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Quotes on devotional singing

Quotes on devotional singing (bhajans)     return to top of page

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 (bhajans)] 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, by Sam Sandweiss134)

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, by Sam Sandweiss, 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, by Sam Sandweiss, 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)


Conducting devotional singing sessions (bhajans)     return to top of page

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, by Sam Sandweiss, 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 ananda (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 (bliss) 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)