ॐ Hindu Of Universe ॐ

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

Way to Sing Bhajans

  1. Chant the lord’s name with love.
  2. Sing with Bhaava (inner feeling), else, the whole activity of Bhajans is rendered useless.
    What you get from singing Bhajans?

Bhajans are highly sacred. Bhajan singing makes the heart sacred. What is important is that it should come from the heart. Bhajan is not just rhythm, tune and beat. You should sing God’s name with love. You will see the manifestation of divinity with your physical eyes when you sing HIS glory with all love. Sing from HEART. This is the only way to get HIM into your HEART.

Bhaava (inner feeling) is the quintessence (purest and most perfect form) of Bhajan singing. The heart of the lord is like “soft butter”. However to melt this soft butter, we need to show the warmth of Bhakthi and devotion expressed through Bhaava (inner feeling). Only a Bhajan (prayer) sung with full Bhaava (inner feeling) can melt the heart of the lord. It is the cry of devotee with deep yearning (compassion) for the lord. Which makes the lord run to the rescue of HIS devotees? This is the effect of Bhaava.

Even Ice takes some time to melt but God’s heart melts instantaneously when you chant HIS name with love.

Cultivate Bhaava in Bhajans:

Whenever a Bhajan appeals to us, we usually take the first opportunity available and proceed to sing it during a Bhajan session.

Is This The Way To Sing Bhajans?

The answer is No! The song you sing is an offering at the lord’s lotus feet and has to be prepared with due diligence (showing care and effort) and care.

How to cultivate Bhaava:

  1. Select a Bhajan: Choose simple Bhajan, which suit your voice. It is the feeling with which you sing that matters, not the complexity of the tune.
  2. Register the lyrics: Memorize the words of the Bhajan. Understand properly the meaning of the words or lyrics of the song. Learn to pronounce each word the right way.
  3. Register the tune: Hear the Bhajan a number of times until the tune gets registered in your mind. Learn the raga on which the Bhajan is based. Understand the entire spectrum of the associated raga. Listen to some Bhajan or songs based on this raga. This will help one to get the feel of that raga which is necessary for the proper exposition of that raga and in turn the perfect rendering of the Bhajan.
  4. Learn the tala (The beat): Learn the tala or the beat to which the song has been composed. One must pay special attention to the laya or the tempo of the song.
  5. Practice 100 times
    Practice 100 times

Does one really need to practice 100 times to get Bhajan prefect? Let us examine.

After the first 25 times you are able to get the lyrics, tune and rhythm perfect.
After the next 25 times you get the Bhajan into the mind. Now you are able to sing effortlessly.
After the next 25 times you get the Bhajan into your blood. You know the meaning of each word when you sing.
After the next 25 times you get the Bhajan into your heart. You are able to have a unique conversation with the lord when you sing.

  1. Arrive in time; maintain silence before Bhajans:
    “Where ever my glory is sung, I install myself there”.
    Give some time to prepare yourself mentally before Bhajan
  2. Have no ego:

Sing to express (your devotion) not impress (with your musical talent). Pray to the lord before singing, for HIS grace, so that you can sing the song as an offering to the lord rather than with an intention to display your musical talent.

Bhajan must be a felt experience.
Do not sing with one eye on the song that makes the effect on the listeners, and the other, on the effect it makes on the GOD.
Let your heart pant for GOD; then, the raga (musical tune) and tala (musical beat) will automatically be pleasant and correct.
Do not allow even one vice (immoral conduct or weakness) like the vice of conceit (personal vanity) to enter and ensconce (establish or settle comfortably) itself in your heart.

Sing for the Lord, not the Listeners.

Bhajan done with egoistic pride is as harsh as the crow’s caw (harsh cry of crow). So, try to avoid the ego marring your sadhana (practice), even to a small extent”.

Do you want to drive away GOD through your Bhajan?

Some people may laugh at all this Bhajan and call it mere show and exhibition and recommend instead quiet meditation in the silent recess of the shrine room. But coming out in company and doing Bhajan like this helps in removing egoism; one should not be afraid of jeering, nor feel ashamed to call out the name of the lord. One gets inspired by the devotion of others.”

Use Bhajan as an activity to remove ego.

  1. Bhajan is not the place to practice silence:

When a man has fallen into a well and is unable to get out, he does not mutter to himself. He shouts loudly to get men to save him! What do you do to drive away birds sitting on a branch? You clap your hands loudly. Similarly, sing the names “Radhe Govinda, Gopala, Hari Narayana aloud, and clap your hands with vigour (physical or mental strength or energy) so that the birds of evil passion, Kama, krodha (anger) and lobha infesting your mind will fly away.

When you sing without the thrill of ecstasy (over whelming joy or rapture), I do not derive any joy. Bhajan must spread good will, love, ecstasy it must cleanse (make clean or pure) the polluted atmosphere; it must invite all to share in the joy and peace. Be sincere feel in your hearts what you are singing by your voice. The motion will express itself through the raga and tala it chooses. You need not worry about the raga being appropriate or the tala being accurate. When Krishna is prompting you to sing, the raga and the tala can never be wrong.

Devotees who attend Bhajan turn their looks this side and that side without concentrating on Bhajan. If they are not interested in the Bhajan, why should they come at all?

Bhakti Yoga: Mantras and Chants

The yoga of devotion is a style of yoga. We are talking about Bhakti yoga, and we’ll tell you what it’s all about.

Bhakti is one of the most spiritual styles of yoga. It focuses on the following doctrine: “Love is God and God is love.” For this reason, this yoga is known as the yoga of divine love and religious emotion. It uses these feelings as mechanisms to raise consciousness and achieve self-realization.

This type of yoga may not be one of the most popular in the world, and this is because its audience is very particular. Who practices Bhakti yoga? All those people who are believers that the presence of God is in every being and every sensitive person.

Bhakti yoga is widely practiced in the Hindu religion. However, anyone can perform it. In this style of yoga, the asanas and the breathing techniques are not the most primary focus of the student, but the performance of worship, chants, rituals of devotion, and the intonation of mantras through Kirtan.

What is Kirtan?

Kirtan is one of the 9 principles of Bhakti Yoga. The practitioners perform a series of chants and intone mantras. This allows them to worship God and express their devotion.

Participants dilute the tensions through Kirtan. This connects with the deepest part of their hearts where the love of God is found.

The chants of the Bhakti yoga are mainly mantras. In addition, there are phrases that are pronounced to program the mind. To sing to life, the divinity, the soul, the heart, and to oneself. Kirtan allows Bhakti yoga practitioners to connect in a single group. It serves to express and release fears, also to leave the mind clear to enter into meditation.

What you should know about the chants and mantras of Bhakti yoga:

  • Those who are in the class have to chant the songs.
  • Sometimes there are expressions of joy or overflowed emotion that can be confused with shouting. The part of the Kirtan is the one that transforms the practitioner the most. It also connects to him with his devotion.
  • The intonation of the chants and mantras can take a couple of hours, as it can take a whole day. It will depend on whether it is a regular ceremony or a special one.
  • The origin of the mantras present in Bhakti yoga is in India.
  • The harmonium, the zither, and the drums are the necessary musical instruments in the Kirtan.
  • An emblematic mantra of Bhakti yoga is the Maha Mantra. ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Finally, people who practice Bhakti yoga are not students, yogis, or practitioners. They are Bhakta or devotees because they faithfully believe in the presence of a supreme. A supreme who transcends their lives and therefore experience a higher need for service and surrender. For that reason, they have no shame in crying during acts of devotion to the divinity.

What Is Kirtan Music? A Yogic Explanation & 3 Mantras You Can Sing

Singing Kirtan music is an ancient practice in Yoga that can bring powerful spiritual effects, and is part of a practice known as Bhakti Yoga. Kirtan songs are made up of sacred sounds that can be sung by anyone, anywhere — it’s less about sounding pitch-perfect, and more about the feeling of lovingness, community and celebration that happens when you join together to sing songs of devotion.

What Is Kirtan Music?

The word ‘Kirtan’ literally means praise — which makes Kirtan music the sound of praise. Many Kirtans have a call-and-response style, where one person sings a line, and another repeats it back. This makes it perfect for singing as a group because it means you don’t need to know the words, or be a musician, or even have any musical instruments on hand. It’s all about joining together in the shared experience of singing in celebration and worship.

Traditional Kirtan songs are in Sanskrit, which is the ancient language of India. The Sanskrit language has inherent spiritual power because of its vibrational effects on the body, mind and soul. This is why the chants, also known as mantras, are most potent when they’re sung in their original form. A Sanskrit mantra can be thought of as channelling the energies of the universe through sound vibrations, where each sound a syllable has a special meaning and effect.

By using these sacred sounds, different sound healing effects can be achieved, depending on the energies invoked by the mantra. Although Kirtan music often contains mantras, the difference is that Kirtan is all about the collective experience of joining together in song, whereas chanting a mantra is a private and personal experience.

Kirtan is a tradition practised by Yogis and Mystics throughout history because of the profound physical, emotional and spiritual effects that singing these ancient chants can bring. Even today, there are many popular Kirtan songs in Indian music, and there are also some famous Western songs, like The Hare Krishna Mantra released by George Harrison from The Beatles. Singing Kirtan, or even just listening to Kirtan music, is a devotional practice — which, when combined with the influence of the mantra, can bring deep bliss and joy into your heart.

What Is Kirtan In Yoga?

Kirtan singing is practised in Yoga, and particularly in Tantric Yoga — you might even take part in a Kirtan circle as part of a Yoga class, retreats, or at various Yoga Festivals. It is considered to be a devotional practice, also known as Bhakti Yoga. The Yoga practise of Bhakti is the act of surrendering all your doubts, fears and worries, to express genuine love and devotion to the power of the universe. This is one of the four main yogic paths to enlightenment. It’s a process that takes the energy of all the emotions and turns them into the highest of all, which is pure, unconditional, divine love.

The focus of this unconditional love is the Yogis choice, though particular Kirtans will focus on different manifestations of the divine — for example, Krishna is the object of devotion in the well known Kirtan song ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’.

By combining specific Kirtans with meditation, it can become a Kriya known as Kirtan Kriya Meditation. Kriyas, alongside other Yogic traditions such as Pranayamas, Yantra, Yagna, and Mantra Meditation, forms part of the spiritual science that is Tantra.

Three Kirtan Chants You Can Use

1. The Gayatri Mantra

This is a well known Vedic mantra. It’s a prayer to the divine light of the sun and is known for its powerful purifying effects. The pronunciation is in the brackets underneath each line.

Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah
[ohm boor boo-va-ha swaha]
Tat Savitur Varenyam
[tat sar-vee-tor var-en-iyam]
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
[bar-go dey-vas-ya dee-my-hee]
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
[dee-yo-yo nar pra-cho-dye-yat]

2. Jaya Ganesha Deva

This short chant is dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesha. The mantra is commonly used to help clear obstacles from your path — however, it can be a beautiful act of devotion to instead focus on singing the Kirtan simply as an act of praise for Ganesh.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
[ohm gam gana-pat-eye-ay nam-ah-ha]

3. Kali Mantra

This Kirtan mantra worships the Deva, or goddess, in her many forms.

Jay shri ma, kali kali ma, jay shri ma
[jay shr-ee maah, kar-lee kar-lee mah, jay shr-ee maah]
Ananda ma, durga devi, jagatambe shri ma
[an-and-a my, dur-ga dey-vee, jag-a-tam-bey shr-ee maah]

Humans have a long history of engaging in group singing as a form of social bonding and as a way to represent and embody collective harmony and union. Because of sound’s ability to resonate within multiple people at once and elicit a sympathetic response, Kirtan is an incredibly accessible way to tap into the power of group singing— for the power of the wider collective to be felt through music and then for that music to ripple out, reverberate, or echo back the power of the collective vibration as call-and-response.


Kirtan, also known as sankirtan, is the practice of collective chanting or group singing, usually in community as a sing-along of bhajans, or devotional songs, and call-and-response of mantra, or sacred sounds. Kirtan is most commonly known within the practice and tradition of Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti Yoga is a path of devotion that emerged out of the Bhakti movements of 7th century medieval India, beginning in the region known today as Tamil Nadu. During that time, chanting moved from being a ritual injunction of the Vedas to a way of connecting to the transcendent in a more personal and celebratory way where mantra could be practiced with intention and awareness in daily life. The songs became a tool to educate the masses, especially less literate populations of the inner villages. By the time of the Indian renaissance in Bengal, mantras were not just chanted, but set to melodies and accompanied by instruments. Stories of mythology, anecdotes of the lives of great saints and epic stories of the sages were woven around a lyric to create teachings that became reflective of warkari culture or poet-saint tradition. Singing became one of the main modes of devotional expression among bhakti circles, both personal in nature and offered as a means of communing or dialoging with the divine in an ecstatic and participatory way.

bhakti —
from the sanskrit root √bhaj:
to be joined or connected with (the divine)
to revere, share in or participate in

Bhakti Yoga as a movement emphasizes equality and harmony within the community as a path of socio-spiritual practice accessible to all and focused around collective participation. The community that takes part in the kirtan satsang is known as the “sangam” or collective. A kirtan satsang, or gathering of song, is lead by a wallah or someone who leads the chant, which is then echoed in the call-and-response format by the collective sangam. Chanting is often accompanied by clapping and playing of musical instruments such as the harmonium, tanpura, drums or cymbals. The songs, chants, and mantras can be a simple name of an archetypal deity or the recitation of a devotional Sanskrit or vernacular phrase honoring or praising some aspect of the divine.

mantra —
from the sanskrit root √man: related to the mind
a mantra is an instrument
to concentrate or rest the mind

Mantra is a word or a phrase for the mind to contemplate or rest on. If the mind is restless and scattered with thoughts, it is very difficult to be present and alert. The ability to focus our hearing is known as śravanam. When the mind is agitated, the ability to hear clearly becomes disrupted and the ability to communicate narrows; the sound of the mantra cannot enter into our minds or hearts to do its work. But when our thoughts settle peacefully on the mantra, the sound can seep into our consciousness where purification through vibration can take place as a mantra is repeated in a regular rhythm. In kirtan, the mantras are chanted rhythmically as sound waves permeate the shared space. Practice is all about the repetition which leads to transformation. The consistent repetition of a mantra carried out with meditative awareness is known as japa. Japa is what gives mantra a super-generative power where a profound, trance-like state is induced upon a calm, focused, and attentive mind. In this space of heightened vibration, it becomes easier to slip into a deeply meditative state and directly experience all that is beyond our ordinary existence.

Although such a connection to the universal and the infinite through sound can be easily achieved alone, it is amplified exponentially through the union of many voices into one. There is said to be a merging of the performer and the audience where a heart-felt experience is created collectively. Connecting to a transcendental power by calling out the names of the divine in this manner increases empathetic awareness and opens us up to the possibility of coherence, or co-regulating our nervous systems as a collective.

Synchronizing consists of responding to the call and amplifying the response which is not only heard through the ear, but felt within the body. The coherence that happens through group singing has been shown to enhance physical and emotional well-being. As we connect to our fellow humans, our body systems flood with feel-good biochemicals like endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins are a pain-relieving neurotransmitter with psychoactive properties responsible for the “reward response” which triggers the release of dopamine leading to feelings of euphoria and sensations of pleasure. Oxytocin is a hormone related to reduction of anxiety and stress.

The vibrations of the mantra and the music carry a pulse and move energy from the mind to the heart with resonance that brings coherence to each individual heart. This state of coherence amplifies the collective pulse and can be felt as an ecstatic response called samavesha. This expansion and contraction of energy is referred to as spandha, the greater vibration expanding outward from the seed pulsation of the heart within every being and it transports chanters to profound spiritual states.

“Voices merge into one. All comes to stillness in a space empty with the fullness of charged silence.”
Feeling the collective pulse brings the mind’s attention to the moment, with heart open in receptivity, experiencing the full power of the grace of being in the here-and-now. This master pulse activates the subtle body at the heart chakra, the seat of divine love where one can experience the divine directly through personal relationship and emotional connection, if not by the union of hearts through the union of voices in harmony with each other. The pulsation of divine love is felt as a rippling force of purification, or shuddhi, within the soul of all being.

Everyone’s experience with kirtan is highly personal and individualistic; it is not necessarily a ‘religious’ experience. With that being said, if you’ve ever felt the powerful energy in the vibration of collective voices amplifying a room full of people, you’ve most likely experienced a felt sense of awe. When we connect to song or dance, we become entranced. In this space, our thought process calms, we become more fully available to the present moment and worries more easily slip into the periphery while joy takes center stage. The emotions, moods or feeling states that develop during a kirtan are known as rasa and bhava. Rasa is the emotion transmitted by sound through melody (raga) and rhythm (tala) while bhava is the emotion-state that participants co-experience.

If you are new to chanting in a kirtan setting, know that most of what you will hear in a kirtan session is in the ancient language of Sanskrit. Yes, it might be uncomfortable to chant in an unfamiliar language and yes, it can take some time to pronounce foreign sounding words— this is common and you are certainly not alone. It may be helpful to know that you can leave all judgement behind. You don’t have to pronounce the words correctly, nor do you need to be worried if you don’t think that you can sing. Chanting is less about technical singing ability and more about the feeling or spirit in which you are calling out. It is a lighthearted practice meant to relieve stress and ease our mind away from any striving or straining. In Kirtan you are not only lifting your own voice, but lifting the voices of the community as well as being a voice for the voiceless. What matters most is your intention and a devotion that reflects a joyful desire to connect to the universal in all things. Practice chanting like you do yoga āsana… with consistency and without expectation.

On a personal note— I feel most connected with my heart when I cultivate enough of a sense of safety to let vulnerability in. Overcoming the fear of discomfort brought up by vulnerability is a constant practice. The breath helps. When I feel safe, I can relax and listen. When I soften into vulnerability, I can feel into my humanness in a heart-opening expression of gratitude. Practicing being more attuned with my own heart has allowed me to connect more deeply with others and kirtan is the perfect expression of this type of bhakti or “heart’s sacred longing.”

Kirtan in Hinduism (Bhajan), Sikhism (Shabad) and in the West (Yoga)

Origins of Kirtan

“Kirtan” refers to an ancient religious practice and devotional performance that emerged from India (Indian Subcontinent). It’s a Sanskrit word that means “telling”, in the context of a story.

Instruments, Structure and Accompaniment

Kirtan music does generally adhere (loosely) to Indian Classical music parameters (ragas, talas). Primary instruments include harmonium, tanpura, manjira, tabla / dholak and vocals. In recent years – as with other forms of devotional and traditional music from the subcontinent – it has seen some integration with more Western musical aesthetic. This includes the introduction of guitars, and even the blending of jazz and other genres into the mix in some surprising cases.


It has spread internationally alongside the rise in the various forms of yoga that have reached the Western world. Importantly, it has been a mainstay of devotional practice across many religions and belief systems throughout the Indian subcontinent since ancient times.


Kirtan is a form of meditation focused on chanting a series of mantras to honor the divine, and worshipping God. The meditation involves chanting or singing in a call and response style in various languages – including Sanskrit – in order to show devotion and love.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti yoga (or bhakti marga) is the form of yoga associated with Kirtan (as opposed to the other forms of yoga). As opposed to gyan or hatha yoga, it is the form (path) of yoga that emphasizes forming a loving and dedicated relationship to the Divine (God) through the arts, which helps to gain self-improvement and realization.

Bhakti Yoga and Kirtan

The power of Kirtan chants and meditation in Bhakti yoga is undeniable. The repetition of a mantra in a group can bring people together spiritually. A chant with a number of voices contributing to it can be a powerful religious experience for everybody present.

The sound of everyone’s voices coming together in song or chanting can generate healing energy for people, and which is the aim of the Kirtan. This is an expression (through chants, mantras or bhajans) of deep love and devotion to the divine.

Bhajan Kirtan in Hinduism

A bhajan is a devotional or spiritual song found in Hinduism. Bhajans focus on expressing love and devotion towards a deity. Many bhajans prominently feature the names of dieties that they’re honoring (i.e. Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Hanuman, Durga Ma, Lakshmi Ma, Saraswati Ma etc). In a Bhajan Kirtan (satsang), there is a lead kirtaniya who leads the rest of the procession through the composition.

Bhajans in the Modern Day

Although an ancient art form, the genre has popular trend-setting bhajan singers, including Anup Jalota (who is credited with a many popular bhajans), and Narendra Chanchal who was important in popularizing the bhajans (songs) for Vaishno Mata and other Hindi devotional music world-wide.

Lata Mangeshakar, sometimes known as the Nightingale of India, has earned global acclaim and recognition for her performances in film soundtracks, as well as holding political office during her life. She is likely one of the most well-known singers from the Indian subcontinent, and has performed and popularized many bhajans in her lifetime – including a 1974 performance at the Royal Albert Hall, which was the first time anybody from India had performed there.

Shabad Kirtan in Sikhism

Kirtan holds a position of huge importance in Sikhism. In Sikhism, Kirtan involves singing sacred hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib. In other words, the lyrics of a Sikh Kirtan are directly from the Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru Granth Sahib contains a multitude of ragas and talas – over 50 in total – which are used in Kirtan performances.

Kirtan in The Guru Granth Sahib

Kirtan chants and meditation prescribed in the Guru Granth Sahib are a way to keep the soul of people spiritual and pure during a dark age, or difficult times, by focusing the mind on the divine. The Guru Granth Sahib says that followers and believers should “Become Gurmukh, chant and focus your meditation.”

The Guru Granth Sahib also says that Sikhs should aim to listen to Kirtan as often as possible to maintain a connection with God and cultivate devotion in their hearts.

Kirtan in the West

As forms of yoga – including Hatha and Bhakti Yoga – spread around the world, it took the practice of Kirtan with it. While new Western audiences and followers have been receptive to practicing yoga and listening to kirtan music from South Asia, they have also added their own musical stylings to this ancient practice and its songs.

Jai Uttal

A great contemporary example of an artist that has taken in the music associated with Kirtan and has integrated it with his own music (and culture to produce something new) is Jai Uttal. He is an American artist who has reached critical acclaim with his merging of Eastern and Western musical sounds, techniques and forms. It has led to him being nominated for a Grammy.

He describes himself as a Kirtan artist and a sacred music composer. Some of his biggest songs / tracks are Govinda, Gopala and Mahadeva from his 2003 album “Music for Yoga and Other Joys”.

Krishna Das

Another artist of note in this sphere is Krishna Das, another American musician well known for his vocal performances of Kirtan. For a short while, he was actually part of the newly-forming Blue Oyster Cult – a massively popular rock band. Before the band took off, he turned his attention to India where he became a follower of Neem Karoli Baba, a guru known for guiding the spirituality of a number of Americans in the 60s and 70s.

Like Jai Uttal, he has also been nominated for a Grammy and performed at the 2013 Grammy awards. He’s been titled the “the chant master of American yoga” by the New York Times. His biggest albums include Live Ananda and Pilgrim Heart, the latter of which features a guest appearance by Sting.

He’s successfully collaborated with some huge names in Western music, including members of British rock band Def Leppard, members of Steely Dan, Hans Christian and legendary producer Rick Rubin.

Das has helped to launch a non-profit organization called the Kirtan Wallah Foundation that seeks to spread the teachings of his guru (Neem Karoli Baba) to new followers and audiences around the globe. He’s composed music for other forms of yoga such as Anusara Yoga, and has merged Japanese buddhist chants with Hindu devotional hymns.

The Bhakti Movement: Understanding Kirtan and Bhajan

The Bhakti movement originated in the 6th century in India. The period is characterized by devotional poetry woven around the themes of love, devotion and surrender to Hindu deities. Mystics from different regions of India expressed their devotion through hymns and poems in vernacular form. The movement arose from a need to create a direct and personal relationship with God without rituals or esoterica of priesthood. The simple songs praised God in different names such as Ram, Krishna, Shiva, Devi and thus it became easy for people to sing along, leading it to be a popular form of devotional worship. Terms such as Kirtan and Bhajan emerged as part of the Bhakti music tradition. Over time these musical forms have evolved in their role and influence in Indian devotional worship.

Kirtan (Sanskrit – ‘praise’) and Bhajan (Sanskrit from root word bhaj meaning ‘to share’) form part of the Bhakti sangeet or devotional music. When defined as nouns, Kirtan refers to a song praising a deity while bhajan is a personal communication with the divine. Kirtan in verb form in northern India refers to group singing of songs which may include bhajans. In southern India, the word for such a kirtan performance is referred to as bhajan. In the context of an Indian classical music concert, bhajans are songs that are often heard at the end of the concert and are centered around the praise of a deity or a religious movement such as Sai bhajans and Raghavendra bhajans. These bhajans are the Nam-Bhajan (calling out divine names) as opposed to Pada-Bhajans.

Similarly, Kirtans are of two kinds – the Pada Kirtan (referred to as kirtana or kriti in Carnatic music, the classical music of southern India) and Nam-Kirtan. The former is part of the concert repertoire in classical music and performers are trained to present these type of songs. The Nam-Kirtan is presented by performers (often standing) before a congregation at a temple or religious and cultural event. The songs of Nam-Kirtan are sing-along with people from the audience joining in the refrain and the tunes and beat are simple and catchy.

History of Kirtan and Bhajan

One of the earliest references of Kirtan and Bhajan and the Bhakti tradition is the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse poem composed in the 2nd century BCE and the Bhagavata Purana, both deemed as important scriptures (in Sanskrit) by Hindus. The Bhagavad Gita gives the scriptural authority of the songs being in vernacular form in addition to Sanskrit stotras and hymns used in praise of God. It refers to the Bhakti marga (path) as one of the ways to achieve moksha (liberation) with other ways being that of karma (action) and jnana (knowledge). Kirtan and Bhajan are intrinsically tied into the Bhakti form of worship. Thus kirtans and bhajans came to be composed in a gamut of languages from Hindi (and its various dialects), Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. The Bhagavad Gita also indicates that the repetitive nature of these songs where the names of God were continuously invoked as evident in Sankirtan was the simplest way to understand and reaffirm the divine.

The Bhagavata Purana also known as Srimad Bhagavadam refers to nine ways of devotional worship called Navavidha Bhakti. They are Shravanam (hearing) Keerthanam (chanting) Smaranam (remembering) Pada Sevanam (serving the God’s feet), Archanam (worshipping), Vandanam (offering obeisance), Daasyam (serving as God’s servant), Sakhyam (becoming friends with God) and Aatma Nivedanam (total surrender). Of all these, Keertanam refers to the musical form of devotional worship.

Evolution in Hindu Traditions

Vaishnavism refers to the worship of Vishnu or some of his other forms such as Rama and Krishna. Songs were composed with either the nirgun (without attributes) or sagun (with attributes) attributes. In his book “A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement”, John Stratton Hawley writes “In regards to Bhakti poetry, the contrast comes to have a related meaning: a contrast between the poetry of ordinary life (“attributeless” in this sense: lacking the plot of a divine narrative) and poetry that situates itself in the charmed (attributeful) realm of divine play or lila” (2015). Surdas (15th c.) was a blind poet and musician who composed thousands of songs collectively called Sur Sagar. Written in Braj Bhasha, a dialect of Hindi, his work speaks of the individual soul’s hankering for the God, through tales of Radha’s love for Krishna. Tulsidas (16th c.) a prolific poet in Hindi, most famous for rendering the great Indian epic Ramayan in Awadhi, believed that the love of a devotee was what transformed the formless Absolute Nirguna into a personal God, Saguna. In his work Shikshashtakam, eight devotional verses in Sanskrit, the mystic from eastern India, Chaitanya (15th c.) a proponent of Bhakti yoga, espouses his belief that the aim of life is to attain the feet of the Lord. In southern India, the Naalayiru Divya Prabandham, a collection of 4000 Tamil verses composed by the twelve Alvars in praise of Narayana (Vishnu) are part of the daily worship sung at temples such as Srirangam, the bastion of Vaishnavism even today. In his “Hymns for the Drowning:Poems for Visnu by Nammalvar (translated from Tamil)” the scholar A.K.Ramanujam says “Bhakti poems are often written in folk meters, modelled on folk genres: good examples are Periyalvar’s lullabies with ta le lo refrains, poems on Krsna’s pot-dances..” (1981).

Bhakti music played a critical role in how one visualized the deity on which the songs were composed. Along with the lyrics, the ragas (melodies) of the music created strong feelings such as karuna (compassion), pyaar (love), saranagathi (surrender) towards God. The image of the deity is retained by singing or listening to such music that describes the various attributes of God. As neuroscientist Malini Mohana put it “Music crosses all borders of nationality, race, and culture. A tool for arousing emotions and feelings, music is far more powerful than language.”

Northern and Southern India

In northern India, Bhakthi lyrics gained momentum with the Dhrupad format, the oldest style of Hindustani classical music. Dhrupad is somber and spiritual music presented in a slow tempo, four section vocal renditions of poems in certain ragas (melodies). Like in most musical forms, dhrupad originated in temples and royal courts and by continued patronage by the wealthy, persevered through the years. It retains its original form even today. The Dagar family and Gundecha brothers are well known exponents of the Dhrupad genre.

In southern India, the Pada-Kirtan came to be known as kriti which evolved from the keerthanas of Purandaradasa, one of the Haridasas, (devotees of Hari) from Karnataka. Purandaradasa is also credited to have laid the foundation for the structure of Carnatic music, the classical music of southern India. Annamacharya, a precursor to Purandaradasa is the earliest known composer of sankeertanas in praise of the deity Venkateshwara (Vishnu) in Telugu. The kriti format evolved into three sections – pallavi (refrain), anupallavi (middle verse elaborating on the refrain) and charanam (stanzas). Though the kriti and bhajan are similar as they are centered around religious and spiritual themes, a key distinction between the two is that the former is more structured and presented by trained musicians as part of the classical concert repertoire while the latter is free form and normally sung as a “light piece” at the end of classical concerts. While kirtan has a chant, a hymn that serves as a refrain for the audience to repeat, a bhajan (which means ‘to share’) is often a song where the audience is more participative by singing along or clapping throughout the performance.

Prevalence in Other Traditions

The prevalence of kirtans extended to other traditions other than Hinduism. Shabad kirtans, was initiated by the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak in the early 1500s. The kirtans are songs that raise ‘Akal Purakh’ (the Timeless One) and is a musical recitation of the important Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. The shabads which are sung in the Dhrupad style at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and other Gurdwaras have been set to different ragas as mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib. Even though the original shabad kirtans were written in Brij Bhasha or other dialects, they have been transcribed into Gurmukhi (“of the guru’s mouth”), the script used in the prayer book of the Sikhs. The instruments used to accompany singers in a shabad kirtan performance include the harmonium, tabla (drum), kartals (cymbals) and dilruba (ancient stringed instrument).

Kirtans are part of the Haveli sangeet predominantly heard in the Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan. The presiding deity at Nathdwara is Shrinathji, a form of Krishna. With its roots in Dhrupad, Haveli sangeet eventually lost its place in the classical genre and came under the banner of devotional and folk music. The Vallabha tradition of Pushti Marg, founded by the mystic Vallabhacharya around 1500 AD developed its own unique form of Bhakti music called Samaj Gayan. The word “Samaj” refers to group and “Gayan” means singing. The kirtans are sometimes referred to as Pushtimarg Kirtans. Samaj Gayan requires performers to be trained in classical music as the songs are set to raga and tala. The songs praise Radha and Krishna and are mostly in Brij Bhasha, a dialect of Hindi and ancient Prakrit. The Radhavallabh temple at Vrindaban is an important center for Samaj Gayan especially on festival days such as Krishna Janmashtami.

The congregational worship that includes devotional music of nam-kirtans, nam-bhajans and/or samkirtan is popular across India. The songs are set to simple melodies and the music is augmented with percussive instruments such as cymbals – the “manjeera” (small hand held cymbal) being the most common. Sankirtan which means glorification in the company of people (congregational worship) was popularized by the mystic from Bengal, Chaitanya circa 1506. Singing and dancing by a large group of people became a form of worship in a Sankirtan. Chaitanya introduced the kirtan concept in different parts of the country during his travels. He emphasized the importance of the Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare), a 16 word mantra mentioned in the Kali-Sanatana Upanishad. The mantra was spread worldwide by the followers of ISKCON or the Hare Krishna movement.

Some other examples of Nam-kirtans are “Om Namah Shivaya”, a salutation to the God Siva, Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram (popularized by Samarth Ramdas from western India) and Ram Naam Satya Hai (the name of Ram is truth) heard while carrying the dead to the cremation ground.

Current Scenario 

During the freedom struggle of India, several anthems such as ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jana Gana Mana’ were composed in the patriotic fervour that swept the country. These anthems depicted pride in ‘Mother India’. At the same time musicians such as P.V. Paluskar composed songs such as “Raghupati Raghava” that highlighted the diversity of the country and included them in the concert stage.

Other musicians came up with their own signature bhajans or kirtans whether it was Kumar Gandharva’s renditions of the mystic Kabir’s nirguni bhajans (dohas), or Girija Devi’s Kajri Bhajans. The Pada-Kirtans as seen in Haveli Sangit and Samaj Gayan are not as commonly heard today. However the practice of Shabad Kirtans and Kritis (as in Carnatic music) remain strong in the Sikh community and southern India respectively.

The bhajan tradition traces its origins in south India in the 17th century to the Marathas who ruled at Thanjavur. This region became a center of the sampradaya bhajan tradition due to the pioneering efforts of Sadguru Swamin, Bhodendral and Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval.

Bhajans, nam-kirtans and sankirtans continue to be popular in different regions. One of the reasons for their popularity is the informal nature of gatherings as the audience gets to participate, sing, dance and pray along with the musicians regardless of caste, class and gender. Kirtans and bhajans which originated in the Bhakti movement continue to be a daily practice in homes, temples and concert halls across India and the world even today.

Here are two short explainer videos on the Bhakti movement.

Why do We Sing Bhajans?

Bhajans are devotional songs that show our respect and reverence to the Gods and Goddesses. In Hinduism, Bhajans play an essential role. Most people sing Bhajans during their prayers. We can sing them from our houses especially during Navarathri.

Bhajan comes from the Sanskrit word, Bhajanam, which means reverence. Playing pieces of musical equipment like Tabla, Harmonium, and Dholak also accompany Bhajans. Unlike Kirtan, which is similar to Bhajans, there are no special rules or structure for singing Bhajans. When it comes to the recitation of Bhajans, no special musical training is necessary.

Bhajans have numerous significances in our lives. People started to practice them from ancient days due to the same reasons. They can help us in various ways. When we sing or hear Bhajans, we can imbibe positive vitalities. They can aid us in removing negative energies within us and our surroundings. Apart from that, there are other religious and scientific significances associated with singing Bhajans in Hinduism.

With the fast pacing of life, many people fail to find time for their prayers. Most kids, nowadays, are also unaware of the need to sing Bhajans.

Songs of peace

Bhajan melodies are a beautiful part of our cultural heritage. A bhajan song is soothing and takes one to a different world. For years tales and episodes from scriptures and the teachings of saints have all been the subject of bhajans. For those who don’t know, bhajan is a kind of worship where worshipers adore their God through singing and dancing during the rituals. The best part about bhajans is that they have no fixed format and the singers can perform on different occasions. Like other ragas, a bhajan is also considered to have healing powers. Bhajans also help in calming and soothing the human body and mind. In this ethos, music enriches both the listener and the performer through a combination of aesthetic and spiritual experience.

Umerkot, Sindh, is flooded with shrines of Sufi saints and Hindu temples. Currently, the population of Umerkot is estimated to be equally divided between Hindus and Muslims. These shrines and temples attract bhajan singers from all over the region. These singers frequently travel to Umerkot to perform there and connect to the listeners and worshipers through their soulful voices. Also bhajan singers are invited to perform privately at homes so the families can pay homage to their loved ones. The people receive these singers warmly, showering them with rose petals and treating them as if they are spiritual leaders; that is how influential their melodies are. These exceptional bhajan performers belong to socially and economically marginalised schedule caste communities like Bheel, Meghwar, Kolhi, Oad etc. residing in the desert area.

Amongst these singers, one bhajan singer who has won many hearts in Umerkot with her melodious voice is Jeia Bhagtan and has been given the title of ‘koel’. She often performs at the famous Shiv Temple in the outskirts of Umerkot City as well as festivals or family functions in the Thar Desert and adjoining areas.

Jeia is a part of a singing group that has four male-members from her community. They play traditional instruments while Jeia sings. She herself has a five-string Damboro, which supports in maintaining her rhythm while signing. Despite being illiterate, she has memorised bhajans of Meera Bai, Kabir and Tulsidas. She usually sings in Hindi and local Dhatki languages. She depends economically on the donations which she receives while performing the holy songs. This is her only source of generating income. According to her, “I don’t have any fixed charges for a particular occasion and I don’t take an advance for the performance. It is up to organizers or listeners to pay me as much as they like. I take any amount as a blessing. Whatever I earn is enough for a decent and simple living.”

The temple where Jeia usually performs was built by her mother Gulaban, inside their residential premises some years ago in the honour of Rama Pir, whose actual temple is located in Tando Allahyar city. Rama Pir Temple is a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and a peaceful co-existence for centuries in this part. Hundreds of people travel long distance by foot to reach Rama Pir on the occasion of three-day annual festivals held in September every year.

For Jeia, bhajans are Sat Sang (gathering for truth) and she devotedly performs them on such occasions. People invite her to perform at temples, ritual ceremonies and festivals all around the wide desert zone, mostly Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpukhas and Tando Allahyar.

However, it was not a piece of cake for Jeia to earn a name and she needed the backing of Radha Bheel, a community activist of Mirpurkhas. Radha endorses Jeia and has also introduced another singer Seeta Bheel to the desert area. Seeta is a blind singer from Jamesabad, Mirpurkhas district. Regarding the talent of these singers Radha states, “These singers have beautiful and melodious voices that no one can compete with.  We need such singers because their voices provide relief to the people, who otherwise, are experiencing stress due to acute poverty.”

Even though listening to bhajans is not common in big cities the truth is that the peace and tranquillity that such devotional songs provide is exactly what we need. So, the next time you head out to towns like Umerkot and Mirpurkhas, do make an effort to experience sounds of the soulful bhajans.

How should we sing Bhajan?

namavali bhajan “Giridhara Govinda Gopala Ganashyama nandalala”


1)Giridhara      -One who held aloft the Govardhana   mountain

near    mathura,  to protect every one (one who will  lift all  us

out of our problems and agonies- Mangala aarati anduko mandara


2)Govinda,Gopala –One who protects the cows, Also,   one who

protects land, one who controls one’s own senses.

3)Ganashayama      – One whose colour is dark blue, one who is ever

attractive, a treat for one’s  eyes

4)Nandalala      -Nanda’s son- Like Krishna belonged to Nandagopa who

was not his real father, Our Sai Krishna   belongs to one and all,

who so ever calls Him and who so ever Worships Him.

5)Manamohana      -Stealer of heart- Swami- invites us though miracle,

through dream, through some one,through a book passed on by some one

and then, by His darshan, Sparshan, Sambhashan- He steals our heart

which then thinks of None other but HIM.

5)Madhusudana      -One who killed the demon MADHU in Dwapara yuga. One

who has to kill the demon inside each one of us. The Ego which is

sweet like madhu, evil like the demon Madhu.

7)Madhava      – One who is consort of Ma- Mahalakshmi

      – One who is Lord of Knowledge

8)Damodara      -Having a rope tied around His waist(tied by Yasoda,

to restrict Kshna from getting into Gopika’s houses to steel butter

from their Home)- (Our Sai krisna steels our heart when it gets as

pure as the white butter, when we invoke Him with sincere heart.)

      -One who is known by a purified mind (Udara) b means of self

control (Dama)

9)Janardana      -One who is approached by (janam) for boons of all


      – one who is a pleasure, a bliss to our senses.

10)Muralidhara      – One who holds Murali in our heart.(Onme who will

hold us close to Him when we become hollow like Murali, hollow

without ego and hollow without desire.

11)Manamohana       -See pt 5

12)Sai      – Divine Mother (Sa+ Ayi)

13)Narayana      – Who is Divine Father for all Nara( Nara+ Nayna),

One who is shelter for the whole world

One who was born as Sai Narayana in Dwaparayuga has desecended

again, reincarnated again in Parthi as Sathya Narayana.

Singing Bhajans Is Not A Waste Of Time

Q: Is there any benefit to be gained from singing bhajans (devotional songs), praying and doing japa (mantra chanting)? Can’t that time be spent doing work that will be of some use?

Many people sing romantic songs. How does one respond to people who ask, “What’s the use of doing that? Can’t that time be spent doing something useful instead?” Only one who has experienced something knows whether it is beneficial or not. People enjoy listening to ordinary songs. Similarly, when devotees listen to bhajans, they forget everything else and become absorbed in the bhajans. Worldly emotions and relationships are typically the subject of ordinary songs, and listeners relish the mood behind these songs. But when bhajans and prayers are sung, both the singers and the audience experience peace of mind.

Disco music arouses emotional vibrations. Listening to romantic songs evokes the mood between lover and beloved as well as related emotions and thoughts. Bhajans remind us of our relationship with God. Here, divine qualities are awakened instead of emotions. Bhajans impart peace to singer and listener alike.

Amma is not criticising other types of songs. Some people derive pleasure from them. There are many kinds of people in the world. Different people like different things. Everything is important at some level. Amma does not reject anything.

God-realisation is not the only aim of singing bhajans. It offers other advantages, too. Bhajans and prayers awaken positive vibrations in oneself and in the environment. Friendship with everyone is the spirit behind bhajans and prayers. Through prayer, the devotee begins contemplating. A child repeats a word 10 times and thus memorises the word. In the same way, when one sings bhajans and reiterates divine qualities, these qualities take root in the heart, creating an awakening in life.

Bhajans impart joy and provide respite to the mind. In order to gain the most from bhajans, one must feel, “I am nothing. You are everything.” This is true prayer. However, such an attitude does not dawn easily. Only when inner wisdom dawns will that attitude flower fully. But one need not just wait until then. One can cultivate the right attitude and move ahead. Never forget that all our power is from God. Even our breath is not under our control. One might say, “Here I come,” before walking down the stairs. But even before completing that sentence, that person might collapse from a heart attack and die. We have heard of such instances. Therefore, we must cultivate the attitude of being merely an instrument in His hands.

We must not sing bhajans or pray just for the sake of fulfilling our desires. At present, many consider prayer a means to fulfil their selfish desires. Instead, we must strive to awaken noble qualities and positive vibrations through prayer. If we are interested only in gratifying our senses, the incidence of rapes, thefts and murders will increase in society. Love and devotion for God help people tread the path of righteousness. It is a practical way of maintaining harmony in society. 

Prayers borne of positive thoughts create positive vibrations; prayers arising from negative thoughts create negative vibrations. The kind of vibrations that prayer radiates depends on the kind of thoughts of the person praying. When one prays for the destruction of one’s enemy, one is filled with thoughts of anger. The world then receives angry vibrations from this person. The attitude behind the prayer determines the vibrations that the world receives from the one who prays.


Bhajan refers to any devotional song with religious theme or spiritual ideas, specifically among Indian Religions, in any of the languages from the Indian subcontinent. The term bhajanam (भजनम्) means reverence and originates from the root word bhaj (भजति), means to revere, as in “bhaja govindam“. The term “bhajana” also means sharing.

The term ‘bhajan‘ is also commonly used to refer a group event, with one or more lead singers, accompanied with music, and sometimes dancing. Minimally there is a percussion accompaniment such as tabla, a dholak or tambourine. Handheld small cymbals (kartals) are commonly used to maintain the beat, rhythm. A bhajan may be sung in a temple, in a home, under a tree in the open, near a river bank or a place of historic significance.

bhajan has no prescribed form, or set rules, is in free form, normally lyrical and based on melodic ragas. It belongs to a genre of music and arts that developed with the Bhakti movement. It is found in the various traditions of Hinduism but particularly in Vaishnavism, in Jainism.

Ideas from scriptures, legendary epics, the teachings of saints and loving devotion to a deity are the typical subjects of bhajans.

South Indian bhakti pioneers, but bhajans have been widely composed anonymously and shared as a musical and arts tradition. Its genre such as Nirguni, Gorakhanathi, Vallabhapanthi, Ashtachhap, Madhura-bhakti and the traditional South Indian form Sampradya Bhajan each have their own repertoire and methods of singing.


The Sanskrit word bhajan or bhajana is derived from the root bhaj, which means “divide, share, partake, participate, to belong to”. The word also connotes “attachment, devotion to, fondness for, homage, faith or love, worship, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation”.


Historical roots

In Hinduism, Bhajan and its Bhakti analog Kirtan, have roots in the ancient metric and musical traditions of the Vedic era, particularly the Samaveda. The Samaveda samhita is not meant to be read as a text, it is like a musical score sheet that must be heard.

Other late Vedic texts mention the two scholars Shilalin (Śilālin) and Krishashva (Kṛśaśva), credited to be pioneers in the studies of ancient drama, singing and dance. The art schools of Shilalin and Krishashva may have been associated with the performance of vedic rituals, which involved story telling with embedded ethical values. The vedic traditions integrated rituals with performance arts, such as a dramatic play, where not only praises to gods were recited or sung, but the dialogues were part of a dramatic representation and discussion of spiritual themes.

The Vedas and Upanishads celebrate Nada-Brahman, where certain sounds are considered elemental, triggering emotional feelings without necessarily having a literal meaning, and this is deemed sacred, liminal experience of the primeval ultimate reality and supreme truth. This supreme truth is, states Guy Beck, considered as full of bliss and rasa (emotional taste) in the Hindu thought, and melodic sound considered a part of human spiritual experience. Devotional music genre such as Bhajan are part of a tradition that emerged from these roots.

Hindu Bhajans

Bhajan in Hindu traditions is an informal, loosely structured devotional song with music in a regional language. They are found all over India and Nepal, but are particularly popular among the Vaishnavism sub-traditions such as those driven by devotion to avatars of Vishnu such as Krishna, Rama, Vitthal and Narayana (often with their consorts). In Southern India, Bhajanais follow a tradition (Sampradaya) called the Dakshina Bharatha Sampradaya Bhajanai. This involves a tradition that has been followed for the last several centuries and includes Songs/Krithis/Lyrics from great composers all over India encompassing many Indian languages.

Bhajan may be sung individually, or more commonly together as a choral event wherein the lyrics include religious or spiritual themes in the local language. The themes are loving devotion to a deity, legends from the Epics or the Puranas, compositions of Bhakti movement saints, or spiritual themes from Hindu scriptures. The Bhajans in many Hindu traditions are a form of congregational singing and bonding, that gives the individual an opportunity to share in the music-driven spiritual and liturgical experience as well as the community a shared sense of identity, wherein people share food, meet and reconnect. The bhajans have played a significant role in community organization in 19th and 20th century colonial era, when Indian workers were brought to distant lands such as Trinidad, Fiji and South Africa as cheap labor on plantations.

Bhajan versus Kirtan in the Hindu traditions. Some Bhajan songs are centuries old, popular on a pan-regional basis, passed down as a community tradition, while others newly composed. Everyone in Hindu tradition is free to compose a Bhajan with whatever ideas or in praise of any deity of their wish, but since they are sung, they typically follow meters of classical Indian music, the raga and the tala to go with the musical instruments. They are sung in open air, inside temples such as those of Swaminarayan movement, in Vaishnava monasteries, during festivals or special events, and at pilgrimage centers.

Bhajan is closely related to Kirtan, with both sharing common aims, subjects, musical themes and being devotional performance arts. A Bhajan is more free in form, and can be singular melody that is performed by a single singer with or without one and more musical instruments. Kirtan, in contrast, differs in being a more structured team performance, typically with a call and response musical structure, similar to an intimate conversation or gentle sharing of ideas, and it includes two or more musical instruments, with roots in the prosody principles of the Vedic era.

Many Kirtan are structured for more audience participation, where the singer calls a spiritual chant, a hymn, a mantra or a theme, the audience then responds back by repeating the chant or by chanting back a reply of their shared beliefs. A Bhajan, in contrast, is either experienced in silence or a “sing along”.


Stavan is a form of popular and historically pervasive genre of devotional music in Jainism. The subject of a Stavan varies, ranging from praise of Jina, Jain religious ideas and its philosophy, in a manner similar to Bhakti Bhajans.

Jainism rejects any Creator god, but accepts protector deities and rebirth of souls as heavenly beings, and its devotional singing traditions integrate these beliefs. Stavan may include dancing and worship rituals. Known as Bhajan in north and west Indian regional languages, a Stavan is typically sung as folk melodies by groups of Jain women, and are formal part of ceremonies and celebrations within Jainism.

Nowadays Many old and new Jain Stavans are being sung and recorded by Jain singers.


The Sikh tradition places major emphasis on devotional worship to one formless God, and Bhajans are a part of this worship. A more common form of community singing is called Shabad Kirtan in Sikhism. A Shabad Kirtan is performed by professional religious musicians, wherein bani (word, hymns) from the Sikh scripture are sung to a certain raga and tala.

Modern composers and singers of Bhajans

A modern Bhajan has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan or as sophisticated as the dhrupad, thumri or kriti with music based on classical ragas and talas.

V. D. Paluskar and V. N. Bhatkhande have combined Indian classical music with bhajan. Pandit Kumar Gandharva made famous the Nirguni Bhajans of Sant Kabir and Malwa Region. The dancer Mallika Sarabhai has produced performances based on bhajans. Abhinaya Chakravathi Sri JS Eswara Prasad Rao of Hyderabad, who is the disciple of AL Krishnamurthy Bhagavathar, Pudukkottai system, has produced performances based on Sampradaya bhajans under the title “Nitrya sankeerthnam”.

Bhajans of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism traditions, Vedic mantras and Yoga chants have been composed, published in Western musical sheet format or recorded by western singers such as Krishna Das, Deva Premal, Miten, and by various West Indies singers influenced by East Indian heritage.

The Stavan compositions and literature of the Jainism tradition are extensive, with a historic overview provided by Sri Sudhara Stavan Sangrah, traditionally preserved in “puja box” by Jain families. It is vectored text with Jain lyrics and is canonically inspired.

Kripalu Maharaj is one of the modern era bhakti leaders and bhajan-kirtan composers. He has composed eleven thousand one hundred and eleven doha (couplets) on the leela of Radha Krishn and the devotional philosophy called Radha Govind Geet; 1008 pad (songs) called Prem Ras Madira; hundreds of kirtan in the form of Yugal Shatak and Yugal Ras and twelve pad which fully describe the beauty and the decorations of Krishn, and thirteen pad which describe the beauty and the decorations of Radha Rani called Shree Krishn Dwadashi and Shree Radha Trayodashi. Renditions of Shree Maharajji’s bhajans and kirtans have been recorded by well-known singers in India such as Manna Dey Anuradha Paudwal and Anup Jalota.

Why do we Hindus clap when singing bhajans or devotional songs?

We Hindus clap while singing bhajans or devotional songs in groups and this is to maintain the beat and rhythm. While clapping with bhajans one feels pure and refreshed and it also helps in concentration. Clapping while singing bhajans is popular in temples and during special gatherings at sacred places and homes. But while chanting mantras nobody claps.

The quick movement of hands and palms hitting each other is believed to have physical benefits. While clapping the pressure points in the hands are pressed and this helps improving blood circulation.

Clapping while temple prayers is not followed in South India.

In Hindu worship, music is gift to gods

She is a bumblebee. The Lord Krishna is a flower. When the flower petals have enclosed her, she’s totally swallowed by the fragrance of his love.

So goes a song composed by 15th Century Indian poet Meera, a woman who gave up worldly ways to pen Hindu devotional songs about Krishna, believed to be a human incarnation of the god Vishnu. In the lyrics, religious and romantic love are intertwined.

These songs, called bhajans, are part of a rich tradition of music in Hinduism. Music is essential to the worship experience, Hindus say, because it arouses the senses and creates spiritual vibrations that enhance devotion.

Repetition and chanting help connect devotees to humankind and to their spirituality. Sometimes there is improvisation, like jazz, in the singing. The sound of “om” is a sacred mantra.

Rama Temple, one of two temples housed at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Lemont, promotes a tradition known as sangeetopachara, or making a musical offering to the gods. The performances are held on the second Sunday of each month, including this Sunday, and are open to the public. Later this month the temple will also host a music and cultural festival.

“Hindus believe there is a power in the statue they are worshipping,” said Narasimha Acharya Samudrala, a priest at Rama Temple. “You have to please the god with the good things like offerings.”

The range of expression in Hinduism is as large as India. Northern Indians have different traditions than those in the southern part of the country. Hindus venerate a variety of deities, such as Shiva and Vishnu. Some view the deities as various forms of a supreme god, and different regions are more devoted to certain gods. Languages and rituals used in worshipping vary greatly.

In Hindu music, there are both ancient traditions and contemporary songs. Two main classical music forms–Hindustani, from northern India, and Carnatic, from the south–provide much of the framework.

The sitar, a string instrument, is common in Hindustani music, in which flexibility and improvisation shape songs. Carnatic songs are beat heavy and commonly feature a drum called the mridangam.

Once the classical framework is established, sub-melodies can enter. Indian musicians also have adopted Western instruments such as the violin, and some devotionals mimic melodies of British marching songs. The lyrics and music encompass the range of human emotion.

Hindu music can be as varied as Christian music in the U.S., which ranges from Catholic chorales to Pentecostal gospel. But mysticism and dynamism are common threads in Hindu music, and songs about a god being a kindhearted soul or stories of a deity’s achievements predominate.

David Roche, executive director of the Old Town School of Folk Music, has studied Indian music and said it plays to the sensory experience in Hinduism.

“Music is a kind of sacred technology with a long history,” said Roche, an ethnomusicologist. “It has deep importance in changing both personal consciousness and social atmosphere.”

The Sunday evening concerts at Rama Temple, held there for almost 20 years, weave Hindustani and Carnatic traditions with violins and percussion. The performance is a lullaby that wishes the Lord a good night’s rest. Glory is given to Vishnu, a supreme god who gives salvation, said Samudrala.

When singing, devotees will describe the god’s valor and strength, calming him like a baby. The music helps devotees concentrate on blessings and remember the good things in life. Peacefulness envelops them as they sing the Lord goodnight.

“It’s very divine. Every word, every sentence has a meaning to it,” said Nagamani Beligere, a Rama Temple member.

Bhajans are popular devotionals because of the stories they tell. Meera’s poetic and warm compositions, for example, elucidate the love that she feels for Krishna.

Recently members of RajRang, an Indian folk music group from northwest Rajasthan that performed at the University of Chicago International House, broke into one of her songs at the Chicago Cultural Center’s cafe.

They sang of Meera flying as a bird in the sky, unafraid of thunder and lightning because she’s searching for Lord Krishna. The slow, melodic song echoed through the halls as some in the group used their palms to make beats on tables.

“Whether singing about Krishna or Shiva, we want to get the audience in a repetitious trance, to get the same feeling of a meditative state,” vocalist Anwar Khan Manganiar said in the Marwari language, through an interpreter.

The RajRang members converted from Hindu to Islam but still sing the Hindu religious songs as homage to their heritage and community. The performances also demonstrate an Islamic influence from Arabic music, they said.

“You can see the harmony among the different communities. That’s very important,” said group facilitator Kuldeep Kothari.

Kalapriya Dance, a company that specializes in classical Indian dance, helped bring RajRang to Chicago.

Artistic director Pranita Jain said dance, too, is important to the classical tradition because it taps into unvarying aspects of life such as birth, love and death while showing appreciation to the gods.

“Listening to bhajans, it just brings you closer to your own art,” said Jain. “It puts you in a meditative form. It’s connecting the inward with the outward.”

Benefits of Listening Bhajans- Unbelievable facts you want to know

What exactly Bhajan is? Do you ever wonder where it has been originated? What benefits do we derive from listening to bhajan? Are Bhajans just make us calm and relax or there are other benefits attached too? Come, let’s dig into knowing the benefits of listening to bhajans.

In Sanskrit, Bhaj means attachment, worship homage, etc. Basically singing a lyrical glorification of the deity is Bhajan. For instance, It’s a way of conveying love to the divine. Singing Bhajan and Kirtan in praise of Lord is an age-old and sacred tradition. Essentially, Its simple melodious lyrics and ragas have the same effect as meditation. For the seeker, it treads the path to become one with the divine. It is the best and easy way to reach the divine.

Samveda one of the four Vedas is Veda of melodies and chants. Bhajan and Kirtans have their root in Samveda. As a matter of fact, bhajan emerged from Nada Brahma. Fundamentally, Nada is a primitive sound that is full of sacredness and bliss. Therefore, these sounds considered to be elemental in experiencing the ultimate reality of supreme.

Either Bhajan can be composed in different raga or it may be a simple devotional song without any complexity. Bhajan and Kirtan are more or less similar. The only difference is kirtan is the well-structured performance where the audience also participates with the singer. In the contrary, Lead singer performs Bhajans all alone or in a group where the audience only listens.

Bhajan became popular during the bhakti movement. Meerabai, Tulsidas, Kabeer, Raidas, Naamdev, Eknath, Tukaram, Andal, and Guru Nanak Dev are prominent names of Bhakti Yuga. All the more Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught his disciples the importance of sankirtan which is a repetition of mantras or hymns.

The joy and contentment derived from listening Bhajan are unparalleled. Not only Listening and singing of Bhajan impart serenity and peace of mind but also able to transform our thoughts. Furthermore, the Listening of Bhajan helps to promote immunity and increases the low prana energy level. Its positive vibrations relieve anxiety and act as an antidepressant.

As per much research, it has been found that listening to bhajans and chants, increases the activity in the cells which releases Feel good hormone “Dopamine”. It is also referred by various studies that listening to bhajans activates our brain which makes us more analytical and Attentive, hence most people prefer to listen in the morning.

Apart from these benefits Bhajan also helps in building a positive approach. Fundamentally, bhajans have an ability to increase awareness of our surroundings and helps in building human qualities.

Adi Guru Sankaracharya ascribed Bhaj Govindam, a devotional composition in Sanskrit. He too emphasized the benefits of listening bhajans.  He refers in the verses that at the time of death, Money and all worldly knowledge will go in vain, only his name is the savior from this miserable cycle of life and death. Therefore sing the glory of God.


BHAJAN Bhajan (Sanskrit, from bhaj, meaning “to serve, to love, to share”) is a Hindu devotional and ritual song performed either privately or communally by a soloist or (more commonly) by a soloist (or soloists) with responding chorus since probably the first millennium a.d.Bhajan, both in terms of practice and etymology, is associated with the bhakti mārg (bhaj is also the root of the word bhakti). The genre’s vernacular texts and regional musical idioms help to make it one of the most popular modes of worship, serving as a vehicle for the expression of devotion to a personal deity. Consequently, the repertoire is vast and diverse, with some examples hundreds of years old and others composed freshly for Bollywood.

Bhajan texts are often didactic and autobiographical. The former suggest idealized behaviors for bhaktas (devotees) to imitate, while the latter cite examples from the lives of famous bhaktas such as Mirabai. Sometimes, deities such as Krishna or Rāma are the subject of bhajan texts, with stories from their lives as examples for devotees.

Bhajans generally consist of two musico-poetic parts: dhruvapada and pada. The dhruvapada is the identifying couplet refrain sung at the beginning of the bhajan and after each succeeding pada or verse (also a rhymed couplet). Commonly, performers repeat each pada and dhruvapada. As in many other South Asian musical forms, pitch register generally defines structural sections (pada and dhruva-pada).

In many traditions, singers use the same tunes for several bhajans so that a single tune can serve as a vehicle for a number of different texts. Sometimes, this melody is simple and standardized; however, in some traditions (Gujarati dhāl, for example) and in concert performances, the melodic materials and the concept itself can be more complex. Devotees often refer to these melodies by the title of a particularly popular bhajan.

The musical and textual transmission of bhajan materials is usually oral and communal, with singers learning from each other in performance contexts. Devotees can also purchase bhajan texts in small booklets (sometimes called bhajanāvalīs) in the bazaar or at bus and railway stations, or they can hand copy texts compiled by devotees. Increasingly, bhajans composed for the popular film industry are also making their way into local repertoires through cassettes.


Performances can be as simple as a single devotee singing to him- or herself during a quite moment, or as formal as a classical musician closing a program in a concert hall. A stereotypical performance involves a gathering of devotees (a bhajan mandal) led by a singer (a bhajanik) who knows and can perform many bhajans. In different traditions, Hindu women and/or men (sexually segregated groups are more common in the north) get together on a weekly basis. Mixed groups also perform in special contexts (such as family performances).

Bhajan performance reflects other South Asian models in which a principal singer and group of responsorial singers (jhelā) participate in communal song (samāj gāyan). In bhajan, anyone can lead; he or she needs only have the devotion and conviction to begin and others will follow and support. Bhajan performances are common at temples, but neighbors and relatives engage in communal performances of bhajan in the home and, since neighborhoods have historically tended to be caste-defined, domestic bhajan mandals tend to be caste-defined. However, an individual (a bhajnik) may become so proficient, or may come to know such a specialized bhajan repertoire, that others will invite him or her to their community to lead the singing. Increasingly, in modern urban and suburban settings—and especially in the Indian diaspora—bhajan mandals are ethnically diverse and class consistent, thus reflecting social developments in modern India.

Reflecting the widespread popularity of bhajan, performers will employ whatever instruments they have available, especially those that are small and portable. Historically, performers prefer an unpitched drum such as the dholak or dhol for the purpose of providing the basic rhythmic accompaniment, with singers striking metal cymbals such as the jhāñjhkartāl, or mañjīra, if not clapping. As music education has grown, classical drums such as the tablā (in the north) and mrdangam (in the south) have become more common. Performances might also include the harmonium, a portable keyed bellows organ introduced into India by Europeans in the eighteenth century but widely adopted and adapted by Indians. In the late twentieth century, small electronic keyboards also appeared in homes to accompany singing.

Many communal bhajan performances begin with an ārathī (an invocation) asking to make the ritual auspicious and successful. An image of the god is placed before the singers, and a plate with a flame (usually from an oil lamp) is passed around the room. Commonly, devotees pass their outstretched hands over the flame and then touch their closed eyes in a symbolic gesture. After the completion of the ārathī the singers begin their first bhajan.


What is a bhajan?
A Bhajan (भजन) is any type of Hindu devotional song. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan or very sophisticated music based on classical ragas and talas. It consists of lyrics with embellishments, expressing love for the Divine. Anecdotes and episodes from scriptures, the teachings of saints and descriptions of gods have all been the subject of bhajans. Bhajans help us uplift our mood and increases our faith in God. When we sing bhajans in the praise of God, we can experience his divine grace flowing on us.

What is japa?
Japa is the repetition of the name of that in which we believe. Japa is not simple words – each divine name in the Mantra is full of divine vibrations. These surround us and protect us and penetrate both our bodies and our whole inner being. Remembrance of the divine name gives immediate peace and happiness and turns us from the worldly to the Divine. We can practice japa during all activities. It is easier to remember when we do physical work like playing, helping in household work, etc. or when we are idle like sitting in the bus, or car. This japa helps us to purify our mind and makes our mind calm and peaceful.
“Mantra” (मन्त्र ) means a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power.The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic times by Hindus in India, and those are at least 3000 years old. Mantras are generally used in Japa and at the beginning and end of any ritual with the belief that their utterance imparts auspicious power to the ritual.

What are shlokas?

Shlokas are actually one category of hymns which follow a particular structure (known as chhandas) of construction and are chanted in various rhythms. Whereas Mantras belong to vedic period, the shlokas have said to originated from Ramayana times when Sage Valmiki inadvertently uttered a shloka which later led to the creation of Ramayana at the insistence of Lord Brahma himself. Shlokas are created and chanted in praise of Gods in form of daily prayers and special rituals. Shlokas together combine to form hymns which are chanted out of devotion, to remove obstacles in life, for prosperity, well-being etc.

What does Bhajan mean?

Bhajan is a Sanskrit word meaning “singing to glorify God.” It is also the name of a Hindu genre of devotional songs and hymns.

The term covers a wide range of devotional music, from a simple mantra to the more complex Hindu dhrupad. Bhajans are typically lyrical and convey love for the Divine. It can also refer to the inner music of the soul that yogis hear on their journey to oneness with the divine or higher Self.

Yogapedia explains Bhajan

Most commonly, bhajans have lively melodies and repeating choruses that are easy to sing. Bhajans tend to appeal to the masses and are an important component of community and village life in India, as they are usually sung by groups rather than individuals

One person sings the first line or stanza, which is then followed by the choir. Popular themes for bhajans come from stories of the Hindu epics, such as the “Ramayana” and “Mahabharata,” as well as from tales of the lives of the gods, such as Rama, Krishna and Shiva.

The bhajan is also a key concept in the practice of Surat Shabd yoga, which focuses on meditation on the inner sounds of the Self. In this type of yoga, bhajan refers to the music of the soul. As the yogi meditates, he focuses on the ajna (third eye) chakra, blocking out all external sounds and listening for the inner music. One asana used for this meditation is the bhajan squat pose (malasana) with the thumbs placed in the ears to block outside noise.

Traditional Bhajan Sequence ~

When we meet together to sing bhajans, there is a traditional order in which the devotional songs
are sung. The sequence of the bhajans has an important symbolic significance. In essence, a bhajan
session is a microcosm of our complete spiritual journey.
Opening Bhajan: Ganesha
We sing the first bhajan to Ganesha to mark the beginning of the spiritual journey. Ganesha is
famed for his quick thinking and cleverness. This sharpness of mind is essential to even begin on
the spiritual path. We must have the discrimination to see beyond the material world of illusion and
perceive the royal road to Divinity.
The elephant-headed Ganesha also symbolises the traditional task of the elephant to clear a path
before us. In olden times in India, armies on the march or royal caravans travelling through the
jungle would send the elephant troop ahead to clear a path for them to follow. In the spiritual sense,
the jungle represents the material world and the elephant-headed Ganesha represents God leading
us through the Maya (illusion). So, we sing to Ganesha to intiate us on the spiritual journey and to
clear the path ahead.
Examples of some popular Ganesh bhajans are Ganesha Sharanam, Gaja Vadana, and Vinayaka.
Second Bhajan: Guru
There is an old saying on the spiritual path that “when you are ready for your guru, He will find
you”. You don’t need to search for a guru. Just be ready and he will draw you to him. Once you
have begun your spiritual journey, the guru becomes the most important person in your life. That is
why we sing the second bhajan to the guru.
Progress on the spiritual path without the grace and guidance of a guru is so difficult that it is
almost impossible. A guru is one who has successfully navigated through the jungle of Maya and
has the ability to lead others through to the other side. The guru is truly the embodiment of God,
whose only desire is to serve you and to bring you closer and closer to God.
Some Guru bhajans we sing are ‘Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam’, which is Swami’s own
composition, plus ‘Guru Baba’ and ‘Gurudeva Sharanam Deva’.
Third Bhajan: Mother
Without a mother, how can any of us even have life? The mother is the first God that any child
knows. To honour the life-giving Divine Mother, we sing the next bhajan to her.
The nurture and care that the physical mother gives us is one small aspect of the great compassion
that the Divine Mother has for each of us. In our human weakness and frailty on the sometimesdifficult spiritual journey, we can turn to our Divine Mother and she will comfort us and protect us.
In the Catholic tradition, Mary is called the Mother of God. We pray to her for what we need, and
we ask her to intercede with Jesus on our behalf. It is said that whatever she asks of Him will be
granted, because Jesus would never refuse his mother’s request. With this confidence, we sing to
the all-compassionate Divine Mother.
Some examples of Mother bhajans are ‘Jai Jai Bhavani Ma’, ‘Jai Jai Janani’, and ‘Durgey Durgey’.
Next Bhajans: Any bhajan of your choice
After we have sung the Ganesha, Guru, and Mother bhajans, we are free to sing in worship and
honour of our particular favourite form of God or to invoke the Divine in whatever way we choose.
For example, if someone has a particular devotion to Jesus, he or she can lead a Christian song such
as ‘Make me a Channel of your Peace’ or ‘Give me Joy in My Heart, Lord Jesus’. Someone using
meditation in his or her spiritual practice may wish to invoke the ideal of Shiva by singing ‘Shivaya
Namah Shiva’ or ‘Bolo Bolo Sab Mil Bolo’.
To help absorb Swami’s teachings, someone may sing bhajans in Swami’s own words such as ‘I
am God’ or ‘Why Fear When I am Here?’. And so on it goes with bhajans to Krishna (e.g. Hey
Nanda Nanda), Rama (e.g. Sri Rama Chandra), Sai (e.g. He is Love), Sarva Dharma – all religions
(e.g. We are One in the Spirit), and the formless God (e.g. Sathyam Jnanam).

Final Bhajan: Subramanyam (Superman)
The bhajan session traditionally finishes with the Subramanyam bhajan. The reason for this is that
Subramanyam represents the completion of the spiritual journey. He is the perfect human being.
Subramanyam is revered as the leader of the armies of the gods. In his battles against the demons,
he encountered great challenges and hardships, but ultimately he was victorious. His battles are
symbolic of the spiritual battles we all engage in with the demons of anger, desire, greed etc. We go
through many trials and tribulations along the way but the end result is that our ego is defeated and
our character becomes polished like a beautiful diamond.
When we sing Subramanyam, we honour the attainment of perfect victory in the spiritual life.
Final Note: What is described above is the traditional sequence for a bhajan session and also some
of the symbolic, spiritual meanings behind the songs. What the article doesn’t say is that the MOST
IMPORTANT part of singing bhajans is the heart of love from which they come. When you sing to
God with love in your heart, that is the most important thing.

An Introduction to Bhajan: Hindu devotional song

Bhajan is the generic name for any kind of Indian, usually Hindu, devotional song. It is completely text-led, its devotional nature underpinned by the words rather than by any specific musical style. It can be something as straightforward as a recitation or chant (kirtan) of a given mantra (usually a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation) all the way to something as complex and sophisticated as the Dhrupad of North India or the kriti form of Carnatic music, based on pure raag (melodic structure) and executed in a specific taal (rhythmic cycle).

The word bhajan is derived from the word bhakti meaning ‘loving devotion,’ also the name of a specific spiritual movement which originated in South India and rapidly spread North and from which a tremendously enduring genre of mystical poetry emerged. Followers of the bhakti movement were opposed to the dogmatic nature of religious ritual and maintained that God was omnipresent, without requiring shape or form.

They openly challenged the authority of the clergy and the learned teachers who had, thus far, enjoyed a complete monopoly over the interpretation of Hindu scriptures. Many bhakti songs came to be written in the vernacular or everyday languages of North and South India, making them easier to memorise and sing outside the normal ritualised temple context.

The Persian Sufis (Islamic mystics) spread through North India from about the 12th century onwards, and found a natural affinity with the ideas of bhakti. There was a great deal of give and take, both musically and poetically, between the two traditions.

There are thousands of bhajans in all Indian languages but the ones written between the 14th and 17th centuries by the classic North Indian bhakti poets are among the most revered and considered worthy of inclusion in the repertoire of pure classical vocal artists – whether North or South Indian.

The famous classic bhakti poets include: the 15th century blind mystic Surdas, and several 16th century figures including the mystic-recluse Tulsidas, and Kabir, who is venerated equally by all the main religions of India – Hinduism, Islam and Sikkhism, with Meerabai being the only famous woman of this genre.

The poems are in a variety of Hindi dialects spoken at the time, but tend to use stunningly simple language and mundane everyday scenarios to convey highly complex spiritual ideas. Even so, the classic bhajans by Surdas, Tulsidas, Kabir and Meera are considered to be of very high literary value compared to more modern bhajans, where the lyrics are more accessible to the masses.

Nearly every major singer in India has sung bhajans. The famous film playback singer Lata Mangeshkar made it an important part of her vast repertoire, releasing entire ‘private’ albums devoted to the genre. Again, these poems are not limited to a set musical format and may be composed in a number of ways with as many accompanying instruments (and chorus voices) as deemed appropriate.

Listen & Sing Bhajans

Speech Level: Listen & Sing Bhajans

Listen to Bhajans daily.  If you can, learn & sing a new bhajan every day.


Devotion in our heart, when it pervades and Hymns through our relationships in the world outside, it becomes true Bhajan.  


Not only should we get ourselves detached from the finite worlds of sense-objects and the ever-changing world of relationships, But we must also turn our mInd and fix it steadily upon the Higher Principle of Truth, God through uninterrupted Bhajan. 

Such tender and loving service of the Lord(Bhajan) through speech, body and mind must become constant, steady and strictly punctual.

If Bhakti is the emotional accompaniment, Bhajan represents the joy-dance of activities in the life of the diligent devotee.  


 Learning and singing bhajans is one of the simplest sadhanas to anchor the mind in devotion. 

1.    Everyday learn 1 bhajan.

2.    Listen to the audio/video atleast 5 times or till you get the tune properly. Then take down the lyrics correctly

3.    Preferably learn in the morning so that all through the day you can remember the song and it is easy to sing.

4.    Keep on practicing until you get familiar with the song.

5.    In the evening, refresh yourself, light the lamp at the altar

6.    Chant the shanti mantra – Om Sahanavavatu…. Guru brahma…. and the sing the bhajan you learnt.  Don’t worry about the tune/singing ability. What is important is the bhaav or the feeling of devotion with which one sings. 

7.    Offer some flowers after your singing.

8.    Sit quietly for some time.

9.    End it with Purnamadah…… Om Shantih Shantih Shantih.

10. A few seekers can get together and Group Singing can also be done.

11. You can learn in the following sequence which is our tradition of singing bhajans:
Ganesha, Saraswati, Guru, Shiva, Rama, Krishna, any other, Hanuman.
Each day 1 bhajan of a deity and so 7 days – 7 deities  – 7 Bhajans.  This is optional. You can even learn 7 Bhajans of just one deity/Guru.


For thousands of years, in all cultures, in all parts of the world, people have been singing. Singing is in our genes and in human nature. The urge to sing – and to hear others sing – is in all of us.

1.       Singing the name of the Lord purifies our speech, mind and the whole personality.

2.       Bhajans take us closer to the Lord by invoking devotion and bring about surrender.

3.       It is an ageless enjoyment – you are never too young or too old.

4.       Singing strengthens concentration and memory.

5.       When we sing, musical vibrations move through us, altering your physical and emotional landscape. 

6.       Singing gives joy to both the singer and the listener.

7.       Singing reduces anger, depression and anxiety.

Bhajans & Nagarsankeertan

“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.” – Baba

To devevlop harmony and true devotion Bhagawan Baba has given us the method of Namasankeerthan or Bhajan. Baba stresses that through Bhajans man gets to overcome the vices of” Kama” and “Krodha”..Desire and Anger– the most devastating enemies of mental peace. Community singing or Bhajans alone can create an opportunity to illuminate the spark of divinity within every heart and also unite people in and around the vicinity through the light of Love .Only internal purity can destroy mountains of sins and bring about real transformation in man, says Baba.

The real intention of Bhajan is to make man cleanse his heart and mind ,which will in turn make him get released from the bonds of Maya, and his innate Divinity helps him to shine in all aspects of Life with happiness and peace.

Nagarsankeertan activities: There is no greater joy than coming together like a flock of birds and taking the melodious name of the Lord in unison. Groups of devotees get together in the wee hours of the morning, every week and make their way across the bylanes near the temple and sing bhajans in unison, spreading the sacred name of the Lord.

Akhand Bhajan and Shivratri Bhajans were celebrated all over the state with thousands of devotees deriving joy by participating in the bhajans.

Bhajan Keertan

Bhajan: It is to sing songs in praise of God and chant god’s name accompanied by instruments like taal, mridangam, pakhavaj. There are 2 types of Bhajan: Chakri Bhajan and Songi Bhajan. Tukdoji Maharaj introduced a new form of Bhajan known as Khanjiri Bhajan.

In north India Bhajans composed by Saint Tulsidas, Surdas, Saint Meerabai, and Saint Kabir are very popular. In Gujarat Saint Narasi Mehta gave momentum to the Bhakti movement. In Maharashtra, the bhajan-keertan tradition was supported by Saint Namadeva.

Keertan: It is performed in a temple or in the precincts of a temple.It is performed by keertankar also known as Haridas or Kathekaribhuva. He has to dress in traditional way and very well informed. He needs to train himself in oratory, singing, musical instruments, dance and humour.

Traditionally, Naradmuni is supposed to be the founder of the Keertana tradition. Saint Namadev is known as the first keertankar of Maharashtra. Other saints helped the tradition to flourish.


Bhajans and Kirtans originated in Sāmaveda. A musical-lyrical glorification of the a devata or a deity is a Bhajan. Singing Bhajans and Kirtans in praise of the Almighty is an age-old and sacred tradition. Essentially, its simple melodious lyrics and rāgas have the same result as meditation. It’s a way of conveying love to the divine, and for the seeker especially who is following the path of bhakti, it treads the path to become one with the divine.

The Vidya Vikas Bhajan class was initiated at Ekta Mandir in the Summer of 2010 for kids and adults. The benefits of singing the praise of our beloved deities, can be felt regardless of age.

It’s never too late to embark on your musical journey. Whether you are starting off new or from where you left off years ago, classes for adults are designed to make lessons engaging and fun no matter your age or experience level. Lessons are taught in a low pressure environment. Our goal is not only help you learn but to inspire you to make music an integral part of your life and sadhana towards the Supreme!

Kirtan and Dhun
The Hindu Devotional Song

The bhajan has a special place in In­dian so­ciety. Most bhajans were writ­ten bet­ween the 14th through 17th centu­ries. They are simple songs sung in the praise of God. Complex spiritual truths are por­trayed in the simple language of the farmers, merchants, and other com­mon peo­ple of the time.

Bhajan is an impor­tant part of a Hindu revival­ist move­ment which swept through India du­ring the Mogul period; this move­ment was known as the Bhakti move­ment. The crux of this move­ment was simple; spiritual sal­vation was attain­able to any­one who had a pure and selfless love of God. This sal­vation was not pre­dicated upon formalised yagnas, pujas, know­ledge of Sanskrit, or any of the char­acter­is­tics of the older forms of Hinduism. This was a spiritual empower­ment of the masses.

Bhajan is dif­fi­cult to des­cribe mus­ically be­cause it is not de­fined by any mus­ical char­acter­is­tics; it is de­fined by a sense of devotion (bhakti). Bhajans cover a broad spectrum of mus­ical styles from the simple mus­ical chant (dhun) to highly developed versions comparable to thumri.

The poetic content of the bhajan also covers a broad spectrum. The more trad­itional ones by great saint music­ians such as Mira, or Kabir are con­si­dered to be of the highest literary quality. Many modern ones, although more easily under­stood by the masses, us­ually have a literary value no greater than a typical film song (a pop­ular form of music generated for the masses). The lowest poetic form is the dhun, which is ac­tually nothing more than a mus­ical version of a chant.

The struc­ture of bhajan is very conventional. It con­tains a sin­gle sthai and nu­mer­ous antara. The last antara has special sig­nifi­cance be­cause it con­tains the nom de plume of the author.

There are a num­ber of musician/ saints who are fa­mous for their bhajans. The names Tulsidas, Surdas, Mira Bai, and Kabir are par­ti­cu­larly well known.

The possible instruments used to accompany bhajan are unlimited. However, one most commonly finds dholak, tabla, dholki, kartal, manjira, harmonium, bulbul tarang (banjo), or esraj. When the bhajan is performed in a classical setting, one may also find tanpura or even sarangi on rare occasions.

Kirtan and Dhun
The Kirtan or Dhun is related to the bhajan. The major difference is that bhajan is us­ually performed by a soloist, while kirtan and dhun us­ually involve the audience in a “call-and-response”. The mus­ical quality is consequently much simpler to accommodate the uncertain mus­ical ab­il­ities of the participants. The term Kirtan is used by Hindus and Sikhs, while the term Dhun seems to be used only by Hindus. Please note that this usage of the term “dhun” should not be confused with the dhun of instrumentalists.


We all know the power of music. The passionate words of the national anthem, the ethereal notes of classical music, the soothing rhymes of childhood lullabies—music can truly uplift, inspire, enlighten, soothe, and entertain, all at the same time. Musicians such as Tansen were believed to be able to light lamps simply by the power of their voice. Often said to be the food of gods, music is, no doubt, powerful. In fact, people across the world have made use of music to express or evoke the deepest religious experiences.

Classical Music
In medieval India, during the reign of the Moghuls, the strong tides of the Bhakti (devotion) movement swept across the country. An essential feature of this movement was the use of devotional songs called bhajans to come closer to God and attain mystic states of intense ecstasy.
Unlike the complicated rituals of the Vedic era, worship in the Bhakti tradition mainly comprised music and songs, which are not intellectualised and were typically in the common regional languages of India. This made it possible for the masses to approach God in their own way, without a mediator such as a priest, or knowledge of ancient languages such as Sanskrit.
What are Bhajans?
Bhajans are devotional songs that typically praise God, recite an anecdote, or preach the teachings of saints. Another related word is kirtan, which typically refers to musical chanting of mantras mostly from the Vedas. Devotional songs in Sikhism are also called kirtans.
Bhajans have been influenced at various times by the teachings of saints such as Chaitanya, Haridas, Tulsidas, Soordas, Mira, and Kabir, whose songs are still sung today. They form a part of contemporary Hinduism.
The qawwalis (devotional songs sung by Sufi mystics) have also influenced the way bhajans are sung in some parts of the country.
Instruments Used in Bhajans
The musical instruments may include the following:
Kartal – wooden clappers
Ektar – one-stringed lute
Dotar – two-stringed lute
Manjira – small hand cymbals
Sitar – long-necked lute
Dholak – barrel-shaped drum
Nal – barrel-shaped drum
Tabla – hand drums
Harmonium – hand-pumped organ

How to Organise a Bhajan Group
Do you want to organise a bhajan group with your family members and friends? Here are some tips to bear in mind.
Organise a group: Bhajans are best sung in groups. Typically, in India, bhajans are a way of social bonding with people irrespective of caste, gender, or class. Organise a group of like-minded people in your neighbourhood, and hold regular sessions at a time convenient for everyone.
Choose a venue: The bhajan sessions could be conducted at the homes of different members by rotation. However, in some countries, neighbours may perceive it as a nuisance. Remember, bhajans should not disturb anyone’s peace of mind or make it inconvenient for others. You could also conduct it at a neutral venue such as a community centre or a temple. The venue should be peaceful, away from traffic, construction sites, or any other noisy place.

Manage the venue: Once you have chosen the venue, ensure that the vicinity is clean before and after the bhajan session. Normally, seating is on the floor. Arrange for few mattresses. Some people, especially old people, may not be used to sitting on the floor, and a few chairs can be kept ready for that purpose. Set aside a place for everyone to keep their footwear before they enter the prayer area.

Keep the materials ready: Keep an idol or image of the deity that will be the focus of worship in the room, or else you may find everyone looking at each other instead of singing. Keep diyas (lamps), incense sticks, flowers, and the necessary musical instruments ready before the bhajan starts. Arrange for vegetarian food that can be distributed as prasad (food offered to the deity) and sufficient clean, drinking water.
Assign roles: Being a communal affair, it is necessary to elicit the participation of most members of your group. Assign roles such as who will play the music or who will get the flowers in advance. Rotate these roles frequently to include almost every member of the group.

Keep it simple: Not everyone in your group may know all the bhajans. Choose bhajans that can be easily sung by everyone. You could buy cassettes or CDs of devotional songs in almost every Indian language. If your group consists of people from different parts of the country, you could choose Hindi or Sanskrit songs. Moreover, several bhajans can be freely downloaded from the internet. You can also buy books of the lyrics of common bhajans, which should be easily accessible to all the members of your group.
Insist on some basic rules: Taking a consensus, follow a basic set of rules for the session that will help to maintain an ambience of peace and religiosity. For example, mobile phones can be kept on silent throughout the session.

Find other activities: Your group need not just limit the sessions to bhajans. You could also include story-telling sessions, elaborate pujas, and chanting of mantras. You could collect some cash offering (daan) at the end of the session that could go for charity, for example, buying clothes and books for the underprivileged. After all, the aim of the bhajan session is to bring each member closer to God, and what better way than to serve humanity.


A Hindu devotional song. Great importance is attributed to the singing of bhajans within the Bhakti movement. A Bhajan is any type of Hindu devotional song. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan or as sophisticated as the dhrupad or kriti with music based on classical ragas and talas. It is normally lyrical, expressing love for the Divine. The name, a cognate of bhakti, meaning religious devotion, suggests its importance to the bhakti movement that spread from the south of India throughout the entire subcontinent in the Moghul era.

Anecdotes and episodes from scriptures, the teachings of saints and descriptions of gods have all been the subject of bhajans. The Dhrupad style, Sufi qawwali and the kirtan or song in the Haridasi tradition are related to bhajan. Nanak, Kabir, Meera, Narottama Dasa, Surdas and Tulsidas are notable composers. Traditions of bhajan such as Nirguni, Gorakhanathi, Vallabhapanthi, Ashtachhap, Madhura-bhakti and the traditional South Indian form Sampradya Bhajan each have their own repertoire and methods of singing.

What is Bhajan?
Bhajans are divine, powerful and stir the deepest of our emotions. Singing bhajans is a simple yet meritorious way to discover our close connection to God.  Bhajan is a Sanskrit word meaning “singing to glorify God. It is also the name of a Hindu genre of devotional songs and hymns.
The term covers a wide range of devotional music, from a simple mantra to the more complex Hindu dhrupad. Bhajans are typically lyrical and convey the love for the Divine. It can also refer to the inner music of the soul that yogis hear on their journey to oneness with the divine or higher Self.  Most commonly, bhajans have lively melodies and repeating choruses that are easy to sing. Bhajans tend to appeal to the masses and are an important component of community and village life in India, as they are usually sung by groups rather than individuals
One person sings the first line or stanza, which is then followed by the choir. Popular themes for bhajans come from stories of the Hindu epics, such as the “Ramayana” and “Mahabharata,” as well as from tales of the lives of the gods, such as Rama, Krishna and Shiva.
The bhajan is also a key concept in the practice of Surat Shabd yoga, which focuses on meditation on the inner sounds of the Self. In this type of yoga, bhajan refers to the music of the soul. As the yogi meditates, he focuses on the Ajna (third eye) chakra, blocking out all external sounds and listening for the inner music. One asana used for this meditation is the bhajan squat pose (malasana) with the thumbs placed in the ears to block outside noise.
The term ‘Bhajan’ is used in India to refer to any devotional song. Bhajans are sung all across the country to praise God and express one’s deep love & devotion towards the almighty. Bhajans are gentle, melodious songs that provide immense peace and happiness to the person/s who sing it and those people who listen to it.

Singing Bhajans
A bhajan can be sung with or without accompanying musical instruments. Usually, instruments such as dholak, manjira, jhanj, daphli and the chimta are played while singing devotional songs or bhajans.
Bhajans can be simple chants or a song that is constructed using ragas & other elements of Indian Classical Music. They can be sung individually or by groups of people together, in unison. Either way, they are known to spread good vibes and rekindle one’s love & faith in God.
History of Bhajans
The tradition of singing bhajans in India is age-old. Some of the earliest composers of bhajans were devotees like Mira Bai, Surdas, Kabir, Tulsidas, etc. The most popular bhajan themes include verses from the Ramayan and other Hindu scriptures, praises of Gods & Goddesses and their glory.  In India, bhajans are sung in temples, at home and even played on CDs at commercial places, health clinics & shops, etc, especially in the mornings. It is believed that everyone should begin their day thinking of God. This is why, singing the aarti or listening to a devotional song in the morning is known to help in spending a safe, pleasant and happy day.

Aarti, Bhajan & Kirtan
In India, people sing Bhajans and take part in Kirtans, especially during religious events, rituals & special days. The aarti is another significant part of Hindu religious proceedings. Different Aartis are sung for different gods and goddesses. During a kirtan, the same chant or a series of bhajans are sung together by groups of people. Jagrans & kirtans are quite popular, especially in North