Sri Swami Sivananda
Sankirtan is the Svarupa (essential nature) of God. Dhvani is Sankirtan. Sankirtan is the essence of the Vedas. The four Vedas originate from sound. There are four kinds of sound, viz., Vaikhari (vocal), Madhyama (from the throat), Pasyanti (from the heart) and Para (from the navel). Sound originates from the navel. Vedas also originates from the navel. Sankirtan and Vedas are born from the same source.
People sit together and sing the names of the Lord with harmony and concord, and with Suddha or Divine Bhava (feeling). This is Sankirtan. Sankirtan is accompanied by the play of musical sounds as the word ‘San’ precedes ‘kirtan.’ Sankirtan is an exact science. It elevates the mind quickly and intensifies the Bhava or divine feeling to a maximum degree.
Nama and Nami are inseparable. Nama means Name (Name of God). Nami means ‘that which is denoted by the Nama or Name’. Nama is greater than the Nami. Even in worldly experience the man dies but his name is remembered for a long time. Kalidasa, Valmiki, Tulsidas, etc., are remembered even today. Nama is nothing but Chaitanya. Sankirtan is singing God’s name with Bhava, Prem or divine feeling.
Sankirtan Yoga is the easiest, quickest, safest, cheapest and best way for attaining God-realization in this age. People cannot practice severe austerities now-a-days. They do not have the strength of will to practice Hatha Yoga. They cannot maintain perfect life-long Brahmacharya. They do not have the prerequisites for Raja Yoga. They are not endowed with the keen intellect necessary for Jnana Yoga or Vedantic Sadhana. But this Sankirtan Yoga or the Yoga of Singing Lord’s Names is within the reach of all.
There is infinite Sakti or power in the Lord’s Names. It will remove all impurities from your mind. Vedantins say that there are three kinds of obstacles to Self-realization – Mala, Vikshepa and Avarana. To remove them they prescribe Nishkamya Karma (selfless service), Upasana (worship) and Vedantic Nididhyasana (intellectual enquiry). This Sankirtan alone can achieve all these together. Sankirtan removes the impurities of the mind (Mala); it steadies the mind and checks its tendency to vacillate (Vikshepa); and ultimately it tears the veil of ignorance too (Avarana), and brings the Sadhaka (aspirant) face to face with God.
Maya is so powerful that she deludes you every moment. Every moment she makes you feel that there is pleasure only in the sense-objects and nowhere else. You mistake pain for pleasure. This is the work of Maya. Beware. Remember Janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosha, – this world is full of the pains of birth, death, old age, disease and misery. There is no pleasure in these finite objects. Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham. You can have Bliss in the Infinite alone. Sankirtan will enable you to realize this Infinite here and now. Sankirtan will save you from Maya, from delusion. Therefore sing the Names of the Lord always.
Let us, therefore, sing the Maha Mantra:
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.
This is the great Mantra which is specially meant for the people of Kali Yuga (this modern age of destruction) . Narada went to Lord Brahma and said: “O Lord, the people of Kail Yuga will not be able to practice austerities, nor to perform the Yajnas (sacrifices), nor to pursue the path of Vedanta. Kindly have mercy on them and tell me some easy way by which they can attain God.” Lord Brahma in His Supreme Compassion and Mercy gave this Maha Mantra by repeating which people of the Kali Yuga will attain Self-realization. Therefore, sing the Lord’s Names; serve, love, give, meditate, realize; be good and do good (this is the essence of all scriptures); be kind and be compassionate; enquire “Who am I ?”, know the Self and be free. May God bless you all with health, long life, peace, prosperity and Eternal Bliss.
Swami Sivananda’s rendition of the Maha Mantra
Swami Sivananda II
Pithukuli Murugadas’ rendition of the Maha Mantra