Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Gift of Keertan is Given by the Guru

Taken from Gurmat Lekh by Bhai Saahib Randheer Singh

In truth, the fountain of Har-keertan flows forth in every hair and pore of only those Gurmukhs who are in tune with the vibrations of the shabad and in whom the nectar and heavenly light has blossomed. The raags and naads walk with folded hands behind those cherished gurmukhs of the guru, who sing the praises and virtues of Vaahiguru, drenched in the divine colours of love and devotion. When one becomes coloured in Vaahiguru’s colours and starts keertan in these divine colours, then one attains enlightenment from the heavenly world about the raags. Many personal examples of such keertan experiences come to mind, but here sharing just one experience of the philosopher’s stone like power of keertan will not be devoid of spiritual bliss.

One time, we were engrossed in the joy of simple, straightforward keertan together with all the keertanee Singhs, in the village Tandray, district Ludhiana. Intoxicated in the repetition of the blissful shabad, we were doing keertan, when out of nowhere, a blind tabla playing Singh, who was an expert of raag vidiyaa, came and started playing tabla. Back then, we used to just make do with a dholkee and even now, we make do with this. We didnn’t have even the slightest clue about the ghars of raags and we still don’t. What would be the benefit of making an empty boast? We consider it our good fortune to sing gurbani with child like love and devotion. As well, from the very beginning our primary focus has been on doing keertan of pure gurbanee only. Through the grace of Guru Maharaj, at the very least, we can certainly feel the divine nectar from keertan binding to us. Without knowing the feeling, without the realization of being connected with the ras (pleasure, nectar of keertan), we didn’t consider keertan to have had its effect on our account (lekhaa). As well, keertan was sung to obtain that spiritual nectar. Never was the purpose of keertan to put a show on for people or to please people and this has not been our purpose to this day. Pierced by the divine nectar, we would do keertan for many hours and many pehars (a pehar is 3 hours) without tiring. The celestial colours of keertan would continue blossoming in increasing amounts. The keertani jatha was ecstatically doing keertan at the apex of this blossoming of divine spiritual colours when the blind raag expert, tabla player arrived. Lots of great keertan was done and he also played the tabla with extra enthusiasm.

There was no limit to his astonishment when he found the jatha to be complete in sur and taal. After the completion of the keertan, he began praising the keertan with a member of the sangat who was knowledgeable about raag vidiyaa. He wasn’t aware that a keertania of the jatha was listening to him praising the keertan. A surprising thing that he told was that he had heard that some raagi jathas, filled with pride about their raag-vidiyaa, had said that this jatha only knew how to rip their larynxes apart (by screaming and shouting), and that they didn’t have even the slightest clue about raags. Today however, hearing a Bilaaval raag shabad performed in the beats and measures of raag Bilaaval from this jatha brought more bliss than he ever had from hearing any raagi. The most amazing thing was that the time of day was for singing Bilaaval raag as well.

Hearing this, we kept our laughter and our amazement inside, for we didn’t even know which raag was bilaaval raag, or how to sing it and what the time for singing it was. None of us had learnt how to sing raags from any raag vidiya school. He was overflowing in his praise of our expertise in raag. He thought that the entire jatha had obtained raag vidiyaa from some outstanding raag vidiyaa school. We listened to these words of his quietly and did not let on that we had heard anything.

However, we had full faith and knowledge that we had no quality of raag vidiyaa within us. Rather, we became certain, and it was the first day that our faith became bound in this, that Satguru Jee blesses us with the skills to perform His keertan. Satguru Jee himself assists in the keertan of those who are in a state of longing and drenched in love. Without any conscious effort, the knowledge of raags and naads appears. Countless thanks go to the Guru, the knower of hearts, for Himself getting keertan sevaa done by his devotees. Even us unknowing, naive fools have become receptacles for his gracious glance. Dhan Satgur Nanak Nirankari, Dhan!

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