Kirtan yoga, best way to beat stress

By V. Balasubramanian
Chennai: 25-02-2020 1:46PM
Last Updated: 25-02-2020 1:46PM

Radha kalyanam function at Vilangudi village, about 15 km from Kumbakonam
CHENNAI, May 4: How to strike a work-life balance? This question looms large in the minds of all of us, even as we are all proud of India growth story and the country's advancement in the global economic front. Every one is aspiring to join the stream, earn more and lead a happy and blissful life. Regardless of the age and experience, there is an increasing pressure to achieve an high level of performance in work place in this highly competitive world. To beat stress and remain fit, we resort to several rejuvenation techniques in the form of physical and mental exercise.

One unique ancient technique is “ Kirtan Yoga”. Swami Sivananda has aptly prescribed it as the “ easiest, surest and quickest path to attain God realization and Atmic Bliss”. It refers to singing and hymining of Kirtan bhajan songs to express our devotion to Almighty and our Gurus. Also called Namasankirtan, Kirtan Yoga has proved to be the best way to immerse oneself into Bhakthi and seek the blessings of the Supreme Power.

By singing Kirtanas, Namavalis and Ashtapathis and by participating in Divya Nama Kirtana, Kola Attam and dancing, it is possible to feel the unique experience of divine and Bhakthi.

It will make us remain agile, improve our performance, banish our ego, show love and affection to one and all and lead long years of happy and peaceful life. It is also ideal for children and students to learn Bhajans in addition to doing physical exercises so that they will have a sound mind in a sound body. In Mumbai suburban trains, passengers sing Bhajans to tide over the boredom of long journey.

For several years now, a number of Hindu saints, seers and intellects have been advocating the virtues of Namasankirtan for glorifying God and lead a Blissful life. Sri Adi Sankaracharya, born in Kaladi in Kerala 2050 years ago, by his famous “ Bhaja Govindam” rejuvenated the whole system of worship and gave a new fillip to our customs and culture. The 31-verse text has a wonderful message for every one in life.

Though he lived for just 32 years, the world of intellect was at the feet of this greatest philosopher. Sri Sankara Jayanthi Day falls on May 8, 2011 and the day will be celebrated in all parts of the country with Poojas, discourses and Bhajans.

In his translated publication of Bhaja Govindam, Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan, an eminent professor of Madras University, recalls the origin of the hymn. Acharya Sankara, it is said, was walking along a street in Varanasi one day, accompanied by his disciples. He heard the sound of grammatical rules being recited by an old scholar. Taking pity on the scholar, he advised him not to waste his time on grammer but to turn his mind to God in worship and adoration. The Hymn to Govinda was composed on this occasion. The text is admirably suited to instruct the disciples in the fundamentals of Vedanta, says Dr Mahadevan. It will be a unique spiritual experience if one listens to the beautiful singing of Bhaja Govindam by one of our greatest Carnatic musicians late M.S. Subbalakshmi with a lovely introduction by late C. Rajagopalachari (known as Rajaji).

Vaishnamism, the Hindu philosophy of duality preached by Saint Ramanuja, made a big contribution to recognise dance as a way to reach God. His followers do Namasankirtan by singing and dancing hours together in the name of God. Likewise, all the Sankaracharyas, including Kanchi Maha Swamigal, the current two seers - Shri Jeyendra Saraswati Swamigal and Shri Vijeyendra Saraswati Swamigal, Shridi Sai Baba, Puttapurthi Sai Baba,Gnanandar Swamigal and Muralidhara Swamigal have all graciously advocated and encouraged Kirtana Yoga.

History tells us that Lord Krishna, his Bhaktha Meera, wives Bhama and Rukmani besides saints like Chaitanya, Ramakrishna, Tulasidas and Tukaram had all expressed their devotion and love by dancing. During Nama Sankirtan festivals, apart from the 24 Ashtapathis of Shri Jeyadeva, a great devotee of Lord Krishna, the kirtanas of Sri Thyagaraja, Tukaram ( a great devotee of Lord Pandurangan), Tulasidas and Ramadas are sung by Bhajan exponents called Bhagavathars. "Tamil Nadu has produced great Bhagavathars such as Vilangudi Kalyanasundara Bhagavathar, Pudukottai Gopalakrishna Bhagavathar, Shri Vanchiyam Ramachandra Bhagathavar, Mayavaram Krishnamurthy Bhagavathar, Haridas Swamigal, Kumbakonam brothers E. K. Srinivasan and E. K. Jayarama Bhagavathars and Madipakkam Ramamurthy Bhagavathar."

Those who are now in limelight include Udayalur Kalyanarama Bhagavathar, Vittaldas ( Shri Jayakrisha Bhagavathar), Kovai Jayarama Bhagavathar, Thanjavur Thiagaraja Bhagavathar and Namananda Giri. Among women exponents, Smt. Kanthimathi Santhanam is quite popular and she has composed Namavalis in the glory of various Gods. Udayalur Kalyanaraman has taken up the noble cause of providing a regular income support to Bhagathavars living in poor condition.
In the past, Nama Sankirtan used to be conducted during Margazhi month. In recent times, it has become a big hit in major cities of India and abroad. Bhajans are now regularly conducted during important occasions such as Shri Radha Kalyana Utsav, Shri Rama Navami and Gokulashtami. In the past, leading Bhagathavars did not have facilities to tour extensively for conducting Bhajans. With improved awareness and TV explosion, it is possible for current generation to reach a larger audience. Corporates such as the Shrirm Group, Integrated Enterprise and City Union Bank have been sponsoring the events.
The author (V. Balasubrmanian) is an admirer of Nama Sankirtan for over three decades. He hails from Vilangudi village near Kumbakonam. The village has an unbroken record of conducting Sri Radha Kalyana Utsav for the last 112 years. His Mail id; visbala@gmail.com
(This was first published in 2008)