22.1 In the Samvat year 1876, at noon on Posh sud 4 [20th December, 1819], Shreeji Mahãrãj was seated on a decorated bedstead on the veranda outside the east-facing rooms of Dãdã Khãchar’s darbãr in Gadhadã. He was dressed entirely in white clothes. A tassel of flowers had been inserted in His pãgh, and bunches of flowers had been placed above both of His ears. He was also wearing a garland of guldãvadi flowers around His neck. A sabhã of paramhans, as well as haribhaktas from various places, had gathered before Him. The paramhans were singing kirtans.
22.2 Shreeji Mahãrãj then said, “Please listen. I wish to tell you something.”
22.3 Hearing this, the paramhans stopped singing and prepared themselves to listen.
22.4 Shreeji Mahãrãj continued, “If a person does not remember Bhagvãn while singing kirtans to the accompaniment of a mrudang, a sãrangi, a sarodã, and other musical instruments, then that singing is as good as not having sung at all. There are many people in the world who sing and play instruments without remembering Bhagvãn, but they do not attain peace of mind. Therefore, whichever activity a person performs – whether it is singing kirtans, reciting Bhagvãn’s name, or singing the Nãrãyan dhun, – he should only perform that activity while remembering the murti of Bhagvãn.
Kirtan bhakti is an essential part of devotion. Music has the ability to connect one soul to another as well as divine connection can be felt with God through music. Music is the tool to connect with God, and it is not the destiny. History has witnessed great devotees like Mirabai. Narsingh Mehta, Surdasji, Tulsidasji etc who were extremely great poets. They used music to connect with God, their love was expressed in the form of music.
Lord Swaminarayan had a prolific collection of saints who were poets and not just poets but, their art of singing and music and even dancing with that music was unparalleled among the artists of that time. The singers of Gwalior and the musicians of the great Kings bowed down to the art of Swaminarayan saints. Muktanand Swami, Premanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami and many more were his poet saints who have composed thousands of Kirtans. It is researched that each saint has composed nearly 10 to 15 thousand Kirtans for God. Such was the source of inspiration they received from God. That is the greatness of Lord Swaminarayan.
The fruits of devotion are only gained if one is focused on God while doing Kirtans. Or else we have seen so many great musicians in the world, Michael Jackson one of the most popular artists in the world. He too used to sing a lot, but I do not think he attained ultimate redemption. He mentioned in his diary “Sometimes I cry, I pull my hair; I am the loneliest person in this world.”
So it is not just singing, but it is singing with the focus of attraction being God and not fame, which gives us internal peace and ultimate redemption. This kind of devotion fills us from within, making us complete and one with God.
How can we focus on God while singing kirtans ?
22.5 “If a person specifically attempts to engage himself in bhajan, he may only be able to focus his vrutti on Bhagvãn. However, after completing those acts of bhajan if he does not keep vrutti in Bhagvãn while performing daily duties, his vrutti will not be steady on the murti of Bhagvãn even if he attempts to engage in bhajan again. Therefore, a person should practice maintaining his vrutti on the svarup of Bhagvãn while walking, eating, and drinking – in fact, during all activities. If he does this, his vrutti becomes fixed on Bhagvãn when he engages in bhajan as well. Moreover, when his vrutti begins to remain on Bhagvãn, it remains so even during other work. If a person is stupid and ignorant, then he will not be able to keep vrutti in Bhagvãn, even when he does bhajan. Therefore, a bhakta of Bhagvãn should carefully practice maintaining his vrutti on the murti of Bhagvãn.”
The method is to learn and practice focussing on God while doing our daily chores, so that when we specially perform devotion, our mind is already prepared to perform and to focus on God.
Practicing is the key, we should develop the skill of focussing. In daily activities we can split our focus into two while performing monotonous tasks etc or we can include devotion in our tasks, like we can chant, listen to spiritual lectures while driving or cooking. There are many such methods and it is in our hands to practice devotion.
22.6 Having said this, Shreeji Mahãrãj requested, “Now please sing kirtans.”
I am sure after hearing this lecture, the saints sang differently, in a more focussed manner.
|| End of Vachanãmrut Gadhadã I || 22 || 22 ||