The Value of Bhajan (in Euro)

During Navaratra season, there are many opportunities to attend a bhajan session in India. Yet did you ever wonder about the value of bhajan? Some of the great spiritual masters value it highly. Especially in Kali Yuga, it is said that bhajans are an easy way to connect with the Divine that permeates everything.  Somehow I took it for granted, that there is no monetary charge for attending a bhajan session. After all, the lead singer benefits as much, if not more, as those who follow him or her. Everyone simply expresses his devotion in a joyful manner.

When I went to Germany some time ago, a magazine, for which I write, invited me to a ‘Concert of Indian Music’ in Munich.  The artist was an American. I had no idea what to expect but happily accepted the invitation.

On the evening of the concert, some two hundred people had gathered at the auditorium in Munich – some of them obviously old Indian hands, yet the majority just ‘normal’ Germans, who were not happy when they were asked to remove their shoes. Before entering the hall, we filed past a table where the tickets were sold and a sheet of paper was handed out. The price of the ticket was 35 Euro, which equals roughly 3000 Rupees. I was glad that I had an invitation.

Then the artist came, accompanied by a tabla player. He seemed likeable and started by telling us about his time in India in the seventies, when he met his guru Neemkaroli Baba in Kainchi near Nainital and used to live with an Indian family. This family, he said, sang bhajan every evening and he enjoyed it. The grandfather would occasionally stop singing and go straight into samadhi, the American said, while lifting his head to the ceiling and stretching out his arms, probably indicating the state of samadhi. That’s the power of bhajan, if it is sung with full devotion and just for the joy of it, he added.

After his short talk the concert started. It turned out to be a bhajan session, with the American leading the way and we full throatily joining in, thanks to the sheet of paper, where ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’, ‘Jai Durga’ and so on was typed for the benefit of those who were not familiar with the Indian tradition. The American was a good singer with a pleasant voice. Soon the atmosphere got charged, with most of us singing loudly and clapping our hands with the rhythm.

When it was over, there were happy faces all around. Nobody seemed to mind that, actually, they had performed half of the time of the ‘concert’, faithfully following whatever the artist sang, and nobody seemed to mind that they had paid quite a lot, whereas the lead singer got quite a lot. The friend, who had come with me and who had never been at a bhajan session before, also said that she really enjoyed it and straightaway headed for the counter where CDs of the artist were sold. It was only my small mind which started calculating and came to a sum of about Rs. 6 lakhs which must have been collected for one and a half hour of bhajan.

It suddenly struck me that hardly anyone in the west has the chance to sing loudly and clap hands to joyful songs that are directed to the Divine. In fact, most Germans probably don’t know the text of even a single song which they could sing, if given a chance. And aren’t singing and clapping most basic expressions of joy? Even if there is no joy felt at the outset of a bhajan, doesn’t it come at least to some extent in the wake of it? Worries have no space to intrude; one is present in the now and enjoys it.

I guess those Germans felt this joy and preferred it to being recipients of some ‘performance’ by an artist. They willingly paid 35 Euros to be able to sing.

Now, since the value of bhajan is known even in monetary terms, aren’t we lucky in India? Most of us not only have a big repertoire of songs but also many chances to go for a free bhajan session where we can sing wholeheartedly and express our devotion in the company of others. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the atmosphere generally feels light in India and a smile comes easily to Indians is spite of the many difficult circumstances, they have to face.

by Maria Wirth

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13 comments

  1. Dear Ms. Maria,
    I am 100% agree with you on the matters you expressed in the article. My happiness is doubled when I see such feeling and expressions are coming from a India-non-born person.

    Let GOD bless you all health and wealth!

  2. Pleased to see the efforts of Ms. Maria in spreading the Divine Love to World Family.

  3. Rajeshwer sharma · · Reply

    Maria, god bless you.
    Somebody at last, is able to influence thought process somewhere. Is there someone, who can translate in normal Hindi language and educate common and simple folks who like to send their children to St so And so school than sending to a Hindi teaching school.
    It is a bliss to read such soul awakening art. Thanks

  4. Rajeshwer sharma · · Reply

    An art in vernacular languages will do good.

  5. In my sojourn of life thsee are the kind of things that can touch somebody’s soul which has more power than any thing in this world

  6. Who says anyone can barge into hinduism and bhajans no matter where you are in the world? And does it not cost to set up these kinds of events…? I am surprised at some of the thoughts you portray.

    I am disgusted at the society today. Non hindus think they can come barging into hinduism and its rituals without a second thought. Hinduism is not a religion of proselytization. And we have enough experience and history to prove that when outsiders come in, they do not construct….they are destructive. Just a couple of examples. The language Sanskrut has been changed by westerners to Sanskrit because they are lazy to pronounce. The word yoga or yogas is westernized sanskrut. It is really Yogaha or in short yog but you go and change it to yoga and pluralize it to yogas. Ved is just one word but it has been changed to vedas by outsiders. You make me laugh and then make me sad as well because history has taught us that through invasion there has only been destruction. so now the force used for outsiders to enter hinduism and India is going to destroy its values further.

    One other example. The leader Sonia Gandhi. She forced her husband Rajiv to bring in the missionaries to convert large numbers to christianity but today when she is being challenged, she shows pictures of doing puja and killing Ravan. This is humiliating and painful. A two faced so and so is the leader of hindu india….but our population has a complex. They love white skin. No matter how dark the man, he wants a beautiful white woman as wife. That is why the sale of Fair and Lovely products in India.

    I may be considered mad with my opinions but that does not deter me from telling the truth and if I do not see my comments on your blogs, I will know even you do not appreciate free speech.

  7. @Madhu: Probably you are forgetting the fact that this is how we spread knowledge and Hinduism in the first place. We traded knowledge, culture, goods and religion in open market. Everything was given for free except for goods. The world has traces of Hinduism all over, we just don’t realize it ourselves and western religions are too egoistic to accept their Dharmic past. Basically, when there are nothing in this world, there was Hinduism all over. The biggest Islamic countries, Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh were all Hindus and so were many western countries. I think you are being too aggressive. Maria is doing a great job. I live in Europe and I realize the need for people from this region to go to India and study our religion and understand its significance, history and impact on humanity if accepted worldwide as an umbrella to encompass all world religions. Wouldn’t it be peaceful again? Then we can fight the modern evils of crazy financial systems and the big business enterprises running the politics and not really the people of respective countries. Again for that, we could use ‘Arthashastra’ as a solution. If Maria and people like her don’t do it, who would? You?

    And for the comment on white skin (its racist), if you travel around the world, you see Indian genes spread all over the world (Brazilians, Mexicans, Germans, Turks, etc). Because we neglect these studies, we can’t comment on actual numbers, but there are Indians (Hindus) all over the world. So it must really have been a fascination for Hindus (brown skin, black hair) and not really vice versa. But even if we have it today, whats wrong in it? Its globalization. Blacks, whites, browns, etc all are mixing up, there is a whole new generation of mixed races. Why not add some Indian genes to that generation. There will be more sensible people in the world. 🙂

    Lastly, if you are really not a Hindu, don’t use a Hindu name to spread extremist thoughts and disrupt others work. Would be very grateful for your contribution. Dhanyavaad.

  8. OM PRAKASH · · Reply

    ya, i am saying with experience that BHAJAN connects with positive energy.

  9. […] Source: Maria Wirth […]

  10. Chetan Sharma · · Reply

    Thank u mam for sharing those wonderful thoughts of u…. And the singer is Krishna Das…. Just love his voice and rhythm… 🙂

  11. […] The article appeared first here – https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/the-value-of-bhajan-in-euro/ […]

  12. Reblogged this on panindiahindu.

  13. Actually, I am surprised by your assessment of Germany. I live here and it has a thriving musical culture. I have great respect for it. People sing to accompany the chorus during a service. At christmas time, families gather together to sing old christmas songs. I even attended some classical music concerts where the audience is encouraged to join in the singing for some pieces.

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