The Introduction Of Bhajans In India
The generic name of any kind of Hindu devotional song in India is known as Bhajan. The devotional nature is underpinned by specific words and the genre is also completely text-led. Without focusing on any particular musical style, bhajans are completely word based. It can be something as straightforward as a recitation or chant in the way of kirtan of a given mantra (usually a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation) all the way to something as complex and sophisticated as the Dhrupad of North India or the kriti form of Carnatic music. It is based on pure Raga, a (melodic musical structure) and executed in a specific taal (rhythmic cycle).
The inception of bhajans
Bhajan is derived from the word bhakti. It means ‘loving devotion,’ which is also the name of a particular spiritual movement that was originated in South India and rapidly spread across North. From this a tremendously enduring genre of mystical poetry emerged. Followers of the bhakti movement were opposed to the dogmatic nature of religious ritual and maintained that God was omnipresent, without requiring shape or form.
They openly challenged the authority of the clergy and the learned teachers who had, thus far, enjoyed a complete monopoly over the interpretation of Hindu scriptures. Many bhakti songs came to be written in the vernacular or everyday languages of North and South India, making them easier to memorise and sing outside the normal ritualised temple context. Bhajan lyrics in India can be obtained from various renowned website on the Internet.
There are thousands of bhajans in all Indian languages but the ones written between the 14th and 17th centuries by the classic North Indian bhakti poets are among the most revered and considered worthy of inclusion in the repertoire of pure classical vocal artists – whether North or South Indian.
The poems are in a variety of Hindi dialects spoken at the time, but tend to use stunningly simple language and mundane everyday scenarios to convey highly complex spiritual ideas. Even so, the classic bhajans by Surdas, Tulsidas, Kabir and Meera are considered to be of very high literary value compared to more modern bhajans, where the lyrics are more accessible to the masses.