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Unveiling the Mystery of Bhajan

Unveiling the Mystery of Bhajan

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Published by bde_gnas
Mysticism
Mysticism

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categoriesTypes, Research
Published by: bde_gnas on May 11, 2013
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Unveiling the Mystery of Bhajan
By Elizabeth Elwell
Coming home to the United States after spending nearly thirty years in India wasa traumatic experience. For the final ten of those years I had lived in thespiritually charged atmosphere of an ashram, where my assigned role was toteach antiphonal chants known as
bhajans 
to the hundreds of foreigners whoarrived regularly from every quarter of the globe. Here at home everything hadchanged. I had to learn all over again, for example, how to pump gas and openchildproof pill bottles; as for television, it was ages before I could distinguish theprogram from the advertisements. I had come home primarily to help nurse myterminally ill mother and had not anticipated becoming involved in any public waywith the bhajan work that had kept me so busy in India. However, almostimmediately I was asked to give a talk about bhajan singing. One sings bhajansand rarely talks about them—so obviously I would have to learn a new way toapproach bhajan in order to explain it to others.
Bhajan 
is a Hindi word derived from the Sanskrit
bhaj 
, meaning “to serve, honor,revere, love, and adore.” Generally speaking, prayers, psalms, anthems,rosaries, hymns, and oratorios like the Messiah are all bhajans. Bhajan alsorefers to a spiritual practice, originating in Vedic times in India and now used allover the world, in which names of God are chanted by a lead singer andrepeated by the congregation.My life in the ashram had been busy and very practical. I had to learn to readSanskrit in order to translate bhajans for the learners and really had no time toconsider bhajans in a scholarly or analytical way. Fortunately, I had a friend herein the States who had visited the ashram many times, and I turned to her foradvice. We began a conversation that has never really ended, and thus we wereled to many exciting discoveries. It all began so simply . . .“Well, let’s see,” said my friend, “what is a bhajan composed of?”“It’s a tune, some words, and singers,” I replied.“Well, a tune is sound, words are sound and . . .”
 
“A singer sings sound.”“Everything is sound. Maybe the singers are also sound.”“Maybe sound reaches sound!”Our jaws dropped open; we knew we were on to something. Then, in a classicexample of synchronicity, the very next day we received a notice that a lecture onsound was to be given at a local retreat center.We attended, of course, and were shown a film about sound being used as ahealing agent by many different practitioners. Both of us sat bolt upright,however, when a short piece of film showed a Swiss researcher named HansJenny making sounds with a violin bow that he scraped against the edge of ametal plate on which lycopodium powder (spores of the club moss) had beenspread.As he scraped the bow and produced a sound, the particles immediatelyarranged themselves into a simple pattern. As he made higher notes there wasan instant of chaotic movement and then the pattern reappeared, this time amore complex one. The higher the sound, the greater the complexity became.“Oh my, they resemble the diagrams of the chakras in Leadbeater’s book,” myfriend whispered. We observed the various patterns made by more solidmaterials, like iron filings, which were very different in design.So, in our first exploration effort, we had discovered that sound had the power toinfluence matter. Sound could destroy one pattern and create another of finercomplexity. In the Hindu pantheon, Shiva creates and destroys, destroys andcreates with his dance.“Do you suppose singing the Name is creating and destroying something? Is itevolutionary and getting rid of the gross vibrations in us?” my friend asked. Icould answer from my own experience: “Yes, most assuredly!” I knew that I had abody within myself that had not been there a dozen years ago. It wasn’tcomposed of flesh and bones, but rather qualities like steadiness, a more refinedlove, patience, an indestructible contentment along with more intuitive skill atnurturing and caring for others. It had been tested and had proven strong andvibrant. A dozen years earlier not one person who knew me would have used theword “patient” to describe me. In fact, I thought one of the reasons I had beengiven the job of teaching bhajans was to develop this subtle body. Teaching
 
bhajans would make me practice more than I would otherwise. I knew that I hadbeen in a vigorous washing machine that had temporarily left me free of nagging,negative memories and bad dreams and that I looked at myself and the world inan entirely new way. I had developed a totally new paradigm of myself, the worldin which I lived, and my role in that world.Some of the questions Hans Jenny asked during the film were: How do we reachthe primal cause of vibration? What part does chaos play? In my ownexperience, chaos is a common and recurring element in spiritual growth. It islike a storm that abruptly starts and just as abruptly stops. One just has to ride itthrough. While it lasts, one feels totally confused or terribly self-conscious andskinless. The most disconcerting experience for me is to be barraged by a torrentof negative thoughts and emotions having a nature different from any thoughtsand emotions experienced before, in this lifetime at least. Then the chaos lifts assuddenly as it appeared. There is peace and a refreshed feeling. In time, onebecomes aware of a greater degree of inner strength.Jenny’s experiment had given us our first clue, but all our layperson’sexplorations and speculation took a great leap forward with the publication of abook entitled
The Elegant Universe 
by physicist, mathematician, and stringtheorist Brian Green. Oh, how we cheered on the super-string theory, which isthe latest attempt to put forth a “theory of everything” and identify the very groundof matter, “mater,” or “Ma,” the grand Mother from whom all creation is born.The super-string theory, or string theory for short, speculates throughmathematics that the smallest indivisible stuff of which everything in the cosmosis made are one-dimensional stringlike formations that are the fundamentalbuilding blocks of everything! These strings or filaments oscillate at differentfrequencies, all vibrating their own creative identity in mass and force by theirown “song.” Does this mean that all things, huge and minute, have a vibratoryidentity composed of the full orchestra of strings of which they are composed? Isthere indeed a great cosmic symphony to which we belong and to which we mustbecome attuned?At least we could now envision a universe tightly packed with oscillating strings inwhich we, also tightly packed with oscillating strings, live and have our being.Perhaps our own strings are a bit out of tune? The major part of the cosmos hasbeen going along so well for 15 billion years, except, perhaps, for us newcomerswho now need some tuning up and tuning in. We know that the spoken word cancause change when it enters another person; for instance, shout “Stop!” and the

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