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Different religious and spiritual traditions include songs and music in the worship of the Divine Source or God. Music and songs are  powerful parts of worshipping the Divine One. Music and songs of worship can be powerful in strengthening one’s faith in difficult times. According to the website, The Rabbinical Assembly, the human soul is compared to God’s candle.  In difficult and challenging times, the soul, like a candle in a storm, may quiver and tremble  at times. Songs of worship can be helpful at times to keep the candle lit when the candle is caught in tempestuous storms.

I have memories of hearing beautiful hymns during mass while attending catholic school. One of my favorite songs of worship that I learned while attending catholic school, is “Amazing Grace”. The experience of Amazing Grace has been deeply moving for me as the song affirms God’s  infinite grace in our lives, and God’s unconditional love, or agape love.

In the Hindu tradition, bhajans are songs of devotion or reverence and worship to the Divine One. My mom, Anuradha Ganguly, introduced me to the tradition of bhajans in group worship formats. My mom loved bhajans and sang passionately to the Divine One. She sang with pure bhakti (devotion) and passion. She believed that bhajans were her offerings to the Divine One. I remember my mom telling me that her words of the bhajan sprung from her heart, even though, she was not a professional singer. My memories include my mother having one of the best voices I have ever heard. Her bhajans reflected the bittersweetness of her walks through peaks and valleys. She and I were very close and we shared with each other the exhilaration  of our victories and depth of anguish in our defeats. She is a reminder that the human journey is not easy, but, arduous, walking with a God, one cannot see with the five senses. Yet, my mother walked on with her unshakeable faith and her God. She believed that her God was bigger than anything she faced. She often talked about a God, characterized by shakti or sheer strength, often attributed to the feminine aspects of Divine Energy in the Hindu traditions. My understanding of shakti or the female Divine cosmic energy is that this cosmic energy is critical in the dance of the cosmos, a cycle of creation, sustenance and destruction. In Hinduism, Divine energy can be described as having masculine or  feminine features. Please note that I am not a scholar of Hinduism.

Circling back to bhajans, they may be offered to both female or male aspects of God.  Bhajans are accompanied with percussions instruments, harmonium, a keyboard instrument and dancing at times in group settings in places of worship. Bhajans include variations in rhythms, with rapid rhythmic beats or slower beats. Some bhajans include a lead vocalist and a chorus following the lead singer.  The bhajan lyrics and melodies vary according to the different emotions expressed.   My experience of bhajans include devotees expressing the depth of emotion in praising the Divine One’s Compassion (“Karuna”), pleading and crying out to the Divine One for Grace in resolving difficulties, trials and tribulations, alleviate distress and suffering, and praying for the Divine One to strengthen the devotee’s faith in the Divine. Some bhajans include praying for blessings, joy and (“ananda”). Other bhajans include prayers for prosperity. Bhajans sometimes proclaim the relationship with the Divine One, as closer than one’s “father, mother and/or best friend”. I remember my mother being a solo vocalist, often without any accompanying instruments, in her bhajans. Her devotion or bhakti shone through her voice. Memories of my mother’s bhajans are mixed with the beautiful smell of sandal wood incense in the temple.

This post is about keeping our candles lit especially in difficult times. This includes different methods, like devotional songs, prayers, chanting mantras, hugging loved ones, or creative acts (painting, writing) etc. I recently started listening to the bhajans, especially  bhajans which were sung by my mother. For me, bhajans  nourish the soul, especially in challenging times. I am attaching  one of my mom’s favorite bhajans. I attached the English translation of the Hindu version (Om Jai Jagdish Hare) from the website, Temples in India Info.com.  It is a reminder of Divine Grace from the Divine Source and also that the Divine Spark  is within all of us.

Om Jai Jagdish Hare

Om, Victory to You, the Lord of the Universe,
Swami, Victory to You, the Lord of the Universe,
The difficulties of Your devotees,
The difficulties of Your servants,
You remove in an instant.
Om, Victory to You, the Lord of the Universe.  1

Whoever meditates on You will get Your grace,
Whoever meditates with a mind free of sorrows,
Swami, with a mind free of sorrows.
Joy and Prosperity will come to them,
Joy and Prosperity will come to them,
And distress of body (and mind) will be relieved.
Om, Victory to You, the Lord of the Universe.  2

You are my Father and Mother,
And my refuge,
Swami, You are my refuge.
Apart from You there is none else,
Swami, there is none else,
I aspire for.
Om, Victory to You, the Lord of the Universe. || 3 ||

You are the Puran Paramatma,
You are the indweller of everyone,
Swami, You are the indweller of everyone.
You are the Parabrahman and Parama Ishwara (Supreme God),
You are the Parabrahman and Parama Ishwara (Supreme God),
You are the Lord of everyone.
Om, Victory to You, the Lord of the Universe.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Hope readers protect their candles  and keep them lit until storms subside.

 

Please note that this is not a therapy site. Please seek medical and mental health professionals for services, as needed.

Bhajans: Songs of Worship
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