Divine Discourse On Bhajan Singing By Sathya Saibaba-4 Kinds Of Sankeerthana

Embodiments of Divine Love!

"Samyak-keerthanam Sankeerthanam" (Congregational singing of bhajans is the best of bhajans). There is a big difference between Keerthanam and Sankeerthanam. Keerthanam is an individual affair. It is singing by an individual for the fulfillment of his prayers. Sankeerthanam aims at the well being of the whole universe. This is also described as Saamaajika bhajans (community singing). This method of singing bhajans was first initiated by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

Sankeerthana aims at demonstrating unity in diversity. When all the participants combine to sing in unison with one voice, it is described as Sankeerthana.

Four kinds of Sankeerthana

One is Guna sankeethana;

two, Leela sankeerthana;

three, Bhaava sankeerthana;

four, Naama sankeerthana.

Guna Sankeertana

Guna sankeerthana applies to the kind of bhajan in which the devotee recites the auspicious qualities of the Divine, experiences oneness with the Divine, and acquires the Godly qualities. Thyaagaraaja had recourse to this type of singing. In one of his keerthanas, he exclaimed: "Oh Lord! You are beyond all words. Is it possible for even Brahma or other Gods to extol your glorious exploits? I am waiting for your grace. Hearken to my entreaties. You restored to the preceptor the son whom the Lord of Death had taken away. You conquered the God of Love. You liberated from prison Vasudheva and Dhevaki. You protected Draupadhi when she appealed to you in despair. You were the guardian of the Paandavas. You relieved Kuchela of his poverty. You saved 16,000 damsels from subjection." In this manner, Thyaagaraaja recounted the great qualities of God in his songs.

Leela Sankeerthana

Geetha Govindam is a form of Leela Sankeerthana
Leela sankeerthana refers to the enjoyment by the devotee of the sacred sport of the Divine in ecstatic dancing and singing and being totally absorbed in it. This is exemplified by the Geetha Govindam of Jayadheva.

Bhaava Sankeerthana:

This is illustrated by Raadha alone, who expresses her different feelings towards God and identifies herself with the Divine in every mood of devotion. She expressed her devotion in the five forms of Shantha (Serenity), Saakhya (friendliness), Vaathsalya (eternal love), Anuraaga (affection) and Madhura (sweetness). Raadha and Meera were the exponents of Bhaava sankeerthana.

Naama sankeerthana:

Chaithanya was the exponent of this form of keerthana. "All names are yours. There is nothing in this cosmos which does not bear the imprint of your name or form "Sarvaroopa Dharam Shaantham Sarvanaamadharam Shivam Satchidaananda Roopam Advaitham Sathyam Shivam Sundararn" (Svaami sang this sloka). Chaithanya reveled in singing the name of the Lord as signifying all that was beautiful and glorious in the universe.
While in each of the previous aeons the devotees adopted one or other methods of singing the glories, it is the supreme good fortune of the residents of Prashaanthi Nilayam to enjoy all the four forms of sankeerthana. The bhajans sung here are a combination of all the four forms of sankeerthana.

A song sung melodiously tugs at the heart-strings.

The word of a song can be expressed in prosaic manner which has no appeal to the listener. But when they are sung melodiously as in the song: "Raama! Nannu Kaapaadu"--"Raama! save me," they tug at the heart-strings. (Svaami sang the song to demonstrate its appeal). Such sweetness is contained in the song when it is rendered melodiously.Everyone, whether he is well versed in music or not, should listen attentively to the singer and try to repeat the words of the song with feeling.

Some persons attending bhajans do not move their lips at all. They may say that they are singing the songs mentally within themselves. This is not proper. If you have devotional feeling, it should be expressed by the tongue joining in the bhajan. Only then it can be called Sankeerthana--singing in unison with others. You must sing the names aloud, full-throated, as far as the voice can reach. Only then the Divine will respond in full measure and shower His grace. No one will go to the rescue of a drowning man if his cries are feeble. Only when he cries aloud at the top of his voice will the cries be heard and people will rush to save him. Sankeerthana means singing with abandon and fervor.

Everyone should realize that every limb and organ in the body has been given to man to be used for a sacred purpose: The tongue to utter the Lord's name, the hands to offer worship, the feet to go the temple and so on. These organs should not be used for frivolous and unholy purposes. Sanctifying everyone of the sense organs, man should purify the mind and contemplate on God.

Atmosphere is purified by chanting Divine Name

Experiments in Russia and other countries have demonstrated the relationship between the food one consumes and one's mental attitudes. It was found, for instance, that a child which had been fed on apple juice while it was growing in the womb, exhibited a love for apples after birth.
The recitation of the names of the Lord will help to purify the atmosphere as a result of the sacred sound waves getting absorbed in the atmosphere. The power of sound waves is evident from the way radio waves are transmitted and received over long distance. The atmosphere that has been polluted by impure sound waves can be purified by the chanting of the Divine Name.

Likewise, sacred thoughts, pure speech and pure actions will purify other polluted elements. There is no better purifying agent than this. Crores are being spent to purify the Ganges water. Of what use is this exercise if the Ganges continues to be polluted by the discharge of drainage water into the river? First prevent the flow of filthy effluents into the Ganges.

In the same manner, the evil thoughts arising in the mind should be diverted and it should be filled with pure Godly thoughts by reciting the Divine name.

Everyone participating in bhajans should sing the name of the Lord and thereby serve to purify the atmosphere and promote the well being of the nation.

-Bhagwan Sri Sathya Saibaba
Divine Discourse, Prashanti Nilayam, 3 March 1992


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