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Region 1 - Bhajan Workshop: Inspiring for the Aspiring

The Region 1 workshop took place on Saturday 5 October 13 and was hosted by Tooting Sai Centre. Approximately 40 devotees (adults , Youth and SSE Children) attended from across the region from various centres. We started with opening prayers followed by a short video showing our beloved swami interacting in a bhajan practice session with students in an often humorous way.

Sing aloud the glory of God and charge the atmosphere with divine adoration...This is why I insist on group singing of the names of the Lord. (SSS, VI, 239)

Brother Rakendu (Region 1 – Spiritual Coordinator) explained that Bhajan singing started many years ago in a village in Puttaparthi by our beloved Lord Sai, and today there are Sai centres all over the world singing His glory on a regular basis. Bhajans bring us happiness and contentment, transforms us and the place where we sing bhajans.

The vibrations emanating from them make the heart vibrant. If you sing alone in your shrine, the vibrations return to you as a reaction. But in community singing, what you have is not a reaction but a wave of vibrations. They enter into the atmosphere and purify the polluted air. The atmosphere today is polluted by bad thoughts and feelings. When you sing the glory of God, the bad germs in the air are destroyed and the air gets purified by a treatment of anti-biotics, as it were. SS, Jan. 1995, 26)

We then went over some of the basic aspects of preparing and performing as a bhajan singer, as well as how to make the venue and entire session as conducive as possible to sing His name and create an uplifting atmosphere. Brother Yoges then narrated a wonderful story about a little boy who repeatedly asked his father if he could sing a bhajan, only to be told ‘not yet’ as there are so many people who can sing. Sometime later, the little boy, now grown up and studying in Prashanthi, asked Swami the same question and Swami gave the same answer as his father, then finally, one day Swami suddenly asked the boy to sing. The moral here is that you need to wait until you are ready.

When all the participants in a bhajan sing in unison, what sacred vibrations are produced and what Divine energies are released! When these vibrations fill the world, what changes cannot they bring about! When one sings alone, the heart is merged in the song. But when many sing together, it acquires a Divine power. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30)

The procession to the cremation ground starts immediately on birth and the beating of the heart is the drum beat for the march towards that place. Some take a longer route, some reach quickly, but all are on the way. Therefore, devotional singing (bhajan) has to start in the childhood and has to continue. It must be the constant companion of man, his solace and strength. Do not postpone it to old age, for it is essential food for the mind. (SSS I, 123)

We then had a session about how bhajans can be selected, as well as some of the technical aspects of bhajan singing. We looked at the importance of bhava (devotion) as well as shruti (pitch), talla (rhythm) and voice modulation.

Pay attention to the tune, the meaning, the variety, the voice, the raga (rhythm), the tala (beat), and other fine points of the bhajans. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30). Let your heart pant for God, then the raga (rhythm) and tala (beat) will automatically be pleasant and correct. (SSS VII, 60)

The next session focused on the musical aspects of bhajans singing and how instrumentalists can enhance the entire session. We all came away from a thoroughly enriching day that served both as an opportunity to sing Bhagawan’s name, but also how we can all take steps to reach a higher level of singing which benefits all who attend. Bhajans are an integral and very important part of most centres, and it is our duty to offer only the best in His divine presence.

Let your heart pant for God, then the raga (rhythm) and tala (beat) will automatically be pleasant and correct. (SSS VII, 60)

Those who sing bhajans get what can be called a 'double promotion', for they derive joy and distribute joy. (SSS X, 101)

Thornton Heath