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The Origins of Kiirtan in Ánanda Márga

An ongoing investigation into the origins of Baba Nam Kevalam Kiirtan.

 Based on telephone interviews conducted September and October of 2010 with the following:

  • Ac Iishvarakrsnananda AvtAc Sarvatmananda Avt.
  • Ac. Pranavatmakananda Avt.
  • Ac. Raj Mohan (Present in Amjaria in 1970)
  • Bro. Jaganath (present in Amjaria in 1970)
  • Bro. Devanath (present in Amjaria in 1970) 

These are stories of events that set the stage for Shrii Prabhata.Ranjain Sarkar, the founder and Guru of Ananda Marga who introduced the Baba Nam Kevalam Kiirtan on the 8th of October, 1970.  

Acarya Pranavatmakananda Avadhuta and Acarya Sarvatmananda Avadhuta provided stories of events that preceded the formal teaching of Baba Nam Kevalam Kiirtan. This was a time, following the Year of Demonstrations (1969) where there was extreme devotion and margiis and workers would sing traditional kiirtans and bhajans for the Guru and Acarya Nityasatyananda Avt. was encouraged by the Guru to compose devotional bhajans which would be sung for Baba on Saturdays and Sundays. Some Ananda margiis had been singing traditional kiirtans with words like “Bolo Baba Baba” (Speak Baba Baba) and singing in devotional trances during September. Acarya Nityasatyananda Avt. once completed a bhajan with “Baba Nam”. Baba said something like “Tatastu – May that be as it is”. Acarya Vimuktananda Avt. according to one story, while in a devotional trance sang kiirtan to Baba and he sang Baba Nam Kevalam (or something close to this) and Baba again said something like “Tatastu - Keep that”.  

The following account is based on the interviews with several senior margiis and Acarya  Raj Mohan who were all present in Amjaria in 1970. Their recollections are that on October 5th Baba wanted to go somewhere outside Ranchi to visit with family members. The small group went to the Government Guest House in the forests of Amjaria. He stayed in the VIP room in the main Guest House.  On the 5th and 6th, Baba rested and visited and did not hold any functions or see the margiis. Acarya Raj Mohan (family Acarya) was present during this time.  

Around 9pm on the 7th of October, 1970 Baba called Ac Raj Mohan and Ac Bhramadeva into his room and told them all about this new kiirtan in great detail. Raj Mohan said that Baba gestured to show how the hands and arms should be and also showed the dance steps to them. He gave the left-right movement as well. He explained the Baba Nam Kevalam mantra and said that it shouldn’t be just Baba Nam, but that it should have Kevalam. He explained that he had made this a Siddha mantra and had given it as a gift to all. This mantra is a universal mantra that can be sung or chanted by anyone.  He said that it was very helpful for sadhana and had other health benefits as well. He wanted all margiis to start doing this kiirtan. We heard that some people were uncomfortable dancing kiirtan and raising their arms and that it took some time for these people to fully appreciate the subtlety of kiirtan.   

On the 8th of October, 1970 a number of margiis had come to Amjaria to seeBaba. (Devanath remembered 25-35 and Raj Mohan remembered 50-60 margiis). Baba told them to do kiirtan. Baba gave a demonstration on Ac Brahmadeva, asking him if he heard any sounds. He replied that he heard something like “Baba Baba”.  Baba asked him to listen more carefully and he said he heard “Baba Nam Kevalam”. He said that the sound was coming from the sky and from everything and from everywhere. Ac Raj Mohan said that he also heard this and that others also heard it. During the kiirtan at some point, Baba’s car which had been parked by the main guest house suddenly moved slowly toward the garage where the kiirtan was in progress and stopped outside.  There was no driver and the car was not turned on. Many of the margiis saw this (this story has been confirmed by several margiis who were present).  Later Baba remarked that kiirtan was so powerful that even an object such as the car was drawn to come toward the kiirtan. (This story was heard from these margiis and Dada Iishvarakrsnananda and Dada Pranavatmakananda had heard this as well).  

The local margiis of the area now organize akhanda kiirtans each anniversary on October 8th in Amjaria at the guest house.  

From Ac Raj Mohan,s account, it appears that Baba gave a lot of details about kiirtan to him and Ac Bhramadeva on the night of the 7th, preparing them for the following day. 

Baba means ”respected father” and is widely used as a familiar name for the Guru. Baba also holds connotations of “nearest or dearest”. So Baba Nam Kevalam has a deep range of meaning – That nearest or dearest is everywhere is everything, Only that divine name.  

This account is based on interviews conducted by Giridhara, (P.R. Sarkar Archives) with the above margiis during September and October 2010. We are continuing to locate those who were present at the first Akhanda Kiirtan with BNK and expect that we will be able to add more detail to this nice history in the future.  

2014 InnerSong