Tag Archives: Swami Dayanand Saraswati

Bho Shambho

Sunday mornings my mother would hurry us up to get ready, my sister and I, to take us to the Chinmaya Mission classes. It was our equivalent of Sunday School. There we would hear stories from Hindu sacred texts,  memorize portions of  the Bhagawat Geeta  and learn other Shlokas.

सर्वे सुखिनो भवन्तु |
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ||
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु |
मा कश्चिद् दुःख भाग् भवेत् ||
ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ||

Let everyone be happy
Let everyone be without disease
Let everyone bear witness to good events
Let no-one have a share of sadness
Om Peace, Peace, Peace!!

What a good prayer! Those Vedic seers had vision – how can individual well-being stand on the shoulders of collective misery? Let us indeed pray for universal good!

What I learnt at 8, I still chant today. What has all this to do with the song ‘Bho Shambho’ ? Just that the song was written by Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1930), a teacher of Vedanta, who had his roots in the Chinmaya Mission.  Subsequently, he founded the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and is to this day connected with this institution. Just as I learnt shlokas from the Chinmaya Mission, there are many young people learning Vedanta from his institutes today. I am so glad our ancient heritage continues to be taught.

His bhajans (devotional songs) have been sung and popularised by the Carnatic music maestro Maharajapuram Santhanam. I have always held a deep affection for the Maestro’s wonderful voice. Bho Shambho is set to the raga Revati (click here to know more about the raga) , a raga which always reduces me to tears and deep longing for I don’t even know what. Click below to listen :

Alternate link: Click here

For lyrics and meaning, see footnote.

There is a visual treat to follow : I present below a beautiful Bharatanatyam dance performance to this song by Croatian dancer Nikolina Nikoleski, student of Dr.Saroja Vaidyanathan. Her movements and postures bring to life this dance of Shiva, He who is the eternal dancer.

Footnote (Lyrics):

I have transcribed them in Sanskrit with an attempt at an accurate translation.

भो शम्भो शिव शम्भो स्वयंभो (= भु शम्भु शिव शम्भु स्वयम्भु )
bhO shambhO shiva shambhO svayambhO
being from whom all grace happens, Shiva, self-born
गङ्गाधर शंकर करुणाकर मामव भवसागर तारक
gangAdhara shankara karuNAkara mAmava bhavasAgar tAraka
source of the Ganges, the one who blesses (prefix शम् verb कृ ), he who is compassionate,  the boatman to cross the ocean of worldly existence
निर्गुण परब्रम्ह स्वरूप गमागम भूत प्रपन्च रहित
nirguNa parabramha swarUpa gamAgama bhUta prapancha rahita
supreme being who is attribute-less, who is beyond the past, present, the future and this world of five senses/five elements
निज गुह निहित नितान्त अनन्त आनन्द अतिशय अक्षय लिङ्ग
nija guha nihita nitAnta ananta Ananda atishaya akshaya linga
lives in depths of my heart yet in absolute infinity, blissful, unmatched, an eternal symbol
धिमित धिमित धिमि धिमिकिट किटतोम
dhimita dhimita dhimi dhimikiTa kiTatOm
rhythmic sounds of dance
तोम तोम तरिकिट तरिकिट किटतोम
tom tom tarikiTa tarikitA kiTatom
rhythmic sounds of dance
मतङ्ग मुनिवर वन्दित ईश
matanga munivara vandita Isha
Lord who is worshipped by the sage Matanga  (Matanga wrote a treatise on Indian music circa 6AD)
सर्व दिगम्बर वेष्टित वेष
sarva digambara vEshTita vEsha
he who is clothed in ‘sky’ = naked
नित्य निरञ्जन नित्य नटेश
nitya niranjana nitya naTesha
the one who is eternal, the cosmic dancer
ईश सबेष सर्वेश
Isha sabEsha sarvEsha
Lord, Lord of the stage, the Lord of the world



Filed under Carnatic Music, Classical Dance, Compositions in Sanskrit, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Swami Dayanand Saraswati