Bhajan

Bhajan refers to any devotional song with religious theme or spiritual ideas, in any of the languages of South Asia.[1] The term bhajanam (sanskrit भजनम) means 'reverence' and originates from the root word bhaj (sanskrit भजाति), means to 'revere', as in "bhaja govindam". The term "bhajana" also means 'sharing'.

The term 'bhajan' is also commonly used to refer a group event, with one or more lead singers, accompanied with music, and sometimes dancing.[2] Minimally there is a percussion accompaniment such as tabla, a dholak or tamborine. Handheld small cymbals (kartals) are commonly used to maintain the beat, rhythm. A bhajan may be sung in a temple, in a home, under a tree in the open, near a river bank or a place of historic significance.[3]

As a bhajan has no prescribed form, or set rules, it is in free form, normally lyrical and based on melodic ragas.[4] It belongs to a genre of music and arts that developed with the Bhakti movement.[1] It is found in the various traditions of Hinduism but particularly in Vaishnavism.[1] It is also found in Jainism (different religion from Hinduism).

Ideas from scriptures, legendary epics, the teachings of saints and loving devotion to a deity are the typical subjects of bhajans.[4] A bhajan may be sung in a temple, in a home, under a tree in the open, near a river bank or a place of historic significance.[3]

Ideas from scriptures, legendary epics, the teachings of saints and loving devotion to a deity are the typical subjects of bhajans. South Indian bhakti pioneers, but bhajans have been widely composed anonymously and shared as a musical and arts tradition. Its genre such as Nirguni, Gorakhanathi, Vallabhapanthi, Ashtachhap, Madhura-bhakti and the traditional South Indian form Sampradya Bhajan each have their own repertoire and methods of singing.[5]

Etymology

The Sanskrit word bhajan or bhajana is derived from the root bhaj, which means "divide, share, partake, participate, to belong to".[6][7][8] The word also connotes "attachment, devotion to, fondness for, homage, faith or love, worship, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation".[9]