Glory of Kīrtana Not Disclosed in Other Yugas (3)

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If kīrtana is so powerful that even Kaliyuga becomes glorious because of it, then why was it not disclosed in other yugas? Why is kīrtana popularized only in Kaliyuga? Is it that kīrtana has the potency to deliver conditioned beings only in Kaliyuga? If that is true, then why is it so? If that is not true, then why did people not take recourse to kīrtana in other yugas? All these questions are answered in Anuccheda 272 of Bhakti Sandarbha presented below.

Anuccheda 272

In the next verse, sage Karabhājana specifically describes the glory of kīrtana:

For human beings wandering in this material world, there is indeed no higher benefit than this [saṅkīrtana], by which one attains supreme tranquility, and the cycle of birth and death is destroyed. (SB 11.5.37)

The pronoun ataḥ, “than this,” means “than the singing of Bhagavān’s names” (kīrtana). The pronoun yataḥ, “by which,” means “by this kīrtana.” The words paramāṁ śāntim, “supreme tranquility,” refer to a state described by Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa in these words: “Unwavering mental tranquility (śama) is fixity of the intellect in Me” (SB 11.19.36). According to this definition, the words paramāṁ śāntim mean that [by kīrtana] one attains the pinnacle of fixity in Bhagavān (bhagavan-niṣṭhā), which is unattainable even by meditation and other methods, and as a concomitant result, one’s material bondage (saṁsāra) is also destroyed. Thus, even the people of Satyayuga, though firmly established in meditation (dhyāna), could not attain such fixity in Bhagavān.

In Skanda Purāṇa it is said: “In Kaliyuga, highly realized devotees (mahā-bhāgavatas) continuously perform kīrtana.” According to this statement, kīrtana is the cause of such fixity in Bhagavān. In the other yugas, Bhagavān, who bestows special grace only upon those who are destitute of material aspirations (dīna), did not reveal this glory of kīrtana because of the competency that was prevalent in those various yugas. Consequently, the people of those ages, who were fit for meditation and other practices, would not have considered the mere movement of the tongue and lips as much of a spiritual practice, and thus they would not have faith in kīrtana.

Commentary

It is the nature of the ego to take on challenges. It feels gratified by accomplishing difficult and adventurous tasks. When people are gifted with exceptional physical and mental power, it is not easy for them to remain humble. Their ego cannot feel satisfied by carrying out a very simple spiritual action, such as kīrtana. They cannot even believe that kīrtana is a spiritual act. For this reason, kīrtana was not made popular in earlier yugas. As previously mentioned, people in Kali do not have the physical and mental capacities possessed by the people of earlier yugas. Since they are incapable of performing severe austerities or of meticulously conducting elaborate Vedic rituals, they can invest their faith in kīrtana.

 

Editor’s Note: The new edition of Bhakti Sandarbha in two volumes, from which these excerpts are taken, will be published this summer!

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