Naam or Word – Celestial Music or Divine Harmony
By Kirpal Singh
ORDINARILY, when the hymns of the saints are sung with accompaniment by musical instruments, it is called “Kirtan.” This music–vocal or instrumental–has a great appeal to the mind because of its power of attraction. It does for a while produce stillness in the mind and the subtle faculties.
Instrumental or vocal music plays an important part in almost all religious congregations of Yogins, Hindus, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs.
Each one of us is attracted by one or the other of two things: beautiful forms or patterns, or sweet music; and the latter is far more magnetic than the former. It has a gripping influence on all living creatures. Take for instance the fleet-footed stag, the antlered monarch; no steed can compete with him in speed. But he is entrapped and captured by huntsmen by the power of music. The hunter blows his horn and the stag attracted by it, quickly surrenders himself before the power of music. Similarly, the poisonous snake, for the time being, forgets his nature under the influence of the snake charmer’s vina, and spends the rest of his life shut up in a basket. The effect of music on human beings is also tremendous, but one feels enraptured only as long as the music lasts; one does not get beyond the emotional influence and remains in the elemental sphere.
From the study of the sacred lore and the teachings of the Masters, we learn that the Inner Music of the Soul of the Sound Current or Harmony is ceaselessly going on in each individual and can, if contacted and listened to attentively, lead to ultimate salvation. This Dhun is described in the Granth Sahib as Akhand Kirtan or Unending Harmony.
In this age know ye that Shabd is the Kirtan;
Devotion to Shabd dispels all egotism. 1
GURU AMAR DAS
The blessed Naam is the veritable Kirtan of the Lord
in the Kali Yuga (the Iron Age) and is the essence of all devotion,
One can engage in Kirtan of Hari Naam through the teachings of the Master. 2
GURU RAM DAS
The Kirtan or Naam or Shabd is the only means to spiritual advancement. The reverberation of this Kirtan is all pervading and all-embracing, but It becomes manifest only when one, by a process of practical self-analysis and inversion, rises above body-consciousness. It is characterized by a “Dhun” (Musical Sound), the experience whereof one gets in the Sukhman or Shahrag, the central chord in the forehead.
The Music of Sehaj playing at Thy door
doth become manifest in my forehead. 3
In this Iron Age, the last in the series of cyclic ages, there is no other spiritual practice as fruitful and effective a Kirtan or Naam or Hari Kirtan, and this is the be-all and end-all of all types of religious and meritorious deeds.
In the Fourth Age, O Man! Naam is a priceless treasure;
Repetition, strict disciplines and pilgrimages suited the earlier ages,
In this age, Kirtan of Hari Naam is the sovereign remedy. 4
GURU AMAR DAS
This is the season of Hari Kirtan
And Hari Naam is the highest devotion,
O, sow thy farm with the seeds of Hari Naam,
The sowing of all other seeds will be of no avail,
A sheer waste of time and of labor. 5
GURU RAM DAS
One can get a living contact or touch with this Kirtan through the grace
of some Master-soul.
The crest-jewel of Ram Naam Kirtan (the Divine Melody)
is with the Master,
And he who follows the Master’s teachings,
the Master makes that manifest to him. 6
GURU RAM DAS
In the scriptures, it is stated that those alone can practice and commune with Hari Kirtan who come in close contact with some Master-soul. It is by devotion to the Master that one can contact the Grand Harmony.
He who is devoted to a Satguru,
Is ever engaged in Hari Kirtan. 7
GURU AMAR DAS
From the day a person comes in close touch with a Sadhu,
he takes a turn for the better,
Ever in bliss, he engages in Kirtan and comes close to the Creator
and Designer of destinies. 8
In this age Hari Kirtan is the highest discipline, for one meets Hari
through the Satguru;
I shall offer myself as a sacrifice to my Master, for it is He
who has manifested in me the hidden Word. 9
GURU RAM DAS
He gets the Food of Unending Kirtan,
Whoever, O Nanak! meets a competent Master. 10
Blessed is he who serves the saints,
Through saints one engages in Hari Kirtan. 11
Through a saint one gets into touch with the Naam,
Through a saint one sings the Hari Kirtan. 12
Through a Sadh one sings the Hari Kirtan;
Nanak saith—blessed soul gets It. 13
Through a Sadh, I have got the merit of Kirtan,
The Path of death has faded away from my ken. 14
I have got love for the lotus feet of the Lord,
Through a saint, the mind has become purified,
And I am ever engaged in the Kirtan (Song) of Hari. 15
The mind is dyed in the elixir of Naam and is fully satiated,
And through the grace of a saint, sings the Song Divine (Kirtan),
And the Imperishable dwells therein. 16
Through a Sadh, one delights in the holy Music, in this age,
0 Nanak! hereafter, he does not return to this world. 17
They who follow the Satguru ever listen to the holy Harmony,
The elixir of the Word abides in them and they get absorbed
in the True Sound. 18
GURU AMAR DAS
The holy Music comes from a Sadhu and communion with It is the highest virtue,
Nanak saith: he who is preordained alone gets this gift. 19
The Hari Kirtan is a pure gift from the Master and one cannot merit It until one transcends the body. Just as a lodestone attracts a piece of iron, similarly the Dhun or the Word emanating from Godhead attracts the soul and pulls her up to the feet of the Lord. The human mind is always hankering after pleasures of one sort or another, but no worldly pleasure can secure for it any degree of salvation. The only remedy for stilling and subduing the mind is Hari Kirtan or Naam, hearing which this hydra-
headed serpent gets intoxicated as it were by some magic potion, and lies still as if in a death-trance, unmindful of the sensory organs through which it usually works. Whoever has subjugated his mind has had to do so by means of Hari Kirtan or Naam. With It soul is roused from age-long slumber and rises into cosmic and super-cosmic awareness. This is a new birth, the birth of spirit, called regeneration or resurrection. Henceforth the spirit escapes from the network of Karmic impressions, which get singed and are rendered infructuous. It restores the Kingdom of God to the spirit and grants her everlasting peace and salvation.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. 20
The manifestation of the Sound Current then depends upon the sweet Will and Pleasure of a Master-saint, and one cannot contact It until one transcends the sensory plane of the physical body. This is the only Way to salvation from the bondage of mind and matter; there is no other Way.
All ecstatic gesticulations and chanting of songs are of no avail
to one blind and deaf,
Full of greed and skepticism within, he cannot have Heaven’s Light
to guide him on the Path. 21
GURU AMAR DAS
While engaged in sinful pursuits one sings Ragas (songs)
And bears testimony to the truth of what they say,
Little knowing that without the Word all is a farce. 22
The merits of Kirtan
Kirtan is highly efficacious both here and hereafter.
0 dear self, engage in such a Kirtan,
That may be of use to thee here and hereafter. 23
Kirtan purifies one of all feelings of envy, hatred and enmity.
The devotees of the Master who listen to the divine Song (Kirtan),
Their minds get purified of ill-will and envy. 24
Kirtan is a potent remedy for removing all ills and afflictions–physical, mental and accidental.
The Merciful God has in His mercy removed all doubts and distrust,
O Nanak! through the holy Song I am in bliss, freed from all sorrow. 25
One who sings the celestial strains,
He is never in pain, sorrow and afflictions. 26
Kirtan frees one from all the deadly sins and lusts of the flesh.
Sing the perfect Melody, the bestower of all bliss and destroyer of ills,
The Melody is sharper than the two-edged sword,
And kills the deadly sins of lust, passion, greed, attachment and egotism. 27
Kirtan awakens one from a long-drawn sleep of ages upon ages.
Engaged in devotion one takes to the Divine Song,
And is awakened from the long-drawn slumber of ages. 28
One discards the lust for other’s wealth, flesh and blood,
When through the grace of the Master, he awakens by the holy Sound. 29
Do such actions as would not contaminate thee,
The mind will awaken to Reality by listening to the divine Melody (Harkirtan). 30
Kirtan gives immunity from the grip of death.
“Approach not,” says Yama (the Lord of Death) to his messengers,
“The place where a Sadhu dwells or the Holy Word reverberates,
or else we shall all be doomed.” 31
He in whom the Lord’s Song abides,
He is freed from all sorrows, ills and afflictions,
And the fear of death. 32
He who sings the Song Divine,
The angel of death affects him not. 33
The minions of death cannot come near him,
Who sings the Song Divine in company of the Master. 34
Kirtan grants perfect peace, satiety and bliss.
The devotee is ever in a state of intoxication,
The Lord had mercy and I got dyed in the color of His Song. 35
O Nanak! God has made a slave of me,
I now live and enjoy the divine glory. 36
Kirtan is acceptable to God, and man has his wishes fulfilled.
Absorption in the sweet melodies of Music Divine
(Kirtan, Rag, Nag and Dhun) is the goal of my life.
O Nanak, It is acceptable to God and one gets his desires fulfilled. 37
Communion with God ends the cycle of transmigration,
One becomes acceptable even while living,
And engages in the Divine Music of the Lord. 38
Kirtan holds priority over all religious practices.
O Nanak! engage in Hari Kirtan, for that Verily is the true religion. 39
In infinite compassion, the saints gave out,
One gets the merit of all religions by listening to the divine Melody. 40
GURU TEG BAHADUR
Kirtan is the True Yoga.
Thy Word is the cause of all this creation,
Listening to the Kirtan is a veritable yoga. 41
Kirtan is the Saving Lifeline for all.
The mind gets disciplined through Hari Kirtan (the Song of the Lord);
Whoever sings of the Lord, hears or repeats His praises, is surely saved. 42
As the Master taught me so do I declare,
Listen ye to what Nanak saith: It is by Kirtan alone that one is saved. 43
Kirtan steadies and stills the mind.
What the Word that keeps one spellbound?
What the Way that takes one above pleasure and pain?
What the Path that leads into the Beyond (Par Brahm)?
What the Discipline that contacts the holy Harmony?
The devotee of the Master leads a life that may help him to reach
the Beyond (Par Brahm),
And he constantly recites the Divine Song. 44
GURU RAM DAS
The seeker asks for but one gift,
If it so pleases the Lord, He may have mercy,
Grant me Thy glance of grace that may quell the mind
and fill it with Song Divine. 45