There was an era in India when the people of our country were divided and discriminated by caste, creed and gender. Only a few had the privilege to serve god. (offer pooja) The main way to offer prayers to god was through Yagnas, havans and reciting hymns from Vedas. The people who did not know Sanskrit or who were unaware of the procedures of performing pooja did not have the opportunity to attend to these ceremonies. Common men had no proper channel or medium to express their devotion towards god. Adding to this, rulers and emperors from different part of the world were invading our country! snatching the power from our kings, they started to rule and also impose their culture forcefully upon us.
In the midst of all this; a few people emerged from different corners of the country. (Around the wide span of 8th and 18th century which is called the “Bhakti Movement”.) These people were born and brought up in an ordinary family but grew up to become the purifiers and cleansers of our society. Their perception of Bhakti and approach towards god itself was different. They created a new wave in the society. They enabled a common man to express his devotion towards god easily. They are none other than the SPIRITUAL SAINTS and SPIRITUAL POETS. Saints of Haridaasaru – Purandara daasa, Vijayadaasa, Kanakadaasa and so on and Spiritual poets like, Kabir, Tulasidas, Meerabai, Basavanna, Akkamahadevi and such others.
Their compositions were not just confined to Bhakti alone but, they were also the lessons and preaches that one must follow to be a respectable and an acceptable human being in the society. They preached to inculcate “simple living” and to build a healthy society. They preached how to treat others and how to behave in the society. In this way, their preaching became closer to the practical issues that were prevailing in the society then; and also applicable till date.
Spiritual saints and poets became a household name and thus slowly by breaking the boundaries and limitations of the society. The songs, hymns, Keertanas, poems which they crafted slowly began to spread like a wild fire. It gave “preaching” a new face. Their keertanas communicated the essentials that was much needed for a healthy living.
The language and the style of composition: The best part is, the hymns are composed in simple language where every word of it can be understood. This makes one easier to learn memorise and sing. It also motivates to perform pooja and make it easier to connect to god.
Oneness with Devotion: The lyrics and compositions of the keertanas of the Haridaasaru or Meera Bai or Akkamahadevi are so simple yet goes very deep into our thoughts. The keertanas are the personification of dedication, affection and love that these saints had for the almighty. They dedicated their whole lives in the name of god by serving the society. For example: the song “ಕೆರೆಯ ನೀರನು ಕೆರೆಗೆ ಚೆಲ್ಲಿ” by Purandara daasaru has only has 6 lines. Literally 6 lines! but it explains the whole purpose of life. Can anyone in this world, unless is blessed by the almighty himself can come up with such lyrics, which explains the most complex and the whole crux of life this simple? This is just one example. There are hundreds of such. These keertanas, have the power to give us strength to fight all odds of lives. They bring us closer to our “conscious” and help us introspect our deeds!
Reframe the Structure of society: The poetic compositions of Basavanna and Akkamahadevi pointed out all the imbalances and mismatches of the society. be it casteism or gap between the rich and poor. They paved a Marga (path/way/ channel) which emphasised that “All are equal in the eyes of god” and “Each individual is unique”. The simple way to find god is through performing good deeds, treating everyone equally, welcome others’ perceptions and choices, help each other.
To conclude, these hymns and bhajans are like a bridge to convey the love and devotion that we have towards the almighty. I personally see and relate it this way: – it is a common thing in Hindu religion to light “Nanda Deepa” in front of god. We often hear from our elders that lighting a lamp is the bare minimum thing that you must follow every day. “Deepam Jyothi Para brahma”. Lighting the lamp/ Deepa every day is like submitting our attendance in school. Or login entry in our offices. But the lamp can be lighted for a long time only if there is oil present in it. The same way, if our Bakthi is the Deepa which we light in front of god, these keerthanas and bhajans are like the oil which keeps our Deepa lighted. The more we try to follow and accustom the preaching of Haridasas and the spiritual poets, the longer the time our “deepa” will be lighted in front of god.