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Excuse of Kiirtan

From: S.W. Thompson <>
Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2008 23:43:28 -0400
Subject: Excuse of Kiirtan


"Toma'r na'mer tarii beye bhese calechi sudu're..." (3937)


 Baba, by Your grace I am rowing the boat of my life, singing Your name,
and floating toward the spiritual world. Baba, because I am dancing in Your
divine tune, I know I will never meet defeat-- victory is assured. Baba,
with Your eternal song as my rudder guiding me along, I never feel lost or

Baba by Your grace in my life there is no hypocrisy. And by Your grace I
do not suffer from the painful crocodile thorns of self-aggrandisement,
(asmita'). By Your causeless compassion, my mind is pure and straight. O'
my dearmost, Your divine vibration encompasses everything. The zig-zag
path, and the high tide & low tide-- everything resonates in the divine
sound of Your omnkara.

Baba, I do not have any desire to look back; I am moving forward towards
You with my heart and mind. Baba, by Your grace I never lose the path or
unnecessarily waste my time, because by Your grace I do not spend my days
recalling all those old forgotten memories of my distant past. Always You
keep me marching along the path of fulfillment-- towards You.

Baba, by Your grace I am under Your shelter, and in my sadhana and
dhyana I always sing Your name. That is the main force moving me ahead
towards You...

                        == EXCUSE OF KIIRTAN ==

The Ananda Kanan Summer retreat and conference just concluded in NY sector
and here are some thoughts and replies to an ongoing issue related with
out most favorite practice of kiirtan.


Surely, all are aware about the numerous reasons why kiirtan should be done
separately according to our usual male-female standard. After all,
everything in our Marga is separated along gender lines: Our jagrtis; our
Prout, AMURT, & VSS departments; our AM offices; our sleeping areas; our
bathrooms; our LFT training & WT training centres; our education system
(above 10 yrs of age); our organisational in-charges etc. Verily everything
in our AMPS has been cleanly divided along gender lines. This is Baba's
given system.

And certainly, Baba Himself conducted reportings separately, demanded that
kaoshikii be done separately at DMC, and kiirtan itself was done separately
at DMC. This everyone knows.

So all these aforementioned avenues clearly point to the ideal that nearly
all activities and engagements in our Marga from the spiritual realm to the
psychic strata to the physical plane are divided along gender lines. It
follows then that our kiirtan programs at our various retreats should also
be done separately. And in Delhi sector this dharmic code is followed. Then
why not also at our sectorial level retreats in NY.

                        AKHANDA KIIRTAN AT NY RETREAT

For those who may not be aware, and as a reminder to others, in our akhanda
kiirtan programs at Ananda Kanan-- in our usual "overseas" or "western"
style-- males and females are dancing simultaneously such that they are
bumping into each other, looking at each other, rubbing against each other
etc. This is what happens every time. For their own reasons some may say
'no', but it is like that:

> At overseas akhanda kiirtan programs, what happens is that in the same room
> the females will form one circle and then directly surrounding the female
> circle is a circle of males. So dozens and dozens of females and males are
> dancing extremely close by, right next to each other in an enclosed
> environment around the same puja table. So at this gender-mixed event then
> invariably bumping, rubbing, and brushing occurs between members of the
> opposite sex. Because there is an inner circle of females and an outer
> circle of males and as everyone is moving round and round, then both the
> circles tend to lose their shape and some females are rubbing up against
> the brothers circle, and likewise some males are brushing up into the
> female circle. In that way various types of physical contact happens.
> Because initially people try to close their eyes, dance, sing, and walk
> around the kiirtan circle-- all at the same time. So then of course members
> of the opposite sex end up knocking into and rubbing against one another.
> Especially during the night time kiirtan when the room is darker. Then in
> that case varieties of touching is going on between male and females, all
> the more so when it is crowded.

So I asked one elder Dada about why the akhanda kiirtan programs are being
conducted in this way with males and females-- when all logic and reasoning
dictates that it should be separate. And here is what Dadaji had to say.

                                  DADAJI'S EXPLANATION

Dadaji explained that actually the point has come up many times but some
continually resist the issue as it strikes a deep nerve in their being. So
let us understand why.

As we know, all human beings come from animal life. And all are trying to
move towards divinity, knowingly or unknowingly, yet still we carry all the
bag and baggage of our past animal lives-- some of us more so than others.
So here the point is that everyone is burdened by certain crude propensities.
And at the same time, our AM is a segregated society in that the
free-mixing of males and females is not welcome (Ref: CC-1, ch 24). Hence,
people search for gateways to express those crude desires, in some way,
shape, or form.

Before I got the chance to interrupt, Dadaji told me to wait just a minute
and then he explained as follows.


Once there was one Acarya C who insisted on driving 375km each Sunday in
order to participate in the weekly akhanda kiirtan in one unit where males
and females would dance together. No matter what rational objections were
put forth to Acarya C, such as the high cost or large amount of petrol used
or the huge time involved, always he had an undeniable, burning desire to
go to that akhanda kiirtan. He just HAD to go. Yet the strange thing was
that in his own locale, that same Acarya C rarely ever did kiirtan with the
young single brothers etc. But that akhanda kiirtan that exhibited the
females, that kiirtan Acarya C had to attend. Because it quenched his crude
desire-- to see and look etc. And his is not an isolated example.

Then Dadaji explained that this whole subject is not a joke or something to
take lightly-- it is a matter of our human existence, of our innate
tendency. That is to say, as sadhakas, we must take exceptional care not to
let our human qualities be overwrought by animalistic desires.


On a grander scale, Dadaji told that in all the religions such as Islam,
Hinduism, orthodox Judaism, and to some degree Christianity, where there is
a restriction on the mixing of the sexes, then males and females always
search for an "excuse" whereby they can see members of the opposite sex.
Because that vrtti is jumping in the mind.

It may happen at the temple, or the community center, or who knows where.
But it happens-- in one way or another males and females find their way.
In fact, in the old days of Christianity, many would attend church with the
sole motive and hope of finding a love letter or secret note in their hymn
book from their darling. This was the common practice. Because that was the
only place where there was mixing of the sexes. So people used that as a
'release' to express their crude desire, sexual curiosity, and animal vrttis.

                         HOW IT WORKS IN ANANDA MARGA

And although AM is certainly a step up from the dogmatic religions, still
this game happens. Because within the human mind there is that lustful
desire leftover from one's past animal lives. And if it is not controlled,
if it is not checked, then males and females will try to express that
desire through some venue-- even kiirtan.

For this reason-- despite all the logic and reasoning that everything in AM
is based on the separation of the sexes-- still a few in our Marga are
anxious and adamant to keep akhanda kiirtan 'mixed', in order to satiate
their fancy to some degree.

Then Dadaji told that, 'People in AM may find this theory far-fetched, but
if they are honest with themselves they will find it is true. Otherwise why
are some so reluctant & resistant to changing the akhanda kiirtan format
into a more sentient program that is consistent with the rest of our AM way
of life'.

Dadaji continued, 'There is not an ounce of logic or reasoning supporting
their mixed approach-- just desire, and an unseemly one at that'.
All this had me thinking and indeed I had no answer to give.

                            WRONG USE OF KIIRTAN

The next point that came up was that this was a wrong use of kiirtan-- i.e.
western akhanda kiirtan should not be used as a way for males and females
to mix with each other. That crude desire should be addressed in another
manner-- not during kiirtan. Because kiirtan is our unique time to focus
exclusively on Baba. It is an invaluable part of our spiritual life.

Baba says, "In the life of a spiritual practitioner (sa'dhaka), in the life
of a devotee (Bhakta ), kiirtana is most essential." (SS-19)

So kiirtan is part of our spiritual lifeline. However, when kiirtan just
becomes an excuse for 'checking out' the opposite sex-- if that idea is
even one iota in the mind-- then the spiritual value of that kiirtan is
tarnished & gone. Rather negative samskaras are created.

                        THE IMPORTANCE OF ABHOGA

Thereafter, Dadaji told me something about the term abhoga as he wanted to
give the science behind it all. First he told me Baba's clear cut
definition of abhoga.

Baba says, "A'bhoga means occupation or pabulum...mind also requires a
pabulum; whatever object the mind confines itself to, that is its
pabulum...mental pabulum is called a'bhoga. The object with which the mind
is preoccupied or obsessed is its psychic pabulum or a'bhoga." (SS-11)

So abhoga is basically one's mode of thinking.

Then the point came that one's abhoga, or mental pablum, will directly
dictate one's movement in life-- either towards the crude or subtle. It all
depends upon the individual.

Baba says, "The mind must always have an object...'A'bhoga' means that
object which feeds the mind--that is, mental pabulum. If this pabulum is
limited, the mind also becomes limited. If the pabulum is infinite, by
making an effort to obtain it, the mind becomes infinite. It depends
entirely on the will of human beings which pabulum, limited or unlimited,
is made their object. Whether a person becomes great or small completely
depends on the person's wish." (AV-1)

So abhoga is something highly significant in one's life. If one's abhoga is
crude then one will be degraded. There is no escape.

                       PROPER KIIRTAN

Hence during proper or true kiirtan, one's abhoga will only be, 'Baba,
Baba, Baba...'. In kiirtan, the mind should be exclusively fixed on Him--
on Baba. Then only is it kiirtan. And surely, most in AM are on this sweet
path and truly involved in doing devotional kiirtan.

So we are close or getting close-- but not entirely ready to get over the

Because so long as this dogma is existing about combined male-female
akhanda kiirtan circles, then it means there is an urge in this or that
organiser's pocket to get their vrttis satisfied in this way-- through
crude kiirtan parties.

Or the other way to look at it is this.

Only when one adopts a purely spiritual ideation in their kiirtan will they
readily agree to having akhanda kiirtan done according to gender. Because
in that pristine way of thinking, one will like to create the most sentient
and pointed environment for singing kiirtan.

And truth be known when the goal is Parama Purusa, then what is the need to
be surrounded by members of the opposite sex in the kiirtan hall.
So during kiirtan, one's abhoga should be purely spiritual-- that alone
will solve the problem of mixed-sex kiirtan parties. They will not occur
anymore when one is sincerely involved in kiirtan as a spiritual endeavour.

Baba says, "What is the spiritual practice of human beings? It is forsaking
unithood (jiivatva), leaving bondage, and attaining cosmichood (shivatava).
This alone is the goal of human beings." (AV-1)

                      WHY BE THE LAST ONE?

Through our ups and downs, our Marga is churning and churning and
ultimately moving in a more sentient direction. One can see it in all
directions. Now, no one will openly say, 'I am groupist', or 'I like to
watch crude Hollywood movies' or 'I like to eat junk food tasties'. No one
will say like this because it will not be appreciated; it will not enhance
one's stature. Why? Because, now more than ever, everyone is looking for an
ideological stand in all the realms.

On this point I had to agree and then Dadaji continued.

So those who like to use kiirtan as an excuse for satisfying their
animalistic desires by having co-ed get-togethers-- their days will come to
an end soon. It may happen today, or certainly tomorrow. Because our AM
society is moving towards a more sentient ideal.

In that case, why wait. Why be the very last sector, region, unit, or
individual to make the switchover to 100% purely sentient kiirtan that
adheres to Baba's ideal of doing kiirtan separately according to gender.
Why should anyone have the dishonourable asterisk by their name as being
the last one to make the positive change.

Better is that one should readily state, 'Yes, I am ready to adopt Baba's
kiirtan system and move in an unhindered way toward Him. That is my sole
aim in kiirtan'.

                             THE MAIN POINT

Here everyone should be aware that the main point of this entire letter is
not to outlaw mixed events. There should be-- indeed there must be-- co-ed
events and gatherings where members of the opposite gender can meet and
talk or do service projects together. Such things must be arranged and
properly supervised as well.

Instead, here the main point is that our kiirtan is verily our spiritual
lifeline. It allows us to make that challenging transition from worldly
ways to life divine. It brings the mind from external to internal, from
crude to subtle. Kiirtan awakens that spiritual thirst that allows us to
realise why we have come on this earth; it reminds us of our true Goal in
life. And it goads us onwards in the spiritual realm, towards Baba's divine

So it is nothing but a tragedy-- if due to our carelessness-- that we let
the sweetness of kiirtan slip through our finger tips by allowing it to
become a medium for something else, such as an excuse for seeing or
associating with the opposite sex.

Some may resist and be unwilling to say that this is their desire; indeed
who will like to admit it. No one. But verily it is there, to some or more

Otherwise, why allow this male-female akhanda kiirtan to be the main event
at our retreats. Should it be like that just because some sadly or
nervously think, then 'when will I get to see or be seen by members of the
opposite sex'. This idea is lingering in the mind-- to some or more degree.
Even with our Dadas etc. In that way kiirtan just becomes some excuse,
nothing more.

So the main point is, we should be adamant not to allow our kiirtan to
become tainted. Kiirtan is our main avenue for spiritual progress. It
brings the mind into a higher realm-- when done properly with pure
ideation. So we should keep our kiirtan environment sanctified. In which
case the separation of the sexes is only obvious.

And at the same time we should arrange other avenues for socializing in our
Marga. None should worry that they will not get any scope. They will-- but
not during kiirtan.

                         EVERYONE SHOULD SAY

So this is a big topic, if not a sensitive one. And this is a long letter
so here I shall conclude and simply request for everyone to reflect a bit
and then share their thoughts.

                           BABA'S BLESSING

By Baba's grace when kiirtan is done with the proper ideation then it
cleanses our whole existence from inside to out and reminds us of our
inherent link with Him.

Baba says, "If people do kiirtan with distinct expression of the mantra,
their mouths become pure, their tongues become pure, their ears become
pure, their whole bodies become pure-- and when so many parts of the body
become pure, the atma (self) also becomes pure...Kiirtan will always remind
you that you are the affectionate children of Parama Purusa." (15 May 1982)


                       Sadhana Point

 Baba says, "Whatever a man is to do in his spiritual life he is to do--
why?  Because he is in love with the Supreme Entity. Love is the first
word, love is the starting point, and love is the last point." (AV-12, p.13)

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