Are art, music and supra-aesthetic science inseparable? To proclaim the glories of Parama puruśa, the Supreme Consciousness, in a loud voice is termed “kiirtana”. The Saḿskrta root verb kirtt means to “utter something loudly so that others may also hear it”; thus kiirtana means to proclaim the glories of the Lord loudly for all to hear.
Now the question is, does Parama Puruśa really want people to sing His glories? He never tells anyone to do kiirtana for Him: then why should people do kiirtana? There is a subtle science behind kiirtana. Human beings always want to proceed form the crude to the subtle in all spheres of life: they always seek the subtle amidst the crude and in the subtle they always seek the subtlest – this is how they advance towards greater and greater subtlety.
Primitive human beings in the distant past used to appreciate the harmony of music; they also liked to dance in joy. But the music of the people of the prehistoric age was extremely crude, and so was their style of dance. However, their urge to seek the subtle amidst the crude was very great, and thus in the process they evolved various kinds of rhythmic dance, and various styles of rhythms. Similarly, they came to appreciate subtle aesthetic beauty in melody as well, by bringing songs within a definite system and introducing various rágas and ráginiis (classical melodies). This was largely done by Sadáshiva. Later a perfect blending of song and dance through tála (metre) was developed. It was Shiva who first introduced the particular dance of tańd́ava, and His wife Parvati who developed another special dance known as lalita lásya. This is how in the process of the artistic endeavour to advance from the crude to the subtle, people developed the science which is called aesthetic science; and as a result of this subtle development, people no longer appreciated the cruder expressions of life.
Once upon a time people preferred baked or roasted food; in fact, in ancient times they used to eat everything baked or roasted, for they did not know how to cook at all. Gradually they developed the art of cooking by adding spices, and thus they learned how to prepare special and delicious dishes like ghańt́a, shukto, etc. [various delectable food preparations]. Once they experienced the taste of something subtle, they no longer appreciated anything prepared crudely. Similarly, once people had heard something rhythmic and melodious, they could no longer appreciate any crude song or music.
Previously people only watched silent films, but once the “talkies” were introduced, they no longer appreciated those silent movies. Nowadays if silent films are shown in any cinema of a city, even free of charge, there is hardly any gathering – people would much rather go elsewhere, making polite excuses. But at cinemas where contemporary films are shown, people rush to purchase tickets even on the black market.
Thus the general psychology is that once people experience something subtle, they automatically discard the crude. This continuous progress from the crude to the subtle, and from the subtle to the subtlest aspects of life, comes within the scope of aesthetic science, and in this process of movement ultimately we reach a state in which our refined tastes, refined feelings, and refined expressions transport us into the realm of Eternal Beauty. Then those who attain such a state will no longer possess the ability or capacity to taste the beauty of anything: the beauty of music, or the beauty of dance will no longer remain an object of experience for them; because at that time they will have attained a state so intoxicated with joy that they will lose their limited identity, and thus their ability to experience anything. This exalted state beyond even aesthetic science is called Mohana Vijiṋána or supra-aesthetic science. That is, those who are enthralled with delight can no longer experience anything at all, because their very entitative rhythm is almost lost.
The diverse schools of music or dance that people have developed so far, and the many more varied branches of music and dance that will be developed in future, are all meant to provide joy to people through aesthetic science. But kiirtana was first invented by devotees to give joy to parama Puruśa, and in the process of pleasing and delighting Parama Puruśa, the devotees lost themselves. Thus kiirtana belongs to the category of supra-aesthetic science.
Now the question may be asked, what is supra-aesthetic science? To put it precisely, it is the endeavour to ensconce the microcosmic entity, the individual entitative rhythm, in the eternal being, the infinite rhythm of Parama Puruśa. So of all the branches of music, kiirtana is the best. And since music is the composite of song, dance and instrumental music, kiirtana is not only song – it also includes instrumental music. These three aspects of music when combined together create such an unblemished, heavenly environment that people completely forget themselves. This is the charm, the excellence, of kiirtana. So those who are truly intelligent should certainly do kiirtana. So those who are truly intelligent should certainly do kiirtana either in public, or if they feel rather shy – in private.