Song of the Sannyasin

Source of inspiration

Today is the 150th glorious birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda – one of the most illustrious sons of India who stood strongly for spiritual universalism.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 2.46.58 PMHis Life and Teachings have become a fountain source for drawing inspiration for ever. His ideals have been shaping the minds of sincere people and serious thinkers. Comity of Nations are looking forward to celebrate his anniversary in a much solemn and useful manner. Thousands of young men and hundreds of young women leave their hearth and home in search of a goal that he has fashioned for this new age. What could be better said of his teaching as ultimate is nothing but his own coined aphorism “aatmano mokshaartham jagat hitaaya cha” – For one’s own liberation and the good of the world ?

Through this blog, I salute every one who has taken Swamiji’s ideals and tried to implement them in practical lives. May this grand year be an enviable memory in every one’s life!

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To be or not to be

A teacher in a Primary School in Durban was asking the pupils the other day what they would like to become in the future. Well, every child has its own aspiration and was giving vent to his/her feelings. The Ma’m was quiet happy to listen to the replies that ran in the expected lines. But one child gave an unusual answer that alarmed her. He said that he would like to become a monk! She instantly contacted the parents and told them that there was something wrong with their child. She wanted to interview the parents as ‘proper grooming’ was not done in the home!

This is a typical reaction of anyone in the world that shows utter surprise if any child wants to become a ‘sannyasin’. Becoming a ‘good devotee’ is fully acceptable in the society but not becoming a ‘renunciate’!

This is in spite of our learning from the scriptures and the hoary Hindu tradition that of the four ashramas, ‘sannyasa ashrama’ is the ultimate. But how many of us believe in that? How many parents actually encourage their child, if he wants to don ochre robes? And it has become so common to think that there are ‘better’ things to do in Life than to become a mere monk.

Song on sannyasa

Vivekananda Cottage at Thousand Islands Park, New York, USA
Vivekananda Cottage at Thousand Islands Park, New York, USA

Herein comes a rare gem from the works of Swami Vivekananda that inspired many to become monk and has been a source of inspiration to many even today. That is a poem ‘The Song of the Sannyasin’. It has 13 verses. These verses came out from his pen in an inspired mood when Swamiji stayed seven weeks in a cottage at Thousand Island Park on the St. Lawrence River in New York State. He composed this magnificent, eloquent Song paying tribute to the supremacy of the sannyasa ashram.

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 5.42.05 PMI remember how when I was a school-goer, how I would intently listen to one of our wonderful teachers, ‘Mandiram Sir‘ as we used to address him, chanting this Song in tune and explain every verse, every word to the great delight of me! This Sir was a veritable encyclopedia on Swamiji who would enchant the listening students to the all-absorbing renunciate ideas of Swamiji. He would always present me and a few other students who would gather around him to learn about Swamiji, other quotes that deeply impressed our young minds.

The Cottage Call

His oft-repeat quote to me was from Sister Nivedita’s famous book “Notes on Wanderings with the Swami Vivekananda” wherein she recounts the most inspiring words of Swamiji : “Never forget, to say to yourself, and to teach to your children, as the difference between a firefly and the blazing sun, between the infinite ocean and a little pond, between a mustard-seed and the mountain of Meru, such is the difference between the householder and the Sannyasin.”

Hundreds of monks today acknowledge the wonderful effect of these words on their evolving minds. When I attended the Probationers’ Training Centre in Belur Math, a senior monk took a private class to me and a few ‘selected’ students on this great poem of Swamiji. Its poetic beauty makes a compelling reading, its flowing idea makes radiant impression, its mystical words make a life bloom well. It is said that Swamiji, surprisingly never told anyone about this writing. In 1947 the Cottage where Swamiji stayed went under renovation. Strangely the carpenters who were removing the old wooden walls found a hand-written manuscript, hidden from the world for 52 years after it was penned.

Slide Swamiji.001

Listen and learn

When Swamiji visited the Park, he was barely 32 years old (or young?). He had already become world celebrity. Two years before he had made that electrifying address in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Newspapers commented that “he is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament.” His whirlwind tour of USA brought him the title ‘cyclonic monk’. Resting at the Park, well-rejuvenated, Swamiji taught 12 students the intricate aspects of spiritual life. His extempore words were noted and transcribed into a book “Inspired Talks”. Swamiji used to say that he was “at his best” in Thousand Island Park. It can be safely concluded that ideas and visions that Swamiji had at this Park later paved the way for his work in India and elsewhere.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 8.34.36 PM

The Song undoubtedly is a masterpiece. I listen to this Song intermittently. It is sung so beautifully by Kumuda, an American admirer of Swamiji. She was kind to let me download this Song to my computer. I am glad to reproduce, with her permission of course in this blog, a link which I believe that everyone listening to this song would also joyously learn. Here below is the audio:

English SONG OF THE SANNYASIN_ Swami Vivekananda’s Poem, sung by Kumuda

A few years ago (2009), one of our close devotees in India, Late Bharat Churiwala while commenting on one of my posts – Boon or Bane? – lamented that he could not get a Hindi translation and its recording though he has listened to the Kannada version sung so beautifully by Late Swami Purushottamanandaji. Another reader Shubhanan desired to listen to this wonderful poem in its Hindi version. Thanks to brother Swami Nityatriptananda of Balaram Mandir, Kolkata, I have received a musical rendering of this great Song sung so melodiously by brother Swami Kripakarananda. Well, Kripakarananda is an accomplished classical musician and I am indebted to him for acceding to my request for composing a fitting tune to this Song in Hindi. Here below is the audio:

Hindi Song of the Sannyasin

The Song is beacon light to the youth especially to those who still wonder whether anything ‘extra’ this life holds for and something ‘more’ that life can unfold. Are you one of the ‘earth’s bravest and best’?

|| Aum tat sat Aum ||

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Song of the Sannyasin

composed by Swami Vivekananda

Wake up the note! the song that had its birth
Far off, where worldly taint could never reach,
In mountain caves and glades of forest deep,
Whose calm no sigh for lust or wealth or fame
Could ever dare to break; where rolled the stream
Of knowledge, truth, and bliss that follows both.
Sing high that note, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Strike off thy fetters! bonds that bind thee down,
Of shining gold, or darker, baser ore–
Love, hate; good, bad; and all the dual throng.
Know slave is slave, caressed or whipped, not free;
For fetters, though of gold, are not less strong to bind.
Then off with them, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Let darkness go, the will-o’-the-wisp that leads
With blinking light to pile more gloom on gloom.
This thirst for life forever quench; it drags
From birth to death, and death to birth, the soul.
He conquers all who conquers self.
Know this and never yield, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

“Who sows must reap,” they say, “and cause must bring
The sure effect: good, good; bad, bad; and none
Escapes the law. But whoso wears a form
Must wear the chain.” Too true; but far beyond
Both name and form is âtman, ever free.
Know thou art That, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

They know not truth who dream such vacant dreams
As father, mother, children, wife and friend.
The sexless Self–whose father He? whose child?
Whose friend, whose foe, is He who is but One?
The Self is all in all–none else exists;
And thou art That, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

There is but One: the Free, the Knower, Self,
Without a name, without a form or stain.
In Him is mâyâ, dreaming all this dream.
The Witness, He appears as nature, soul.
Know thou art That, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Where seekest thou? That freedom, friend, this world
Nor that can give. In books and temples, vain
Thy search. Thine only is the hand that holds
The rope that drags thee on. Then cease lament.
Let go thy hold, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Say, “Peace to all. From me no danger be
To aught that lives. In those that dwell on high,
In those that lowly creep–I am the Self in all!
All life, both here and there, do I renounce,
All heavens and earths and hells, all hopes and fears.”
Thus cut thy bonds, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Heed then no more how body lives or goes.
Its task is done: let karma float it down.
Let one put garlands on, another kick
This frame: say naught. No praise or blame can be
Where praiser, praised, and blamer, blamed, are one.
Thus be thou calm, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Truth never comes where lust and fame and greed
Of gain reside. No man who thinks of woman
As his wife can ever perfect be;
Nor he who owns the least of things, nor he
Whom anger chains, can ever pass through mâyâ’s gates.
So, give these up, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Have thou no home. What home can hold thee, friend?
The sky thy roof, the grass thy bed, and food
What chance may bring–well cooked or ill, judge not.
No food or drink can taint that noble Self
Which knows Itself. Like rolling river free
Thou ever be, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Few only know the truth. The rest will hate
And laugh at thee, great one; but pay no heed.
Go thou, the free, from place to place, and help
Them out of darkness, mâyâ’s veil. Without
The fear of pain or search for pleasure, go
Beyond them both, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Thus day by day, till karma’s power’s spent,
Release the soul forever. No more is birth,
Nor I, nor thou, nor God, nor man. The “I”
Has All become, the All is “I” and Bliss.
Know thou art That, sannyâsin bold! Say,
“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

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11 comments

  1. Respected Maharaj,
    Joy Thakur, Joy Maa.
    Many, many thanks for posting this wonderful poem, which is inspirational beyond words.
    With Pronam to Sri Sri Thakur, Sri Sri Maa and Swamiji,
    Sincere Regards,
    Debanjan
    Kolkata, India

    Like

  2. Pranam Maharaj,
    Thank you for the wonderful article about Swami Vivekananda!
    We all should salute Him on His 150th birthday.
    Today all over the world this occasion is celebrated in a great manner.
    The poem written by Swamiji is wonderful! Your experience in your earlier days with your teacher is also interesting to read!
    Great masters!
    Our Pranam!
    Jayamani
    Kolkata, India

    Like

  3. Om Namo Narayanaya Swamiji
    My humble Pranam at Thy Feet!
    This poem vibrates with power and hurls the thought into my mind, that only the “King of Renouncers”, as translated from “Namah sri yati raajaaya“, could derive such beautiful poem, without any effort, and from His own experiences.
    I thank Maharaj for this soul stirring translation.
    Humble Pranam
    Om Namo Narayanaya
    Rohith Jeebodh
    Estcourt, SA

    Like

  4. Revered Maharaj,
    My respectful pranam.
    Your articles are thought provoking, interesting and innovating but this article is best amongst all.
    Thanks for shaking us from slumber.
    With kindest regards,
    Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam
    Jai Shanker Shukla
    Kanpur, India

    Like

  5. Your comments are real. In spite of the fact that we all hail ourselves as children of Rishi parampara, we never encourage or even mention about Sannyasin or renunciation to them.
    Mandiram Sir – the great Teacher of RK Main, T. Nagar was a dedicated devotee and teacher. Every Thursday at Chennnai Math “Song of the Sannyasin” was sung by Swami Abhiramanandaji till he was Manager there. Now this song is replaced by some others!!
    Dr Y Hariharan
    Coimbatore, India

    Like

  6. Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam
    Aum Namo Narayanaya
    Dear Maharaj,
    my pranam at the feet of Holy Trio and you. Jay Swami Vivekananda Jayanthi!
    Swamiji will continue to inspire and work ceaselessly until everyone understands he is one with god. It is through his glory we understand a particle of who the Master is.
    With love always
    Yogan
    Tongaat, SA

    Like

  7. Respected Maharaj
    Jai Sri Ramakrishna
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful aritcle and Poem on Swamiji, also thanks for re-awakening Swamiji‘s teachings via the various forms of media, it’s such a pleasure listening to the wise words of Swamiji in the early hours of the morning.
    Thanks for taking this to the masses. It is indeed a great blessing to be a part of the Ramakrishna Parivaar.
    Many thanks!
    With Love and humble mental prostrations
    Meera
    Durban, SA

    Like

  8. I love the Kannada version of this song and am looking for the lyrics.
    Can anyone help me?
    Muthulaxmi S
    Bangalore, India

    Like

  9. Thank you very much for sharing such an exquisite rendering of the Song of the Sanyasin in Hindi.
    I was looking for something like this to learn and sing and hearing this Hindi version from this site, felt like a precious discovery. Thank you again!
    I have written down the lyrics, however there are some mistakes in what I have interpreted and written down on my own. Would it be possible for you to guide me to the best way to obtain the lyrics, meaning and maybe a downloadable file for this Hindi song? I will be happy to make a payment if it is available anywhere for a payment or will be grateful if I could request it.
    My only goal behind obtaining it is to learn it myself and sing it in an upcoming Vedant Center event. I would request your kind help towards that.
    Thank you,
    With Regards,
    Mugdha Deshpande
    USA

    Like

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