The practice of Shri Krishna devotion in SankirtanA passage from the Manipuri book ‘NATA SANKRITAN’ by Sanakshya Ibotombi Haorokcham and published by The Guru Gulapi Nata Sankritana Academy

Yumnam Suren
Contd from last Saturday
As Ragatmik Bhakti (Prem Bhakti) is divided into two types as Sambandha Roop and Kama Roop, Anurag  Bhakti Sadhan also has its Sambandha Roop and Kama Roop types. Purva Vibhag, Duritiya Lahari and 95th sloka of ‘Bhakti Rasamritu Sindhu’ state that in undergoing Anurag Bhakti Sadhan the practicing devotees (in the stages of Sadhak Roop and Sidhak Roop both) should fully absorb their minds in Vraja Gopis and consider themselves as Vrajavasis (citizens of Vraja Vrindavan) really, The relevant sloka is-“Seva Sadhak Roopena Siddhiroopena Chatrahi Tadbhavalipsuna Karya Vrajalokanusarata”
In order to go along the path of Shri Krishna Bhakti Sadhan (pursuance of Krishna devotion), as of tradition, in Nata Sankritana the devotees take refuge in Shrimat Gouranga Mahaprabhu first of all. For this purpose, at the stage of starting Sankrinata Raga (Prelude to Sankirtan), Shri Krishna Cheitanya Mahaprobhu is invoked with worship and adoration to him and after the stage of singing Raga is finished, the sequence of ‘Gourachandrika’ and ‘Gouranga Bhavi’ are taken up, and proceeding on it comes to the singing of ‘Bhavavesh of Shri Mahaprabhu’ (emotional exuberance of Mahaprabhu) and at this point the kirtan is sung by inserting Shri Krishna’s Vraja Leelas in various ways.
All Vaisnava devotees who desire to follow the Krishna’s Bhakti Sadhana as Shri Mahaprabhu actually and clearly shown to the world, are used to approach him first all. So, the placing of the songs of ‘Gourachandrika’, ‘Gourange Bhavi’ etc. before all Vraja Leela Ras Kirtan has been coustomary to Gowriya Vaisnavas from long ago.
Gourachandrika which is known as Nabadwip Leela also, is a kind of kirtan describing the life and activities of Shri Krishna Cheitanya Mahaprabhu and it denotes a combination of various kirtana. As it is considered analogous to the first rate ‘Madhur Raskritans’ related to Shri Krishna’s Vraja Leelas and which is also known as ‘Ujaola Ras’(brilliant taste),when a Gourchandrika has been sung the listener easily know before hand about the particular episode of Vraja Leela to be following next.
In this connection, Vaisnava scholors, in the book called Gouranganoddesh Dipika had already drawn a similarity between a Vaisnav Mahanta or Goswami (a Vaisnava religious head or a saint ) and a chief leading Sakhi in the Vraja Leela, one by one. All Gouriya Vaisnavs firmly believe that Shri Krishna along with the principal Sakhis of Vrindavan incarnated as Gaurachandra Mahaprabhau and the Mahantas and Goswamis in Nabadwip and performed the previous leelas i.e the Vraja Leela again in Nabadwip.
Gourangabhavi is a word denoting the state of mind of Shri Krishna Cheitanya when he remained absolutely absorbed in the thought of Vraja Leela unconnected with the surroundings and it is used in the singing Guna Kirtan to describe Gouranga’s appearance and behaviour.
The word serves as the dividing line between Nabadwip Leela and Vraja Leela, as well as it brings affinity between the two leelas in Kirtan. The episode of the Vraja Leelas as existing in Gourachandra’s mind in his Bhavavesh is expressed first in the singing of Gouranga Bhavi’s song and the actual relevant story of the Vraja Leela is then sung in detail in the kritan.
In order to facilitate the pursuance of Shri Krishna Bhakti, Nata Sankirtana tradition divides the various ‘Shri Krishna Vraja Leela Ras’ as Niti Leelas, Astakal Leelas and Neimitik Leelas pertaining to Shri Hari Parvadin (festivals of Shri Hari falling on fixed days of a year) and kritans are performed accordingly.
Over and above these there are Guna Kirtans such as Manshiksha, Lalsa, Chali Prarthana, Aaratrik and many kinds of Nam Kirtans. When performing a Vraja Leela Ras Kirtan it is unavoidately concluded by a Guna Kirtan as a rule.
Niti Leela Kirtan (the paean of Radha Krishna daily love-plays in Vraja i.e. Vrindavan)
Vraja Leela Kirtan is differently classified in the book ‘Ujwal Ras Kavya’ (Poetry of brilliant tastes) according to the different days (name of the week-days) and ‘tithis’ (lunar days) of their occurence, the place of the Vraja Leela, the nayika (heroine) and the raga-ragini (lunes and sub-tunes) of the songs etc. and by taking them all together it is known as Niti Leela Kirtan simply. These Kirtans of Niti Leela are mainly based on the sixty four norms and rule of Ujwal Ras Kavya which is generally known as ‘Chon Swasthi Rasa’ (sixty four tastes).

(To be contd)