Sri Sathya Sai on: The Message of Global Akhanda Bhajan – Part 1

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks
Shravanam (hearing the Glory of the Lord), Keertanam (singing the name and Glow of God), Vishnu Smaranam (allowing the mind to dwell on that Glow), Padasevanam (adoring the Feet of the Lord), Vandanam (experiencing gratitude and joy at His Grace), Dasyam (feeling oneself as His instrument), Sakhyam (awareness of his being one's constant and closest companion) and Atma Nivedanam (dedicating one's full being to Him) - these are the nine steps In the path of Devotion.

“Listen, O people! Revel in this iron Kali Yuga, for there is none so propitious for liberation such that mere remembrance of the Name of the Lord and adoring Him thus are enough to win His Grace and set you free.”

“This is bad, this is good – can such judgements ever be made about anything in God's creation when all are manifestations of His Will.”

Samkeertan is manifestation of inner ecstasy

Embodiments of the Pure Atman! 

Last November, on the 23rd, people from all parts of the world had assembled here to celebrate the Golden Jubilee and office-bearers of the centres were here for the Second World Conference and other functions that took place. Later they expressed their desire that they be allotted a date before the close of the jubilee Year, when they in their own places could celebrate the happy occasion. In order to overcome their disappointment it was decided that in all centres all over the world, Bhajan and Nama-Sankeertan (congregational singing and spirituals) be held for full twenty four hours, beginning at 6-30 p.m. on Saturday (yesterday) and ending at 6-30 p.m. today. Therefore in 42 countries around the globe more than 7,000 centres have enthusiastically taken up this pleasant assignment. 

This has been named an Akhanda Bhajan, that is to say, Bhajan done without a break. But was it really an Akhanda Bhajan? It is begun at 6-30 on the evening of one day, and is closed at 6-30 on the evening of the next day. Can we call it ‘unbroken’ Bhajan? What is a period of 24 hours when we consider the vastness of the Universe and the eternity of time? it is just a wink, a minute part of the life of man on earth. By engaging yourselves in the recitation of the Name of God for one single day, you claim to have done Bhajan ‘without a break’! Akhanda Bhajan must be as continuous as breathing itself if it is to deserve its name.

You must probe into the real significance of the Samkeertan that you are engaged in. Keertan is “singing aloud the Glory of God.” Samkeertan is the process of singing that originates in the heart, not from the lips or tongue. It is the expression of the joyous thrill that wells up from the heart when the Glory of God is remembered. It is the spontaneous manifestation of inner ecstasy, No attention is paid to the blame or praise that others may give. It does not seek the admiration or the appreciation of the listeners. It is sung for one's own joy, one's own satisfaction, one's own delight. Keertan of this supreme type, alone, deserves the name Samkeertan.

Nama Samkeertan can cleanse the atmosphere

Singing this intense yearning for God and enjoying the experience of adoring Him, helps to purify the atmosphere. Man is today forced to breathe the air polluted by sounds that denote violence, hatred, cruelty and wickedness. Therefore he is fast losing the high attainments that are in store for him. The vibrations of the Nama Samkeertans (heart-felt recitation and Lord's name) can cleanse the atmosphere and render it pure, calm and ennobling. It is with this high purpose in view that this programme of global Samkeertan was designed.

No man can escape the influence of the pollution of the air he breathes. The sounds that we produce, with good intent or bad, spread throughout the air around us. This is our daily experience. The sounds produced at radio stations pass through the atmosphere and reach our homes when we tune in. The vibrations travel vast distances and affect the nature of those who inhale them. The atmosphere affects also the food man consumes. The pollution in the atmosphere is imbibed by the plants, the plants supply the grain, the grain is the basis of the meal and the meal shapes the character and behaviour of the person who consumes it. When the environment is clean and free from evil vibrations, the food too, is pure, and the person develops a tendency to be loving and simple. It is to ensure such an atmosphere that this Sadhana (spiritual effort) initiated the world over.

Prayer should come shrieking through the heart

When a man falls into a well, of what use is it if he controls his voice and his emotions and whispers quietly, "I have fallen into this well, I have fallen into this well. I am in great danger. Please save me?" No one will be able to hear or save him. He must shout full-throated, with all the anguish he is experiencing and with the extreme desire to be' saved, "I HAVE FALLEN INTO THE WELL! SAVE ME! SAVE ME SOME ONE!" Then can he hope to get succour. Similarly, when you are caught in the coils of this world, when you have fallen into this deep well of worldly misery, shout with all your might, with all your heart, that you may be saved by God. There is no use muttering faintly and half-heartedly, "Save me, save me; I am floundering in this Samsara (worldy life)." When the prayer comes shrieking through the heart, help is assured.

Samkeertan or Bhajan is of four types. Guna Samkeertan, Leela Samkeertan, Bhava Samkeertan, and Nama Samkeertan, Guna means ‘attributes’ (of God). So Guna Samkeertan is the adoration, in song, of the manifold attributes of God - Omnipresence, Omniscience, Compassion, Majesty, etc. Leela means 'divine sport.' Therefore Leela Samkeertan is the adoration, in song, of the various expressions of these attributes as evidenced by the accounts of sages and seers of all faiths. Bhava means 'attitude' (of the mind). So Bhava Samkeertan means the adoration, in song, of God pictured and contacted under various relationships. 

Path of devotion is the most effective Sadhana

Some may prefer to adore Him as the Giver of equanimity (Shantam), others as a Friend, Guide and Guardian (Sakhya), still others as the child one loves and tends (Vatsalya) and yet others as the lover whom one loves with sovereign love (Madhura). Nama means the Name of God, and so Nama Sankeertan means the adoration of God, calling upon Him by various Names, each describing His glory, His achievements, His relationship with the individual.

The Names are many, or even countless; it is so in all languages. We have many groups of 'thousand and eight Names' which can be used, for God, as the Vedas (ancient revealed sacred scriptures) declare, has a 'thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet.' Devotees can adore Him and derive bliss through that adoration, filling each Name with the meaning and significance it carries. By whatever means God is adored, the path of devotion is the easiest and the most effective for it is a Sadhana of the heart, and results in love and service to all as fellow pilgrims to the same Divine Goal.

Some people do question the propriety of calling God by means of such a multiplicity of names. But each Name is indicative only of one aspect of Divinity. It denotes a single part of the Supreme Personality. The eye, the nose, the mouth, the hand or the finger may be denoted by distinct words, but they all belong to the same individual. So, too, one must remember that every Name is but a facet, a part, a ray, of the Supreme. The Sadhana consists in recognising and becoming aware of the One that supports and sustains the many. That is the precious gem of wisdom that one must secure and treasure.

Let Liberation be your only desire

There is, however, a thief that lurks in the inner consciousness of man, planning to rob him of this gem. He is Kama (desire). When we have gained what we desire, Lobha (greed}, the accomplice of the thief, steps out and prods us to desire a few more objects. When what is desired is not gained, another accomplice, Krodha (anger), steps out and prods us to hate and harm those whom we suspect stood in the way of the gain.

Of course you cannot instantly eliminate all desire from the mind. So you should nourish the one desire prescribed by' the Vedas. The Vedas lay down four goals before man: dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire) and moksha (liberation). Since the first and the last are difficult to attain without detachment and deprivation of sensual pleasures, man has given them up as impracticable and is struggling in all lands and climes with the middle two - wealth and desire. All the fear and misery of life can be traced to this dire mistake. What has to be done is to take the four as two inseparable pairs, Dharma-Artha and Kaama-Moksha. That is to say, earn wealth through righteousness and use wealth for the promotion of righteousness. And let liberation be your only desire.

Source: Divine Discourse on the First Global Akhanda Bhajans at Prasanthi Nilayam – November 14, 1976

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