Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
We are now full bore into the Christmas season, where parties are being held, presents are being bought and Santa's sleigh is about to reappear as a mystery to young children.
At the same time, churches are rolling out classic hymns, malls resound with music from the season and the drive home from work is made less tense by the car radio playing Christmas carols. Even for those who do not participate in this unique time on the Christian calendar, music is a way to share in the season.
Which leads to this week's question:
Why is music so central to Christmas - or any other religious story?
In Brahma's work, the Śrī Brahma-saḿhitā, a very detailed description of the kingdom of God, the following description is given, "kathā gānaḿ nātyaḿ gamanam." Meaning that in the kingdom of God every word is a song, and every step is a dance.
Kirtan, singing God's glories with music, is the easiest form of religious practice. It requires no wealth, or austere vows. One does not need to be a great scholar or season practitioner. All one needs is to sing God's glories with unwavering devotion. Therefore the father of kirtan, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, has recommended that in this Age of Quarrel, the most effective means to bring about God-consciousness is by chanting His holy names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, or any actual name of God.