[A translation of an original article (ભજન કીર્તન) in Gujarati]

Bhajan Kirtan
Bhaktibhai Vallabhbhai Bhakta, Sarai
(In accordance with my belief)

In our Bhakata Samaj, we have a great tradition of singing Bhajan and Kirtan. Awareness, asceticism, faith and devotion as the means to fathom the ocean of human life have been described in the Indian culture as the most important and historical treatises, such as Upanishad, Shruti and Smriti to Ramayan, Mahabharat, Bhagwat, and Geeta which were created by the great sages and saints. All those treatises are beneficial for the learned and philosophical erudite. Since these were difficult to be understood by the common people, these saints and sages created the Bhajans. Not only in the Hindu society of India, these Bhajans are also reflected in dances, musical renditions in some form or other within the Christian and Islam or even Parsi community. Even these have found their place in the cultures of Adivasis (Aboriginal Tribes) to the highly cultured Indian societies.

However, I am inspired to just write about the distinctness of the Bhajan and Kirtan of the Bhakta Samaj. All these Bhajans and Kirtans are rendered from the sunrise to the sunrise of the following day, which were composed on the basis of rhythms and beats going with varying Raga and Ragini highlighting the significance of different times during the day and played with accompaniment of musical instruments like cymbals (Kansa), drums (Mridang), kettledrum (Nagaara or Narghan), played on varying beats such as, Trital, Chotaal, Hansadol etc. Now let us look at the Bhajan being rendered during twenty four hours of a day.

After the sunrise, up to six to 8 o'clock, Raag Todi or Bilaval, from eight to ten o'clock Nani Ashavari, from 10 to 12 o'clock Raag Moti Ashavari, from 12 to the time upto sunset Raag Sarang, Raag Kalyaan, Kaafi, Kaanado, Kaalero, Maaru, Sorath, Sohini, Bihaag and at last in the midnight, Raag Kedaar are rendered. All these Raag are rendered though the twelve months of a year. After midnight, Raag Panthida and Saameri and then at the dawn, Raag such as, Devgandhaar, Ramgari, Ramkali, bhajans of Narsinh Mehta known as Prabhaatiya etc. are rendered. This way a cycle of twenty four hours gets completed.

In addition to this, Dhol and Bhajans of Kabir, Mangal are rendered. Moreover, 28 Kirtan written by Adhyaaru Ji, which are inclusive of Vinanti, Veda Purana, Sorangi, Vahu Dhol, Prithvi, Vitvaa, Harshbhaavan etc. are also rendered.  There are several Bhajans, specifically for womenfolk, which are inclusive of Tulsi Vivaah, Ekadashi, Subhadra-nu-Mosaalu, Kankotri of Rukmini, Saadla of Seeta Ji, Mandava of Janak, Aarti of Kanaiyya, etc. We have learned about the different Raag and Raagini and their timing, which have been the basis of different times of the day. Now let us learn about the seasons and months.

The six seasons are Hemant, Shishir, Vasant, Grishma, Varsha (monsoon) and Sharad. During the months of Kaartik and Maagshar during Hemant season Govardhan Raas and Raaga from Kalyaan to Kedaar - the twelve monthly Raag are rendered. During the months of Pausha and Magh, verses of Nani and Moti Vadhaamani are rendered. Nani and Moti Dhamaar, and Rang Rasiyo, Rayso, Dhanashri, Garbi of Phaag and verses known as Latkaaniya are also rendered during the months of Phagun, Chaitra, Vasant. In addition to these, verses in the worship of Rama are sung.

Different Bhajans in accordance with different seasons, months and moods are signified. Here, I feel it is necessary to mention, that, upon the death of the departed loved ones, the last in memorials are performed mostly during morning hours. It does not seem appropriate that the Aarti to be sung during the evening or verses of Godi are sung. However, at such times, rendering Raag such as, Bilaaval and Ashaavasri seem much appropriate. If one does not know how to render it, this does not take much time to learn it. Be it so. ૐ