Shyamdas Archives

Shri Prathameshji Kirtan

Shyamdas has already written the best possible introduction to this post, in his book Ocean of Grace, the Teachings of His Holiness Shri Prathameshji:

Prathameshji was a genius at putting devotional poems written in his native Vrajbhasha tongue into astounding classical musical compositions. The songs that emerged from his being took those of us around him to magical spiritual heights. To hear him sing allowed us to taste the divine essence, the bhava and movement of the Lila. He delicately placed each word of the poem so as to bring forth the meaning as well as a perfect balance of melody, rhythm and poetry. To sing like that is not a matter of knowing raga, tala and music, but of understanding God to an intimate degree.

Devotion arises when the bhava of the kirtan describing Shri Krishna’s Lila is entered into. Like mantras that were seen by realized sages, the kirtans of the Path of Grace can only be truly sung when there is a Lila-awareness of their content. His Holiness was a master of this enlightened style of singing.

One winter, I accompanied His Holiness Prathameshji on a pilgrimage by bus throughout South India, visiting the places where Shri Vallabhacharya taught the Shrimad Bhagavatam over five hundred years ago. Most of our traveling was done at night. After everyone had gone to sleep, I would quietly observe His Holiness as he sat up towards the front of the bus. Using the sounds of the rattling vehicle as a tampura drone, he would sing Lila kirtans throughout the night, while the bhava of Radha and Shri Krishna’s divine plays teemed from his being. His singing was never a concert, but rather, his private divine offering. While he sang his heart out, everything became like himself, totally attractive.

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Edited by: Vallabhdas
Created by: Shyamdas

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