Bhajan Singing

I went back to the Sathya Sai Baba group on Saturday for their more regular service.

It’s always challenging to be in a new place with unfamiliar people, but I know if I keep at it, I’ll make friends and become part of the fabric of the group.

The first part was practice for the bhajans, which are hymns. I didn’t know what to expect from that, but it turned out to be quite difficult for me. I thought there would be lyric books to look at, but there turned out to be only one. I was given that after about twenty minutes and then I couldn’t find any of the songs in it! They were practicing whatever they felt needed work. Eventually I realized that the book was organized by first lines so if I could catch what the person leading that song was saying, I could find it in the book. I managed that for one song before someone else wanted to look at it.

The girl in front of me recommended looking on YouTube to learn a few so I could get comfortable with it and then I would be able to choose one to practice. She passed out cards for a bhajan she had found in Spanish! It was really neat.

But I’m still going to write to them to ask what the book was so I can pick up my own copy!

Despite the difficulty of the practice, the service itself was delightful. Bhajans are led by a person who will sing the first line and then everyone will repeat it, so I found that I was able to sing quite a lot during the service itself. There was a white board that listed all the songs by first line, so I could read that to figure out what the sing back if I couldn’t tell by the leader.

After that there were some familiar prayers and the passing around of sacred ash for the forehead. When the service was over, flowers were distributed and someone gave me a gorgeous yellow blossom.

Here is one of the songs we sang:

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And some other examples of bhajans:

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Now that I’m getting more involved there, I’m looking forward to also signing up for their service days. They do nursing home work and a soup kitchen. Having a group to go to is really helping to center me again. I’ve missed the company. Even though you can do a lot of worship just sitting in your own home altar, there is something really special about the energy of joining with others.

I walked home in my sari in a light rain and the fields by my house were glowing like emerald. It was so beautiful.

Unfortunately I did still have some inner turmoil going on from forcing myself to be social and go into a new situation and when I tried to phone Brad to find out if he could meet up with me to go to the gym, the phones weren’t working. I tried to text and it only half worked. I felt panic rising in me and pretty soon I was losing the ability to function. I texted “Help” to Brad even though I thought he was still in the car on the way home from an event and I sank down on the wet pavement sobbing.

This is something that happens to me sometimes. I don’t let it stop me from trying new things, though.

Luckily for me, Brad is an amazing guy. I didn’t know it, but he was already home and when I first started trying to phone, he had grabbed an umbrella and started to walk the path towards me. When I texted “Help” he started to run. So it was only seconds later that I looked up through my tear-filled eyes to see Brad running towards me. He embraced me and I felt his heart beating so fast.

He takes really good care of me.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Andrea

    If you keep going, you will remember some of the songs. Most of them will probably be Sanskrit or Hindi so you should be able to pick up fairly easily. If you don’t know, you don’t have to sing along. We sang kirtan yesterday with a group of refugees (Nepali ethnicity) from Bhutan and they sang in Nepali. I just clapped and hummed along till they brought the harmonium and I was the only one who knew how to play it. Playing a song you’ve never heard is super challenging but it’s a good challenge :)

    Keep going and the unfamiliar will become the familiar.

    There are kirtan sessions in yoga studios sometimes but get ready for horrible mispronunciations.

    • Ambaa

      I was so excited by the Bolo, Bolo one because I could understand the lyrics on it! The others I could understand bits and pieces but that one I understood all of it!

    • harshal

      Are they Gorkha (also written as Gurkha)? The Nepalis you were with? Nepali is not an ethnicity. It is a nationality like Indian, Cambodian, Sri Lankan, etc. Nepal Country has many ethnicities. Majority of them are Hindus. But the Gorkha Hindus are bad***. They stopped the Japanese from conquering Eastern India. Just two Gorkhas held off a contingent of a few hundred Japanese infantry soldiers.

      • Andrea

        To be honest I am not sure; they have Bhutanese nationality but a Nepali ethnicity. I do not know what particular group. They may be from different groups. They lived for a year in Indian refugee camps and for 18 years in Nepali refugee camps (the country of their mother tongue but not ‘their’ country) until they were resettled in the USA. I didn’t think to ask them of their ethnic background.

        • harshal

          It is sad they had to live in refugee camps. Indian Hindus need to be more welcoming of our Hindu neighbors. It is a blessing to receive Nepali or Bhutanese Hindus. In my opinion, they can come to India and multiply in number and help us grow our Hindu percentage from 80% of India to 90%. As long as they worship Hindu gods, they are welcomed with open arms. Nepal should become a state of Bharat and Bhutan should as well. Bharat can financially and socially support the two countries. Hindu brothers can only live away for a certain time before coming home to eat their mother’s cooking. This is Hindu. This is rishta, parivaar, sanskriti, and dharam.

          JSK (Jai Shree Krishna)

          • Andrea

            The Buddhist majority with power is what drove out the southern Bhutanese Hindus of Nepali origin. Read for more information.


    @ Ambaa

    Ohhhhhhh… That’s nice of him isn’t it. :)

    I think you are trying too hard with everything you do, and there is no need to do this. in Hinduism one has to try to experience life as it comes to them rather then you running to it. Take everything day by day and everything will be all right and if it isn’t, then it’s not meant to be, then in that case you don’t need to worry about it, and that’s the the way life is. Enjoy the experience, don’t worry about destination.

    So you can’t sing Bhajans, no big deal, neither can I, I just listen to others sing it for me, and i enjoy it. :D

    • Ambaa

      I do have a lot of trouble letting go of the American doing, doing, doing, doing, always doing. I like to always feel like I’m productive and accomplishing something. Letting things just be is an exercise that I need practice on!

    • harshal

      Learn to sing bhajans. It doesn’t matter how hard or difficult it can get. Just learn it. Are you from Bharat or your family is?

      • HARRY

        Yes I was born in India and I’m Hindu by birth.