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devotional singing (bhajans)

Sing aloud the glory of God and charge the atmosphere with divine adoration . . .
This is why I insist on group singing of the names of the Lord. (SSS, VI, 239)

[Devotional singing (bhajan)] is the process of singing that originates in the heart,
not from the lips or the tongue. It is the expression of the joyous thrill that wells up
from the heart when the Glory of God is remembered. It is the spontaneous
manifestation of inner ecstasy. No attention is paid to the blame or praise that
others may give. It does not seek the admiration or the appreciation of the listeners.
(SSS, X, 84)

Devotional singing (bhajan) is one of the processes by which you can train the mind
to expand into eternal values. Teach the mind to revel in the glory and majesty of
God; wean it away from petty horizons of pleasure . . . Devotional singing induces in
you a desire for experiencing the truth, to glimpse the beauty that is God, to taste
the bliss that is the Self. It encourages man to dive into himself and be genuinely
his real Self. (SSS, VII, 497-498)

Devotional singing (bhajan) is a spiritual practice (sadhana) for all who share in it.
(Sai Bhajana Mala, 30)
Remember, every song sung in praise of the Lord is a sword that cuts the knots of
laziness. It is a fine piece of social service to remind all of their duty to the Almighty,
who watches over them. (The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, 134)

People say that when you go to Sai Baba, there is nothing but devotional singing
(bhajan). Realize that there is nothing greater than bhajan. What bliss is there in
bhajans! What a demonstration of oneness is it when a myriad throats join in
uttering the name of God! The vibrations emanating from them make the heart
vibrant. If you sing alone in your shrine, the vibrations return to you as a reaction.
But in community singing, what you have is not a reaction but a wave of vibrations.
They enter into the atmosphere and purify the polluted air. The atmosphere today is
polluted by bad thoughts and feelings. When you sing the glory of God, the bad
germs in the air are destroyed and the air gets purified by a treatment of anti-
biotics, as it were. (SS, Jan. 1995, 26)

When all the participants in a bhajan sing in unison, what sacred vibrations are
produced and what Divine energies are released! When these vibrations fill the
world, what changes cannot they bring about! When one sings alone, the heart is
merged in the song. But when many sing together, it acquires a Divine power. (Sai
Bhajana Mala, 30)

Those who sing bhajans get what can be called a 'double promotion', for they derive
joy and distribute joy. (SSS, X, 101)

God is omnipresent. He is the in-dweller of every heart and all names are His. So
you can call Him by any name that gives you joy. You must not cavil at other names
and forms, nor become fanatics, blind to their glory. When you sing bhajan songs,
dwell on the meaning of the songs and the message of each name and form of God
and roll on your tongue its sweetness. (The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, 134)

Some people ... question the propriety of calling God by means of ... a multiplicity of
names. But each name is indicative of only one aspect of Divinity. It denotes a
single part of the Supreme Personality ... Every name is but a facet, a part, a ray of
the Supreme. The spiritual discipline consists in recognising and becoming aware of
the One that supports and sustains the many. That is the precious gem of wisdom
that one must secure and treasure. (SSS, X, 87)

The procession to the cremation ground starts immediately on birth and the beating
of the heart is the drum beat for the march towards that place. Some take a longer
route, some reach quickly, but all are on the way. Therefore, devotional singing
(bhajan) has to start in the childhood and has to continue. It must be the constant
companion of man, his solace and strength. Do not postpone it to old age, for it is
essential food for the mind. (SSS, I, 123)

Devotional singing (bhajan) must become an unbroken stream of bliss on your

tongues and in your hearts; it must confer on you the uninterrupted awareness of
soham, of the unity of I and He. (SSS, IX, 41-42)

The tongue is the post, devotional singing (bhajan) is the rope; with that rope, you
can bring God Almighty near you and tie Him up so that His grace becomes yours.
(SSS, VII, 52)

Desire and anger are ... two enemies. Devotional singing ... is a good disciplinary
process by which these two can be kept away. (SSS, X, 100)

Take for example, there is a tree. It is full of birds. They make a mess all over. How
to get rid of these noisy ones? You should clap loudly. Similarly, in this tree of life,
there are birds of desire. The heart therefore becomes dirty. In order to cleanse it,
do devotional singing (bhajans). (Kodaikanal discourse, April 12, 1996)

Think of [devotional singing (bhajan)] as a part of spiritual training to be seriously

taken for reducing the attachment to fleeting objects, and purifying and
strengthening you, liberating you from the cycle of birth and death and consequent
misery. It may appear a frail cure for such a dreadful malady. Nevertheless, it is a
panacea. (The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, 132)

In this busy age of fear and anxiety, the remembrance of God and repetition of His
name is the one means of liberation that is accessible to all. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30)
Let your whole life be a spiritual song. Believe that God is everywhere at all times,
and derive strength, comfort, and joy by singing His glory in His presence. (SSS, X,

ON CONDUCTING devotional singing (bhajans)


Have the bhajans on as many days as possible or at least once a week. Have them
in a central place where all can come. (The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, 132)

Any devotional song, in any language can be sung as long as all can follow. (Sai
Bhajana Mala, 29)

Sing familiar bhajans, so that all can share in anand (bliss). (Sai Bhajana Mala, 29)

When you sing bhajans, dwell on the meaning of the song and the message of each
name and form of God. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30)
You cannot insist that in the bhajans only songs on Sathya Sai should be sung!
Fanaticism of that kind I very much dislike and condemn ... You betray your
ignorance of the truth when you stick to any one of my names and avoid the rest.
(SSS, VIII, 75)

Bhajan has to be a thrilling experience, which must leave the participants full of
pure energy and elevated enthusiasm. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 29)

Bhajan must spread good-will, love, ecstasy; it must cleanse the polluted
atmosphere; it must invite all to share in the joy and peace. The nagarsankirtan
(congregational singing of bhajans) must be radiating devotion and love. The
ananda I derive from bhajan I do not derive from anything else. That is the reason I
am emphasizing these points. Fill every moment with energy, enthusiasm, and
effort. (SSS, VIII, 47-48)

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 ... 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. (SS, 35, April 1992, 70)

Together with melody and rhythm, you have to impart feeling to your singing to
make the bhajan a sacred offering to the Divine. A tune without feeling is an
infliction. Giving up conceit and exhibitionism, you must sing the bhajans in a spirit
of humility and devotion. That is the right way to perform bhajans. (Sai Bhajana
Mala, 30)

Bhajan must be a felt experience. Do not sing with one eye on the effect the song
makes on the listeners and the other on the effect it makes on God. (SSS, VIII, 60)

Bhajans have to be sung and offered to God in an attitude of utter humility; they are
not to be taken as exercises in an exhibition of talents or as competitions for
mastery of musical skill. They have to please the Lord, not your fans. (SSS, IX, 177)
Bhajans should be sung with complete obliviousness to the body. Devotional fervor
is more important than musical skill. (SS, June 1996, 156)

Pay attention to the tune, the meaning, the variety, the voice, the raga (rhythm),
the tala (beat), and other fine points of the bhajans. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30)

Let your heart pant for God, then the raga (rhythm) and tala (beat) will
automatically be pleasant and correct. (SSS, VII, 60)

Do not monopolize the time in bhajans, by singing one song for six or ten minutes,
repeating the same line often. Repeat each line twice and no more. Have only two
speeds; one slow and the other, fast. In this way you can have in one hour of
bhajan, more songs on more forms, more tunes and more variety, giving more
people a chance. (SSS, VII, 438)

Let those with a good voice and musical talent lead; the keertan (singing the name
of God) must be pleasant, it should not jar on the ear. If your voice is grating or out
of tune, do not disturb the melody, but, repeat the namavali (song reciting the
name of God) in your mind. (SSS, VII, 177-178)

If your voice is not pleasant or sweet, keep quiet; that is the best service you can
do. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 31)

Do not cause discontent or disharmony, insisting on singing because you are an

office-bearer. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 31)

After bhajans ... there should be meditation for five to ten minutes. (Sai Bhajana
Mala, 31)

People should return from bhajan carrying the elevated, uplifted and sublime mood
created by the atmosphere at the bhajan. Therefore, after the bhajan people should
disperse quietly, maintaining silence. Then the joy and peace derived at the bhajan
will linger and abide in the heart. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 31)

Have [bhajans] . . . as simple as you can and without competitive pomp or show;
reduce expenses to a minimum, for God cares for the inner yearning and not the
outer trappings. Even this small unavoidable expenditure must be silently shared,
spontaneously ... not collected by means of a plate ... or a subscription or donation
list. (SSS, VI, 220)

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