When Papaji was still a child, his mother, an ardent devotee of Krishna, regularly organized kirtan evenings in their home with her friends and other devotees. Papaji used to participate and would go into ecstasy throughout the evening and often all night long.
Singing was part of everyday life also in the House of the Master in Lucknow.
Papaji loved very much to sing and also to listen to the songs coming from the heart.
In his House, Papaji often would teach me and other girls the bhajans he loved the most, all in Hindi language. Then we would sing them during his satsang. At times Papaji would ask me to sing a song while there was only the two of us in his room. What a grace it was! Unforgettable amazing moments! Thank you Beloved Master.
I have learned many beautiful bhajans form Master himself. Those moments were for me the most sacred moments in which I felt strongly the power of his love rushing into my veins. He wanted me to understand well the meaning of the words and express it with hand gestures while I sang.
Each song that the Master taught me personally was a source of profound teaching. I felt the meaning of the song penetrate into my heart and my spirit and I knew that Papaji was offering precious golden footsteps for me to follow as I walked in his presence.
I vividly remember the first song he taught me – as if it were today. It was a song of Krishna that said: “In the cave of the heart is a temple where the mind rests in meditation and contemplation on the sacred image of Krishna…”
What bliss to sing it for him!!!
I always loved to sing, since I was a child. On hot summer evenings, my parents used to sit in the garden at home with all us siblings and cousins, and together we would sing the love songs of that time. Those were extraordinary moments in my childhood, and I still remember them with tears in my eyes for the love I would feel as we sang.
But… singing for Papaji, in his presence, was something completely different… it transported me to the very source of love, to the place where him, the divine musician, orchestrates every sublime note of the entire cosmos.
The Song of the Master silences the mind and heart, instilling a profound sense of harmony that changes our individual awareness and aligned it with the divine.
On returning to the West after Papaji’s passing, those bhajans were like a cradle I could cuddle up in when I wanted to feel the vivid love that the Master had so generously given me.
This living love is an arrow that continues to penetrate my heart, and it also penetrates the heart of anyone who listens with the heart.
Singing has become a significant part of my teachings, just as it was for me in the Master’s abode of light.
Kirtan, or kirtanam, is an important aspect of yoga. It belongs to nada yoga, the yoga of sound, in which sound waves are produced that follow various frequencies and vibrations capable of making the mind more focused, pure, serene, and receptive.
While singing kirtans, the mind stops, the heart becomes light, and we enter into a state of meditative absorption of profound silence and peace.
Kirtan is sung in a group to the accompaniment of musical instruments that help us access the kingdom of celestial melodies: the resonant sound of a big conch, the beat of a mridang (a type of drum), the intoxicating rhythm of the tabla (a traditional percussion instruments), the sweet vibration of a vina (stringed instrument), and the irresistible fascination of a flute, all guided by the wise harmonium (a keybord organ).
Light – Transformation – Love
KIRTAN AND MEDITATION
Kirtans can also be called ecstatic songs, and require only that we liberate our voices to experience joy and bring about joy in others.
The absorption in kirtans releases unbridled energy and joy united with a strong sense of freedom. The voice becomes “true” precisely because freedom in singing liberates the voice and leads us to experience joy. We are immersed into the sound of our natural voice, opening to the experience of untold wonders.
Kirtan teaches us to get rid of ourselves, and in getting rid of the singer, the meditator/singer can become sound itself, harmony, music. Kirtan is a supreme practice for transforming the ego-focused approach where everything revolves around the figure of the musician and singer as diva, modern myth, or star. In fact, kirtan is the exact opposite: musicians are recognized and appreciated for their capacity to lose themselves in the song and in sound and thus allow the music to blossom.
The power of kirtan is undeniable, and once a meditator has felt it, he or she will undergo a profound change in spontaneity, in confronting life both internally and externally.
This ancient spiritual path has been adopted by great sages and saints of every tradition.
Mira Bai, a great devotee of Krishna, attained enlightenment and supreme bliss in remembering and singing the sacred name of her Lord.
There is a beautiful story of Akbar, a powerful emperor of the Moghul empire who lived in the 1600s.
Akbar loved to gather renowned artists and other illustrious personages in his court. Among them, the great Miyan Tansen stood out. He was an exceptional composer and in his time was considered a true musical legend.
One day the emperor asked Tansen to perform a night raga in the middle of a bright and sunny day.
Ragas are musical compositions that have a close vibrational connection with specific hours of the day, seasons, moments of life, and places.
The emperor’s request was inappropriate at the time of day when he wished it to be performed, and Tansen refused. But the emperor insisted and Tansen started to play his song. It is said that suddenly the sun disappeared and the moon rose in the middle of the day. Akbar was filled with wonder by the power of Tansen’s song and asked him who is teacher was.
Tansen brought him to the hermitage of Swami Haridas, who refused to receive the emperor. So Akbar hid in the nearby forest and waited for Haridas to sing. When Haridas started to sing the emperor fell into an ecstasy so profound that he completely lost all memory of himself. When he returned to a normal state he asked Tansen: “How is it that when I heard you sing I felt such immense joy, but when I heard Haridas sing I fell into a state of total bliss? Why such a difference in depth?”
Tansen replied: “Because Tansen sang for the emperor, while Haridas sings for God.”
The ecstatic singing of kirtan is charged with divine energy. If it is allowed to enter the body, it touches our every cell and reaches the true source of silence. When we sing kirtan, there is light, transformation, and love.
It is a place of refuge, an oasis where the mind rests. It is not a form of escape, denial, or repression, but a calm and peaceful friend who has the power to rend the veil of maya and lead us into the presence of the absolute.
It is a precious key for easily accessing peace and bliss.
Participating in kirtan is a mystical and mysterious experience.
All we have to do is abandon ourselves with faith and experience the transcendental beauty of sound that penetrates the depths of our hearts.