Singing Kirtan In Stubbornness (ਮਨ ਹਠ)
Bhagti or devotion is to gain understanding of the Gurmat (Giaan or Wisdom of the Gurbani …).
In other words, the only purpose of Kirtan is to annihilate ignorance and thus purify the ego-mind. Does that happen? Not even in a dreams! To the contrary, world is full of corruption, danger, duplicity, conflicts, animosity, and so on. As evident in the society, more and more Raagees (commercial or for-hire Kirtan singers) are coming into the market place, more and more listeners are falling into their trend, minds (of both Raagees and their listeners) are becoming more crooked and restless. What a paradox! Why? The Gurbani answers as follows:
- ਮਨਿ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ ਨ ਆਈਆ ਸਹਜਿ ਨ ਲਗੋ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਸਬਦੈ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ॥: Mani parteeti na aaeeaa sahaji n lago bhaaou. Shabadai saadu na paaio mannhathi kiaa gun gaai: O mind! You have no conviction (of Truth, etc.) and you have not embraced love (for the Truth) with Sahaj (Natural State of Being, Wisdom or Giaan-Avasthaa. etc.). You do not enjoy the sublime taste of the Shabad – what (is the use of) singing Praises stubborn-mindedly? (sggs 549).
Due to greed, the Raagees think, feel, and behave like movie stars; consequently, they perform and charge for their performance in a concert like manner. Apparently, they have taken this word “Kirtan” out of context and put the trademark of music on it. As a result, this Spiritual practice almost has been turned into a club activity. They memorize the Gurbani like a parrot, and sing it in attractive melody or Taals; however, it all goes in vain because they do it in greed and selfishness. The edict of the Gurbani is:
- ਸਚਾ ਅਲਖ ਅਭੇਉ ਹਠਿ ਨ ਪਤੀਜਈ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਰਾਗ ਪਰੀਆ ਰਾਗਿ ਨ ਭੀਜਈ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਨਚਿ ਨਚਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਕੀਜਈ ॥ Sachaa alakh abheou hathi n pateejaee …: The True, Unseen, Mysterious (God) is not won over by stubbornness. Some sing according to traditional Raag, but the Lord is not pleased by these Raag. Some dance and dance in perfect beat, but this is not the way of worship (either) (sggs 1285).
To illustrate the point, once it so happened (eye-witnessed story, not hearsay) that right after the Kirtan Divaan, a famous Raagee Jathaa had a fit with the host. They accused the host for not paying them enough money for the Kirtan they had just performed. To the contrary, during the Kirtan the same Raagee had been preaching the Sangat not to be greedy and selfish in life. However, as soon as the Kirtan was over, they were fighting with the host for not paying them big buck! Finally, someone from the congregation politely asked them why they were asking for so much money which the host was financial unable to pay. The ring leader of the Raagee Jathaa replied: “Do you know the difference in the going rate for actor Amitaabh Bachan and the other actors in India?”
Since the Kirtan has become nothing more than a mundane business, he was implying that he was equal to the topnotch actor so he should be paid high price for his Kirtan performance. This is the corruption, greed, lust, etc., the Gurbani so much speak of. The Gurbani wants us to know that this is not the Kirtan the Gurmat talks about. Because, such Kirtan has nothing to do with the Bhagti or Naam-Simran, consequently, it only results in accumulating more mental “filth” or ignorance. This is the reason the false ego (Haumai) in both Raagees and their listeners is on the rampant – Raagees perform in Maya and listeners listen in Maya!
- ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ ॥: Roteeyaan Kaarani poorahi taal: For the sake of bread, they perform melodiously (sggs 465).
As indicated in the Gurbani, Kirtan is not to be taken as business, money making practice, or as the intellectual or recreational pastime; nor it is to be taken as a concert or a club activity as we witness at the organized religious gatherings nowadays. Singing or listening Kirtan in this manner for the sake of pleasing the taste of one’s senses is unavailing; because it only aids in enticing the senses further. It is like supplying more fuel to a burning blaze! The realm of Truth (Sach Khand), as mentioned in the Gurbani, is beyond all such circus of mental activities (Karamkaand).
- ਰਾਗ ਨਾਦ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੋਹਣੇ ਜਾ ਲਾਗੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥ ਰਾਗ ਨਾਦ ਛੋਡਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਤਾ ਦਰਗਹ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨ॥: Raag naad Shabadi sohne jaa laagai sahaji dhyanu …: The melody and music are beautiful only when, through the (Gur-) Shabad, “Sahaji Dhiaan” is experienced, within (i.e., contemplation, self-communication, Reflection, attention – ਸੁਰਤ, ਬਿਰਤੀ – by means of the Natural State of Being …). 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).
- 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).
The Gurmat cannot be more clear than this. Apparently, the true meaning of the Kirtan has been totally derailed by our greed and Mann-Hatha. Realization of the Amrit (Immortality) of the Naam or God-consciousness is possible only through the sincere Shabad-Vichaar, not by mere mechanical singing or hearing of the Kirtan in a business like manner (“Badhaa chattee jo bhare naa gun naa upkaar“). This is the reason hypocrite Raagees and their listeners only remain ego or body-conscious, rather than becoming situated at the Higher Taste: God-consciousness or Shabad-Surti.