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Sankirtan Movement

by Swami Sivananda

Kirtan is singing God's Name with feeling (Bhava), love (Prem) and faith (Sraddha). In Sankirtan people join together and sing God's Name collectively in a common place. There is accompaniment of musical instruments such as harmonium, violin, cymbals, Mridanga or Kole etc. Christians sing hymns in the churches with piano. This is only Sankirtan. There are nine modes of Bhakti (Nava-Vidha-Bhakti). Kirtan is one of the nine modes. One can realise God through Kirtan alone. This is the easiest method for attainment of God-consciousness. Sri Tuka Ram, Sri Ram Prasad, Lord Gauranga had attained Godhood through Kirtan and Kirtan alone.

The Sankirtan movement which had its revival during the time of Lord Gouranga began gradually to decline owing to several causes as time passed on. But thanks to the great change in the atmosphere of the present day, there is a striking revival of this movement in U. P. , Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab. The party of the late reputed Sri Roopkalaji of Ayodhya is holding - This book was written in 1937 all-India Sankirtan in the various places in U. P. and Bihar. Sri Krishna Premi also known as Mr. Nixon, M. A. of Uttara Vrindavan, Almora, is a great Bhakta and a fine Sankirtanist. He evinces very keen interest in the movement. He sings and dances in divine ecstasy forgetting himself in Krishna Prem. He delivers lectures in Hindi and has now become a Sanskrit scholar. When an Englishman takes so much interest in Sankirtan, our Hindu brothers are lethargic and spend their time in sleeping only. What a shame!

Sri Hari Babaji is also a well-known Bhakta staying in Bhand in U. P. He is a devotee of Lord Krishna and belongs to the Sampradaya of Lord Gouranga. He has disseminated Sankirtan in Aligarh, Delhi and other places. He has done remarkable service to the villagers all round Bhand by constructing an anicut up to a distance of six miles on the bank of the Ganga and saved several villages from being swept away during the recent floods. He collected six lakhs of rupees for this noble work. He is known as Bhandwala. He holds Akhanda Kirtan for several months. He held several Kirtan Utsavas in Delhi, Bulandsahar, Aligarh and other places.

The reputed Sri Odiya Babaji always accompanies him wherever big religious functions are held. Rasa Lila and Kathas are also held. He is now holding Akhanda Sankirtan for one year at Bhand. He hails from Punjab. He got Vairagya when he was a medical student and immediately left his studies and renounced the world. He never wastes a single minute. He always plunges himself in Katha and Kirtan.

Sri Swami Ekarasanandaji is another veteran Swami who stays sometimes at Kanpur. He has got Ashram at Kanpur and Farukkabad. He has established the Daivi Sampat Mandal there. He is a noble, pious soul full of humility and love. Though he is aged 75 now, he could deliver lectures standing three or four hours at a stretch. He is a Bhakta-Jnani. He is very fond of Sankirtan. He helps the Sankirtan movement a good deal. His lectures impress people very much. His disciples Sri Bhajananandaji, Sri Naradanandaji and Sri Sukadevanandaji are disseminating his ideals and views in religion.

Pandit Bindhuji Sharma, a nice Katha-Vachak, Sangeeta Bhushan, Kavya Kaustubh Vani Visarad and poet of Vrindavana is another important figure in the field. He has disseminated Sankirtan in Gwalior, Jhansi, Sagar, Jammu and other places. He is a learned man and is greatly skilled in music. Sri Swami Ramananda Saraswati, another Sankirtan Acharya is spreading Sankirtan in Layalpur, Sitapur, Lakhimpur and other places.

Sri Hanuman Prasad Poddar, the Editor of "Kalyan" is now holding Akhanda Kirtan in Gorakhpur for one year. Sri Jayadayal Goyandka is another Bhakta who has stirred the whole Marwari community in the path of devotion. He holds Sankirtan on Ekadasi and Poornima. Sri Hanuman Prasad Poddarji and Sri Jayadayalji are the corner-stones for the edifice of Sankirtan in Gorakhpur. Through the medium of the Gita Press they are nicely spreading the message of Sankirtan Bhakti. In this connection it is but right to mention that two important journals issued from Meerut viz. , "Svadharma" and "Sankirtan" are the leading organs of the movement.

Professor Ganga Saran Sheelji, M. A. , of Chandosi Intermediate College is working very hard in disseminating Sankirtan Bhakti. He is very energetic and can be rightly said to be an enthusiastic worker in the field. He has stirred Meerut, Rawalpindi and other places. Sri Prabhu Dutt Brahmachariji held Akhanda Kirtan in Jhusi near Allahabad for one full year. He is also another important man in the movement.

There are twelve Sankirtan Sabhas in Lahore (now in Pakistan). Various other Sankirtan Mandals also have been started in U. P. and Punjab. Pt. Durga Prasad, a retired Advocate and Managing Editor of the "Sankirtan", Meerut, is labouring in this direction. Pt. Ramdasji may be rightly described as the heart and soul of the Sankirtan Mandal at Lakhimpur-Kheri. Lala Chetu Ramji, the prop of Sankirtan Sabhas in Lahore, Seth Bhagath Ram of Lahore, Dr. Parsram of Jammu, Sri Karamchand Bhagat of Ambala Cantt. are doing very good work in this direction.

In this Kali Yuga Sankirtan alone is the easiest, quickest and surest path for God-realisation. Wherever Sankirtan is held there you will find Munis, Rishis like Sri Narada, Nitya-Siddhas, Sri Hanuman, Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. Workers in the field should not relax their efforts but should keep the divine flame burning steadily. They should see that Sankirtan is held in every Mohalla, in every house of a town or village. They should direct their energies in villages. They can do much work there. The villagers are more devotional than the people in towns. There you will find more purity, more simplicity and faith in the innocent villagers. Fashion, civilization and cunningness have not yet penetrated their hearts. Ladies of Punjab and U. P. are now evincing keen and lively interest. Fashion and passion are slowly giving place to Bhakti and devotion.

It is my great desire to mention the names of some more men, both Sannyasins and householders, in this connection. The keen and active co-operation with which Sannyasins like Sri Swami Krishnanandaji (Sakhi Bhava), Sri Swami Yoganandaji (Lucknow), Swami Atmanandaji, Swami Svaroopanandaji and Swami Mahesvaranandaji work with householders like Sri Balmukandji, Sri Nagarji Bhakkat, Sri Takore Mahendra Pal Singhji, Pandit Radha Ramana, Sri Pitambhar Dayal Saxena and Sri Krishna Svaroop Bhatnagar etc. , reminds one of the days of the Upanishads and the glories of the past. All these Sannyasins mentioned above and also the householders are highly educated, cultured and polished people which is the most pleasing feature of the movement. Yes, Sankirtan is no doubt spreading like wild fire and has brought with it the glorious Satya Yuga. Victory to Hari's Name! Glory to Sankirtanists! Glory to one and all who spread Bhakti throughout the length and breadth of the land!


An All-India Sankirtan organisation is indispensably requisite. The idea is laudable indeed. But how this will materialise and how this will become practicable and feasible, is the present problem. Large-hearted leaders in the Sankirtan field are wanted. Then there is the possibility of systematic organisation. Then only union can be expected. Bear in mind: where there are different sects with fighting attitude for superiority, where jealousy, Abhimana, Gurudom and petty-mindedness, canker of name and fame prevail, there is not an iota of hope of an all-India organisation. It is an Utopian scheme only. There may be honest differences in opinion amongst the leaders of the Sankirtan world, but they should be united in their hearts by the thread of Suddha Prem. To avoid rupture and dissension amongst the members of a Sabha, I would also suggest to you the advisability of removing the names of President and Secretary and substituting "Hari Das" for the one and "Krishna Das" for the other, and not to collect any money at all as subscription.

I shall suggest some means to help the growth of Sankirtan and its dissemination. People do Sankirtan with great enthusiasm of two or three years. Afterwards they do not evince real interest. They become slothful and torpid. This is a sad mistake. The zeal should be kept up all throughout life. Just as food and water are not stopped even for a day, so also Sankirtan should not be stopped even for a day. Sankirtan is a spiritual food, a physical and mental tonic as well. You can live on Sankirtan alone.

Of late, you are perfectly aware that there is a great revival in the Sankirtan movement. Various "Mandalis" are formed now in various parts of U. P. , Punjab, M. P. , Tamil Nadu and Bengal. Many English educated persons, many atheists, agnostics and ladies as well are doing vigorous Kirtan with Kartals and cymbals in their hands. Several Sankirtan Utsava conferences were held in Bulandsahar, Bandha (Badayun), Gwalior, Roorkee, Lahore, Etawah and other places. You will be glad to hear that in Lahore more than eight thousand ladies are doing vigorous Kirtan now. It is hoped, therefore, that the advent of a great Avatar within a short time is expected. The ground is prepared now by the Sankirtan Utsavas for His descent.

If you want to make the Sankirtan movement grow, a powerful organisation of all Sankirtan Sabhas in India is an imperative necessity. A well-conducted organisation is a great desideratum. As there are now dissensions and splits in these Sabhas owing to lack of selfless workers, the Mandalis break down soon like mushroom growths. All the present Sankirtan Sabhas must be well united. There must be a head-office or a central Maha-Sabha with different nuclei or centres throughout India. All the Sabhas must be affiliated to this central Maha-Sabha.

Petty-minded, jealous, selfish people cause many obstacles in the growth of Sankirtan. They create dissensions and party-feelings amongst Sankirtanists. New rival Sabhas with a hostile spirit are started. The Secretary of a Mandal should be a man of pluck and amiable disposition. He should unite all with all-embracing love. Everybody wants to make the Kirtan-Sabha his own personal property.

Where there is the personal element with self-interests, with desire for name and fame, there cannot be any growth in Sankirtan. It becomes a business. It becomes a commercial enterprise. God is far from these men who work with ulterior motives but outwardly profess to be Bhaktas. Can there be any religion in business? The secretary of a Sankirtan Sabha should not work with a view to get name and fame. People ascend the platforms to exhibit their devotion. This is highly despicable!

Sannyasins and other Sankirtan propagandists who are desirous of doing Sankirtan on the platform and of disseminating Sankirtan far and wide should train themselves first before they appear on the stage. They should have a perfectly trained Mandali of their own. Then only they will be able to produce a lasting impression on the public. Lord Gouranga did the same. He had an organised Mandali of his own. He gave them good training in the beginning within the four walls of his compound. There must be perfect harmony and concord, one Svara, one Tala when Sankirtan is done. Then only there will be joy, Ananda and elevation of mind. No propaganda work is possible without a trained Mandali.

"Union is strength". In Kali Yuga Sangha Sakti is a potent factor in the Sankirtan propagandic activities. If all the patrons of Sankirtan, Acharyas and renowned Sannyasins who are interested in the growth and development of Sankirtan join together whole-heartedly and work in perfect concord and unison, tremendous work can be turned out and marvellous, indescribable influence will be produced in the minds of the public. They should sit in one place and conduct Sankirtan-Utsava or conference for two or three months continuously. Then the people will develop the habit of doing Sankirtan daily. Utsavas for four days do not produce a lasting impression on the minds of the public.

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