Choral Singing/Bhajanai

Sampradaya Bhajanai portal

It may be somewhat surprising for the average Westerner to hear about the power within the vibrations of mantras and chanting. The mind is especially affected by the kind of sound energy (Ragams & Thalams) it picks up or tunes into. By chanting and involving in Choral singing, it helps re-direct the minds to the Divine – drowned in an unique culmination of Devotion and music.

What is Choral Singing/Sampradaya Bhajanai?

Literally, the phrase ‘Dakṣiṇa Bhārath Sampradāya Bhajan’ translates to ‘South In­dian Tradition of Chorus-singing’, the context being the singing the glory of God. However an insightful understanding of what it really means, and what significance it offers for our well-being and spiritual growth, requires a deeper inquiry. This we do briefly.

 The need and the relevance of God eventually become the fact of one’s life, that’s for sure – although, thanks to the core principles of Sanātana Dharmā, such an initiation to divinity is imbibed by many of us right from our birth. However freewill is a precious gift and so we all exercise our freedom to experiment before arriving at the need of constant communion with God. That is precisely when, the spirit and significance of Bhajan truly shines through. 

To understand this, we need to understand the purpose of life itself.

An interpretation of life is that it is a sojourn driven by goals or attainments, one after another, and of some sorts. To attain any desired object, one needs to work for it. This is endorsed by the Vedas, the scriptures of Sanātana Dharmā. Actions driven by the desires are known as karmā and the scriptures provide the guidance for the righteous karmā, giving the objects of desire in life here and hereinafter.

 The scriptures also show that one’s action alone cannot be the sole determinant of the outcome. It is because once an action is completed, the course of its progress and the result are not in one’s control. In the world of actions, therefore is a need of a controller, while sustaining the equilibrium of the world, to return right dividends to the doer in due course. According to Vedas, God assures this balance through enforcing the Laws-of-Karmā; so one must deem the outcome of one’s action as the gift of god, Ishvar-prasād only. That is why it is imperative that we involve God in all our affairs of life and seek the grace of God for our endeavours.  

For the gifted few, even such an approach to life, as a perpetual journey of desire, actions and attainments will eventually prove to be a very depressing definition. To them, such a life cycle would mean an entrapment, a cycle of happiness and grief, tossed with an enduring touch of fear! Vedas call this as is samsārā, a state of per­petual lack of fulfilment. When one recognizes the grave danger of the situation and yearns for freedom, Vedas redefine life as a ‘divine-play’ only, in which one must happily take part, without being taken-apart by its ordeals. This is only possible when one realizes the self as ‘ātma’, the unattached supreme consciousness, forever
blissful and indwelling as the very essence of God. For such a person, there is
noth­ing then to be attained as she remains forever fulfilled. She has no more fear as she sees herself in all. There is only love. Subsequently, her actions in the world are not deemed as karmā but as kriyā, free of any binding impediments.   

Only to impart these three important potentialities for human evolution, Vedas are structured into three parts.

The first-part known as Karma-Kānda elaborates the rituals for perfecting our ac­tions, the second part as Upāsana-Kānda, the means for divine contemplation and the path of devotion and finally the third-part as Jnāna-Kānda reveals the supreme truth of the Self; this it does, by steering towards the divine inquiry of the Self, the World and God (Jivā, Jagat and Ishvarā).    

The important inference is that devotion or bhakti is the centrality of the scriptures and should also be central to our life-pursuits. Contemplating on the divinity of God and surrendering to the bestowing grace of God must become one’s essential nature. But how do we conceive GOD, as the Vedas declare God as all powerful, om­niscient,
all-pervasive and therefore indescribable beyond all human comprehen­sion! To
overcome this difficulty, Vedas provide a number of baby-steps for us to take, each step befitting our state of spiritual elevation. The foremost requirement from us is to conceive God as an ‘object of contemplation’.

Objectivity is the fabric of all actions. The world is seen as full of diverse objects and we are, by default wired to think oneself as different from everything else. So objectification is essential for our understanding and engagement with the world. But how could God, the indescribable, unlimited be objectified?  

Although infinitude cannot be defined, the very term ‘infinitude’ can be used to in­fer an awareness of the infinite nature. That’s why Vedas use specific sounds, letters or words as ‘divya-nāmā’ or divine-name to represent the incomprehensible God. Known as ‘Shabda-Brahman’ or when rendered musically as ‘Nāda-Brahman’, this approach trains us to capture the infinite potentialities of God by merely hearing the representative forms of sound. But ordinarily we require some ‘meaning’ to a ‘sound’ for it to make an impact. When one hears the word ‘lotus’ the attributes of lotus come to mind. 

To support this level of understanding, Vedas attach many divine attributes including ‘rupā’ or form to otherwise incomprehensible Brahman. Although any form is limited in dimensions, the form and attributes attached to God to be known as ‘Saguna Brahman’ is an invaluable aid for our progression. When the form of Rama is known, the hearing of the word ‘Rāma’ brings the divine form of Rama into mind. The concept of ‘Saguna Brahman’ and related rituals of worship are therefore aids in our ability to achieve God-Consciousness.   

While divine names like ‘Rāma’ and ‘Krishnā’ evoke the respective forms of God in our
minds, according to Vedas, the hearing of ‘Aum’ should evoke the attribute-less
Brahman for the ultimate emancipation. As ‘name’ does not suffer any spatial or
temporal limitations like the ‘form’, contemplating the incomprehensible through
‘name’ is deemed superior. The recitation of ‘divya-nāma’, especially the singing the glory of God is considered far superior to idol-worship, as one elevates oneself to­wards the cognition of ‘Nirguna-Brahman’. 

In the Jnana-Kānda, to those who have attained the purity of thought through Upāsana, Vedas introduce God as ‘Nirguna Brahman’ and again to ease our con­templation, define with the divine name ‘sat-chit-ānandā’. Thus singing the divine names of God as ‘Saguna Brahman’ or ‘Nirguna Brahman’, is valued as the simplest yet the supreme means to divinity. 

Thanks to the Bhakti movement that initially germinated in South India around 6th Century and rooted across the subcontinent for the next 1100 years, the divine name of God has become ‘LOVE’. As God is everywhere, and in everything, offering ‘uncon­ditional love’ to one and all is the only way to show true realization. To be in such a state of non-discriminative abundance of love, one should blissfully lose oneself in the company of others. This lofty ideal becomes an achievable feat, with the aid of community-singing of the divine names and the absolute surrender to God. The liv­ing testimony is the Dakṣiṇa Bhārath Sampradāya Bhajan. 

The Bhakti movement had brought a true renaissance of Sanātana Dharma, blossom­ing the true spirit of Vedas, nurturing righteousness through actions, devotion and knowledge. Singing the divine names and the glory of God, collectively as a group is the most relevant and the best way for one’s progress in life in this cycle of time, the ‘kali kāla’.  Such is the assertion of great Seers. 

Bhajan is the most enabling and involving means for devotion. The word ‘bhajan’ refers to the act of collective singing of divine names; it stems from the Sanskrit root ‘bhaj’, meaning ‘to give, to distribute, to belong, to love’ etc. The term ‘bhakti’ meaning ‘devotion’ and ‘unconditional surrender’ is also a derivative of the root ‘bhaj’. 

The legacy and glory of Dakṣiṇa Bhārath Sampradāya Bhajan is due to many stal­warts of the past, and the present, for their systematic and generous approach to bring harmony and integration across the communities of Sanātana Dharma, by breaking the barriers of caste, creed or language. The tradition is considered ‘sys­tematic’ because it offers specifically laid-out formats to ease implementation; it is generous because of its inbuilt scope and adaptability to suit all occasions and any  variation due to different schools of thought. 

An important point in Dakṣiṇa Bhārath Sampradāya Bhajan is the role and the rev­erence of the lead singer(s), the Bhāgavathar(s). The Bhāgavathar is perceived as the personification of divinity; in singing, dancing and leading the chorus, the Bhāgavathar is seen as the Sadguru; in the ambience of enchanting singing and the ecstasy of supreme devotion, in Sadguru is the divine presence of God. Such reverence is also applicable to all devoted aspirants! Thus the Dakṣiṇa Bhārath Sampradāya Bhajan is not a musical performance per se, but with the participation of all devotees following the lead of the Bhāgavathar, it is the communion with God,
open for the entire community. Commitment to the complete surrender is the only

 In the tradition, the Bhāgavathar, accompanied by the other experienced singers always provide the lead. Others follow, where appropriate, by repeating or responding with appropriate divine names or phrases.

 1. Pundareekam and Prathivachanam.(Here, either a God is asked to be remembered or his victory is sung. The audience responds by remembering his name or sing victory to that God.)

2. Dhyana Slokam (These stanzas give a description of the Gods who are going to be addressed by the Bhajan).
3. Thodaya Mangalam ( These are set of songs composed by saints like Bhadrachala Ramdas , Annamacharya and Vijayagopala Swamigal which were compiled by Marudanallur Sadguru Swamigal)
4. Guru Dhyanam (songs praising the God Dakshinamurthy followed by great Gurus Adhi Shankara ,Bhodendral, Sridhara Ayyaval , Marudanallur Sadguru Swamigal etc. followed by meditation of these Gurus.)
5. Guru Abhangs (Abhangs are Marathi devotional songs)
6. Sadhu Keertanas (hymns on Sadhus and sants. It can be abhangs also)
7. Jayadeva Ashtapadi (Geeta Govindam)
8. Narayana Teertha Krishna leela Tharangini
Panchapati (Five songs in Telugu (Bhadrachala Ramadas), Kannada (Sri Purandara dasa), Sanskrit (Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral), Tamil (Sri Gopalakrishna Bharathi) and compositions of Sri Tyagaraja)
1. Badrachala Bhakta Ramdas
2. Purandara Dasa
3. Sadasiva Brahmendra
4. Thyagaraja
5. Gopalakrishna Bharathi
And if time permits, one can sing the North Indian Bhajan Compositions of
1. Kabir Das
2. Meera Bai
3. Tulsidas or Surdas
4. Marathi Abhangs on Lord Panduranga
The comes the turn of Dyana keertanais (hymns on Gods, stuti, Abhangs or Guru Keertanai). In the Dyana Keertana, it starts from Lord Ganesha Saraswati Muruga (Karthikeyan) Shiv Durga Narasimhan Ram Krishna Venkateshwar Vittal Ranganathan Dashavatara stuti Vittal (Marathi Abhangs on Lord Panduranga) Lakshmi Sita / Radha Hanuman Garuda Aiyappan Chandeeshwaran Nandikeshwaran Chaitanya deva (Gauranga) Guru Keertana
Then comes Pooja Sampradaya Kritis
1. Baro murare (welcome)
2. Sharanagata vatsala (request)
3. Kastoori gana.. (pooja)
4. Chita juni… (aarati)
5. Shobane
6. Jay Jay aarati…
7. kanjadalakshiki..
8. Prartana Abhang
9. Rajadi rajaya.. (pushpanjali)
10. Kattiya vachanam (verses from variety of books)
11. Chatur veda parayan
12. Kshetra mahatmiyam (verses on importance of tirta kshetras)
13. Upacharamu.. (upachara sankeertan)
14. Vinnappa gadyam (praying to God – shlokas)
15. Sri Krishna Govinda hare murare.. (naamaavali)
Pooja ends here and Divya namam starts. (deepa pradakshinam – With lighted lamp in the middle considering the lamp as God, bhagavatas will do sankeertan by doing pradakshinas). This equals going around the earth.
Then comes dolotsavam (making God sleep).
      1. Anjaneya Keertanai

2. Mangalam.

 There are also special forms of bhajan celebrations or bhajanotsav, where the focus is on enacting of divine matrimony of God. In the Dakṣiṇa Bhārath Sampradāya Bhajan, various divine matrimony celebrations are provided for, each offering unique and thoroughly enjoyable and enriching experience.

Married-life and family-dwelling (grahastāshrma) is a revered status in our dhar­ma. Only the family-dweller has the capacity and authority to support and nurture dharma. The family-dweller helps others in the society; a well-knit family is the core
building block for a well-placed community. That is why, God, in our epics and
in many incarnations is shown in the form of married couple. Enacting the
divine matrimony, such as Pārvati-Kalyānam, Sitā-Kalyānam, Rukmini-Kalyānam,
Valli Kalyānam, Tulsi-Vivāh, Purna-Pushkala-Kalyānam etc. provide opportunities
to visu­alize the grandeur of such marriages depicted in our legends through
the Bhajans, and in the process,  to be one with the Lord.

Of these, Sri Rādha Mādhava Kalyānam is of special significance. Rādha, the mysti­cal character, only indirectly implied in the epics, is deemed as the personification of Jivātma. Mādhav is the personification of Paramātma. Thus their divine matrimony symbolizes the unification of individual-consciousness to the universal-conscious­ness. In other wards, each of us is Rādha and it is the celebration of our unifica­tion
with the Parmātma. With the enchanting verses of Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi that
portrays the intense and mutual Love between Rādha Mādhav being an important
part, Sri Rādha Mādhava Kalyāna Mahotsav is revered as the blessed occasion to
experience  divine consciousness. 


The soul by nature already loves Krishna, but that relationship has been covered over by the material energy. The spiritual potency & vibrations produced by the Lyrics, Mantras and Shlokas in soul stirring music can help us to revive that eternal love for the Lord. This is the power of transcendental sound vibrations. We practice this form of choral singing every weekend. Following are the List of activities/Bhajans that are sung as a part of our Weekly Namasankeerthanam – Sampradaya Bhajanai in Solihull/Birmingham 

 We take pride in preserving our heritage and culture that has been passed on over several centuries. We support a Veda Patashala in Chennai (in our own little way)

SDP Charities
IOB Radha Nagar branch
Station Road East, Chromepet
A/C no. 188 001 00000 9015 (Spacing is given for clarity purpose)
IFS Code : IOBA 000 1880 (Spacing is given for clarity purpose)

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