(This article was written in the late 40s.)
The Sankirtan conducted at Ananda Kutir at nights has its own remarkable special features which will not be found anywhere in India. It is more a class of silent common meditation and Samadhi. It is a Santa type of Sankirtan. It is not a violent type of Sankirtan which you will find in Punjab, U.P., Bengal and other places.
Mridanga, Tabala, Dole, Cymbals, Kartals are not used at all. There is no clapping of hands. Aspirants sit in the meditative pose. One man sings sweetly and gently Namavalis or Dhwanis and the others follow. In other places only some select people lead but at Ananda Kutir the turn comes to everyone. Even ladies, children and servants get their turn. Even big officers who feel shy in doing Kirtan are made to do Kirtan.
The opening Kirtans are Ganesa Kirtan, Sarasvati Kirtan, Guru Kirtan, Mahamantra Kirtan, Panchakshara Kirtan Hanuman Kirtan and Gauranga Kirtan. Om is chanted first loudly three times to begin with. As Lord Gauranga revived the Kirtan movement and as his name is ever associated with Sankirtan, Kirtan of his name also is done. Kirtan is no Kirtan if Sri Hanuman is not invoked. Whenever Ramanam is sung, there dwells Hanuman. Hence Hanuman Kirtan also is recited at the beginning. On Fridays there is special Devi Kirtan. On Thursdays there is special Dattatreya Guru Kirtan. On Saturdays there is special Hanuman Kirtan.
The Sankirtan of Ananda Kutir is more a Japa Kirtan. Panchakshara, Ashtakshara, Dvadasakshara, Rama Taraka, Mahavakya, Gita Slokas and Upanishadic Mantras are sung very beautifully. Mahamantra Kirtan is sung in a variety of ways. There is Sanskrit Kirtan. There is Nirguna Kirtan also.
Further the Sankirtan class is also a lecture class. Swamiji's English philosophical songs, Sanskrit songs and Vedantic songs are sung in the interval. This itself forms a lecture. The students give an introduction to the song first which itself is a beautiful lecture. The songs are full of practical spiritual instructions.
Hindi Bhajans are sung in the interval. Occasionally harmonium and Tabala are used on special functions. For Akhanda Kirtan cymbals are used at night to drive out sleepiness.
The recitation of Srisukta, Lakshmi Ashtottara, Samagana and Vedic chanting are thrilling and touching.
Children are specialists in doing lectures and Kirtans.
Sometimes the whole 'Wavelets of Bliss' of Sri Swamiji in English and Tamil tunes is sung.
Swamiji will sing 'Philosophy and Yoga', 'Wisdom Sparks', 'Sangita Lila Yoga', and 'Sangita Bhagavata'. There will be no satiety even if you hear hundreds of times his 'Maya' poem and 'Divine Creeper'.
Sometimes two-party and three-party Kirtan are done. This inspires and arouses many. Chanting Om and Ram is also done in two parties.
On Sundays Aditya Hridayam is recited. On Thursdays Dattatreya Stuti is chanted. On Mondays Sarvalingastava is recited. On Saturdays Sangita Hanuman Chalisa (40 verses) in Hindi is recited. On Ekadasi days Vishnu Sahasranama is recited and Sangita Ramayana in Hindi is sung.
Daily Mahabharata Santi Parva, Upanishads, one chapter of the Gita, MindIts Mysteries and Control, Aphorisms, Yoga-Vasishtha are recited. Sometimes dramas 'Radha's Prem', 'Gita Drama' and 'Brahmavidya Vilas' are enacted.
The function closes with common meditation, Arati song 'Jaya Jaya Arati Venugopala', prayer for World-Peace and distribution of Prasad.