Shankirtan | Oil Painting by Sanjay Chakraborty | 46x70
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Sankirtana Yajna: Sole Hope for World Peace and Prosperity
Sankirtana Yajna means congregational chanting of the holy names of the Supreme Lord. This is the path prescribed in the Vedic literatures for achieving spiritual perfection in the human form of life, namely God-realization and ending all the sufferings that we undergo in this world.
There are so many other different ways such as ashtanga yoga, cultivation of transcendental knowledge by logic and reasoning, performing austerities and so on – all meant for self-realization. We have also learnt of many great souls in history who have achieved perfection through these practices in different ages and even now we find many spiritual aspirants following these methods.
What we see is that a particular path is best suited for a specific age and can be practiced well considering the duration of life, religiosity and the virtues of the people in that age. In Satya-yuga people had a long duration of life and were very peaceful and religious and they could practice meditation for thousands of years. In Treta-yuga, they could perform various Vedic sacrifices (yajnas) as there were qualified brahmanas, expert in chanting the Vedic mantras and conducting yajnas. In Dwapara-yuga, people could perform elaborate Deity worship. In the present Kali-yuga which is fraught with so many defects and deficiencies, the people are hardly interested in pursuing the spiritual path. They are short-lived and disturbed by many physical and mental ailments. Violence, criminality, corruption and many unlawful activities are widespread in the society. Under these circumstances, the scriptures recommend that the only way for a common man towards spiritual realization in Kali-yuga is Sankirtana Yajna which is the Yugadharma of this age. It is the simplest yet sublime method that can be practiced by everybody with no pre-qualification. It is mentioned in the Vishnu Purana, Padma Purana and Brihan-Naradiya Purana that the results obtained in the previous yugas by different processes of spiritual perfection can also be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting and glorifying the names of the Lord.
This Sankirtana Yajna comprising Shravanam (hearing the glories of the Lord) and Kirtanam (chanting His glories) helps in remembering the Lord (Smaranam) always. In this manner if one is able to remember the Lord even at the point of death, by His mercy, one can attain liberation from the pangs of birth and death and go back to the spiritual world inhabited by the Lord and His devotees. Many exalted acharyas such as Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya and other great saints of the Bhakti tradition in the past have stressed this important point based on scriptural authority.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared over 500 years ago, was the leading advocate of the path of Bhakti and He introduced the chanting of the holy names of Lord Krishna in the form of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Sri Chaitanya was Lord Krishna Himself who pioneered a spiritual revolution by spreading the Sankirtana movement throughout India.