Provided we are willing to take, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches us Giaan (Wisdom or Bibek), awaken our intellect to the Wisdom. The Wisdom in turn removes traps or chains of Maya attachment, fear, Bharam (doubt), false ego-sense, lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride etc.). The Wisdom thus refines the mind and make us Sooraa or braveheart.

In short, if WE ARE WILLING TO TAKE and PRACTICE, the SGGS provides us Wisdom (Giaan), which:

Clearly, the Gurbani is not meant for sense-gratification — ‘Kann Ras‘ (ਕੰਨ ਰਸ), or using it as a business (ਰੋਟੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਜਰੀਆ, ਧੰਧਾ), or worship (Poojaa) the SGGS as an idol, or keep it wrapped up in designer’s Rumaalaa etc.

In order to impart the Truth (ਸਚ) to masses, as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), all the 35 contributors of the SGGS have used terms in their Bani (ਬਾਣੀ) that were prevailing in common language spoken by average citizens of their time. BUT, WITH DIFFERENT OR CHANGED MEANINGS!

Kirtan (ਕੀਰਤਨ) is one of those terms.

The illiterate and crafty Pujaaree-Vaad and the corrupt Pujaaree system have entrusted upon people’s head that (1) Kirtan is the most exalted action (‘ਪਰਧਾਨਾ-Pardhaanaa‘), and that (2) Kirtan is to sing the Gurbani aloud with musical instruments.

As we’ll see in the pages that lie ahead the above assertions or the Pujaaree’s interpretation of the Gurbani in this context is totally self-serving (ਧੰਧਾ, business…) and misleading!

The Message of the Gurbani is that those who are corrupt should not be entrusted with responsibility particularly not to lead!

Misinterpretation of the Gurbani by the Pujaaree

To justify their false claim of Kirtan and to impress greedy and gullible people who never took SGGS seriously as the source of Wisdom, the corrupt Pujaaree always misquote the following verse: ‘ਕਲਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਪਰਧਾਨਾ ॥: Kalyug mahi kirtan(u) pardhaanaa‘.

But they seldom quote the next verse, or worse they misquote it as well — ‘ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਲਾਇ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥: Gurmukhi japeeai laai dhiaanaa — which makes it very clear what the Gurbani is really talking about.

First off, the Gurbani does not accept Brahminical interpretation of four Yuga. For the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, Yugas are the state of an individual’s mind at a given moment.

For example, Kal Yuga is the state of the mind dominated by falsehood, untruthfulness, doubt, ignorance, Haumai (false ego-sense), Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.).

  • ਜੇ ਕੋ ਸਤੁ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਛੀਜੈ ਤਪ ਘਰਿ ਤਪੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ਲਏ ਬਦਨਾਵੀ ਕਲਿ ਕੇ ਲਖਣ ਏਈ ॥੩॥ : If a man exalts his conduct or practices Truth, he falls (in the eyes of the people), if one claims to practice Tapa (i.e. penance, ਕਰੜੀ ਘਾਲਨਾ etc.). then his senses are out of control. If someone remembers Naam (i.e. live by Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) then  he is disgraced. (Bad conduct, not being able to control the senses, hatred of the Naam…) these are the signs of Kali Yuga (i.e. man’s corrupt state of the mind). ||3|| (sggs 902).

Also, literally, Kirtan (ਕੀਰਤਨ) means ‘Keerati-ਕੀਰਤਿ’ (ਵਡਿਆਈ, ਸੋਭਾ, ਉਸਤਤ, etc.) — celebrate and propagate the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom and live it in daily life (Gurmukh Lifestyle).

In short, the real ‘Keerati‘ or Kirtan is done by the mind!

  • ਗੁਨ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਨਿਧਿ ਮੋਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: To live by Virtues (in daily life) is my Treasure. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 213).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਉ ॥: Understand the Divine Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…). This is doing the Guru’s ‘Keerati‘. (sggs 897).
  • ਕਲਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਪਛਾਨੁ ॥: In the Kali, the ‘Keerati-ਕੀਰਤਿ’ (ਵਡਿਆਈ, ਸੋਭਾ…) is the realization of the Shabad (Wisdom, Upadesh…). (sggs 424).

Now, combining both verses:

  • ਕਲਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਪਰਧਾਨਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਲਾਇ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥: The most exalted is the Kirtan in this Kal Yuga (i.e. in a corrupt state of the mind). Therefore, by becoming the Gurmukh, understand (the ‘Naam Padaarath‘: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) with full attention (sggs 1075).

Among other verses, the self-serving Pujaaree often misquote the following verse: ‘ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਨਿਰਮੋਲਕ ਹੀਰਾ ॥: Kirtan(u) nirmolak heeraa‘.

But, when you combine rest of the verses, the picture becomes very clear that here the Gurbani is talking about the Jewel or Diamond of Wisdom, Virtues (ਗੁਣ).

In nutshell, the SGGS is telling us that the ‘Bani -ਬਾਣੀ’ (i.e. Giaan or Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad) is the priceless Jewel of Wisdom, Ocean of Virtues (ਗੁਣ) and Bliss, most excellent ‘Poonjee-ਪੂੰਜੀ’ (wealth, capital, assets, fund, etc.).

  • ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਨਿਰਮੋਲਕ ਹੀਰਾ ॥ ਆਨੰਦ ਗੁਣੀ ਗਹੀਰਾ ॥ ਅਨਹਦ ਬਾਣੀ ਪੂੰਜੀ ॥ ਸੰਤਨ ਹਥਿ ਰਾਖੀ ਕੂੰਜੀ ॥੨॥: Kirtan(u) nirmolak heeraa … Santan hathi raakhee Koonjee (sggs 893).

The Gurbani further explains as to what this ‘Koonjee-ਕੂੰਜੀ’ (key) is — Gur-Wisdom or ਗਿਆਨ:

  • ਗੁਰੁ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਪਾਹੂ ਨਿਵਲੁ ਮਨੁ ਕੋਠਾ ਤਨੁ ਛਤਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਤਾਕੁ ਨ ਉਘੜੈ ਅਵਰ ਨ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਹਥਿ ॥੧॥: (One’s) mind is (like a) house, the body is (like its) roof, and the attachment of Maya is lock (on this house of the mind – like the chain locked on the animal legs). The Guru (Gur-Wisdom or ਗਿਆਨ) is the key (that open this lock – this is only key that can remove the spell of Maya from the mind…). O Nanak! Without the Guru (Gur-Wisdom or ਗਿਆਨ), the door of the mind cannot be opened. No one else holds the key in hand (to open this lock) ||1|| (sggs 1237).

Gurbani rejects the Pujaaree’s definition of Kirtan

The Gurbani teaches us both honest work (righteous Karma, actions, duties, earning truthful living, etc.) and Bhagti are essential to realize the Truth. Mere singing of Kirtan will not do the trick or fool Rabb.

The Gurbani has strong words of caution, warning, admonition (whatever we want to call it) about the kind of Kirtan that’s being promoted and propagated by the Pujaaree groups. Baabaa Nanak alerts us as follows:

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣਾ ਗਾਵੈ ਗੀਤ ॥ ਭੁਖੇ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਘਰੇ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥ ਮਖਟੂ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਕੰਨ ਪੜਾਏ ॥ ਫਕਰੁ ਕਰੇ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਾਤਿ ਗਵਾਏ ॥ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੀਰੁ ਸਦਾਏ ਮੰਗਣ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਲਗੀਐ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥: Someone sings the hymns (Kirtan etc. as a source of livelihood or bread, but he lacks Giaan or wisdom (since he uses it as a source of income, his understanding could not be higher). The mosque of the starving mullahs is also for the sake of livelihood (i.e. the Mullahs have also made the act of praying in the mosque a source of livelihood or bread). There is another (third one) lazy bum (unemployed, ਹੱਡ-ਹਰਾਮ, ਵੇਹਲੜ) gets his ears pierced (to look like a Yogi). Someone else becomes a panhandler and lives life of a beggar-ਮੰਗਖਾਣਾਂ), and thus loses his social status. Someone pretends to be respected by becoming a Guru or a Pir (spiritual guide…) but is also greedy for material things (i.e. accumulates wealth by craftiness and making excuses. Don’t ever touch such person’s feet (i.e., don’t consider him a Guru or a Pir – don’t follow him). One who eats by working diligently (with honesty…) and helps the needy in the right way out of this noble work; O Nanak! Only such people have come to know the right way of life. ||1|| (sggs 1245).

However, it’s not surprising at all that we almost never hear Raagees (professional singers of the Gurbani) talk about it! If they do reflect on the true Message of the SGGS, it will be like the famous proverbial expression: ‘kicking on one’s own stomach’ (ਅਪਣੇ ਪੇਟ ਪਰ ਲੱਤ ਮਾਰਨੀ). The Gurbani says:

  • ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ ॥: For the sake of bread, they perform melodiously (sggs 465).
  • ਸਚਾ ਅਲਖ ਅਭੇਉ ਹਠਿ ਨ ਪਤੀਜਈ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਰਾਗ ਪਰੀਆ ਰਾਗਿ ਨ ਭੀਜਈ ॥: The True, Unseen, Mysterious (Universal Energy) is not won over by stubbornness. Some sing according to traditional Raag, but the Lord (Rabb) is not pleased by these Raag. (sggs 1285).
  • ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੀਤ ਨ ਚੀਨਹਿ ਆਪੁ ॥: You sing the songs, but you do not understand your own self (i.e., your Mool). (sggs 903).
  • ਸਬਦੈ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ॥: You do not enjoy the sublime taste of the Shabad – what (is the use of) singing Praises stubborn-mindedly? (sggs 549).

To keep us from sinking into Maya’s illusion, we are time and again alerted by the Gurban.

If we’re not alert, than we take the risk of falling into the same dark pit of ignorance like countless so called Raagee, Baabaa, Giaanees, Sant, Saadhoos, Kathaakaars, professional singers who sing the Gurbani in the pretext of making money (‘ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ’), etc.

They read and memorize Bani like a parrot, and sing it in attractive melody or Taals; however, it goes in vain because they do it in greed and selfishness. The Gurbani confirms as follows:

  • ਗੀਤ ਰਾਗ ਘਨ ਤਾਲ ਸਿ ਕੂਰੇ ॥: (Forgetting the Shabad: Vichaar, Giaan, etc., mortal indulges in) the various songs, Raag and rhythms, but these are all false efforts. (sggs 832).
  • ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਅੰਨਾ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਅੰਨਾ ਕੂੜੀ ਕੂੜੀ ਗਾਵੈ ॥: A person who is blind inwardly (i.e. mentally blind) and blind outwardly (from conduct or deeds: ਕਾਲੀਆਂ ਕਰਤੂਤਾਂ), sings (or recite scriptures) deceptively or falsely (ਝੂਠੀ ਮੂਠੀ). (sggs 960).
  • ਰਾਗ ਰਾਗਨੀ ਡਿੰਭ ਹੋਇ ਬੈਠਾ ਉਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਪਹਿ ਕਿਆ ਲੀਨਾ ॥੩॥: He sits and play music, but he sits as a hypocrite (ਪਖੰਡ ਦੀ ਮੂਰਤ); what can such person obtain from the Lord? (i.e., nothing) ||3|| (sggs 654).

In general, Kirtan is sung in Haumai (false ego-sense) greed etc., and heard to gratify senses (ਕੰਨ ਰਸ).

  • ਇਕਿ ਗਾਵਤ ਰਹੇ ਮਨਿ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: Some sing on and on, but their minds do not find happiness. In egotism, they sing, but it is all wasted uselessly (sggs 158).

In nutshell, without understanding the Gurbani and without living it in daily life, just keep singing and listening Gurbani (for sense-gratification) is not the Kirtan talked the Gurbani.

  • ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੀਤੇ ਚੀਤਿ ਅਨੀਤੇ ॥ ਰਾਗ ਸੁਣਾਇ ਕਹਾਵਹਿ ਬੀਤੇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਮਨਿ ਝੂਠੁ ਅਨੀਤੇ ॥੧॥: (Those who) sing religious songs (for others to listen), but in their consciousness is wickedness. They sing Raag (for others to) listen, and call themselves knowledgeable (expert, ਗਿਆਨੀ, etc.), but without the Naam, their minds are false and wicked. ||1|| (sggs 414).
  • ਰਾਗੈ ਨਾਦੈ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਇਨੀ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਬੂਝਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: (Union with the Divine Consciousness) is beyond Raagas and Naad (ਰਾਗ, ਨਾਦ ਦੀ ਕੈਦ ਤੋਂ ਪਰੇ); Hukam (i.e. System-Rule-Law of Nature…) cannot be understood through these Raagas and Naad. (sggs 1423).

Bhai Gurdaas Jee calls it ‘swindling’ (ਠਗੀ) of gullible people by the ‘cheat’ Ragi (i.e. professional singers of the Gurbani):

  • ਤੈਸੇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦ ਸੁਨਾਇ ਗਾਇ ਦਿਖ ਠਗੋ ਭੇਖਧਾਰੀ ਜਾਨਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਮਾਰਿ ਨ ਬਿਡਾਰਹੀ ॥੬੧੧॥: Similarly, a cheat different from inside and outside swindle gullible Sikhs by singing to them the sacred hymns of the Guru. But those Sikhs enamored by the sweetness of Gurbani and of very generous nature, don’t even scold me despite them knowing that (Bhai Gurdas, Kabit 611).
  • ਗਾਏ ਸੁਨੇ ਆਂਖੇ ਮੀਚੈ ਪਾਈਐ ਨ ਪਰਮਪਦੁ ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਗਹਿ ਜਉ ਲਉ ਨ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥੪੩੯॥: Singing and listening to (Kirtan) with closed eyes, one cannot experience Parampad (i.e., profound lifestyle, Gurmukh lifestyle). As long as one does not follow the Gur-Upadesh (live by the Wisdom), it is not possible to obtain (Parampad, even if one performs the ritual or Karamkaand of singing or listening Kirtan. (Bhai Gurdaas, Kabit 439).

Gurbani says Shabad Vichaar is the most exalted Kirtan

According to the Gurbani, Shabad Vichaar (Reflections on the Gurbani) or churning the Gurbani (to extract Wisdom from it) is the supreme or most exalted action (‘ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ’, ‘ਸਭਸੈ ਊਪਰਿ’, ‘ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ’).

  • ਸਭਸੈ ਊਪਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਹੋਰ ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਉ ਨ ਸਗਲੀ ਛਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: Reflection on the Gur-Shabad is above all (other notions, speculations, calculations…). I don’t care for anything else, for all else (i.e., other than the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad) is just worthless. ||2|| (sggs 904).
  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥੩॥: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad – Shabad Vichaar ||3|| (sggs 158).
  • ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਦਰੀ ਕਰਮਿ ਲਘਾਏ ਪਾਰਿ ॥ : Sikhi is contemplation on Guru’s teaching (Upadesh, Giaan, Bibek or Wisdom) and acting on it. Being blessed by the Grace of the Guru’s Giaan (or Wisdom) one then crosses the worldly ocean (Bhav Saagar). (sggs 465).
  • ਗੁਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸਿਆ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The Guru has instructed (Upadesh) me in this True Essence of spiritual Wisdom (Aatmic-Giaan – ਗਿਆਨ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1142).

So, if we truly want to respect the SGGS, then, as the Gurbani urges us, we must churn Wisdom or Giaan through the Shabad-Vichaar and become the Gurmukh (the follower of the Wisdom of the Gurmat…), and live daily life accordingly.

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਪਰਵਾਰੈ ਸਾਧਾਰੁ ॥੮॥੧॥੩॥ : Following the Gurmat (living daily life according to the Giaan or Wisdom of the SGGS), one’s conduct (ਆਚਰਨ…) becomes excellent. Following the Gurmat, one finds a way to get rid of (Bikaar). O Nanak! Following the Gurmat, (one) becomes able to give (Naam’s) support to his entire family as well. ||8||1||3|| (sggs 832).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਗੁਰੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਤਬ ਜਾਨੀਐ ਮਿਟੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਤਨ ਤਾਪ ॥: O Kabir! One is known to have been united with the Guru (i.e., Giaan or Wisdom, Virtues…), if your mind’s affliction or illness of worldly attachment is eradicated. (sggs 1374).

The one who truly respects the Gurbani becomes the Gurmukh and his mind and life get transformed (ਜੀਵਨ ਪਦਵੀ). He gets absorbed into the Gurmat (‘ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ’, ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ, the Gurbani’s Teaching, Virtues, Wisdom, Giaan…).

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: One who has become the Gurmukh, his ‘Karanee-ਕਰਣੀ’ (lifestyle, conduct, practice….) is Shabad-Vichaar (Reflections on the Gur-Shabad). (sggs 841).

Fittingly, Kirtan is defined in the Gurbani as Viaakhiaa of the Gurbani, of the One Truth, of the Divine Wisdom or Virtues, etc. (Viaakhiaa – ਵਿਆਖਿਆ: ਬਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ, explanation, interpretation, elucidation, Shabad-Vichaar, ਗੁਣਾ ਦੀ ਵਿਚਾਰ, ਗੁਣਾ ਦੀ ਕੀਰਤ…).

  • ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਬਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ॥ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰਬਾਨੁ ॥: In daily life, elucidation (explanation…) of the deeper meanings or secrets (of the Gurbani) is the Kirtan. (A person who engages in such Vichaar of the Gurbani) remains unattached even in the midst of household. (sggs 281).

In nutshell, the true singing as recommended in the SGGS is to live with Wisdom, Virtues (ਗੁਣ) or Hukam in daily life — ‘ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਾ’ (singing Glorious Praises, etc.) — Truth (ਸਤ), honesty (ਇਮਾਨਦਾਰੀ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ-Natural State of Being), Wisdom (ਗਿਆਨ), humility (ਮਨ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ, ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ), sweet speech (ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ)…

The SGGS further asserts that such a person of ‘Pure Dharma-ਨਿਰਮਲ ਧਰਮ’ remains absorbed in ‘Bhagti Kirtan‘:

  • ਸਚੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: True Bhagti consists of love for the Gur-Shabad (i.e., life of the Shabad-Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh, Virtues…). (sggs 158).
  • ਕੇਵਲ ਭਗਤਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਾਚੈ ॥: (A person of ‘Pure Dharma‘…) remains absorbed in ‘Bhagti Kirtan’. (sggs 274).

Now, what is Bhagti in Sikhi or Gurmat? Let’s ask the SGGS:

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤੂੰ ਲੇਹਿ ਇਆਨੇ ॥ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਡੂਬੇ ਸਿਆਨੇ ॥: You ignorant fool, take the Gurmati (i.e., Divine Wisdom or Aatmic-Giaan of the Gur-Shabad); without (this) Bhagti, even many clever have drowned (in perplexity). (sggs 288).

Thus, in nutshell, Bhagti in Sikhi is obtaining the spiritual Knowledge of the SGGS (Giaan Bhagti or Gurmat Bhagti) and Awakening the Virtues (Rabbi Gun-ਗੁਣ) within and live daily life accordingly!

  • ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Without acquiring Virtues, Bhagti can not be performed (sggs 4).
  • ਭਗਤ੍ਯ੍ਯੰ ਭਗਤਿ ਦਾਨੰ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਰਤਨਹ ॥: Bhagat are blessed with Kirtan of the Divine Naam (Giaan-Wisdom) and Virtues. (sggs 1355).

This is the Real Kirtan! However, we have been brain washed by the crafty Pujaaree that Kirtan is just singing with harmonium, Dholak, Tabla etc. However, that’s a mundane business (ਧੰਧਾ), NOT the Gurbani’s real Kirtan.

The Real Kirtan as defined in the Gurbani demands we become the Gurmukh (follower of the Truth, whose mind is linked to Antar-Aatmaa or whose Akal – ਅਕਲ – follows Gurbani and restrains the mind instead of following the mind, Sach Santokhee, his state is that of ‘Ik Mann Ik Chit’, ਮਾਇਆ ਵਿਚ ਉਦਾਸੀ, one established in Viveka-budhi, ਜਿਸ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰਮਤ ਦੀ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੈ …).

In short, we are urged to immerse in the Naam or Shabad by integrating our cracked mind and Chit (consciousness) into One. Then the Real Kirtan happens in the Home of the Heart within, naturally, spontaneously, Sahaj (Natural state of Being or Wisdom)…

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰਾਗ ਸੁਆਦ ਅਨ ਤਿਆਗੇ ॥: The Gurmukh renounces other tastes (Pakhand, rituals or Karamkaand etc.) and ‘Raag‘ (mental affectations, malice, cravings, enmity, melodies etc.). (sggs 415).
  • ਰਾਗ ਨਾਦ ਛੋਡਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਤਾ ਦਰਗਹ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨ॥: Forsaking the Raag and Naad, serve the Hari (-Naam: Wisdom, Virtues…); then one become United with Rabb (Universal Energy, Hukam or System-Rule-Law of Nature…). (sggs 849).
  • ਕਰ ਕਰਿ ਤਾਲ ਪਖਾਵਜੁ ਨੈਨਹੁ ਮਾਥੈ ਵਜਹਿ ਰਬਾਬਾ ॥: Kar kari taal pakhaavaju… (sggs 884).

In nutshell, the kind of Kirtan the SGGS recommends can ONLY be performed within the mind!

  • ਹਿਰਦੈ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ਜੈ ਜੈ ਸਬਦੁ ਹਰਿ ॥: Within my Heart (mind, Aatmaa), I sing the Divine Praises, and (thus I) celebrate the Shabad (i.e., obtain understanding through Shabad-Vichaar and then live the Giaan or Vrtues in daily life). (sggs 790).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ਸਦਾ ਆਪੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੩॥: (By the Grace of the Gu-Giaan who stills his false ego-sense) awakens discerning intellect (Bibek-Budh, Giaan...) within and continually examines own-self (examines his spiritual life). Through the Gur-Shabad, he lives by the Virtues or Giaan. ||3|| (sggs 128).

Apparently, the true meaning of the Kirtan has totally been derailed by the greedy Pujaaree. The Gurbani alerts:

  • ਕੋਈ ਗਾਵੈ ਰਾਗੀ ਨਾਦੀ ਬੇਦੀ ਬਹੁ ਭਾਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਨਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਭੀਜੈ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥ ਜਿਨਾ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਤਿਨਾ ਰੋਇ ਕਿਆ ਕੀਜੈ ॥: Some sing (Kirtan-ਕੀਰਤਨ) through musical Ragas, through the Naad (musical instruments etc.), through religious books, and in so many other ways. But, Rabb is not pleased by these. Those who are filled with fraud and corruption within – what good can bewailing (i.e. their singing of Kirtan) do unto them? (sggs 450).
  • ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਰਾਗੀ ਨਾਦੀ ਬੇਦਿ ॥: (God) is NOT won over (i.e. pleased, made happy etc.) with singing ragas, playing Naad or reading Vedas (i.e. religious books). (sggs 1237).


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