the Santisukha Buddhist Meditation Center with the Venerable Sung O Sunim, from 2002- 2006. She is grateful to all of her teachers, and is honored to share what she has learned through teaching yoga, meditation and leading Kirtan.
Priyananada was first exposed to Kirtan in 2002. She has sung with Sharon Silverstein and the Peace Project, and sang backup vocals for a song on their latest CD, “Octave of Love”. Priyananda now sings, and plays guitar and harmonium for Gitanjali, the Kirtan band she Co-Founded with Dhyana Devi. The name of their band, Gitanjali, means Song of Divine Offering.
Dhyana Devi, Vocals, Harmonium: has been in the blissful presence of spiritual masters for most of her life. Her unique, blissful singing style is a blend of her classical training, and deep devotion. As a child, Devi spent her formative years at the feet Sri Brahmanda Saraswati at Ananda Ashram in upstate New York. When her guru took Maha Samadhi in the early 90's she was embraced by the arms of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) and became a devotee. With over 20 years as a Kirtan leader, she has nourished and honed a passion for mantra, sacred text, and the performance of pujas/homas for the upliftment of all beings. Despite Devi's busy schedule, she makes time to be the music director for a local Santana Dharma class for children and the music coordinator for various satsangs (spiritual gatherings) in New Jersey.
Randy Sutin, Bass and Cajon: Randy was raised in a home of musicians, both of his parents taught music privately in their home. He studied piano starting at age 4 and guitar starting at age 8. At age 10 he began his study of the drums. He began playing music professionally (mostly rock and some country) with local groups at age 13. He decided to study music in college and at age 20, he began to study mallet percussion, where he acquired an affinity for the vibraphone, which has now become the main staple of his professional life as a musician.
Randy has performed with wonderful soloists including; Cecil Payne, Big Nick Nicholas, Charles Davis, Benny Powell, Tom Harrel, Bill Hardman and Junior Cook. Randy became a regular member of Bill Hollis’s quartet and worked regularly and recorded with the Barry Sames Jazz Ensemble. Recently, he has been a regular member of the late pianist Eddie Green’s group and was featured on Eddie’s last CD, "Shades of Green.” Randy performs with Tyrone Brown's String Ensemble, a wonderful collaboration of jazz quartet and string quartet featuring Tyrone's compositions and arrangements.
A multifaceted and accomplished musician in his own right, Randy recorded a CD with his wife Marianne, called “Meditations for Percussion and Flute”. It is the first recording of what he calls, Balanced American Music. Randy’s musical career has led him towards the world of kirtan and the practice of bhakti yoga. It has also brought him near some performers of Northern Indian classical music, who are hugely inspirational to him. Additionally, Randy has played with Deva Premal and Miten, Manose, Girish, Jahnavi Harrison, and was featured on Jai Uttal’s CD.
Victor Concepcion, Vocals, Keyboards and Conga Drums: Victor is a musical virtuoso and talented composer. From a young age, he was able to pick up an instrument and teach himself how to play it. Victor plays percussion, conga drums, tabla, bass, guitar, piano and keyboard. He has played in numerous bands, for a variety of musical genres. Victor has professionally played classical music, progressive rock, salsa, and classical bhajans. He has taught music in New York City, has run Band Camps, and directed music and Bhajans for Satsangs throughout NYC and NJ. Victor is also a Devotee of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, (Amma).
Mr. Skip, Vocals and Percussion: Mr. Skip is a devotee of Amma.
Holistic Therapies: Psychotherapy, Yoga Therapy & Reiki