Baba Nam Kevalam,
Below is an inspiring article on Kiirtan that I would like to share with you. It is from the book Namami Kalyanasundaram part II written by: Hamrahi
Kiirtanaiiyah Sada Harih
In the realm of sadhana, the importance of kiirtana cannot be
overemphasized. Through kiirtana the body and the mind get invigorated
and refreshed. The mind gets vibrated and concentration on one’s ishta
cakra is quick and spontaneous. The practice of the three shuddhis
facilitates this initial process, but with kiirtana this is very easily achieved.
Hence for every sadhaka it is important and beneficial to perform kiirtana
before starting one’s sadhana practice.
Collective kiirtana, when performed continuously over long stretches
of twenty-four hours, vibrates the environment. The waves of devotion and
spiritual rapture thus created are unique and indescribable. Through
kiirtana the mind is quickly transported into a state of spiritual ecstacy;
hence it is a vital aid for a spiritual aspirant. Referring to kiirtana,
Chintaharan Sharma has said:
The appearance of kiirtana in the realm of spiritual sadhana was due
to its special quality which helps the limited unit mind to transcend
itself and merge with the Cosmic Mind. Prakrti too responds with
delight when engulfed with its blissful vibrations. Like the wafted
fragrance of pollen from a flowering meadow, kiirtana’s sweet
vibrations fill the air with tidings of joy and gladness.
Kiirtana enabled the well-known poet-saint of Birbhum, Candidas, to
reach his spiritual goal. Mahaprabhu Caitanya too became one with his
beloved Lord Krishna through the powerful medium of kiirtana.
Mahaprabhu introduced the devotional wave of kiirtana and proclaimed
“kiirtanaiiyah sada Harih” (“one should always sing the kiirtana of the
Lord”). The Lord is ever present wheresoever His devotees sing His kiirtana.
Bengal’s devotional poet Narottamdas Thakur says:
“Krishna nam harinam badai madhur,
Je jan Krishna bhaje se bada catur”
(“The name of Krishna, the name of Hari, is extremely sweet, and one
devoted to Krishna is extremely clever”). Over and over again, on many,
occasions Baba expounded and extolled the importance of kiirtana, and reestablished
it as an integral part of sadhana.
He often used to say:
“Naham tishthami vaikunthe, yoginam hridaye na cha;
madbhakta yatra gayante, tatra tishthami Narada”
(“I do not dwell in heaven, nor in the hearts of the Yogiis; where my
devotees sing, there do I reside, O Narada”).
The Lord does not prefer to stay in Heaven nor in the fabled Ocean of
Milk. Neither does He choose to reside in the heart of Hathayogis or with
those who dwell in the forests. His favourite abode is where His beloved
devotees gather together and are absorbed in singing His Name.
All the inferiority-complexes of the mind are washed away in the
devotional flow of kiirtana. It enables one to transcend all thoughts of
discord and discrimination and liberates the mind from all complexes. The
combination of rhythm and dance in kiirtana lends it unique charm and
appeal. Indeed, lalita (“graceful”) dance is the most appropriate style for the
performance of kiirtana.
Continuously conducting seminars helped spread the ideology of the
Marga amongst the sadhakas. As a result of this well-organized pracara,
faith and conviction were strengthened and revived. It was at this juncture,
when the seeds of jnana and bhakti had sprouted, that Baba introduced
kiirtana, and incorporated it with the regular sadhana practices.
For the benefit of historians, it may be mentioned that the “Baba
Nama Kevalam” eight-syllabic kiirtana was first introduced by Baba on 8th
October 1970. At that time, Baba was staying at the Aamjharia Forest
Guest House, situated about sixty kilometers from Ranchi. He had gone
there to rest for five days. As a matter of fact in the context of Baba’s life,
the mention of the word “rest” would be absurd indeed. Mentally He
remained constantly pre-occupied and every moment was utilized in
planning and organizing innumerable programs for the benefit of human
society. So while apparently resting within the natural and sanctified forest
environment, the moment seemed ripe and auspicious for the introduction
of kiirtana, one of Baba’s unique gifts to mankind. Gurudeva for the first
time initiated the “Baba Nama Kevalam” kiirtana, which would transport the
devotee into the spiritually uplifting “madhurya bhava”.
It is said that Acarya Brahmadevaji was the first to hear this holy
chant, even as Baba invited him to listen to its resonance in the cosmos.
Baba called Brahmadevaji and made him sit beside Him, saying:
Baba : Are you able to hear something?
Brahmadevaji : No Baba.
Baba : Make a little effort…now can you hear something?
Brahmadevaji : Yes Baba! I’m able to hear something, but it’s very
Baba : Concentrate and try to listen more carefully.
Brahmadevaji : Yes Baba! It seems like the sound of some kiirtana.
Baba : What are the words of the kiirtana?
Brahmadevaji : The words are very indistinct.
Baba : Try a little harder.
Brahmadevaji : Yes Baba! The words are “Baba Nama Kevalam”.
For quite a long while the sound of this holy mantra continued to be
heard loud and clear, and its vibrations reverberated in the cosmos.
Thereupon Baba directed all those who were present there to do kiirtana. So
for the first time kiirtana to the chant of “Baba Nama Kevalam” was
performed and the sadhakas were transported into a state of ecstacy and
Baba went on to say that this kiirtana had the power of inducing
consciousness into a hitherto inanimate object. Soon after, in the same year,
on the auspicious occasion of Deepavali, another radiant lamp was lit, the
flame of which would dispel the deepest darkness. That day in Ranchi, Baba
performed the spiritual rite of empowering the “Baba Nama Kevalam”
mantra, and thereupon proclaimed it as a mahamantra and a
siddhamantra. Thereafter, Baba the Lord of Dance, introduced the
appropriate mudras into the lalita dance form and made it the medium for
the performance of kiirtana. He personally taught this dance to the
sadhakas, and made it an integral and mandatory part of all future dharmic
functions. It was announced that every Dharma Mahacakra would be
preceded by a twenty-four hour akhanda kiirtana, and a seventy-two hour
akhanda kiirtana was made compulsory prior to the annual Dharma
Baba the destroyer of evil, the hope of the sinners, declared:
“Baba Nama Kevalam jato papa hare,
papider sadhya nai tato papa kare:”
The “Baba Nama Kevalam” eight-syllabic kiirtana can destroy more
sins than even the worst sinners can possibly commit. Such then is the
unprecedented greatness of this kiirtana.
For the very first time, a seventy-two hour akhanda kiirtana was
performed in Patna, on the occasion of the Dharma Mahacakra held on the
first of January 1971. It was a devotional and inspiring experience, as the
large gathering of sadhakas danced and sang to the sweet melodies and
beat of the kiirtana. After this, an extraordinary surge of devotion was felt
and kiirtana began to be sung and performed all around the world.
Gradually the sadhakas began to realize the amazing and incredibly subtle
benefits of kiirtana. It proved to be the most effective antidote in times of
trouble and misfortune. Kiirtana’s powerful vibration diffuses and destroys
all negative and evil forces and enables the devotee to face the most
frightening situations. Ultimately evil itself is forced to admit defeat at the
feet of the victorious devotee.
One has heard many stories and incidents in which the beneficial
effects of kiirtana have been explicitly realized and experienced. However,
one incident barely heard about comes to mind, which is related here. This
reveals the subtle and mysterious way in which kiirtana helps stall an
Pradyumnaji is one of Baba’s most devoted disciples. He hails from
the Purnea district of Bihar, and belongs to the zamindar community. His
family is well known in his village of Roopaspur, which falls within the
Mirganj district of Purnea. His father Sudhanshuji was the leader of the
Bihar Legislative Assembly. Pradyumnaji was known for his generosity and
munificence. His wife belonged to a princely family from the Palamu district
of Bihar. At the time of his marriage, Pradyumnaji had not been initiated.
It was said that he had received great wealth by way of a dowry, and this
included a precious necklace estimated to be worth nine lakhs of rupees.
News of this priceless gift had spread very quickly, and it was talked about
in all the many villages around Roopaspur. If walls are said to have four
ears then thieves indeed have eight!
A notorious gang of dacoits was known to roam the area in and
around Roopaspur village, and sure enough, they too came to hear about
the by-now famous necklace. The leader of this gang, one Banvari by name,
operated from his base in the Benipatti village. The necklace of nine lakhs
proved a tempting bait; after all, he thought, nothing much was served by
small and petty thefts. If he could lay his hands on this necklace then the
future would be secure indeed! So he decided to organize and lead a raid on
Pradyumnaji’s house. Having made up his mind, he was eagerly awaiting an
opportune moment. Already he had deputed one of his agents to keep a
watch on the goings-on around Pradyumnaji’s house, and Banvari was
regularly receiving reports from his man.
Meanwhile it was announced that Dharma Mahacakra would be held
in Patna on 1st January 1971. Pradyumnaji decided to attend the DMC, and
planned to take his entire family along. So with the exception of his aged
mother, the rest of the family left for Patna. The agent immediately sent
word to Banvari and there was great excitement in his camp. After all, when
would such an opportunity come again! Banvari formed a group of three
thieves which included two other experienced dacoits, besides himself.
Their names were Hari and Bateshwar. The three of them met and conspired
to raid Pradyumnaji’s house on the night of 31st December. They planned to
leave separately from three different areas and decided to meet up at a spot
close to the house.
On coming together, one of the dacoits decided to walk upto the main
door, prior to breaking into the house. However, the dacoit was in for a rude
shock. There in front of the main gate was an armed guard astride a tall
mount; he was keeping watch over the house! The three of them waited for
a long while, shivering as they did in the bitterly cold December night.
Finally fear and apprehension got the better of them and they gave up their
plan to raid the house that night. In fact they postponed it to the next night.
This time they decided to meet at the rear of the house. Banvari made
a thorough survey of the bungalow. To the right of the house he spotted a
tall tree right next to the boundary wall. Banvari climbed up this tree and
planned to enter into the house. But as he did so, he was astonished to hear
the loud sound of bhajana and kiirtana emanating from the house. He
thought to himself that perhaps the old mother must have arranged for a
Satyanarayan Puja to be performed on the occasion of the New Year. Hence
kiirtana and readings from the scriptures were being heard. However,
Banvari was sure that the guests would not stay on much longer; they
would surely go home once the puja was over.
With this in mind, the three dacoits hid themselves in a nearby field.
It was lush with freshly grown peas. When they returned after a while, the
singing was still going on! Now they began to worry, as nothing seemed to
be going according to their plans. They were so sure of their success, had
come so close to achieving their ends, and suddenly this opportunity was
slipping by. They became restless and wondered as to how the kiirtana
seemed to be continuing endlessly; it was most unusual. Anger and
frustration at being foiled in their evil designs coupled with the biting cold of
the Paush night left them trembling and shivering. The chill seemed to have
pierced their very bones! In spite of this, their greed was unabated and the
thought of laying their hands on that “nine-lakh” necklace was enticing
indeed. So they decided to give it one more try.
Once more they returned to the field and waited. It was now three
hours before dawn, and the gang made tracks towards the house. But to
their dismay they could hear that same kiirtana and singing from within the
house. This time they lost all hopes, for their arch-enemy dawn was
threatening to make its presence felt any moment now, and they worried
about their safety. Dejected, they finally abandoned their plan of raiding
Pradyumnaji’s house. But how could they return empty-handed? After all,
they had come with a mission. No one has ever heard of a wedding party
returning home without the bride! So they decided to raid the neighbouring
house. Close by, about three hundred yards away from Pradyumnaji’s
bungalow, was the house of his paternal cousin Haribabu. The dacoits
broke into that house, raided it, and were content with whatever they could
lay their hands on.
The next day, as the burglary came to light, there was an uproar in
the entire village. On his return from the Dharma Mahacakra, Pradyumnaji
too got the news of the theft. He was quite amazed and could not help
wondering why the thieves did not attack his quiet and deserted house and
instead raided the neighbouring bungalow. Then his thoughts reverted to
his aged mother and the elderly woman who looked after her, and he
shuddered to think as to how the two helpless women would have possibly
faced the thieves had they broken into his house. Mentally he thanked Baba
for His boundless Grace.
Days passed and it so happened that Pradyumnaji had to attend to
some work in Ranchi. While there he also went for darshana to Baba’s
quarters. As he entered the quarters he met with Vishnudevji, Baba’s bodyguard.
Right away Vishnudevji asked him, “Was there a burglary in your
Pradyumnaji replied: “No, not in my house, the theft took place in my
cousin Haribabu’s house”. Thereupon Vishnudevji went on to give a detailed
account of the incident even as he had heard it related by Baba Himself
during one of His evening walks. Vishnudevji told Pradyumnaji how that
evening Baba had brought up the topic of kiirtana and was extolling its
merits. Baba told the accompanying Margiis that even the gravest adversity
can be easily averted with the help of kiirtana. To further illustrate His
point, Baba spoke about Pradyumnaji, and mentioned all that had
transpired with his family. Baba continued to relate that at the very moment
when Pradyumnaji was participating in the Dharma Mahacakra kiirtana, a
gang of three robbers had gone to raid his bungalow in Roopaspur village.
At that time there was only the aged mother and her maid-servant in the
Baba went on to say, “How was it possible for these poor frail ladies to
confront those three sturdy men! Under those circumstances, I was
compelled to do something. I immediately transferred the sound wave of that
collective akhanda kiirtana to Pradyumnaji’s house. On hearing the loud
resonance of the kiirtana the thieves were alarmed. They waited for a long
while and finally abandoned their plans”.
Pradyumnaji could hardly believe what Vishnudevaji had just related!
He thought to himself that Vishnudevaji must have made-up this story just
to arouse faith in the benefits of kiirtana. No doubt a lot of stir had been
created by the dacoity that had taken place in his village. Vishnudevaji too
must have heard about it, and building on this, had come up with a highly
imaginative story! Pradyumnaji cast it off as a figment of Vishnudevaji’s
Some days after the incident, Banvari was caught when he tried to sell
the revolver stolen from Haribabu’s house. Soon after Hari and Bateshwar
too fell into the net. They were beaten up in the police lock-up and when
interrogated, the three confessed and related the entire episode. They spoke
about their original intention to steal the necklace, “the nine-lakhs
necklace”, and related all they had heard and experienced in the course of
those two nights. When Pradyumnaji and Haribabu went to the police
station, the dacoits narrated that same story over again.
Pradyumnaji was too stunned to react, for he recalled all that
Vishnudevaji had told him. He was overcome with emotion and began to
sob uncontrollably. He had realized and understood the immense grace
showered upon him by the ever-compassionate Lord. Eternal is the Lord
and infinite is His grace!
A note from the investigating authority: One of three robbers is still
alive today. Banvari was killed in an encounter with the police. Hari died of
an incurable disease. After careful inquiry and a thorough search, the third
and only surviving thief, Bateshwar, was contacted. On meeting him in
person it was possible to get from him the full details of the above episode.
This, then, was his story.