Sama Gana Lole

DurgaA very Happy Navaratri to all my readers! Like other South Indians, I celebrate the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during these nine days. This year, I would like to make this Navaratri a festival of thankfulness, to express my gratitude to the Goddesses for their presence in my life.

I make my bow first to Shakti. She is the Goddess of Power worshipped in many forms. She is Durga, the peaceful and benevolent Goddess just as she is Kali, the terrifying and vengeful one. She is beautiful and alluring as Meenakshi just as she is frightening as Bhairavi. How can we reconcile these opposites and focus our minds on Her ?

As always I shall resort to analogies to demonstrate the perfection of who She is. Shakti is incarnate in this world as power and energy wherever you see. She is there, for example, in the bonds which hold the sub-atomic particles together. Without Her, the building blocks of this physical world would collapse.  In that form she is benign, life-supporting. But innate in those very bonds is the possibility of nuclear power of an intensity which can destroy all. In this form the same power becomes terrifying. So too are Durga and Kali one and the same.  She is both the benign ocean current and the terrifying tsunami. She is the energy of the magma which warms the earth from below, She is the destructive power of the lava from erupting volcanoes. She is light-giving electricity, She is the lightning which strikes to kill. She is everywhere around us and in us, from the physical power which holds the atoms of our body together to the psychic power of the Kundalini which holds our soul tied to this body.

Shakti Shri Saraswati

It seems to me that our Goddesses fit well into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I see Shakti’s domain as the foundation as it is She who makes life possible. She is the energy in our cells, in our limbs, in our heartbeats, in our Spirit, in the world which sustains us. Without her all else fails. So today I thank Shakti for her presence in our midst.

To celebrate her, I am offering a song in her praise which is set to the melodious Hindolam raga, written and composed by the great musician G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965). It is not a prayer, but an invocation; the poet demands nothing, he remembers, he acknowledges and he pays obeisance.  He calls her ‘an abode of limitless greatness’ and ‘an expert granter of boons’. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have a rendition by the remarkable young vocalist Abhishek Raghuram. Since I heard it, it has become my favourite version of this song. I hope you enjoy it as well. I have loaded only the kriti (21 mins). If you want to listen to the alapanai as well click the alternate link given below.

Alternate link :


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Sanskrit

साम गान लोले सललित गुण जाले अम्ब

सोम बिम्ब वदने निस्सीम महिम सदने
सामज मृदु गदने काम दान निपुणे  अम्ब

कोमलाङ्ग कामेश्वर वाम भाग सदने
नाम भजित साधु जन पाप कूट मदने
तामसादि गुण कल्पित तापत्रय शमने
तेम दया रस पूरित  दाम कमल नयने  अम्ब

Transliteration :

sAma gAna lOlE, salalita guNa jAlE amba

sOma bimba vadanE nissIma mahima sadanE
sAmaja mrdu gadanE kAma dAna nipuNE amba

kOmalAnga kAmEshwara vAma bhAga sadanE
nAma bhajita sAdhu jana pApa kUta madanE
tAmasAdi guNa kalpita tApatraya shamanE
tEma daya rasa pUrita dAma kamala nayanE amba

Translation :

She who longs for (lOlE) the music (hAna) of the Vedas (sAma), She who is a lattice (jAlE) of pleasing (salalita) qualities (guNa).

She whose face (vadanE) is an image (bimba) of the moon (sOma), She who is the abode (sadanE) of limitless (nissIma) greatness (mahima). She who arises from the Sama Veda (sAmaja), She who speaks (recites, gadanE) softly (mrdu), She who is expert (nipunE) in bestowing (dAna) our wishes (kAma).

She whose limbs (anga) are delicate (komala), She who resides (sadanE) in the left (vAma) part (bhAga) of Shiva (kAmeshwara). She who embraces (madanE) the heap (kUta) of sins (pApa) of the good people (sAdhu jana) who revere (bhajita) Her name (nAma). She who puts an end to (shamanE) to the threefold suffering (tApa traya, the three being adhyAtmika=caused by one’s own self, adhibhautika=caused by those around one, adhidaivika=caused by the Gods) caused by the qualities (gUna) such as Tamasa. She who is full of (pUrita) moist (tEma, implying perhaps melting?) merciful (dayA) feeling (rasa). She whose eyes (nayanE) is like a garland (dAma) of lotuses (kamala).



Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, G.N.Balasubramaniam

12 responses to “Sama Gana Lole

  1. Ramesh

    Mmmm – that’s an interesting concept ; Hindu goddesses in Maslow’s theory. Nice analogy to explain their concepts. I found your exposition of the seemingly contradictory qualities of the goddesses, fascinating. Take care – if you provide insights like this they may even overshadow your excellent music 🙂

    Had never given much thought to Abhishek Raghuram before, but now interested, thanks to your introduction.

    • Thanks again, you are my most regular commentator and I really appreciate your interest. I shall build upon the Goddesses fitting into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the next couple of posts, so watch out for an expansion to the theme 🙂 Did the analogies appeal to you? I am glad! The notion came upon me as I was washing dishes and thinking about our Goddesses but sometimes my bright ideas turn out not so bright to others 🙂

      Abhishek Raghuram is gifted with an amazing voice with great brigha quality and a blessedly musical family. He is still very young indeed and sometimes I feel he thinks that complexity is the epitome of good music which is not always the case. I feel that musicians need to walk the tightrope between simplicity and complexity to get the best results. But I like him enormously and am eager to watch his progression..

  2. shoote


    I am back. This is the first time i am hearing Abeshik Raguraman. Really fantastic. Next music season i’ll mark him as must listen.

  3. K


    A search for meaning of “kAma dAna nipuNE” led me to this page. A good friend (native Telugu speaker and a very good musician) has heard it sung as “kAma dahana nupuNE”. She cited other songs felt that kAma being incinerated was more appropriate than giving a gift of kAma.

    You may enjoy a different (in its emphasis) take of Sama gana lole, by a second generation GNB student at!2629&authkey=!AA8_O7knCzuJYcw&ithint=file%2cmp3

    Appreciate the time and effort you have put in for making your blogs interesting and useful. Listened to a bit of Abhishek, browsed travel photos (Russia, India…) and saw a link to Iyer Brothers, we have been friends with from mid ’80s. Best wishes

    • Hello! Welcome to my blog! I can understand why ‘kAma dahana’ is being suggested; after all, the first meaning we associate with kAma is ‘lustful desire‘. However, if you check out dictionaries, kAma also means a wish or desire in general. For example think of kAmadEnu, the wish giving cow. Nothing to do with lust!! I have listened to many renditions of this song by old and young alike with ‘kAma dAna’. It also ties in with the first line of the pallavi in which there is a reference to kAmEshvara.

      Thank you for the link, I enjoyed the rendition, a very soothing voice!

      My sister and brother-in-law are good friends of the Iyer Brothers 🙂 If you are from Melbourne, you may well be acquainted with my sister as well! Thank you for having a browse, fellow music lovers / travel addicts are always a pleasure to ‘meet’!
      Cheers. Suja


      Dear all
      Today i heard Sama gana lole in FM kannada amurthavarshani channel, singer was ML Vasantha kumari, amazing voice, great lyrics by Mr. Balasubramaniam

      • Yes, I too have heard a superb MLV rendition of this song…I found it online somewhere unfortunately can’t remember where.
        cheers. Suja

  4. Arvind

    Discovered your page while googling Susheela Raman’s spell-binding popular version that incorporates guitar and throat singing:


    You can hear this song in Youtube, can find particular song in one of the group of MLV compositions. You have to search song name with MLV, I observed after alapana we can not hear same in violin instrument short duration, then song will continue.


  6. Pragathi

    Ma’am is it possible for u to send notations of this song via email ?

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