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Offline tana

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What is KIRTAN??
« on: October 17, 2007, 01:08:32 AM »
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  • Om Sai Ram~~~

    What is Kirtan?

    Kirtan has been defined in various ways. It means “laudatory recital, verbal and literary, of the name and qualities of a person. But its technical meaning consists in the repeated utterance of the name and description of the qualities of the divine being or beings,”[4]. According to Sikh religion, kirtan is the devotional singing of the praises of God in melody and rhythm. The composition is generally sung is classical raga with the appropriate tala. Though the appeal of sacred music is generally directed to one’s feelings, the element of intellect is not ignored. The meaning and the significance of the words of the songs need to be understood in all its ramifications. For Guru Tegh Bahadur, kirtan is the singing of “the glory of God with words, mind and action,”[5]. According to the Adi Granth, the praises of God can be sung, tuned lilted, contemplated, uttered, intoned, listened to, discoursed on or played on instruments. The main aim of kirtan is to hymn the glory of God and to get spiritually closer to Him, because the goal in merger in Him. The Gurus commended it as the easiest and most effective way of spiritual fulfilment.

    In kirtan, more important than the musical element is the feeling of love and devotion of the disciple. Even the best and perfect melody, unless accompanied by true belief and sincere feeling for God, may be of no avail. According to the Gurus, mere technical perfection of musical rendering and vocal skill is not kirtan. Guru Ramdas says:

    “Some sing of God through vocal music, musical instruments and chanting in various ways, but the Master is not pleased thereby.
    What can crying (crocodile tears) accomplish for those who are full of fraud and sin within.” [6]


    So also the singing of secular or uninspired verses so-called holy men bring neither benefit nor solace. The Gurus disapproved the singing of geets or kachi bani composed by fake preceptors and poetasters. Guru Amardas says:

    “When a person sings and you do not feel uplifted,
    It is because his singing, arising, from his ego, falls flat,”[7]


    Elsewhere he affirms:

    “ Duality can give no delight; the ego-centered finds no refuge.
    Devotion cannot be produced through hypocrisy and as such the Lord is not attained.” [8]


    Guru Ramdas says:

    “The Lord is beyond the melodies and airs.
    Merely through these, His will cannot be realised.” [9]


    Pure, secular, sensual or festive type of music-even one connected with the love-stories of gods and goddesses or prophets-is not kirtan. Devotional music is that which promotes equipoise of mind or meditation on Divinity. Kirtan is an aid or a catalyst to enable the individual to attune himself with the Infinite. Music which is prostituted or profaned by catering to the satisfaction of lower instincts or someone’s ego or for mercenary motives is known as ‘fake’ music.

    The love of God is not won by music, chanting or dance. Even if the quality of music is inferior, He is won by the longing and love of the heart. Those songs are beautiful which tame the mind and link the soul with the Lord. Therefore he who truly loves God is capable of doing justice to sacred music. His singing produces the appropriate feeling and helps his listeners and evoke parallel feelings among the congregation. The singer gets stability of mind and imparts a feeling of equipoise to the audience.

    Nowadays there is a tendency among the Sikhs and on the part on some Gurdwaras relaying kirtan through tapes and loud-speakers so that the people living in the neighbourhood may listen to the sacred music. Though this activity is inspired by a good movie, it has often proved counter-productive and created a lot of hostility between Sikhs and non-Sikhs, and also discouraged the Sikhs from visiting the temples or joining the congregation. Similarly routine singing of a part of the Asa-di-var every morning by professionals (ragis) or granthis, in the absence of the congregation is hardly conducive to the devotion which kirtan by singers lacking character and piety has often led to friction and protest. Besides, the mercenary motives of ragis often produce antipathy towards kirtan. The Gurus discouraged the performance of kirtan as means of amassing wealth. On the other hand, they said that kirtan is meant to “cut the chain of maya or attachment to wordly goods and possessions”[10]. The aim of kirtan is to bring peace and joy to the mind and to attain to the stage of sahaj (bliss). It has been observed that sometimes the singers sing the hymns in films tunes which distract the mind and bring to the listener’s memory a recollection of the scenes in which the original film was sung. That is why religious organisations like the Shiromani Committee have rightly banned the singing of Shabads in film tunes in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib.


    Jai Sai Ram~~~
    "लोका समस्ता सुखिनो भवन्तुः
    ॐ शन्तिः शन्तिः शन्तिः"

    " Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu
    Aum ShantiH ShantiH ShantiH"~~~

    May all the worlds be happy. May all the beings be happy.
    May none suffer from grief or sorrow. May peace be to all~~~

    Offline tana

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    Re: What is KIRTAN??
    « Reply #1 on: October 18, 2007, 01:45:04 AM »
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  • Om Sai Ram~~~

    Benefits of Kirtan~~~

    Guru Arjan who compiled and grouped the hymns of Gurus and Bhagats under different ragas has mentioned the manifold benefits of Kirtan. There are four great objectives of human life: dharam (righteousness), arth (wealth), kam (success) and mokshu (salvation). All these four are achieved by kirtan [11], under the Lord’s will:

    “Whoever chants or listens to Kirtan, his evil consciousness disappears.
    All his wishes are fulfilled and his hopes are satisfied.” [12]


    Elsewhere Guru Arjan writes:

    “Man obtains dominion, comforts, enjoyments and eternal bliss by kirtan of the Holy Name and all his wishes are fulfilled.
    Nanak the slave says, one who is preordained by the Creator has his tasks accomplished.”[13]


    In addition to the above benefits, kirtan is the fountain of so many blessings, some of which are mentioned as follows:

    1) Remedy against Evil~~~~

    The devotional music clears the mind of the accumulated filth of previous existences. It gradually washes the inner consciousness and man becomes holy and spotless through the power of kirtan. Sacred music is regarded as a panacea of all ailments. It is a sure remedy for all the diseases of the mind. It removes evil inclinations and wicked thoughts. Guru Arjan Dev says:

    “The disciple who obtains the panacea of Thy Name, gets rid of the diseases of many births.
    O man, perform kirtan day and night, which is the fruitful avocation of human life.” [14]


    According to the Gurus, kirtan removes duality and the five vices of lust, anger, greed, wordly attachment and pride. It removes the root of selfishness-the ego-which leads to action and the consequent chain-reaction of cause and effect.

    2) Support of Life~~~

    The Gurus regarded kirtan as their prop of life and their soul’s nourishment. Guru Arjan regarded it as a divine blessing and valued it as an aid to holy living. Referring to the devoted singers, he says:

    They acquire permanent seat in the Infinite Mansion.” [15]

    The Gurus thought kirtan particularly suitable to the house-holder’s way of life. Austerities and penances for family-people are terribly painful and irrelevant. So the best way of spiritual development for people with social commitment is sacred music. It produces a kind of detachment in the midst of family life. Guru Arjan says:

    “He who day and night chants kirtan remains detached in his household.” [16]

    Moreover the homely comparisons and analogies like the seed and the tree, the spider and the web, the river and the sea, the thread and the gems, the river and boat, the puppet and the puppeteer convey clearly moral and spiritual ideas through perfect melodies.

    3) Source of Virtue~~~

    Kirtan purifies the mind and leads to a life of virtue. It produces a desire in the devotee to emulate the qualities which we associate with God, for example, truth, justice, compassion, fearlessness, etc. Kirtan reinforces ethical conduct. Guru Ramdas says:

    “Blessed is the destiny of the good people who by performing kirtan becomes virtuous persons.”[17]

    Guru Arjan refers of the noble life of the devotee and says:

    “He hears the kirtan and engages himself in meditation. This is the characteristic of holy life.” [18]

    This is a story current in Iran (Persia) about a group of Sikhs who had settled there in the eighteenth century in a place called “Duzdan” which literally means the place of thieves. Once the ruler of that country happened to pass incognita through that place early in the morning. At that time, the Sikhs who had gathered together in a house, as usual were performing kirtan. The ruler heard the sacred music, while standing outside and was much impressed by their devotion. He felt that the name of the town should be changed as it was not a place of thieves but of holy men. He changed the name of the town from “Duzdan” to “Zahindan” which means the city of pious. Such is the great influence of kirtan on people who belong to other faiths.

    4) Valuable Asset~~~

    The Gurus regarded kirtan as an invaluable gem, a diamond, Guru Ramdas says:

    “God’s Name is the only jewel and ruby. Through it, truth, contentment and wisdom are obtained... Kirtan is a priceless diamond. It is an ocean of bliss and virtues.” [19]

    The comparison is appropriate for obvious reasons. Firstly, just as the diamond emits light, kirtan provides illumination in this dark world. It is beneficial to the physically and spiritually blind, because they can listen to kirtan and thus gain peace of mind. Secondly, kirtan pierces the heart just as the diamond cuts through a hard substance. Guru Ramdas says:

    “God Name is a diamond and a ruby, with which my soul and body are pierced .”[20]

    Thirdly like the diamond, kirtan is a permanent and stable asset. Guru Arjan affirms:

    “Kingdom, wealth and paraphernalia are of no use; God’s kirtan is my mainstay. This wealth is stable and everlasting.”[21]

    Thus kirtan is a permanent and valuable heritage both for its aesthetic and spiritual enrichment.

    5) Fountain of Bliss~~~

    Hymns are generally sung in slow and sustained tones to create a feeling of repose or ‘spiritual pull’ so as to attune the mind to the thoughts of the Guru. As such the display of musical virtuosity is held under restraint. It is the Holy word which uplifts the mind; poetry and music are brought in to magnify its emotional appeal. Kirtan creates a congenial environment which helps devotion. By repeated hammering of shabad, the mind becomes stable.

    Kirtan creates a sense of true peace and spiritual aspiration. It is a sort of communion with Divinity. The minds of the devotees who perform or listen to kirtan are filled with zeal and fervour. They feel inwardly satisfied with the solace offered by sacred music:

    “There is forever joy and charm of spontaneous music. The saintly beings abide there and regard kirtan as their solid sustenance.”[22]

    6) Divine Nectar~~~

    Kirtan of Gurbani is regarded as nectar or the water of immortality which liberates man from the bondage of materialism. The inner lotus blossoms by listening to sacred music and man’s soul is purified. Guru Ramdas puts it thus:
    “The nectar-like Bani is the divine essence; it resides within the God-oriented.

    The lotus of the heart is illumined, man’s light merges with the Supreme Light.”[23]

    The effect of kirtan is three-fold. Firstly, by listening to it, the aesthetic senses are satisfied; Secondly, the rasa (feeling) of kirtan delights the inner consciousness and offers spiritual nutrition; and thirdly, man’s soul is transported into a realm of ecstasy. Guru Arjan sums up the benefits of kirtan in the following lines:

    “Singing the Lord’s praise, the soul is illuminated and the mortal abides the Lord’s lotus feet. In the saints’ society, he is emancipated, Nanak says, he crosses the terrible world ocean.” [24].

    7) Bestower of salvation~~~

    Kirtan, through high thinking and holy feeling removes the fear of death and cuts the chain of transmigration. The cycle of birth and death comes to an end. Guru Arjan says;

    “Day and night, sing kirtan of God, and you will never go into the cycle of transmigration”[25].

    The demons of death dare not approach the performer of kirtan, because, if by error they do so, they will be called to account by God. Kirtan is therefore the means of liberation or salvation of the individual. According to Guru Amardas, by singing praises to the Lord’s attributes, one is instinctively influenced by them. He says about the devoted singers:

    “They are full of bliss; by singing His virtues they merge in the Ocean of Virtue” [26]

    Jai Sai Ram~~~
    "लोका समस्ता सुखिनो भवन्तुः
    ॐ शन्तिः शन्तिः शन्तिः"

    " Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu
    Aum ShantiH ShantiH ShantiH"~~~

    May all the worlds be happy. May all the beings be happy.
    May none suffer from grief or sorrow. May peace be to all~~~

     


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