The Role of Kirtan And Kirtanaeea



´Kirtan is devotional singing of the praises of God in melody and rhythm. It is an aid to enable an individual to attune oneself with the Infinite, a tool to sing His glory and become spiritually aware, ultimately to merge with Him and bring peace and joy to one’s mind.

Guru sahib calls Kirtan a ‘priceless diamond’ –   a precious gift.

2The reason Kirtan is called priceless is because it acts like a cleansing agent that has many purposes. It has the ability to help clear/clean our consciousness, there by reducing the many types of human sufferings collected over countless lives, and then, fill us with love, bliss and joyful longing for our beloved, and make us worthy of God’s Grace.   Kirtan is the magical formula that keeps the human soul afloat in this materialistic world.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.16.47 PMThus, Kirtan is given a place of great importance in Sikhism. Wherever Kirtan is being sung, that place (sadh sangat) is considered to be equivalent to paradise:





Above all kirtan (whether singing or listening) is SEVA!


´The ‘cleansing’ effect or the ‘magical’ effect of Kirtan is dependant on the kirtaneeas (those blessed souls who have been given the gift of singing His praises). 

tuneWhen a kirtaneea sings with peaceful equipoise with the intense feeling of love and deep devotion of a disciple, conversing humbly with the beloved, the Kirtan then becomes the necessary bridge, an aid to contemplation and meditation and can help many other souls connect to their Beloved.

´This is done spontaneously, in the Divine flow, without any effort on the part of the kirtaneea. It is Gur Prasad – Grace.

 Kirtan is a spiritual practice and is not a competition.

When any egoistic effort enters the equation in the form of me, mine and myself (the showing-off factor), then the flow is obstructed, and even though the kirtaneea maybe singing beautifully, the Kirtan does not have the magical effect.

The musical prowess, talents and ability to produce beautiful tunes may be very pleasing to the outer ears, but it does not uplift the soul of either the kirtaneea nor the Sangat.

In fact, the tunes may end up being a distraction to many of the more sincere seekers. The main aim of Kirtan is to sing the glory of our Gurus, to become spiritually aware, to open our heart to the Divine Flow and to bring peace and joy to the mind.

At all times remember Kirtan Seva is a gift and be sincerely grateful for it.

Bhai Sahib Bhai Vir Singh Jee clarifies in his talk on Kirtan te Kirtaneea  or read it under see Resources page.

When any egoistic effort enters the equation in the form of me, mine and myself (the showing-130531_notes_weboff factor), then the flow is obstructed, and even though the kirtaneea maybe singing beautifully, the Kirtan does not have the magical effect.The musical prowess, talents and ability to produce beautiful tunes may be very pleasing to the outer ears, but it does not uplift the soul of either the kirtaneea nor the Sangat. In fact, the tunes may end up being a distraction to many of the more sincere seekers. The main aim of Kirtan is to sing the glory of our Gurus, to become spiritually aware, to open our heart to the Divine Flow and to bring peace and joy to the mind. At all times remember Kirtan Seva is a gift and be sincerely grateful for it.He further explains that becoming a kirtaneea is like becoming the main target in a battlefield, where arrows of ego related praise are constantly being aimed in one form or another. Inevitably, one or two of these arrows are bound to hit the target. Knowing this, the kirtaneea still enters the battlefield because of intense love for Guruji. Slowly but surely, with practice, humility and His Grace, the kirtaneea learns to make an armour of His love and humility, through which no arrow can pierce, and ultimately enjoys the boons offered by Kirtan.

Some suggestions for Kirtan Seva

  1. ´Be mindful not to let your ego get inflated when someone appreciates ‘your’ kirtan. It is NOT yours. The ego is very very subtle. Even when you THINK you are being careful, it enters within and is the source of much spiritual downfall. Beware of the ‘vava’ ras. Be aware and at all times, remember the Divine giver of the gift and place all praise at His feet.
  2. ´Be mindful not to be the source of inflating someone else’s ego.
  3. ´Be mindful not to subconsciously try to get Sangat to enjoy a shabad – it is His duty. Your duty is to just be the empty vessel…by emptying yourself of all desires, greed and emotions.
  4. ´The time you do Kirtan or who you play table with is irrelevant.The focus is the KIRTAN & GURBANI and not the KIRTANEEA. In addition, never demand for kirtan turn, or let adults get involved in this.
  5. ´Tabla seva is an equivalent seva as kirtan.It helps to provide the right rhythm, to support the kirtan. Be Aware, tabla seva can also be a source of the same ego as discussed above for kirtaneeas and can also be a major distraction from main purpose of kirtan. If you are a tabla player, do not wait to play at ‘prime time’ – offer yourself and your seva to Guru Sahib at all times. Remember, you play for your Guru, His Sangat and for no one else.praiseDHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU NANAKDHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU NANAKDHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU NANAK DHAN GURU 




Selfless Service: Seva

  (Selfless Service) from the Sanskrit root Sev means to:
 Serve, Render obedience to,Worship, Adore, Praise. Service rendered to humanity (i.e. God in man) is considered a form of worship. Seva, a common component of all religions holds a very special place in Sikhism. It is emphasized as a part of spiritual growth. A virtue one learns in the company  of enlightened souls (Sadh Sangat). The basic reason behind doing seva is that through the spirit of selfless activities and detachment – when we have nothing to gain and nothing to lose by not doing – we attain that height of realization whereby our mind becomes absorbed in God – God Consciousness.


With the spirit of sacrifice comes non-attachment, peace and harmony. Attachment to anything is an indication of the presence of ego which eventually leads to suffering. That’s the paradox – while doing seva, inadvertently ego enters into the equation and so may leave us in a worse position than we started with.

 So some questions arise? If by doing seva our ego inevitably comes in to play even when we try hard not to , then why bother even do it? Who can do seva & what constitutes seva?

Let’s begin by looking at the origin of the concept of seva.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-07-01-amIn traditional Indian society, work involving physical labour was considered low and relegated to the lowest castes. By sanctifying manual labour as an honourable religious practice, the Sikh Gurus established the dignity of labour. Not only did the Gurus sanctify it; they also institutionalized it, e.g. service in Guru ka Langar (the Guru’s community kitchen) and serving the sangat. Seva whether it is done through our body, mind or wealth (tun, mun , dhan) thus became an important part of a Sikh’s spiritual life. The emphasis being on the self-less aspect of seva. To become self-less, was seen as an exercise through which we become aware of our desires, wishes or unperceived intentions behind the seva.

Some common reasons that we tend to do seva:

  1. Because others are doing it,
  2. Because we want something in return, a reward (we bargain with god for eg. better health, better business,  a son or daughter, a husband or wife, better grades etc),
  3. Because we are seen as kind, helpful, generous and giving,
  4. Because we get communal recognition, praise or respect.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-25-52-amWhen doing any seva we have to be ever watchful of our hidden motives, lest we too become mere traders.



 Bauji guides us in the following way in his talk on Seva:

flowerHe reminds us to think of a flower and the time it takes to grow from the seed to it’s full blossom. Each with a unique colour, appearance and fragrance. Over time the flower becomes saturated with it’s fragrance. It has no idea where it came from or that it is giving it away to anyone. It just is. If you break it, squish it or trample on it, it still gives the fragrance. It does not discriminate in any way, it does not complain, but continues to give no matter who the receiver is.

It has nothing left , it is ONLY fragrance. This is true seva – to give of yourself.

bhaikhaniyaJust like Bhai Khanayea jee who gave water to all on the battlefield, whether it was a friend or foe.  When asked by Guru jee why he did that, he replied that “I only see YOU in everyone” and thus he like a flower gave of this love fragrance to all. 


In his lekh Seva Part 2,

 Bauji explains:

“Beyond the materialistic world, the service of the divine realm is different – it is the play of pure spiritual status. Behind the service of spiritual realm there is NO –

  1. Self-interest ,
  2. Public opinion
  3. Imitation
  4. Compulsion
  5. Sensualness
  6. Desire
  7. Fear
  8. Dread
  9. Egotism
  10. Me -‘Miness’ of any kind. 

This divine service of rising above the second love, the non-existence of egotism, becoming a slave, sacrificing one’s self, becoming obedient servant. is (indeed) the cultivation of ‘hukam’ (divine law).

It is not easy to do seva. This divine service can only be carried out:

  1. By becoming intoxicated in the intoxicant.
  2. By becoming in tune with the will.
  3. By becoming the divine weapon of— Love, Affection, Eagerness, Yearning Love of inner self of the satguru (true guru).

God illumined souls do not DO seva. It is being done spontaneously because they are pure God Consciousness. 


So if all our actions are ego ridden how to we do seva? Is it even any use?

Yes absolutely!!

Just do not despair or give up. To learn to do selfless seva is seva in itself.

Just like when you were a baby you first learnt the alphabet, then reading slowly but surely. Then all through high school and college you continued the process until several years later you graduated and you could write an essay. It was only then that you could ‘serve’ or work. Similarly, in the university of “Sadh Sangat” you begin by taking small baby steps and learn Simran & Seva, then you practice, you learn from the example set by higher souls and even when ‘ego’ enters the equation, you do not stop but you become aware of it. You continue, but inwardly always asking and praying for further guidance from Guru jee. He is ever benevolent. Your job is to become aware of the small still voice that speaks to you to guide you.

sunIn His benevolence, God has given us air we breathe, rain or sunshine that is available to everyone – similarly, so is His Love, His Guidance. We just have to make the time, space and effort to learn to listen to it.

This is seva!!






Self-sacrifice to aid others

Self-sacrifice to aid others


The Religion of a Flower


pink lotus flowers 1

I am an avid admirer of Professor Puran SIngh ji’s poetry and writings. Recently some new writings were discovered by a group of people (sevadaars) who have taken it upon themselves to salvage all his works along with Bhai Vir Singh Ji’s and Bauji Jaswant Singh Ji’s works. This is an amazing project that will serve generations. This library is in Vancouver. It houses all the writings of the above three authors and also provides free books to all who have the desire to enjoy the works of these enlightened souls. (

The book that was discovered is an absolute gem and is still in the process of being published. With permission from Professor Puran SIngh Ji’s grand daughter I am sharing the following essay from the book. I am adding pictures and punctuating the article at places just to make it more accessible for our younger readers.

The Religion of The Flower

All of you love the full-blossomed flower! That symbol of divine truth has just bloomed, having gone through the narrow and broad of various stages. Continue reading



With the world going through such upheaval and crises like the displacement of thousands of Syrians ,Pope Francis called for more compassion and empathy during the Christmas eve mass. We need to develop our ability to be sensitive to others’ feelings if we are to truly live out of an awareness of one-world consciousness. What better way to represent our Guru and serve others than with the gift of empathy?

But what is empathy?e3

How do we feel it?

Do we have the capacity to be empathetic?

Why should we feel empathy? Continue reading



Another taboo subject that most people avoid discussing is suicide. It  is horrific but yet it is something that is very real and must be brought to the attention of young adolescents. Sometimes all it takes is to understand the reason behind feelings that might be overwhelming to get through the difficult time. Contrary to myth, talking about suicide CANNOT plant the idea in someone’s head! It actually can open up communication about a topic that is often kept a secret — and secrets that are exposed to the rational light of day often become less powerful. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people after motor vehicle accidents. Yet people are often reluctant to discuss it. This is partly due to the stigma, guilt or shame that surrounds suicide. People are often uncomfortable discussing it. Unfortunately, this tradition of silence perpetuates harmful myths and attitudes. It can also prevent people from talking openly about the pain they feel or the help they need.

It takes immense courage to talk about suicide. Here is one such brave soul: Continue reading




“If a man is called to be a street sweeper,he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,or Beethoven played music,or Shakespeare wrote poetry.He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”  Martin Luther King Jr.


Every day, in every aspect of our lives, we have the option of doing our best work or something less. At those moments, there may be numerous excuses swimming around in our head that tell us not to give it our all. But there’s still a compelling reason why we should do our very best that overrides them all. Continue reading


l2 kaam*About two months ago I received the following email from one of you:

“Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh  ……I didn’t know how to make this anonymous on, so I just decided to email you. I’m emailing you for a simple request. I feel that kids in Sangat today do not have much support when it comes to sexual desire. This is an awkward topic that we haven’t really touched base on in kid’s class and it is really difficult for teens to talk to their parents about. Personally, I don’t have many problems when it comes to “Kaam”, but I know a lot of kids in our Sangat that do. Growing up, I find that a lot of my friends in Sangat have changed. I believe that it’s mostly the guys who have difficulties with this, but I was surprised to find out some of my friends that are girls have these problems too… even sexting is a problem…these are teenagers and even young adults, that little kids look up to. Many young adults wonder if it is okay to have premarital intercourse. Teenagers and young adults are curious and want to know the answers. Maybe we can have a secret question box or something. I know this is a really awkward conversation to talk about, but I feel that our Sangat teens need help.”  Continue reading


anger 3krodh



Like all emotions anger has a purpose. In terms of evolution, anger makes sense. When we feel angry it is because we are threatened or perceive that somehow things aren’t working out to our advantage. Think of anger as the active version of fear. Fear posing as anger can drive us to act. Without anger, fear can keep us paralyzed, and in terms of survival, paralysis is deadly. Of course, for the most part, we are not struggling minute to minute to survive as our ancestors did, which means that anger is not serving it’s original purpose. However, it still lets us know when something feels wrong. In that way, it can illuminate our needs, desires and weaknesses. When we feel angry, instead of simply feeling, we can question, why am I angry?  Continue reading

Haumey – Ego


6“Ego” is a Latin and Greek (ἑγώ) word meaning “I“, often used in English to mean the “self”, “identity” or other related concepts. In a broad sense, the ego is our self-image; who and what we view ourselves as. Ego is that part of you that defines itself as a personality, separates itself from the outside     world, and considers itself a separate entity from the rest of nature and the cosmos.
Ego is is constantly distinguishing “self” from others, that intoxicating sense of self-importance  which is governed by the five thieves (gurbani calls them – Anger, Attachment, Sexual Desire, Greed and Attachment – which rob us of our peace. Ego is the source of our negative emotions, which lead to mental resistance and pain. Under the umbrella term of ego come the following – fear, stress, anxiety, worry, pain, disease, loneliness, anger, etc 

So what exactly is Ego?  Where does it come from? Is it possible to get rid of it? Continue reading

Divine Love


” Just like a sunbeam can’t seperate itself from the sun and a wave can’t seperate itself from the ocean, we can’t seperate ourselves from one another. We are all part of a vast sea of love, one indivisible divine mind”

M. Williamson

We so often hear, read and even intectually know that  we ourselves are Divine. Why is it that many of us have difficulty experiencing the joy of Divine Love?  Such a question was raised by an aspiring soul. What is the difference between human love and divine love?  Is it possible to differentiate the two and is it possible that both might be intertwined? Here is the question: Continue reading



The Discipleship

“The title ‘Sikh’, ‘The Disciple’, was first given to us by Guru Nanak.We were mere corpses, he poured life into us. We were thus created anew by His love of us. He made us alive with our out-drawn love of Him and left us free. He freed us from the hatred of caste, colour and creed. He made us look straight at the sky towards the Infinite, he made us look upon the sun and the moon and the stars as our kith and kin. He did knit us with the Universe and he wove the design of the Infinite into the texture of our soul. He gave us then the universal music to sing; birds and animals to be our confidants, woods and rivers and hills to sing with us. This world that sat like a nightmare on us was thrown away: the new world was laid open before our eyes in His Vision…

…by the title ‘Sikh’, he linked us with Himself forever.” The Spirit Born People, Professor Puran Singh  p.9

Gurmukh pyare, Professor Puran Singh reminds us in his characteristic, intense, fierce, and passionate manner that Guru Nanak never preached:


“ …but only planted with his own hand the seedling of spiritual life in the soul of the disciple and watched it grow as a gardner watched palnts…The Guru sat in the heart of the disciple, sonsuming all sensual desire and leading the disciple, into perfect godhead. And whenthe disciple into perfect godhead. And when the disciple heard the voice of the Guru within himself he caught it and went on, merely eching and re-     eching the music of the MAster’s Nam. The Ten Masters, Professor Puran Singh, p106

The disciple is in search for a master, of a place where she can reveal everything without any fear, without any resistance, the master is in search of a disciple who is willing to empty or reveal him/herself to her. When the two meet, the resulting relationship is very unique. Most relationships are conditional but the one that exists between the master and the disciple is totally unconditional (at least in the beginning from the master’s side). The disciple may have initial doubts but the realized master, a divine instrument is the embodiment of love, is ever forgiving, ever loving, and ever present. Continue reading