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Sai Center Devotional Programs

Quotes from Sathya Sai Baba

ON 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, 94)

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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)

Quotes from Sathya Sai Baba

"What is a study circle? It is not just reading books. ëCircle, study circleí means taking a point and each person discussing what is the meaning of the point to them. Like a round-table conference. Each person gives their point of view, and finally values are derived from this. If there is just reading, there is doubt. But if each one gives his view, doubts will be answered. The topic is viewed; the study circle looks at different facets. It is like a diamond with its different facets, but there is one facet that is flat, the top facet, and from this all can be viewed. To discover the top facet is the task of the study circle. Swamiís talks may be taken, or other scriptures. Take a point. Have everyone think about it and discuss it, and come to the final point where doubt is decreased. If only one person reads, there will be only one meaning. All misunderstandings, all points of view-- after these are brought out, the study circle members will get confidence. There is no doubt of this. If each one only reads, this may go on for a year or two, then an allergy to reading develops. Centers must have study circles in this way, and none will note the passage of time. Each one listens eagerly and many will give their point of view. The Bible, the Koran, the Gita, Swamiís books may be used. What is wanted is a study circle; rotating. Each one must be given a chance."

(from Conversations by Hislop: pp.125-126 in older version; pp. 137-138 in new version)

"Study with faith and devotion. Delve into the significance and the meaning of what you read; and, always have before you the goal of putting what you read into practice. Unless you do so, the Study Circle will remain a half-Circle forever; it cannot be a full Circle."

(Sathya Sai Speaks, p. 59 in American version)

Jyoti Meditation - A Quote from Sathya Sai Baba

"As regards the technique of meditation, different teachers and trainers give different forms of advice. But I shall give you now the most universal and the most effective form. This is the very first step in spiritual discipline. At first, set a few minutes every day for meditation, and extend the time as you feel the bliss that you get.

"Let it be in the hours before dawn.This is preferable because the body is refreshed after sleep, and the dealings of daytime will not yet have impinged on you. Have a lamp or a candle before you with an open, steady, and straight flame. Sit in front of the candle in the lotus posture or any other comfortable sitting position. Look on the flame steadily for some time, and closing your eyes try to feel the flame inside you between your eyebrows. Let it slide down into the lotus of your heart, illuminating the path. When it enters the heart, imagine that the petals of the lotus open out by one, bathing every thought, feeling, and emotion in the light and so removing darkness from them. There is no space for darkness to hide. The light of the flame becomes wider and brighter. Let it pervade your limbs. Now those limbs can never indulge in dark, suspicious, and wicked activities; they have become instruments of light and love. As the light reaches up to the tongue, falsehood vanishes from it. Let it rise up to the eyes and the ears and destroy all the dark desires that infest them and which lead you to perverse sights and childish conversation. Let your head be surcharged with light and all wicked thoughts will flee therefrom. Imagine that the light is in you more and more intensely. Let it shine all around you and let it spread from you in ever widening circles, taking in your loved ones, your kith and kin, your friends and companions, your enemies and rivals, strangers, all living beings, the entire world.

"Since the light illumines all the senses every day so deeply and so systematically, a time will soon come when you can no more relish dark and evil sights, yearn for dark and sinister tales, crave for base, harmful, deadening toxic food and drink, handle dirty demeaning things, approach places of ill-fame and injury, or frame evil designs against anyone at any time. Stay on in that thrill of witnessing the light everywhere. If you are adoring God in any form now, try to visualize that form in the all-pervasive light. For Light is God; God is Light.

"Practice this meditation as I have advised regularly every day. At other times repeat the name of God (any Name fragrant with any of His many Majesties), always taking care to be conscious of His might, mercy, and munificence."

Sathya Sai Speaks, volume ten, last few pages in that chapter. (American Version is pages 348-350)