Bhajan

Bhajan

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Bhajan'
Start a new discussion about 'Bhajan'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

A Bhajan is any type of Indian devotional song
Devotional song
A devotional song is a hymn which accompanies religious observances and rituals.Each major religion has its own tradition with devotional hymns. In the West, the devotional has been a part of the liturgy in Roman Catholicism, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and others, since...

. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

 or kirtan
Kirtan
Kirtan or Kirtana is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed...

 or as sophisticated as the dhrupad
Dhrupad
Dhrupad is a vocal genre in Hindustani classical music, said to be the oldest still in use in that musical tradition. Its name is derived from the words "dhruva" and "pada"...

 or kriti
Kriti
-Structure:Kritis typically contain three parts#Pallavi. This is the equivalent of a refrain in Western music.#Anupallavi. The second verse, which is sometimes optional....

 with music based on classical
Indian classical music
The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretised with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music...

 raga
Raga
A raga is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music.It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is made...

s and talas
Tala (music)
Tāla, Taal or Tal is the term used in Indian classical music for the rhythmic pattern of any composition and for the entire subject of rhythm, roughly corresponding to metre in Western music, though closer conceptual equivalents are to be found in other Asian classical systems such as the notion...

. It is normally lyrical, expressing love for the Divine
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

. The name, a cognate of bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

, meaning religious devotion, suggests its importance to the bhakti movement
Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement is a Hindu religious movement in which the main spiritual practice is loving devotion among the Shaivite and Vaishnava saints. The Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu and began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic...

 that spread from the south of India throughout the entire subcontinent in the Moghul era.

Anecdotes and episodes from scriptures, the teachings of saints and descriptions of gods have all been the subject of bhajans. The Dhrupad
Dhrupad
Dhrupad is a vocal genre in Hindustani classical music, said to be the oldest still in use in that musical tradition. Its name is derived from the words "dhruva" and "pada"...

 style, Sufi qawwali
Qawwali
Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia, particularly in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan, Hyderabad, Delhi, and other parts of northern India...

 and the kirtan
Kirtan
Kirtan or Kirtana is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed...

 or song in the Haridasi
Swami Haridas
Swami Haridas was a spiritual poet and classical musician. Credited with a large body of devotional compositions, especially in the Dhrupad style, he is also the founder of the Haridasi school of mysticism, still found today in North India. His work influenced both the classical music and the...

 tradition are related to bhajan. Nanak, Kabir
Kabir
Kabīr was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement...

, Meera
Meera
Meerabai was an aristocratic Hindu mystical singer and devotee of Lord Krishna from Rajasthan and one of the most significant figures of the Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement...

, Narottama Dasa
Narottama Dasa
Narottama Dasa Thakura , also known as Thakura Mahasaya is a Gaudiya Vaishnava saint who was responsible for spreading Vaishnava bhakti throughout Orissa in and outside of Bengal in India. Narottama dasa was the son of King Krishnananda Datta and Narayani Devi who resided in Gopalpur Pargana of the...

, Surdas
Surdas
Surdas, the 15th century sightless saint, poet and musician, is known for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the 'Sur Sagar' , out of which only about 8,000 are extant...

 and Tulsidas
Tulsidas
Tulsidas , was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion for the god Rama...

 are notable composers. Traditions of bhajan such as Nirguni, Gorakhanathi, Vallabhapanthi, Ashtachhap, Madhura-bhakti and the traditional South Indian form Sampradya Bhajan each have their own repertoire and methods of singing.

Classic bhajans



Bhajans by Kabir
Kabir
Kabīr was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement...

, Mirabai, Surdas
Surdas
Surdas, the 15th century sightless saint, poet and musician, is known for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the 'Sur Sagar' , out of which only about 8,000 are extant...

, Tulsidas
Tulsidas
Tulsidas , was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion for the god Rama...

 and a few others are considered to be classic. The language of their works is influenced by several of the dialects of Hindi. They are widely enjoyed even among those who do not speak Hindi. Here is a representative selection of the best known bhajans by these poets.

Kabir: Chadaria Jhini Re Jhini


This bhajan has been recorded by several well known singers. Kabir refers to his body as a chadar, a sheet of cloth. Kabir
Kabir
Kabīr was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement...

 is the best-known exponent of Nirguni bhajan, which celebrate a formless (nirguna
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

) divinity, encouraging listeners to shed dogma and look at reality. Baba Bulleh Shah
Bulleh Shah
Bulleh Shah was a Punjabi Sufi poet, a humanist and philosopher.-Early life:Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680, in the small village of Uch, Bahawalpur, Punjab, in present day Pakistan. His father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a teacher and preacher in a village mosque...

 is another and the Baul
Baul
Baul .Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable. In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.-Etymology:The origin of the word...

s of Bengal have developed from these roots. The Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 guru Nanak gathered many such bhajans into the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

.
This is fine, this is fine cloth.
Dyed in the Ram Nam, the name of the lord,
A spinning wheel like an eight-petalled lotus spins it,
Five elements and three qualities are its pattern.
The Lord tailored it in ten moons,
Pressed the threads to get the weft tight.
It has been worn by gods, men and sages:
They soiled it with use.
Says Kabir; I have covered myself with this cloth most carefully,
And eventually will leave it as it was before.

Meera: Mane Chakar Rakho Ji


A version of this famous hymn was used in the 1947 Hindi film Meerabai. Mirabai lived in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

 and her dialect of Hindi is more properly called a variety of Rajasthani. Because of Rajasthan's proximity to Gujarat, Rajasthani and Gujarati share many similar linguistic features, and Mirabai seemed equally at home in either language.
Lord Girdhari (Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

), make me your servant.
As your servant, I will plant a garden, and see you every day.
In the groves and lanes of Vrindavan
Vrindavan
Vrindavan also known as Vraj is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India...

, I will sing about you.

Tulsidas: Shri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaju Man

O my mind! Revere the kind Sri Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, who can remove the fear of rebirths,
Who has lotus eyes, lotus face and lotus hands, lotus feet, red like the rising sun.

Surdas: Main Nahi Makhan Khayo


A very popular pad in Raga Ramkali
Ramkali
Ramkali is a raga from Hindusthani classical music which originated from Bhairav Thaat. In the raga, as like bhairav, second tune and sixth tune are flat. Flat nishad and sharp madhyama are used often....

. The naughty child Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 was caught with
freshly churned butter by his mother Yashoda, with some still on his face. He claims:
I did not eat the butter, mother.
I think my friends have smeared some on my face!

Sampradaya Bhajan


Sampradaya Bhajan or Dakhshina Bharatha Sampradaya Bhajan is the tradition of Bhajans (singing songs in praise of God and his divine love and simplicity) in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, particularly in South India. Dakshina" means "south" in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and "Bharat" means "India". "Sampradaya" means a tradition which is handed down by one's ancestors.

It is the collection of Kirtanas (songs) and Namavalis (songs composed of names of Hindu gods
Hindu deities
Within Hinduism a large number of personal gods are worshipped as murtis. These beings are either aspects of the supreme Brahman, Avatars of the supreme being, or significantly powerful entities known as devas. The exact nature of belief in regards to each deity varies between differing Hindu...

 like Lord Rama, Lord Krishna etc.) in a specific order. # Jagadguru Bodhendra Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti petam, Sri Marudhanallur Sadguru Swamigal, Sri Pudukottai Gopala Krishna Bhagavathar were instrumental in identifying the Kirtanas and Namavalis that are to be sung in any Bhajan and their evolution.

The trinity of gurus as far as Bhajans are considered as Bodhendra Swamigal, Sridhara Ayyaval and Marudhanallur Sadguru Swamigal. The sampradaya bhajana paddhati has mainly evolved due to the tradition and efforts of Marudhanallur Sadguru Swamigal.

The bhajans are typically rendered in the following order:
  1. Dhyana Slokam
  2. Sangraha Thodaya Mangalam (Thotakam - Beginning with a praise, Mangalam - End)Thodaya Mangalam is different from Thotaka Ashtakam of ADI SANKARA
  3. Guru Dhyanam
  4. Guru Abhangs
  5. Sadhu Keertanas (hymns on Sadhus and sants. It can be abhangs also)
  6. Jayadeva
    Jayadeva
    Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

     Ashtapadi (Geeta Govindam)
  7. Narayana Teertha
    Narayana Teertha
    Sri Narayana Teertha was a composer of Carnatic music.-Brief lifesketch:Narayana was born in South India in the region covered by the present-day Andhra Pradesh. He lived in Kaja near Mangalagiri in Guntur district. They belonged to Tallavajhula family. His birth name was Govinda Sastrulu...

     Krishna leela Tharangini


Panchapati (Five songs in Telugu (Bhadrachala Ramadas), Kannada (Sri Purandara dasa), Sanskrit (Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral), Tamil (Sri Gopalakrishna Bharathi) and compositions of Sri Tyagaraja
  1. Badrachala Bhakta Ramdas
    Kancherla Gopanna
    Kancherla Gopanna , popularly known as Bhadradri Ramadasu or Bhadrachala Ramadasu, was a 17th century Indian devotee of Rama and a composer of Carnatic music. He is one among the famous vaggeyakaras in the Telugu language, the others being Tyagaraja, Annamayya, Kshetryya...

  2. Purandara Dasa
    Purandara Dasa
    Purandara Dāsa is one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic music and is widely regarded as the "father of Carnatic Music". Purandara Dasa addressed social issues in addition to worship in his compositions, a practice emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanaka Dasa...

  3. Sadasiva Brahmendra
    Sadasiva Brahmendra
    Sadasiva Brahmendra was a saint, a composer of Carnatic music and an Advaita philosopher who lived near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu during the 18th century. He composed mainly in Sanskrit. Only a few of his compositions have survived but they are recognised as great compositions of Carnatic Music.-...

  4. Thyagaraja
  5. Goplakrishna Bharathi


And if time permits, one can sing the North Indian Bhajan Compositions of
  1. Kabir Das
  2. Meera Bai
  3. Tulsidas
    Tulsidas
    Tulsidas , was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion for the god Rama...

     or Surdas
    Surdas
    Surdas, the 15th century sightless saint, poet and musician, is known for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the 'Sur Sagar' , out of which only about 8,000 are extant...

  4. Marathi Abhangs on Lord Panduranga


The comes the turn of Dyana keertanais (hymns on Gods, stuti, Abhangs or Guru Keertanai). In the Dyana Keertana, it starts from
Lord Ganesha
Saraswati
Muruga (Karthikeyan)
Shiv
Durga
Narasimhan
Ram
Krishna
Venkateshwar
Vittal
Ranganathan
Dashavatara stuti
Vittal (Marathi Abhangs on Lord Panduranga)
Lakshmi
Sita / Radha
Hanuman
Garuda
Aiyappan
Chandeeshwaran
Nandikeshwaran
Chaitanya deva (Gauranga)
Guru Keertana

Then comes Pooja Sampradaya Kritis
  1. Baro murare (welcome)
  2. Sharanagata vatsala (request)
  3. Kastoori gana.. (pooja)
  4. Chita juni... (aarati)
  5. Shobane
  6. Jay Jay aarati...
  7. kanjadalakshiki..
  8. Prartana Abhang
  9. Rajadi rajaya.. (pushpanjali)
  10. Kattiya vachanam (verses from variety of books)
  11. Chatur veda parayan
  12. Kshetra mahatmiyam (verses on importance of tirta kshetras)
  13. Upacharamu.. (upachara sankeertan)
  14. Vinnappa gadyam (praying to God - shlokas)
  15. Sri Krishna Govinda hare murare.. (naamaavali)


Pooja ends here and Divya namam starts. (deepa pradakshinam - With lighted lamp in the middle considering the lamp as God, bhagavatas will do sankeertan by doing pradakshinas). This equals going around the earth.

Then comes dolotsavam (making God sleep).
  1. Anjaneya
    Hanuman
    Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

     Keertanai
  2. Mangalam


The Thotaka Ashtakam was composed by Thotakachariyar. It is sung in praise of Sri Adi Sankara of Kaladi. Legend says that Thotakachariya (or Thotakar) was a devotee of Aadi Sankara. Do not confuse this Thodaya Mangalam of Bhagavathas with the Thotaka Ashtakam of Thotakachariyar.

Modern forms


V. D. Paluskar
Vishnu Digambar Paluskar
Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was a Hindustani musician. He sung the original version of the bhajan Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.-Early life and background:...

 and V. N. Bhatkhande
Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande
Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande was an Indian musicologist who wrote the first modern treatise on Hindustani Classical Music , an art which had been propagated earlier for a few centuries mostly through oral traditions...

 have combined Indian classical music
Indian classical music
The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretised with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music...

 with bhajan. The dancer Mallika Sarabhai
Mallika Sarabhai
Mallika Sarabhai is an activist and Indian Classical Dancer from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Daughter of Classical Dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and renowned Space Scientist Vikram Sarabhai, Mallika is an accomplished Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dancer.-Early life:Mallika Sarabhai was born in...

 has produced performances based on bhajans. Mallika Sarabhai, one of the nation’s most intelligent dance professionals, was successful in producing this piece that is innovative, yet flows into the inherent poetic structures of Bhajan with ease. Abhinaya Chakravathi Sri JS Eswara Prasad Rao of Hyderabad who is the disciple of AL Krishnamurthy Bhagavathar, Pudukkottai system, has produced performances based on Sampradaya bhajans under the title "Nitrya sankeerthnam", he has performed abhinaya for all the bhajans irrespective of the languages.

In Surat Shabd Yoga
Surat Shabd Yoga
Surat Shabd Yoga or Surat Shabda Yoga is a form of spiritual practice that is followed in the Sant Mat and many other related spiritual traditions...

, the spiritual exercises (sadhana
Sadhana
Sādhanā literally "a means of accomplishing something" is ego-transcending spiritual practice. It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh , Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.The historian N...

s) include repetition, particularly silent repetition, of a mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

 given at initiation and bhajan ( here meaning listening to inner sounds).

Also bhajan singing is common in some Surat Shabd Yoga groups. In this case the bhajan are written by the living Master
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

or his predecessors.

External links