What is the effect of community singing?
The effect of Nama-smarana has to be properly understood. Chanting the Lord’s name purifies the environment. The first step is to purify one’s own heart. Transform yourself before you set out to transform others. The role of bhajans in purifying the atmosphere should be recognised. In this context, the role of community singing should be understood. Singing bhajans in your home, you may indulge in your fancies and derive whatever joy you get there from. Sankeerthan (community singing) calls for whole-hearted, soul-full singing, which moves the hearts of the listeners. Bhajans should not be a routine ritual. You must put your heart and soul into the singing.
Divine Discourse 11 April 1997
What are the do’s and don’ts of singing bhajans?
In reciting the names of the Lord you have to bear in mind another fact. When you recite the names, thousands of devotees are listening. You must chant names which are familiar to all of them. You should not expect people to follow whatever you sing. You should see that they can easily respond to your song. The names you chant should be short and sweet. If you use big words and complicated terms, the devotees will not be able to follow you. In that situation they may get depressed. What can they do when they do not hear you properly and cannot respond in chorus? They get disgusted. Simplify the bhajans. Therefore, in your bhajans use short names like Rama, Krishna, Allah, Yesu and so on. Then all would be able to follow you with ease. If you use high-sounding words, few can follow you.
Divine Discourse 11 April 1997
What is the importance of singing the names of God?
God is a lover of music and enjoys music. Saintly devotees like Naradha and Thumburu, who are always in the proximity of God, are always singing the glory of God. Nothing else can give so much joy as music. You can please God with your music. God revels in music. Music is therefore holy. It reflects the state of one’s inner being. Singing the glories of God, render service to the people. You will derive the greatest joy when you sing and serve.
Divine Discourse 25 Dec 1997
How can we move God with our devotion in a bhajan?
The bhajans this time were done in a ritualistic fashion. Greater attention was paid to raga, thala, laya and shruti (the melody, the beat, the rhythm and the tone). All these are vyavaharika (conventional qualities). To elevate the bhajans to a spiritual level what are required are true feeling and ecstasy of devotion. The songs should flow not from the lips but from the heart. When the songs come out of the heart they will be blissful for the ears. Once Emperor Akbar asked his court musician how would he account for the fact that a wayside beggar’s music moved him more profoundly than the music of the State musician. The latter replied that while the beggar sang from his heart to please God, his music was constrained by the desire to please the Emperor.
You should sing whole-heartedly with the desire to please God. God makes no distinction between a proficient musician and a beggar in the street. It is the devotion and sincerity that matter. Merge your soul in the bhajans you sing. Spiritualize your bhajan-singing. Then you will experience real bliss.
Divine Discourse 8 March 1997
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