Acharya Prashant: When you have no question to ask, sometimes it’s better to just sing a song.
Listener 1: What is your feeling about singing bhajans?
AP: Singing bhajans. Oh, Wonderful! When you have nothing else to say it is then that bhajan arise.
L1: I do feel a sense of something in bhajans. I don’t understand bhajans, but they seem to have an effect. I don’t understand why.
AP: That is why they have an effect. If you could understand why then you would destroy the effect. So, bhajans surely have an effect, and they are most wonderful. Only thing is I have not really come across English bhajans. The very essence, the sweetness, the nectar of bhajans somehow comes only in the language in which they were written. Translations take away a lot. So, we sing bhajans a lot; in fact, more than we talk sometimes we sing.
L2: The bhajans that I have read, I don’t know if they are in Sanskrit or in Hindi. Most of the bhajans that you are familiar with, are they in Sanskrit or in other languages?
AP: All languages; it’s there in Sanskrit, it’s there in Hindi, it’s there in Awadhi. It’s there in so many other regional languages of India: Punjabi, Sindhi, and Marathi.
L2: So, you are saying that whatever the bhajan is, the language in which it is created should be the language in which it is sung?
AP: Yes. Or, one should remain as close to the language as possible.
L2: It doesn’t matter what the language is?
AP: It doesn’t matter. But, if that is not possible then the next best thing is to go with the translation and sing the translation.
L2: Is it not necessary to know what you are singing?
AP: It is necessary to know; it is not necessary to know only for the one who is already in total Silence. If you are not there, then your mind will demand to know the meaning of words, and if you don’t supply the meaning then it will imagine some meaning on its own. The mind cannot live in a vacuum. If you sing something to me in Spanish and I do not know that, then it is not that the mind will say, “Oh! I do not know what is being said.” The mind will still try to make some meaning from it. So, to prevent the mind from coming up with imaginary meanings, it is better that you know the real meaning.
L3: Is it that bhajans in Sanskrit have a particular power?
AP: No, it is the centre from where the words are coming — that has power. No language has power; only Truth has power.
L3: It is said that the sound of the words in Sanskrit have a certain power?
AP: What do you think? Those who have not known Sanskrit, they have not been able to come to the Truth?
L3: Do words come to the Truth?
AP: Sanskrit is words.
L3: Yes, I know. That’s what my question is: Is there something special about the sound of the words of Sanskrit?
AP: Yes and no both. You see, Sanskrit was primarily a language of spirituality, which most other languages are not. There are many languages that came up because of demand of business. Sanskrit is an extraordinarily rich language in the spiritual domain. It contains words for which there are no parallels in other languages. So they have to take the words as such. For example, you will have nothing in English corresponding to Samadhi, so you will have to take Samadhi. Sanskrit was not a language of trade or commerce or the court; Sanskrit was a language of the Sages. So, that is why it has to have something a little more suited to the spiritual process.
What happened to the song? We started discussing bhajan theory and the song was lost. Where is the song? (the session was started singing bhajans, and then discussion on Bhajan started)
L3: Singing bhajans?
AP: Yes, sing one for us.
L3: I feel a connection to Shiva, don’t know why I do. But, I have been troubled feeling a connection to Krishna. Don’t know why but it doesn’t come.
AP: So, sing a song for Shiva.
L3: I know a lot of bhajans but my mind is blank right now.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Does singing Bhajans help?
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