Bhajans – Singing for Him

Meaning:

The etymology of Bhajan has stemmed from the root word ‘Bhaj’– “to honour, adore.”  Thus, singing Bhajans is a form of active involvement of a devotee in the worship of the Divine. It is the Love, respect and adoration felt by the worshipper towards his/her own personal God. The kind of love expressed for Krishna in Meera Bhajans or the state in which Chaitanya Maha Prabhu sung for His Lord transporting every listener into His divine realm, enabling them to visualize their Lord, through the Bhajans. Singing Adoration, bhajana; in His name forcing him to listen and appear is the essence of a Bhajan.

History and Origin:

 Bhakti, as explained on the Wikipedia, is the technical term meaning ‘portion or share’. Bhajans are a way or means of showing ‘Bhakti’ or Devotion by the aspirant. Bhajans are that part of bhakti where the devotee rapturously sings praise of the Divine and expresses his/her true love, adoration, devotion to the Lord.

 Bhajans first found their mention and place in the Hindu Scriptures in the Sama Veda, the fourth Veda in the Hindu scriptures. They have been informally sung and practiced from the time Devotion or bhakti found vocal expression. They have established a distinctive place different from Sanskrit shloka and Hymns by virtue of their easy flow, simplicity and instant appeal to the common mass. A Bhajan is usually rendered in the colloquial dialect, simple tune accompanied by single musical instrument, touching the innermost chords of every devotee. The rendition is simple, straight from the heart and voices the inner feeling, love adoration of every true worshipper, encouraging the devotee to sing, imbibe and love the Lord through the Bhajans. The fixed tunes, repetition of words mesmerize the listener and help bring an inner transformation. Most Bhajans describe the God’s glories; are interlaced and beautifully woven with anecdotes and episodes from the Lord’s life.

Types of Bhajans:

A dive into the past will reveal the ubiquitous nature of Bhajans in every home and at the core of every ardent devotee’s heart. In the Haridas tradition Bhajans are more popularly known as Kirtans, the way they are addressed by musicians in Southern India. Nirguna bhakti, Vallabhapanthi, Madhura bhakti, Gorakhanathi is some still prevalent traditions of Bhajan singing. Each sect has their own distinctive styles and way of singing.

History reveals that Kirtans or Bhajans started primarily in southern India and spread to the Northern parts. The spearheads of this method of communion with god were Alvars, the Vaishnavites and Nayanars, download mobile Ben 10 game Shaivites in the late 5th century AD or the early 6th Century. The Alvars and the Nayanars eminent singers/saints lyrical, ecstatic, moving devotional compositions were eventually incorporated by the Ramanuja and Madhava philosophical systems.

This period was dominated by the Muslim rulers in the Northern part and only by the middle of the medieval period, somewhere between the 14th to the 17th century did singers/ philosophers/saints like Meera Bai, Kabir, Chaitanya MahaPrabhu, Tulsidas and Tukaram, to name a few, spearheaded the Bhakti movement in the North through their soul searing renditions and melodious compositions in the praise of the Lord. The pivotal message of these saints was to cast aside meaningless rituals and complexities of philosophy and simply immerse oneself in the true divine love for the Divine.

All the aforementioned saints attained salvation singing for Him and Him alone oblivious to all else. With their eyes closed and lost to all else, meditating on the lotus feet or form of the Lord invoking His appearance. They realized through Bhajans and attained Nirvana singing for him.

Even Islam has Sufi music, akin to our Bhajans. Sufi saints attain communion with Allah singing His praise. The central theme behind Sufism is meditation and finding the truth, similar to what Chaitanya Maha prabhu and Shankara, Madhavacharya and Ramanuja philosophy and preaching. Bhajans and Sufi music are thus, the song of the soul.

Because of the simplistic nature of the compositions all the assembled devotees would participate, lose self for a while and achieve that state of communion with the Divine singing along with the eminent saints. Bhajan Mandalis and gatherings became the best stress busters. Everyone came eagerly under one roof keeping aside their petty differences, background and cultural gaps; sat together and unhesitatingly participated in the singing. The lyrics, style, music of the Bhajans gives a feeling of being set free or in a state of bliss; something everyone one longs to experience on a more permanent basis.

Music itself is heavenly and devotional music; divine. Bhajans are thus a complete surrender, expression of love and adoration to Him, through music, the language of the heart. It is said that when Purandara Dasa was barred from visiting the temple he started singing and called out the Lord’s name, in sheer grief and forced Lord Vishnu to appear through the wall. This place is today known as Paduranga Vitthala sthala. .

Meera Bai’s love for Krishna and her utter faith in Him and expression of love and adoration in her every waking moment crystallises in her soulful compositions, and also the many times she forced Krishna to save her, and come to her aide.

All the saints of yore attained salvation through any one method or practice followed to the end with sincerity and faith and complete surrender. Ramakrishna Parmahamsa went into a state of Samadhi merging with Goddess kali singing her name. Meera bai attained Samadhi with her beloved Krishna’s chant on her lips. Till Bhajans don’t come straight from the heart they go unheard by the Lord. Such should be the power of these Bhajans, they should be sung for Him, with Him in the heart and the soul rending music must reach Him and force Him to listen, appear and change the heart of the singer. The essence of the Bhajans must change the heart of the devotee and help him/her merge, surrender to Him, through the Bhajans. Then alone can Bhajans be said to be a Bhajans, songs of the soul, sung for Him.