Bhakti Sandarbha 273-274 : Conclusion of Kirtan Section
The kirtan section ends at 274.
The Glory of Kīrtana is Universal
Therefore, after hearing about how the people of kali-yuga have developed supreme fixity in Bhagavān, the people of other yugas pray to take birth only in kali-yuga to also attain it. This is stated in the following verse:
कृतादिषु प्रजा राजन् कलाविच्छन्ति सम्भवम्।
कलौ खलु भविष्यन्ति नारायणपरायणाः॥
O King, people of other ages, such as satya-yuga, aspire to take birth in the age of kali. In kali-yuga, many men and women will be devoted to Nārāyaṇa. (SB 11.5.38)
The statement that many men and women will be devoted to Nārāyaṇa means that they will have exceedingly great love for Him. This is implied by the words “supreme peace” in the previous verse, which is the effect of such love. That peace is the outcome of love for Nārāyaṇa is stated in this verse:
O great sage, among millions of liberated and perfected beings, one devotee of Nārāyaṇa who is fully peaceful is exceedingly rare. (SB 6.14.5)
Here one should not misconstrue that the significance of kīrtana is due to kali-yuga, because bhakti in its totality is beyond the limitations of time and place.
विशेषतो नामोपलक्ष्य च विष्णुधर्मे च क्षत्रबन्धूपाख्याने—
नोच्छिष्टादौ निषेधश्च हरेर्नामानि लुब्धक॥ इति।
We also find specific reference to the name as being beyond time and place in the story of Kṣatra-bandhu from the Viṣṇu-dharma:
O hunter, in chanting the names of Hari there are no rules and regulations pertaining to time and place, and there is no restriction on chanting even in an impure state.
स्कान्दे पाद्मवैशाखमाहात्म्ये विष्णुधर्मे च—"चक्रायुधस्य नामानि सदा सर्वत्र कीर्तयेत्" इति।
In the Skanda Purāṇa, the Vaiśākha-māhātmya of the Padma Purāṇa and the Viṣṇu-dharma, it is said:
At all times and in every place one should sing the names of the wielder of the disc weapon, Bhagavān.
स्कान्द एव च—
किन्तु स्वतन्त्रमेवैतन् नाम कामितकामदम्॥ इति।
And again in the Skanda Purāṇa:
The chanting of the names is not dependent upon any particular place, time, condition or purity of the heart. Rather, it is fully independent and awards the result desired by the aspirant.
यस्य चेतसि गोविन्दो हृदये यस्य नाच्युतः॥ इति।
And in the Viṣṇu-dharma:
For one in whose heart Govinda is situated, the age of kali is satya-yuga, and for one in whose heart Acyuta is not present, the age of satya is kali-yuga.
One should not misunderstand that people in kali-yuga obtain great benefit from such a simple process only because they are unable to perform other processes, and not because the chanting itself is so powerful.
विघ्नो यत्र निवेशितात्ममनसां ब्राह्मोऽपि लोकोऽल्पकः।
मुक्तिं चेतसि यः स्थितोऽमलधियां पुंसां ददात्यव्ययः
किं चित्रं यदघं प्रयाति विलयं तत्राच्युते कीर्तिते॥
In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa it is said:
By fixing the mind on Kṛṣṇa one does not go to hell. Those who have fixed their hearts and minds on Kṛṣṇa consider even the pleasure of heaven as an obstacle to meditation on Him. To them even satya-loka, the planet of Brahmā, appears insignificant. It is no wonder then that the sins of those who sing the names of Acyuta are destroyed, because the imperishable Bhagavān, becoming situated in the hearts of those who are pure in mind, grants them liberation. (VP 6.8.57)
इति समाधिपर्यन्तादपि स्मरणात् कैमुत्येन कीर्तनस्यैव गरीयस्त्वं श्रीविष्णुपुराणे दर्शितम्। अत एवोक्तं "एतन्निर्विद्यमानानां" (भा. २.१.११) इत्यादि।
This verse of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa shows by the kaimutya principle the superiority of kīrtana over remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, which continues even in the state of trance. Therefore it was said earlier:
O King, scriptures and learned authorities have concluded that singing and repeating the names of Bhagavān Hari is the peerless method of success for all, including those desiring material enjoyment, those disinterested in material pleasure and aspiring for liberation, and those seeking knowledge of the Absolute. (SB 2.1.11)
ओष्ठस्पन्दनमात्रेण कीर्तनं तु ततो वरम्॥
And in the Vaiṣṇava-cintāmaṇi:
The remembrance of Viṣṇu, which destroys sin, is attained through tremendous effort. Therefore, singing is superior to remembrance because it is accomplished merely by moving the lips.
तन्मुखे हरिनामानि सदा तिष्ठन्ति भारत॥ इत्यन्यत्र।
The superiority of kīrtana is shown elsewhere also:
O descendant of Bharata, the names of Hari are always present on the tongue of one who has properly worshiped Vāsudeva for hundreds of previous lives.
सर्वापराधकृदपि इत्यादिनामापराधभजनस्तोत्रे च। तस्मात् सर्वत्रैव युगे श्रीमत्कीर्तनस्य समानमेव सामर्थ्यम्। कलौ च श्रीभगवता कृपया तद्ग्राह्यत इत्यपेक्षयैव तत्र तत्प्रशंसेति स्थितम्। अत एव यदन्यापि भक्तिः कलौ कर्तव्या, तदा तत्संयोगेनैवेत्युक्तम्—"यज्ञैः सङ्कीर्तनप्रायैर्यजन्ति हि सुमेधसः" (भा. ११.५.२९) इति।
The preeminence of kīrtana is also understood from the Nāmāparādha-bhañjana-stotra, already cited in Anuccheda 265, which states that the holy name delivers one even from offenses to Hari.
Thus, in all yugas singing Bhagavān's name has the same power. Nonetheless, in kali-yuga Bhagavān personally advocates the method of kīrtana out of His grace, and for this reason kīrtana has been specifically praised in scripture for the age of kali. So, if one performs any other type of bhakti in kali-yuga, it should be accompanied by kīrtana, for it is said:
In the age of kali, enlightened individuals worship Bhagavān through sacrifices consisting chiefly of congregational singing of Bhagavān’s names. (SB 11.5.32)
कलौ नास्त्येव नास्त्येव नास्त्येव गतिरन्यथा॥ इत्यादौ।
Out of the various forms of congregational singing, independent kīrtana of the name is especially glorious, as expressed in these words:
In the age of kali, the only means is to sing the names of Hari, to sing the names of Hari, to sing the names of Hari. There is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way.
Consequently, the conclusions expressed in the three verses, beginning with SB 11.5.36, cited in Anucchedas 271-273 respectively, are certainly appropriate.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
The greatness of kīrtana is not limited to the Kaliyuga but is always so, in every place and time. It is also not praised simply because people in this age are disqualified for other spiritual practices and so kīrtana has become a last resort for the incompetent. The potency of the holy name is not dependent on time or place. It is Absolute. Anyone can participate in kīrtana, anywhere and at any time.
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī write that kīrtana is superior even to remembrance (smaraṇam) because smaraṇam is not possible in an unclean heart. It takes a lot of practice before one can master the mind to attain remembrance of Bhagavān. kīrtana, however, can be performed without much effort even by an impious person. Therefore, it is recommended that while doing other devotional activities such picking flowers, making garlands, cooking, or cleaning, one should do kīrtana. Of all kīrtanas, that of the holy name is highly recommended. In nāma-kīrtana also, that of the Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahāmantra is the best. If one can execute this limb of bhakti while avoiding the offenses discussed earlier it will bring its result very quickly.
Kīrtana Should Be Done Without Committing Offenses
Thus we have shown that in kali-yuga, devotion to the Supreme Bhagavān is possible only by the influence of the propagation of nāma-kīrtana. But those who take up kīrtana with offensive attitudes, influenced by heretical views, remain indifferent to Bhagavān. Śrī Śuka stresses this point through negative concomitance:
प्रायेण मर्त्या भगवन्तमच्युतं यक्ष्यन्ति पाषण्डविभिन्नचेतसः॥
यन्नामधेयं म्रियमाण आतुरः पतन् स्खलन् वा विवशो गृणन् पुमान्।
विमुक्तकर्मार्गल उत्तमां गतिं प्राप्नोति यक्ष्यन्ति न तं कलौ जनाः॥
O King, in kali-yuga the minds of human beings are generally bewildered by heretical views, and thus they do not worship Bhagavān Acyuta, who is the supreme teacher of the universe and whose lotus feet are honored by the guardians of the three worlds. By uttering Bhagavān's name even helplessly, while on the verge of death, afflicted with disease, stumbling or stammering, a human being is freed from the bonds of karma and attains the supreme goal. Yet, in kali-yuga people will not worship this Bhagavān. (SB 12.3.43-44)
The meaning of this verse is self-evident.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
Although kīrtana is the most potent and easiest process, people do not take to it, even in this age. The reason for this is offenses against the name. Because of offenses one does not acquire faith in the process. The effect of offenses was described in Anuccheda 153. People in general have no clear understanding about life. There are various schools of philosophy that are antagonistic to the Veda and propagate heretical views. Those who follow such doctrines do not take an interest in kīrtana, and even if they do, they do not get the proper result because of their offensive mentality.
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Bhakti Sandarbha 270-272 : Kīrtana in the Kaliyuga
Bhakti Sandarbha 266-269 : Rupa, Guna and Lila Kirtan, Glories of Kirtan
Bhakti Sandarbha 265 : Offenses to the Holy Name
Bhakti Sandarbha 263-264 : Kirtan of the Holy Name
Bhakti Sandarbha 260-262 : More Glories of Hearing the Bhagavatam
Bhakti Sandarbha 257-259 : Hearing the Bhagavatam
Bhakti Sandarbha 254-256 : Hearing Lila
Bhakti Sandarbha 251-253 : Hearing About Bhagavan's Attributes and Pastimes
Bhakti Sandarbha 248-250 : Introduction to Śravaṇam