To make progress in our devotion, we must practice it daily. It is not enough to only engage in devotion during special occasions; we must cultivate a habit of daily bhakti practice. This consistent practice will gradually and systematically increase our attachment to God and strengthen our spiritual progress.
During our designated time for sadhana, there are various practices we can engage in, such as deity worship, meditation, singing kirtans or listening to discourses. Among these practices, kirtans hold a significant place. Chanting, hearing and remembering the names, forms, virtues, abodes, and pastimes of God is the simplest and most powerful form of devotion in Kaliyug, and kirtan is the combination of all three of these activities; hence, it is also known as Tridha bhakti (त्रिधा भक्ति) or three-fold devotion.
The Essence of Tridha Bhakti
This threefold devotion cleanses the heart and extinguishes the blazing fire of material existence. Its potency is such that people engage in devotion day and night and experience the bliss of God. This devotion is extremely sweet as it helps us easily attach our minds to God. We can chant the names of God, sing His glories, and contemplate His beautiful form for hours and hours.
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj's Teaching
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj says:
श्री कृष्णम समरणम मनसा, वचसा सरस किर्तनम
श्रोत्रेन श्रवनम नित्यम, तृधा भक्ति गरियसी
Śrī Kṛṣṇam samaraṇam manasā, vacasā sarasa kīrtanam
śrotrēna śravaṇam nityam, tṛdhā bhakti gariyasī
"Engage in the three-fold devotion, which involves remembering the divine name of Shree Krishna, chanting his name and listening to his divine pastimes."
Tridha bhakti involves three activities:
- Chanting/किर्तनम the names and descriptions of the forms, virtues, pastimes, and prayers to the Lord in melodious tunes.
- Listening/श्रवनम to the chantings.
- Thinking/मननम deeply about what you are chanting and feeling the presence of God in his Holy name.
The Glories of Kirtans
The glories of kirtans are also mentioned in the Scriptures:
कलेर्दोषनिधे राजन्नस्ति ह्येको महान् गुणः
कीर्तनादेव कृष्णस्य मुक्तसङ्गः परं व्रजेत्
kalerdoṣhanidhe rājannasti hyeko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛiṣhṇasya muktasaṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
(Shreemad Bhagavatam 12.3.51)
This verse from the Shreemad Bhagavatam states that Kaliyug, the present era, is an ocean of faults – people have disturbed minds, unsound health, live in polluted environments, and face disturbing situations. However, there is one very great virtue in Kaliyug. By lovingly chanting the melodious kirtans of the Lord, one can easily get liberated from the material bondage.
The Power of Kirtan in Remembrance
When we think about Radha Krishna, it may be challenging to know where to start. However, the beautiful bhajans and kirtans written by Saints provide descriptions of God's divine names, forms, virtues, pastimes and abodes. As we sing them, our minds naturally focus on their meaning, making them an aid to contemplation and meditation. If you desire to fill your mind with divine thoughts, kirtan is the simplest and most effective way. Kirtans are a powerful tool for remembering God.
The Role of the Mind in Kirtan
As you engage in this three-fold devotion, it is important to remember that the heart and soul of kirtan lie in the involvement of the mind in devotion. In the material world, external behaviour often takes priority, but in the spiritual realm, God takes note of every single thought in the mind. Deception does not work in the realm of God. God says, "I will only consider the feelings in your mind". Hence, it's important to genuinely engage in the remembrance of God when you participate in kirtan. This remembrance becomes possible when we meditate upon the form of God, known as Roopdhyan, according to Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj.
The Key to Success in Kirtan
In summary, kirtan is a powerful way to remember God. By focusing on the meaning of the bhajans and kirtans, we can enter a state of contemplation and meditation that brings divine thoughts to our minds. As we engage in this three-fold devotion, we should remember that the involvement of our mind is the key to success. By meditating upon the form of God, we can engage in genuine devotion and experience the benefits of kirtan.
The Importance of Roopdhyan
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj says:
सब साधन जनु देह सम, रूप ध्यान जनु प्राण,
खात गीध अरु स्वान जनु, कामादिक शव मान।
saba sādhana janu deha sama, roopa dhyān janu prāna,
khāta gīdha aru swān janu, kāmādik śhava māna
All the means of sadhana are like the body, while Roopdhyan (meditation on the divine form of God) is the life air. Lust and greed eat the sadhana without roopdhyan, like dogs and vultures eat the body without life.
By incorporating Roopdhyan and the chanting of divine names, virtues, pastimes, and abodes of God, as well as singing kirtans, we can enhance our remembrance of God. Making kirtans a habitual part of our daily sadhana routine can boost our spiritual journey and allow us to experience the delightful bliss of devotion.