SATHYA SAI SPEAKS
Vol. 11, Chp 43
43. Singing the Name
The present Age, often condemned as Kali Yuga, is in fact, the
age in which one can attain Liberation most easily. This is
revealed in every scriptural text. The reason according to them,
is that one can be liberated now by the Sadhana of Nama
Sankirthana, singing the glory of the Lord, and listening to the
Name being sung. Among the nine steps of devotion, listening to
the Name being sung (Sravanam) and Keerthanam (singing the
Name) are mentioned as the best. Keerthanam is singing the
Names which denote the glory of the Lord and Samkeerthanam
means "singing the Names continuously, aloud, without
interruption, and without hesitation". Whereas Keerthana can be by
one individual and can promote one's own spiritual progress. Sam-
keerthanam is by a group of people. It can help the process of
liberation not only for the members of the group, but it will also
beneficial to those who listen and even to those beyond the circle
of listeners; thewhole world can benefit by the vibrations.
Samkeerthanam is generally described as of four types, with
distinct characteristics. They are:
(1) Guna Samkeerthanam,
(2) Leela Samkeerthanam,
(3) Bhaava Samkeerthanam,
(4) Naama Samkeerthanam.
Let us examine these types in some detail.
Guna Samkeerthanam aims at describing and adoring the Gunas
or Attributes and Qualities of God, in order to exalt Him and win
His Grace. But God is Gunaatheetha, beyond Sathwa, Rajas and
Thamas; He is really attributeless. Ascribing qualities to Him is
lowering His Glory. They exist in the imagination of the devotee
praising God as possessing them can give the devotee only
Leela Samakeerthanam is the second. The entire Creation
represents the Leela of God. Not only that. Its maintenance
(Sthithi) and Dissolution (Laya) are also God's Leela. How can
anyone describe the manifold Leelas of God? They take diverse
forms. As Leela, one can imagine that the entire Universe can
disappear! His Sankalpa is All-powerful. Whatever happens, good
or bad, is God's Leela! Unless one has cultivated an attitude of
equanimity towards good and bad, one cannot claim to have
understood God. The sadhakas of today are happy when
something good happens; when something bad comes about, they
slide into contrary thoughts. When the entire Creation is the
Cosmic Leela of God, to demarcate a few and sing in terms of
those few reveals only feebleness of vision.
The third type is Bhaava Samkeerthanam. Devotees who are
attached to this path of adoration adopt one or other of six
(Bhaava) approaches, attitudes or relationship to God and attempt
to derive consummation there by. It must be said that all the six
are deficient and based upon limited conception of Godhead.
(1) the Saantha Bhaava
This emphasizes that the devotee endures whatever happens to
him gladly as coming from His Grace. In the Mahabharatha,
Bhishma is pictured as the supreme model of this type. But, he on
his own volition, postponed the moment of his death in order to
acquire the merit of having cast off the body on an auspicious
He believed that the Uttarayana half of the year was more holy and
that death before the Sun crosses the Tropic of Capricorn would
result in an evil future! When God is both Time and beyond Time,
who is man to divide Time into good and bad? The happiness or
misery awaiting one cannot depend on the time of death. Believing
so is a sign of weakness in the devotees of God.
(2) Sakhya Bhakthi is devotion to God as a close friend
Arjuna is quoted as the one who was liberated through his
type of relationship. But, Arjuna was mostly lost in the
humanaspects of friendship and kinship and often strayed away from the devotion due to the Divine. He attained closeness to the
Lord so easily that he failed to recognise the significance of the
proximity that was awarded to him. They were such friends that
Arjuna addressed Krishna familiarly using the word for 'brother-in-law'. This indicated only a human kinship, so Krishna confirmed
that relationship and justified that loose expression of
when He brought about the marriage of Arjuna with His sister,
Subhadra! So even the Sakhya attitude cannot be fully rewarding.
(3) Daasya Bhakthi is the name for the next type
the attitude of the servant to the master.
Hanuman is the classic example of a devotee embodying this type
of devotion. He was at the service of Rama at all times. Though
encased in the form of a monkey, he had mastered the sixty four
branches of learning and the meaning of the four Vedas; he could
recite the six Sastras. He was physically, mentally and
a redoubtable hero. Nevertheless, he served Rama with no trace of
ego in thought, word and deed. He had achieved purity of all three.
But, the Daasya Bhakthi of Hanuman was not free from defects. His
service was steadfast and total to God as Rama. He was not
attached to God as Krishna or as bearing any other name. The
Vedas declare that God has a thousand names and He can
assume a thousand forms. Hanuman's allegiance was limited to
only one name and one form. Daasya Bhakthi, therefore, leads to a
partial vision of the Universal Absolute.
(4) Vaathsalya Bhakthi, the fourth, advises the sadhaka to adopt
the relationship of a mother to her child.
The example held before the aspirant is that of Yasoda and her
adoration of the child Krishna. She recognised only this one
relationship, though others praised Krishna as
(He who lives in the city of Mathura) and worshipped Him as
Gopihrdaya-vaasi (He who is installed in the hearts of the Gopis).
When Uddhava came from Mathura, Yasoda enquired about her
Gopala. "I do not know the Krishna who lives in Mathura or in the
hearts of Gopis. I am asking you about my child Gopala" She
insisted. Thus, the Vaathsalya Bhakti too leads to a certain
amount of exclusiveness.
(5) The next type of devotion is called Anuraaga Bhakti
Gopis of Brindavan are the best examples of votaries of this path.
Many crooked, prejudiced and perverted people do not recognise
the purity and value of this path. Many interpret it wrongly
according to their own bent of mind and take to wrong paths.
Narrow minds and narrow ideas can ruin one's life and the lives of
others, like pests destroying the crop. The Gopis had the dual
feeling of both lover and loved. Duality is caused by ignorance;
mind breeds the duality of likes and dislikes. Janma is the cause
Karma; Karma causes sorrow and joy, the dual reactions.
(6) Madhura Bhakthi is the last path and Radha is the unique
example of Madhura Bhava. The moment the name of Krishna was
uttered, she lost herself in indescribable Bliss. In spite of this,
Madhura Bhakthi posits duality. So Bhaava Samkeerthanam in its
various forms does not confer total awareness of God.
Let us consider the fourth form - Naama Samkeerthanam. This can
grant full happiness to all people, in all places and at all times.
There can be nothing greater or more gratifying. The Names Rama,
Hari, Hara, Sai, Baba. Krishna - having each two syllables are all
derived from the word Prema, which is the essence and core of the
Atma. Prema or Love has to prompt our thoughts. penetrate our
words and promote our actions. The word Naama has great
significance numerologically. Na is equal to 0. A is equal to 2
ma equals 5, the total being 7, indicating that the Naama
Samkeerthanam needs seven elements for success; Sruti, Laya,
Raga, Tala, Bhava, Prema, Samhitha. Seven connotes the 7
swaras, the 7 rishis, the 7 week days known as the sacred
Sapthaha. Samkeerthanam must be done with emphasis on tone,
tune, and timing, attitude and attachment, and the attainment of
the highest good. It is not singing for singing's sake. The melody
emerge from the heart, from genuine Love, which is so ardent that
it is Thapas itself. Samkeerthanam from such sadhakas will
certainly liberate the individual and transform the community and
Premaswarupas! Even if you are unable to do dhyana or japa,
engage yourselves in singing the Name of God, without fear and
From the Divine Discourse of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba