Kīrtana Should Be Performed Without Committing Offenses (5)

In the internet age, people are very influenced by social media. Different types of lifestyles, foods, drinks, etc. become popular because they are promoted on social media. People reading or watching these things become convinced about their benefits and integrate them into their lives. Based upon this behavior, a question arises in the mind. Kīrtana is praised a lot in scripture. There are plenty of videos, articles, and talks available on social media regarding kīrtana. Why then do the masses still not take to kīrtana? This question is answered in the following anuccheda of Bhakti Sandarbha. 

Anuccheda 274

In this manner, we have shown that in Kaliyuga, supreme devotedness to Bhagavān (bhagavat-parāyaṇatva) is possible only by the influence of the propagation of nāma-kīrtana. But those who, being influenced by heretical views, take up nāma-kīrtana while committing offences to the name, remain indifferent to Bhagavān (tad-bahirmukha). Śrī Śuka emphasizes this point in the following two verses through negative inference (vyatireka):

O King, in Kaliyuga, the minds of human beings are generally bewildered by heretical views, and thus they do not worship Bhagavān Acyuta, the supreme guru of the cosmos, whose lotus feet are revered by the guardians of the three worlds [such as Brahmā]. 

In Kaliyuga, people will not worship Him [Bhagavān], by uttering whose name even helplessly, while on the verge of death, afflicted with disease, stumbling, or stammering, a human being is freed from the bonds of karma and attains the supreme destination. (SB 12.3.43-44)

The meaning of these two verses is self-evident.


Although kīrtana is the easiest and most potent process, people do not take to it, even in this age. The reason for this is that they commit offenses against the name. Because of offenses, one does not acquire faith in the process. The effect of offenses was described in Anuccheda 153. People in general have no clear understanding about life’s purpose. There are various schools of philosophy that are antagonistic to the Vedas and that propagate heretical views. Those who follow such doctrines do not take an interest in kīrtana, and even if they do, they do not obtain the intended result because of their offensive mentality.

At present, kīrtana is becoming popular in various yoga communities, among new age spiritualists, and even among those who adhere to an impersonal view of Reality. It is seen, however, that most of them are not clear about the principles of kīrtana.  There are now big festivals of kīrtana, called “Kīrtana-fest,” that are attended by thousands of people. For many people who participate in such kīrtana, devotional singing is merely a means of feeling good and peaceful and not an actual practice of devotion or an act meant exclusively for the pleasure of Bhagavān. To obtain the intended result of kīrtana, the knowledge provided here by Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is of the highest importance.

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