Hari Tum Haro

Krishna BabyAfter many months of being away from this blog, I am finally back to wish you all a very happy Janmashtami–Krishnatashtami-Gokulashtami! I have been feeling so guilty about ignoring my blog, but I couldn’t help it; nothing really felt like Music to My Ears.

It started soon after the stories of Covid became public. For some undecipherable reason, I just couldn’t listen to music anymore! I wondered and wondered about it, I even tried to force myself to listen but there it was – there was no music in my soul. There was a sense of disturbance in my mind, of a kind which would not allow me to concentrate on anything. For some, music soothes all disturbances. For others, true music only exists when there is little disturbance, or the disturbances can be swept away. Sadly, I am of the latter type. Months went by and I listened only to snippets, and nothing really drew me in.

Then last month my daughter sent me a video of my little grandson dancing to music. His expression of enjoyment, his concentration and his movements were such a delight to watch! “There it is!!”, I thought, “That’s the joy I have lost!”. Since then I have been listening more often and with more joy.  My grandson was here this morning, and we played music for him so I could record his reactions for you. Here he is demonstrating his signature moves – the sway, the spin, the bounce and the clap 🙂 Today’s play list included the Beatles, Bhupen Hazarika and Jitendra Abhisheki.

It took me only a few moments to decide on the song I would like to feature on this Janmashtami day.  ‘Hari, you remove the woes of all people‘ says Meerabai in this lovely Bhajan. I wonder, is this a prayer as in ‘Please remove the woes‘, or a statement ‘You are the remover of all woes‘ ? It works as both, does it not, a statement of belief and a prayer for relief.  This seems exactly the right prayer for the times we are in today.

There can be no other than M.S.Subbulakshmi’s rendition for has she not made this bhajan totally hers! The internet abounds with stories of Gandhiji’s love for this song and his request for her to sing it, so I shall not repeat them. It has been set to tune in Darbari Kanada by ‘Piano’ Vaidhayanathan.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Poetry : Meera
Music : ‘Piano’ Vaidhayanathan
Raga : Darbari Kanada
Language : Braj Bhasha
The lyrics below are sourced from Bhajan Sangrah (Geeta Press) 1938. That matches closely with the 2015 Edition too.

हरि तुम हरो जन की भीर।
द्रौपदी की लाज राखी, तुरत बढ़ायो चीर॥
भगत कारण रूप नरहरि, धर्यो आप सरीर॥
हिरण्याकुस को मारि लीन्हो, धर्यो नाहिन धीर॥
बूड़तो गजराज राख्यो, कियौ बाहर नीर॥
दासी मीरा लाल गिरधर, चरण-कँवल पर सीर॥

The lyrics as sung by M.S.Subbulakshmi are slightly different as given below. I will stick to her version for a detailed translation. I used a Braj Bhasha dictionary; please excuse any errors.

Lyrics in Braj Bhasha

हरि तुम हरो जनकी भीर।
द्रौपदी की लाज राखी, तुम बढ़ायो चीर॥
भगत कारण रूप नरहरि, धर्यो आप शरीर।
हरिणकश्यप मार लीन्हो, धर्यो नाहिन धीर॥
बूड़ते गजराज राख्यो, कियो बाहर नीर।
दास मीरा लाल गिरधर, दु:ख जहाँ तहाँ पीर॥


hari tum harO jan kI bhIra
draupadI kI lAj rAkhI, tum baDHAyO chIra
bhagata kAraNa rUpa narahari, dharyO Apa sharIra
hariNakashyapa mAr lInho.n, dharyO nAhina dhIra
bUDatE gajarAja rAkhyO, kiyO bAhara nIra
dAsa mIrA lAla giradhara, dukkha jahA.n tahA.n pIra


Hari, you (tum) remove (harO) the woes (bhIr) of all people (jana).
You (tum) lengthened (baDHAyO) Draupadi’s garment (chIr) and protected her  dignity/honour (lAj rAkhI – an idiom).
For the sake (kAraNa) of your devotee (bhagata), you (Apa) assumed (dharyO) a body (sharIr) in the form (rUpa) of Narasimha (narahari).
You killed (mAra lInhO.n) Hiranyakashipu. (Sorry, could not make sense of second half of this line. Dharyo-you took on, nAhina-negation, dhIra-courageous…what could this mean?)
You (impled) saved (rAkhE) the drowning (bUDatE) king of elephants (gaja rAja) by (implied) taking him out  (kiyO bAhara) of the water (nIra).
Meera, the devotee (dAsa) of her beloved (lAla) Krishna (giri-dhara=holder of mountain) says (implied) “wherever (jahA.n) there is suffering (dukkha), there (tahA.n) comes (implied) a divine/holy person (pIra)”. (Note : pIra also means pain/difficulty/sorrow. Some people translate this last line as ‘wherever there is suffering, there is pain’. But that seems repetitive to me. Meera has given examples of how when there is suffering, a divinity comes to aid us. So I’ll go with the definition of divine/holy/siddha for pIra).


Filed under Bhajan, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Meera, Uncategorized

10 responses to “Hari Tum Haro

  1. Saraswati

    Good to see this new post on ur blog. And what a beautiful song on this day. Bhakti rasa is MSS s songs are pure and divine.. Just a few days back, I was reading about kurai ondrum illai.. Though I always used to sing this song, but never got the bhavam right. Ur post on that was also beautiful. Thank you.
    Happy Krishna Jayanthi

    • Thank you Saraswati, songs such as this one and Kurai Ondrum Illai have a depth of feeling which appeals to everyone, singers as well as listeners. MSS made these songs her own in every which way; it would be impossible to replace or match up to that, wouldn’t it! Happy Krishna Jayanthi!

  2. indigoite

    A song that I have listened to from childhood thanks to MS’s United Nations Concert. An evocative moving song and when sung by MS at her best, it becomes a gem. Your interpretation of pIra seems to be the more accurate one, or atleast what was meant by Meera.

    Interesting that the glory of Hari is being sung with examples as he saves people from disasters. In many bhajans, that’s how the plea to God is. It underscores that we tend to turn to God when in trouble and tend to perhaps wander away when in good times.

    By the way the little boy is adorable. Natural dancer :):)

    Happy Janmashtami

    • I think Ramesh, all of our generation who grew up with CM would have memories of MS singing the Suprabhatam, Bhaja Govindam and Hari Tum Haro for sure. Good point about people generally gravitating to God during disasters. I must think – how many songs are there which say ‘Thank you God for giving me happiness in the form of x/y/z’ ? !!
      That little boy is absolutely the most intelligent, most talented, most adept, most beautiful, most adorable child in the world – that’s my story and I stick by it! 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  3. Vijay Poduri

    Thanks very much for this, and for all your posts over the years. I’ve seen your blog before, and stumbled on it again today while searching for the lyrics of an Ashtapadi by Jaya Deva (Priye ChaaruSheele). Your translations are very helpful. The Devanagari rendering of the lyrics makes your posts a pleasure to read.

    You probably write because you enjoy it, but you are also performing a wonderful service, letting people like me understand their composite culture a little better. Hope you continue to write for years to come.

    By the way, your grandson is very cute!

    • Thank you Vijay. Yes, indeed I write because it gives me pleasure to do so. However there is added pleasure in being useful, informative or at least entertaining to others. I’m glad you found it so.
      And yes, I think my little grandson is cute as a button 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  4. Padma

    A very apt post by you Dear Suja after a long time.. yes we have no alternative now but to surrender to the Lord to take us .. the whole world out of this situation
    Anyone who as a child liked and listened to CM and MSS Amma .. this bajan would be one of their favourite ..
    I listened to it today with folded hands seeking His grace 🙏
    Very happy to see your grandson dancing to the music .,he pauses for a while in geteeen as the music / rhythm changes to take steps accordingly.. so sweet 😍😍
    Look forward to another post soon
    Love and cheers Padma
    P.S my mail box was full and not getting new mails .. I realised it only yday .. hence the delay in seeing your mail

    • Thank you Padma for the comment! Our generation kind of grew up with this song, didn’t it! And yes, our grandson is the apple of our eyes – being a grandmother yourself, I am sure you can understand the sentiment 🙂
      I have promised myself to be more committed to this blog so yes, there will be another post soon..
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Compared to several others, I am a novice in the field of blogging, spirituality and Music. I got into this post retirement just a year ago. Your blogs are one of the inputs that I use when I write my CarnaticMusings. Thank you for the excellent work. Your grandson’s dance is very cute. If time permits, please visit my blog prabhusponder.com. God Bless

    • Thank you for your kind comments regarding my posts. I am as much a novice as you say you are in Music and Spirituality, though I have been blogging quite a while! I checked out your blog – you have worked very hard this August, haven’t you! So many posts! I know how much time and effort that takes for sure! I just skimmed through but will have a more detailed look later. I am happy that more of us are out there, trying to translate CM to make them more accessible to listeners.
      Cheers. Suja

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