Bhajans & Devotional Songs

Pnduranga Vittala & Temple above Bhajan is a Hindu devotional song often known as Kirtan. It is of ancient origin and sung with utmost devotion to God. Bha in the word Bhajan means that which is bhaavyam (sacred or holy), that Atma Tatwa (Principle of Atma) which is divyam (self-effulgent). The letters Ja in the word bhajan connotes japa (chanting of the Lord’s name). Bhajan literally means chanting the sacred name of Lord with utmost devotion. This act of singing with devotion makes one feel closer to true self (atma or jeeva) or to God (Brahma or Ishwara). In other words, Rasanam Lakshanam Bhajanam, acts which are performed for the purpose of pleasing God also known as Bhajans. Such devotional form of singing is heavenly to human ears and truly divine. Bhajans have been deep rooted in Indian tradition than anything else. They are simple soulful songs expressing undying love for God, a complete submission to Him through singing. This is one of the constituents of Bhakti for Haridasa to acquire the highest level in devotion (The other being Faith). These songs can be for a single God/Goddess, or any number of divinities, sometimes featuring several names and aspects of the chosen deity (esp in case of Ashtottarams and Sahasranamas). The music based on ragas and talas of Indian Classical Music played on Veena, Sarangi Venu (Flute), Mridanga (Tabla) or any traditional Indian instrument. The Sikh Scripture, however, contains 31 ragas and 17 talas which form the basis for Bhajan (Kirtan) music compositions. Bhajans can be seen in as old as Sama Veda, third Veda in Hindu scriptures. They have a very easy flow and their colloquial renderings differentiate them from the Shlokas (which for most people are much difficult to utter). They usually are sung in group by devotees, with one or more lead singers. The theme for a Bhajan is based on lives of Gods, their preachings, preachings of saints, glories of Gods and descriptions. Tunes are often fixed and words and phrases are repeated through out the bhajan. Bhajans have come a long way from when they were introduced first in Sama Veda. Types of Bhajans: Bhajans are typically classified into the following. There is no basic criteria for definign these types, but just the way they have been either formed or sung or who sang them. 1) Suprabhata Bhajans: Bhajans that are sung in the praise of Lord early morning to wakeup the Lord. Suprabhatam for Sri Ramakrishna,Sri Panduranga at pandharpur,Sri Kashi Visshwanath etc. are some good examples for Suprabhata Bhajan. 2) Avarohana Bhajans: Bhajans that are song in a descending order of the swaras (notes) in the early morning come under this category. Bhajagovindam sung in praise of Lord Venkateshwara is one good example for such Bhajans. 3) Aarohana Bhajans: Bhajans sung in ascending order of swaras (or notes) mostly during the evening or close to night are placed under this category. Shej Arathi sung for Shirdi Saibaba is a good example for Aarohana Bhajan. 4) Haridas Kitran: A well-known bhajan form is Haridas Kirtan where the bhajans are story-lined and revolve around the Gods and Godesses. 5) Sampradaya Bhajans: Also known as Dakshina Bharatha Sampradaya Bhajana is famous mainly in South India. Its a collection of Keertanas and Namavalis in a specific order which was evolved mainly by Sri Marudhanallur Sadguru Swamigal, Sri Pudukottai Gopala Krishna Bhagavathar, the trinity gurus for Sampradaya Bhajans. Sringeri Bhajans: A form of bhajan popularly known as Jyothirbhan is another form of Bhajan which has been uplifted from past 50 years by Sr. R. V. Krishnabhat in Bangalore. These bhajans have a flavor of classical raga and touch of tala perfection. They also have a mix of modern bhajans, kirtans and traditional bhajans. 6) Shyama Sangeet/Kali Kirtan: Shyama Sangeet is a genre of Bengali devotional songs dedicated to the Mother Shyama or Kali. It is also known as Shaktagiti. Shyama Sangeet appeals to the common man because it is a musical representation of the relationship of eternal and sublime love and care between the mother and her child. It is free of the common rituals of worship and also the esoteric practice of the Tantra.In modern times both Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam have composed poems of Shyama Sangeet genre. The term ‘Shyama’ refers to the skin color of Kali (usually depicted in black or deep blue.) Literally, it means dusky (or wheatish). Shyamasangeet can be divided into two streams: devotional or metaphysical and Umasangit, Agamani or Vijaya songs. The first category of songs is inspired by devotion and spiritual thoughts. The second category which is based on themes of daily family matters or social events, is known as Padavali, Umasangit, Agamani or Vijaya songs. Shyama Sangeet conceptualizes Goddess Kali as a loving human mother and the singer is longing for The Mother’s love. The songs have become popular not only for it’s devotional side, but also for it’s human appeal. The theme and occasion of Āgāmanī and Vijayā songs are as follows. Umā or Gaurī, daughter of Himālaya and Menakā, was married to Śiva, the Lord of Kailāsa. The Goddess Durga comes to see her parents from her in laws every year. The goddess is portrayed here as an ordinary girl living far away from her mother and feels joyous to come back home after a long stay at her in laws’ place. These songs too are highly popular because of their human appeal and as they are easily identifiable with any married girl living far away from their parents.

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Bhajans & Devotional Songs

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