Bhajans are Hindu devotional songs, sung to a cho-sen deity. They are often sung in gatherings, some-times led by a teacher or guru. The songs praise the divinity, listing his or her aspects and virtues and recounting favored elements of his or her mythol-ogy. The songs are used to establish a closeness or communion between the singers and the god.
   Bhajan and KIRTAN singing are forms of BHAKTI (devotion). They are aimed at focusing the con-sciousness on higher reality, in order to develop the steadiness of mind that is needed to deal with the troubles and difficulties of this life. They also are seen to purify the consciousness so that one can take a step toward ending one’s cycle of birth and rebirth. Thus their purest goal is MOKSHA, lib-eration or release from that cycle.
   Further reading: Pandit Jasraj, Hussaini Kanra: Bha-jan (Sound recording) (San Anselmo, Calif.: Moment Records, 1993); Donald S. Lopez, Religions of India in Practice (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995); Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, ed., Vaishnavism and Nam-Bhajan/ Thakur Bhaktivinode and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur (Madras: Shri Gaudiya Math, 1968); Shanti Anantam Bhajan Songbook (Agoura, Calif.: Vedantic Center, 1983); M. S. Subbal-akshmi, Bhajan-Shri (Sound recording) (Calcutta: EMI: His Master’s Voice, 1985).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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