One of the best pieces of promotion for the Sathya Sai groups and centres are the devotional singing sessions called bhajans. Because everyone can sing along, and anyone who aspires to perform can take the lead now and again, these meeting are the most attended in the Sathya Sai Organization around the world. The bhajan consists in a tuneful and rhythmic song where one line is sung by one or more lead singers and the same line is repeated by the gathering. It makes for easy learning both of tunes and words. Another attraction is that the classic Sathya Sai bhajans - which he has sung since he set himself up as a guru, are in Sanskrit, which lends itself to singing because of the predominance of open vowels. It gives an added interest to pick up some Sanskrit words, but many groups also have bhajans in English and other languages as well. One also recites mantras recommended and taught by Sathya Sai Baba as part of a bhajan session. Devotees are free to compose their own bhajans and sing them in public (and they are almost never criticised however awful they might be, for all criticism - except of oneself - is considered to be unspiritual).
Most of the bhajans sung in India praise either of Sai Baba as the divinity, the supposed avatar or incarnation of the one God, or of the various former incarnations he claims to have had, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, and also about other deities in the Hindu pantheon of Hindu. Some bhajans are dedicated partly to Jesus, to Allah and other major religious icons. The texts and melodies are copied around the world, not least by recordings. Christian psalms and hymns are nevertheless also sung in some centres, these meetings being in principle for worship of any form of Divinity. At Sai baba's ashrams the twice-daily bhajan sessions are invariably sung in Sanskrit, unless some special occasion is made for some foreigners to sing a few in their own language.
One small example shows how much importance Sathya Sai Baba attached to the singing of bhajans can be quoted. When he had collapsed from his major hip injury and had apparently recovered (a recovery which did not last not was very convincing) he stated: "Each and every house conducted bhajans and Namasmarana. Some devotees undertook penance and performed Yajnas. In this manner, a number of spiritual activities were undertaken praying for the well being of Swami. It is as a result of such fervent prayers that I am able to stand before you and address you." (From the published discourse 13-July-2003 - see here)
With musical arrangement by George Harrison, however, the Hare Krishna Temple
singers in London got a hit and reached
No. 1 on UK's top twenty back in the 60s with 'Govindam adi-purusham'
in Sanskrit and even had something of a hit with the now well-known and dirgelike 'Hare Krishna mantra'. But Sai Baba has never
got anywhere near that... while he the Beatles are of course many worlds apart as composers,
singers and stars. Their songs also have understandable messages. Had Sai Baba's voice and compositions been so wonderful
as claimed they would at least have had raised some notice
in the musical world, not least since they are mostly available without