The history of kiirtana can be traced back to the ancient land of Rarh that now spreads across the states of West Bengal, Jharkand and Bihar in India. Some of the first Kiirtan composers were Shrii Jayadev and Shrii Chandidas in the 12 Century AD but kiirtana became very popular with the help of Shrii Caetanya Mahaprabhu in early 16th Century. Later other poets contributed to the tradition that is still one of the important song genres in India.
Rev. Shrii Shrii Ánandamúrti Ji composed and authorized a new mantra to be used for singing kiirtana in October 1970. It is “Baba Nam Kevalam”, which is often translated as “Love is All There Is” but more specifically has the spirit of “I only want to sing and ideate on the name of Supreme Father, my dearest and nearest.” He then explained the history and benefits of the lalita marmika dance, and prescribed this dance to accompany the kiirtana singing. The lalita marmika dance was invented by Mother Párvatii, the wife of Lord Shiva, the first yoga master who lived on this earth, on the highest peaks of the Himalayas around 7,000 years ago.
When dancing and singing kiirtana all the motor and sensory organs are engaged, and thus the mind is smoothly directed to the Supreme Cosmic Entity by the ideation of the mantra Baba Nam Kevalam. As the mind becomes more devotional and blissful the dance movements limber the joints of the body. Kiirtana is therefore important for preparing the body and mind for doing meditation. During all collective functions of Ananda Marga singing of kiirtana plays an important role in invoking Divinity. Devotion indeed is the most important part of spiritual life and kiirtana is the best practice to arouse devotion in the human heart.