If man strays from the road, there is a danger to his physical body. If man goes astray morally he loses the sanctity of being human. We should never reach the stage of losing human sanctity. While singing Bhajans some just move their lips silently but swing and sway. This is not correct. If a man who has fallen into well merely whispers that he has fallen, none will come to save. On the other hand, if he shouts on the top of his voice, “Help! I have fallen into the well”, then the neighbours will rush to his rescue. Similarly, from the depths of your heart if you mumble to yourself, there is no use. Say it loud enough. That is the significance of ‘Samyak Keertanam’, that is Samkeertanam. As much as you can raise your voice in prayers, do so. Why are you given the voice? Is to talk silly things? No. Sing freely at your own will. Do not have any inhibitions. Our friend (indicating a Mandir singer), keeps whining ‘Hmm, Hmm’! Not a word is heard clearly. Words should be pronounced clearly. One more thing that you must take note of - what we sing here is not just for our own consumption alone. Thousands are listening. We should sing in a manner that fills their hearts with holy feelings. You should enjoy yourself and also share the joy with others.
You have seen a streetlight, haven’t you? It has a bulb at the top of the pole. It lights up the way for others. But, at the same time it displays itself prominently. In the same way, your Bhajans should satisfy yourself and also satisfy others. Those who follow do not matter much. But the one who leads the Bhajan has to do a fine job. Those who have to lead must practice well. Keep in mind that there will be thousands in the audience. Shruti, Laya, Raga and Taala should be in place. In fact our country gets its name from there. Which is our country? Many new boys are here. Hence I am sharing this. The word ‘Bharata’ has three syllables Bha, Ra, Ta – Bhava, Raga, Taala and together they form Bharat, the nation. You must live up to what our country represents. Students, during Bhajans you must sing from the heart, full-throated. Community Bhajan is a very fulfilling activity. Guru Nanak was the foremost in pioneering this. It doesn’t serve any purpose if each individual sings in his own way; all voices should join as one. All hands should keep the same beat. All hearts should merge into one. When all sing together in a single voice, what happiness it gives! It is a delight to the ears. If each one goes his own way, it becomes a cacophony. Bhajan is meant to be delightful to hear. Each student must make efforts to attain Divinity through Bhajans. Whatever we contemplate upon, we attain that form. So, put your heart into it and chant God’s name with love.
In the world today, a sacred environment is lacking and that is why there is much disturbance in thoughts. Students! Understand this point. Where is the air that we breathe? All around us! What are the things present in the air? Various bad sounds and smells pervade the air. When we inhale the air, we are affected by bad thoughts. As is the fire, so is the smoke; as is the smoke, so is the cloud; as is the cloud so is the rain; as is the fire so is the cooking. As is the food so is the head.
So, what is the reason for losing our head? It is the impurities in the air that we inhale. The ‘AkashVani’ radio waves broadcast from Delhi, Madras or Bangalore are present in the air everywhere. Such energy waves can spread all over. We inhale all these. These sounds evoke bad thoughts and evil tendencies. You play the radio or someone plays gramophone records in the streets during weddings etc. They play meaningless songs always. These pollute the air. We need to purify the air before we inhale. Chanting God’s name is the way to purify it. If we do not chant Gods name the impurities enter into us. To turn meaningless worlds into meaningful sounds, make use of God’s name. These tape recorders also play such songs -‘Da daadaa…Da daadaa…’ (referring to film songs) Such songs, when they enter into us, we too turn into ‘Da daadaa!’ What good comes out of it?
If we rather take in the sounds of Rama, Krishna, Govinda, such holy sounds start originating within us. Students, try to comprehend well the nature of Divinity. Here, whatsoever Swami initiates, has a purpose behind it. No purposeless activities take place here. This, you may not understand at this juncture. Gradually you will realise and begin to experience the benefits to some extent. So, do not neglect God’s name. Develop faith. In the world today, various atrocities take place due to the absence of faith. There is no dearth of education in the world. There are plenty of educated persons. But they have neither inner purity nor self-restraint. I told you the other day: Ravana acquired 64 types of knowledge. Rama learnt just 32 types. In learning and knowledge Ravana was superior to Rama. But how are they different? Rama was wise and Ravana was unwise. What is the mark of difference between wisdom and the lack of it? Rama controlled his senses whereas Ravana was a slave to his senses. That is why Valmiki said that Ravana was a fool. Was Ravana not educated? But despite the education, he succumbed to his senses.
So, we must strive to control the senses. If we do not control them, they ruin us totally. They disgrace our sanctity of being human. They cause disrepute. So, depend up on Nama Smarana, consider it as a boat and set out to cross the ocean of the worldly life.
Source: Namasmarana: The Boat to Cross Samsara, Discourse 10, My Dear Students Volume 1, June 18, 1989; Discourse at Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Prasanthi Nilayam