This content was originally published in Satkirin Kaur Khalsa’s email newsletter.
Are you are feeling the panic of the coronavirus?
Maybe you are overcome with despair, disappointment, of promises made?
Are you lost in an array of conflicting opinions, or replaying traumas from past or present lives?
Here is my special secret that helps me when I am lost or in pain – singing! Yes, singing has worked for me time after time (this is probably not a surprise for you).
When I started Kundalini Yoga and lived in an ashram, we learned about kirtan (devotional singing) and shabads (hymns of the Sikh Gurus). In those quiet moments when I was alone, I would take my guitar and sing a simple chant. The one that resonated the most with me? The English words of the prayer called Kirtan Sohila.
It was so special that while singing these words, I experienced a peaceful essence, which bypassed my painful thoughts. Hearing my voice singing these words of Divine love, my mind embraced true joy. I became Divine! And while singing of Infinity, I was transformed, meditating on these hymns.
The sections in Kirtan Sohila are written expressions of Guru Nanak (first Sikh Guru), Guru Ram Das (fourth Sikh Guru), and Guru Arjan (fifth Sikh Guru). Guru Arjan put these hymns together into the Sikh scriptures (the Siri Guru Granth Sahib), and set them to musical forms called Raaga. And thus Kirtan Sohila became the official night time prayer of his devotees.
The words describe an incredible imagery of the vastness of life and Creation. The effect of contemplating on these words in song is a sublime meditation for me. Like a meditative portrait of God and creation, it carries me to my Infinite soul. Even now when I sing these words, I feel a deep sense of spiritual love.
Would you like to give Kirtan Sohila a try?
You can find a recording but I would like to suggest you try singing these words in a simple sing-song of your own voice. Begin by humming a simple melody, even one note works. Listen to your voice singing these words, as this is a most beautiful meditation to listen to the words of God in your own voice.
Here is the composition of Kirtan Sohila, or the Song of Bliss. Just start and see the effect.
Kirtan Sohila: The Night Time Prayer of Bliss
Quick Notes on Kirtan Sohila
- Kirtan Sohila is a prayer done by Sikhs before going to sleep.
- It closes one’s aura so as not to drift through the ethers of no return.
- It gives protection and relief from bad dreams.
- A calming and soothing sleep remedy.
- Great to calm babies and children before sleep.
- Sung for 17 days after the passing of a loved one or family member.
- It contains the writing of three of the Sikh Gurus:
- Guru Nanak – first Sikh Guru
- Guru Ram Das – fourth Sikh Guru
- Guru Arjan – fifth Sikh Guru.
- It was compiled for the energetic flow of the words and their meaning.
- Each section is titled by the author plus the musical scale (Raaga) assigned to that portion.
Kirtan Sohila: A Personal Testimonial
In 2018 my father passed away. I started the Sikh practice of singing Kirtan Sohila for 17 days in prayer for his soul journey.
I enjoyed the musical version as it was very comforting, and continued to play it throughout the night on a tape player.
My understanding was that Kirtan Sohila works on the subconscious mind. I was curious to see how that might manifest. Here is how I experienced it:
Before my Dad’s death, my dog was having digestive issues and would wake me up at night for me to take her outside. I was very aggravated and angry to be awakened in the middle of the night.
Yet, after I started playing Kirtan Sohila, and my dog would wake me in the middle of the night, I noticed a very distinct difference in how I felt– I felt neutral and not angry. I had subtly found Kirtan Sohila affecting my subconscious, but tangibly saw how it affected me through my interaction with my dog!
I am grateful for this wonderful tool which was shared with us by the Guru.
-OngKar Khalsa (Nevada, U.S.A.)