About Vanaras Music

Vanaras Music is a record label created to support a community of friends and musicians who have been singing kirtan together for many years. With numerous requests to share their music with a wider audience, Vanaras Music was born. It's goal is to facilitate the distribution and promotion of kirtan and spiritual music albums, as well as live events in the broader community. Founded in 2014 by Lily Cushman, owner of the Brooklyn Yoga School, this new label is launching it's debut release in March 2014 with a live chant compilation featuring Ambika Cooper, Devadas, Jeremy Frindel, Lily Cushman, Nina Rao, and Shyama Chapin entitled "Kirtan!". In the coming year, watch for several more studio albums to be released from artists Ambika Cooper, Anjula Prasad and Shyama Chapin.


Vanaras Origin

The name "Vanaras" pronounced (v-aa-nuh-ruz) वानर is from the Indian tale, the Ramayana. As described in this epic, the Vanaras are a race created by the gods to help Rama in battle against Ravana. The Vanaras (including Hanuman) took birth in bears and monkeys attaining the shape and valor of the gods and goddesses who created them. In paying homage to these great beings, we aim  to remember their qualities of devotion and service in the work of promoting and sharing the practice of of Kirtan in the world.

About Kirtan

Singing has always been a natural conduit for storytelling and prayer. Every culture carries it's unique flavor and tradition. Kirtan hails from the temples and hearts of India, where it has been practiced for thousands of years. This style of singing is rooted in call and response chanting of sanskrit mantras and devotional songs. At it's core, it's considered a spiritual practice and pathway of self discovery, and a form of yoga and meditation. Each repetition of the mantra is a way to gather our awareness and concentration and to be fully present in the moment. The mantras themselves are like gateways to different aspects of ourselves. The supporting music offers it's beautiful flavor of melodies and instrumentation that make the practice sweet and fun. It's like a child taking cough syrup: the mantras are the medicine and the music is the sweet syrup that helps it go down.

The words of these chants are called the divine names and they come from a place that’s deeper than our hearts and our thoughts, deeper than the mind. And so as we sing them they turn us towards ourselves, into ourselves. They bring us in, and as we offer ourselves into the experience, the experience changes us
— Krishna Das