Karpoora Gauram

Karpoora Gauram
(words and translation kindly contributed by Kiran Jatania)

karpoora gauram karunaavataaram samsaara saaram bhujagendra haaram

He is white like camphor and the very incarnation of mercy and compassion,
The only good thing in this world, wearing a king cobra as a garland

sadaavasantam hridayaara vinde bhavam bhavaani sahitam namaami

It is always springtime in the lotus of His heart.
I bow down to Bhava (Shiva), as well as to Bhavani (Parvati) who accompanies Him

About this prayer
Depicting Lord Shiva, this prayer, which is usually said at the end of an aarti, has a wonderful underlying message for us. As well as helping us to picture His form, it takes a particular reference to the king cobra that dresses Him as a garland.

Many great Vedantic scholars teach us that this cobra represents none other than our vasanas, or the roots of our desires. In our case, this cobra constantly attacks our mind, driving us to the satify these desires and and strengthen these vasanas. However, such is the purity and beautiful equanimity of Lord Shiva, that the mind is fully under His control. The mind is now no longer an enemy but a friend, pointing not towards the Lord but away from Him as his weapon and protector. So much so, that in fact it now becomes a decoration, His garland, leaving us ever more in awe of His splendour.

Radhe Govinda Ram

Radhe Govinda Ram, Radhe Govinda Ram

Bolo mara hari jano, Radhe Govinda Ram
Sing, my fellow seekers, Radhe Govinda Ram


Pal pal ayoush onchu thay che
Second by second, this life shortens,

Hari bhajavano a samay vayo jay che

As it does, our time to sing Hari’s glories disappears

Hari bhajan vina nathin aram,
Without singing His glory there is no peace

Bolo mara hari jano Radhe Govinda Ram


Sara natthara karamo kariya
We have done good deeds and bad deeds

Anhkar koti ma sarve bharya
In the body of the ego, these impressions have been contained

Anhkar chori thame bhajo Sita Ram
Throw away this ego and sing “Sita Ram”!

Bolo mara hari jano Radhe Govinda Ram


Chare yug ma avatar dharia
In each of the four Yugas (eras) we have worshipped His avatars

Lakhsh chorasi fera faria
We’ve travelled through the cycle of 84 lakh births (to reach here)

Ram bhajan vina nathin aram,
Without singing the glory of Ram there is no peace

Bolo mara hari jano Radhe Govinda Ram


Vo nahin karta, vo nahin bhogta
You reap what you sow

Karma taran far savne marta
We all receive the fruits of our actions according to karma

Das Vijay kahe Sita Ram,

Das Vijay sings “Sita Ram”

Bolo mara hari jano Radhe Govinda Ram

About this Bhajan
This bhajan, composed by Vijay Das is probably one of my favourite and was sung regularly by my grandfather, Shree Damji Devji Pattni. I find its words are entirely self-expanatory and so powerful in making one take a step backwards and “see the bigger picture”, both in terms of the nature and limitations of our own ego and from the perspective from karma. Lovingly surrender all to the Lord in an instant though just reciting His name. Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram!!

Achyutam Keshavam

Achyutam Keshavam Krishna Damodaram,
Rama naraynam Janaki-vallabham,

(praising the Lord Krishna, with different names of Vishnu)
Kaun kehta hai Bhagvan aate nahi
Tum Meera ke jaise bulate nahi,
… Achyutam …

Who says God does not come? You don’t call Him with the devotion of Meera

Kaun kehta hai Bhagvan khaate nahi,
Ber Shabri ke jaise khilate nahi, … Achyutam …

Who says God does not eat? You don’t feed him like how Shabari fed him

Kaun kehta hai Bhagvan Sote nahi,
Maa Yashoda ke jaise sulate nahin,
… Achyutam …

Who says God does not sleep? You don’t make him sleep like how Mother Yashoda did

Kaun kehta hai Bhagvan naachte nahi,
Tum Gopi ke jaise nachaate nahin, Achyutam…

Who says God does not dance? You don’t make him dance like how Gopis did


About this Bhajan
This wonderful bhajan is so simple and yet conveys such a beautiful message. We often expect the Lord to come running at our beck and call, but how often do we show Him the same unconditional love He shows us? If we show and live with the kind of love shown by these saints, surely we will see only His love any every word, every thought and every action. Their love did not ask for anything in return, but was simply expressed for what it was – whether it was the devotion of Meerabai, or the dance of the Gopis, this love was so intense that nothing else could possibly remain besides this love, and all other desires and impressions were eliminated. Through just their bhakti, they became one with Him.

Vaishnava jan

(This is one of my favourite bhajans, and one apparently listened to frequently by Mahatma Gandhi.)

Vaishnava jan

Vaishnava jan to tene kahiye, je peed paraayee jaNe re

He is the true Vaishnava who knows and feels another’s suffering as his own.

Par dukkhe upkar kare toye, man abhiman na aaNe re
While he serves those who are suffering, he does not entertain pride in his mind about it.


SakaL lok maan sahune vande, nindaa na kare keni re
He respects everyone, and denounces nobody.

Vaach-kaachch-man nischal raakhe, dhan dhan janani teni re
He keeps his speech, deeds, and thoughts pure; blessed is his mother.

Sam-drushti ne trishNaa tyaagi, parastree jene maat re
Viewing all equally, he rids himself of covetousness, and reveres every woman as though she were his mother.

Jihvaa thake, asatya na bole, par-dhan nava jhaale haath re
His tongue would fail him if he were to attempt to speak an untruth. He does not covet another person’s wealth.

Moh-maayaa vyaape nahin jene, draDh vairagya jena manmaa re
Material attachments do not occupy his mind, it being deeply rooted in renunciation.

Raam-naam shu taaLE laagi, sakaL teerath tena tanmaa re
Every moment he is intent on reciting the name of Rama. All the holy places are ever present in his body.

VaNa lobhi ne kapat rahit chhe, kaam krodh nivaarya re
He has conquered greed, deceit, lust, and anger.

BhaNe Narsaiyyo tenu darshan karata, kuL ekoter tarya re
Says Narsi, the sight of such a Vaishnava saves a family through seventy-one generations.


About this bhajan
A beautiful Gujarati poem written by Narsi Metha, this bhajan attempts to describe all the qualities in a man of god, or “vaishnav”. Most striking is the chorus – he who understands and feels another’s suffering as his own and acts on this without any sense of ego. To such a man, helping others is not defined in his mind as “social work”. It is his Lord’s work.

I mentioned above that Gandhiji was fond of this bhajan. Seeing his life, his work, and his struggles, I find it hard to imagine that it is not him being described in these verses.

Prabhuji, Tum Chandan, Hum Pani

Prabhuji, Tum Chandan, Hum Pani
Jaaki Ang Ang Baas Samaani

Prabhuji, you are the chandan (sandalwood paste), I am the water
Only by merging with you is the sandalwood fragrance released

Prabhuji, Tum Ghan, Ban Hum Mora

Jaise Chitwat Chand Chakora

Prabhuji, you are the thundering clouds, I become a peacock (that longs to dance to the rain)
(or) Like the chakora bird who longs to see the moon…

Prabhuji, Tum Moti, Hum Dhaga

Jaise Sonhe Milat Suhaga

Prabhuji, you are like a pearl and I am the string (losing its identity in a rosary of pearls)
Gold has no fragrance of its own, despite being so beautiful. It would therefore become even more beautiful by gaining a fragrance (sonhe me suhaga). Through losing myself in you this gold (I), gains its fragrance.

Prabhuji, Tum Deepak Hum Baati,
Jaaki Jyoti Barai Dini Raati

Prabhuji, you are like the diya and I am the burning wick
Together we create the flame (light) which burns night and day

Prabhuji, Tum Swami, Hum Dasa

Aisi Bhakti Karai Raidasa

Prabhuji, you are Swami, and I am your servant
This way of devotion is followed by Raidasa

About this bhajan
This beautiul bhajan was composed by Raidasa, the guru of Mirabai. Through a string of colourful metaphors, he shows the non-duality between man and God. With remarkable delicacy he even explains the yearning for the jiva and atman for each other and their dependancy on each other to produce the vibrant and full expression of the Lord.

It has been sung wonderfully by Anup Jalota.
You can view it on youtube here.

Kya Sunder Tera Naam

Nārāyan….. Nārāyan…..
ārāyan, Nārāyan, kyā sunder térā nāam

Narayan, Narayan, how sweet is your name

Svāsé svāsé sumiran karilé, vrath svās math khoi
ā bharosā svāsa kā, yā phir āvan hoi na hoi

Breath by breath remember his name, waste not a single breath
What trust is there in breath, that another breath will come

āvan mé gopio, gāyun, vyuksh bolé nāam
ā Krishnā, Rādhā vallabh, murli manohar Shyām

In Vrindavan, gopis, cows, and trees whisper his name
Krishna Krishna, Radha’s love, Shyam to whose flute the mind is lost

Draupadi n
é jab tumhé pukārā sāari āane badāi
āam ke lekar vish bi piy gaya, dekho Mirā bāi

When Drapuadi remembered your name, her saari become eternally long
Taking your name she even drank poison, our beloved Mirabai

ām bolun yā Shyām bolun, ék vinanthi hé
Janam janam m
é térā sunder nāam ratthé rahengé

Whether I sing Ram or I sing Shyam, I have only one wish
(that) For every life I am reborn, your sweet name stays on my lips

About this bhajan
This is a bhajan I have written, or should really say assembled as I have borrowed many of the words from some beautiful written works or bhajans. The first verse is taken from a book called Hari Ras (as sung by Shree Navin Pattni). The third verse is also from a bhajan written by Narsi Metha – “Shree Radhe Govinda”.