by Swami Sivananda
Sankirtan is singing God's name with feeling (Bhava), love (Prema) and faith (Sraddha). In Sankirtan people join together and sing God's name collectively in a common place. Sankirtan is one of the nine modes of Bhakti. You can realise God through Kirtan alone. This is the easiest method for attaining God-consciousness in Kali Yuga or the Iron Age "kalau kesava-kirtanat".
When several people join together and practise Sankirtan, a huge spiritual current or Mahasakti is generated. This purifies the heart of the aspirants and elevates them to the sublime heights of divine ecstasy or Samadhi. The powerful vibrations are carried to distant places. They bring elevation of mind, solace, strength to all people and work as a harbinger of peace, harmony and concord. They annihilate hostile forces and quickly bring peace and bliss to the whole world.
Lord Hari says to Narada, "naham vasami vaikunthe yoginam hridaye na cha, mad-bhakta yatra gayanti tatra tishthami narada", i.e., "I dwell not in Vaikuntha nor in the hearts of the Yogins, but I dwell where my devotees sing my name, O Narada."
Kirtan destroys sins, Vasanas and Samskaras, fills the heart with Prem and devotion and brings the devotee face to face with God.
Akhanda Kirtan is very powerful. It purifies the heart. The Mahamantra: 'Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare-Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare' or 'Om Namah Sivaya' should be sung continuously for 3 hours or 24 hours, three days or a week, by forming batches. One will lead and others will follow. Do Akhanda Kirtan on Sundays or holidays. Do Prabhat-Pheri Kirtan in the morning around the streets. Kirtan in the early morning is more effective than at night.
At night, sit before the picture of the Lord along with your children, family-members and servants. Do Kirtan for one or two hours. Be regular in the practice. You will derive immense peace and strength.
Sing the Lord's Name from the bottom of your heart. Be wholly and solely devoted to Him. Delay in God-realisation is extremely painful. Merge in Him. Live in Him. Be established in Him.
May peace and prosperity abide in you all!
At the end of Dvapara Yuga, Narada went to Brahma and said: "O Lord! How can I cross Kali or mundane existence easily?" Brahma replied. "Well asked. Hearken to that which all Vedas keep secret and hidden, through which one may cross the Samsara or mundane existence. He destroys the evil effects of Kali through the mere uttering of the word 'Lord Narayana,' who is the primeval Purusha!"
Narada asked Brahma: "O venerable Lord! What is the name?" Brahma replied: "The names are: Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.
These sixteen names destroy the evil effects of Kali or sins. There is no better means than this in all the Vedas. These sixteen names destroy the Avarana or veil of ignorance that has enveloped the Jivas or the human beings. Then just as the sun shines fully after the clouds are dispersed, so also, Para Brahman or Supreme Self alone shines after the veil is removed."
Narada asked. "O Lord! What are the rules to be observed when one utters these names?" Brahma replied:" O Rishi Narada! There are no rules. Whoever repeats these names three and a half crores or 35 millions in a pure or an impure state, is freed at once from all sins. He is at once released from all bondages. He merges himself in the Lord and attains Eternal Bliss and Immortality".
The Jiva has sixteen Kalas, corresponding to which sixteen words or names are given in this Mahamantra. This is very good for repetition during Akhanda Kirtan. If you repeat this Mantra 20,000 times per day you will finish three and a half crores within 5 years. You can sing this Mantra and can do Japa also. You can write this Mantra in a notebook as Likhita Japa.
The names of God, chanted in any way correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, is sure to give the desired result. The glory of the Name of God cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can certainly be experienced or realised through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the name only. The power of name is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable. The efficacy and inherent Sakti of the name of God is unfathomable.
May you attain God-consciousness by repetition of the names of God as described above. May you have real taste for the names of the Lord!