Bhavani Ashtakam – An Ode to the Universal Mother!

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine shared with me an amazing Sanskrit hymn – “Bhavani Ashtakam”. I realized that it had been a long time since I wrote of some Sanskrit hymns. After listing out some of my favorite hymns in Sanskrit, I had kinda let that go into the oblivion. Devotional songs have always been an enchanting proposition for me, and no matter what time or day, I cherish losing myself to the rhythms of devotional numbers that are transcendental in their effect, bringing the ethereal experience of spirituality to the commoner levels. Not all songs have this effect, I am afraid. It takes a wonderful combination of right music, and appropriate literature to blend together seamlessly, one not over riding the other, and create that wholesome experience, necessary to spur the divine feeling inside the listener. This particular hymn Bhavani Ashtakam, has been sung by Bangalore Sisters. Their another amazing album was the Ganesha Stotramala. It is indeed a collectible material, if you are looking for enchanting hymns on Ganesha. The particular composition of Bhavani Ashtakam, that I am interested in right now, is a composition of Sri Adi Shankara. He has eloborated on the effervescence of the worldly matters – the relationships, the materialisms, etc, and harkens on the Universal Mother as the sole protector and sustainer from this whirlpool of Samsaara.
Na taato, na maata, na bandur na daata,
Na putro, na putri , na bhrutyo , na bharta,
Na jaaya na Vidya, na Vruthir mamaiva,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam twam ekaa Bhavaani.
I have no father, no mother, no relative, no protector. (I have) no son, no daughter, no servants, no husband, no progenies, no education and no employment that I can call as my own! You are my only protector, you the only one O! Bhavaani! (The one who takes everyone out of this Bhava-worldly miseries)

Bhavaabdhava paare , Maha dhukha Bheeru,
Papaatha prakaami , pralobhi pramatta,
Ku samsaara paasha pravartyassadaaham,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam twam ekaa Bhavaani.

I have been caught in this torrential flow of the samsaara, and in great agony! (Because) I am lustful, greedy, intoxicated (mad), and I keep turning myself towards the noose of this destructive samsaara (worldly affairs). I have none but you as my protector, you the only one, O! Bhavaani!

Na janaami daanam, Na cha dhyaana yogam,
Na janaami tantram, na cha stotra mantram,
Na janaami poojaam, na cha nyaasa yogam,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam twam ekaa Bhavani

I know nothing about sacrifices, neither about meditation, I know of no rituals, no hymns or praises, I do not know about worship, neither about losing merging my existence in worship or service of the divine. You are my only salvation, you the only one O! Bhavaani!

Na janaami Punyam, Na janaami teertham,
Na janaami muktim, layam vaa kadaachit,
Na janaami bhaktim, vrathamvaapi maata,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam, twam ekaa Bhavani.

I do not know of fruits begotten by good deeds, I do not know of sacred places, I do not know of salvation, or even a bit of destruction. I do not know of devotion or of vows. You are my only salvation, you the only one O! Bhavani!

Kukarmi, kusangi, kubuddhi, kudaasa,
Kulaachara heena, kadhachaara leena,
Kudrushti, kuvaakya prabandhassadaaham,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam, twam ekaa Bhavani.

I am a sinner, have indulged in bad company, have borne ill thoughts, enslaved myself to vice, I have abandoned the path of virtue, and not interested in pious ways, I have cast evil eyes and have always indulged in mouthing inappropriate talks – (Yet, today I come to you) you are my only means & end, you the only one O! Bhavaani!

Pradesam, Ramesam, Mahesam, Suresam,
Dhinesam, Nishitheswaram vaa kadachit,
Na janami chaanyath sadaaham sharanye,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam twam ekaa Bhavani

I do not know anything of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Sun or the moon. I do not know of anyone else whom I can take refuge of. You are my only salvation, you the only one O! Bhavaani!

Vivaade, Vishaade, pramaade, pravaase,
Jale chaanale parvathe shatru madhye,
Aranye, sharanye sadaa maam prapaahi,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam, twam ekaa Bhavani.

In strife, in agony, in danger or in travel, whether am in water or fire, whether am in the mountains amidst the enemies, in forest, I shall always seek refuge in thee! Do protect me! For you are the only salvation, you the only one O! Bhavani!


Anaatho, daridro, jaraa roga yukto,
Maha Ksheena deenassadaa jaadya vakthra,
Vipattou pravishta, pranashtassadhaham,
Gatistwam, Gatistwam, twam ekaa Bhavani.
I am an orphan, destitute, bearing the diseases of my old age, malnourished, sad, and always bearing a grief-stricken (diseased) face. I find myself surrounded by danger and facing a terrible end. You are my only salvation, you the only one O! Bhavaani!

When I first heard this stotra, the most hard hitting aspect of it, was the gruesome picture drawn of humankind. It was certainly unnerving for most part of it. And yet, it does come as a hardhitting argument – something like those gory pictures we see, in order to drive home the point of saving the nature, environment or cute animals! And there is a divine beauty to the human life too, something that we always forget about and meander around in loss and pain. We forget that we are all happy creatures of this Neverland, and were meant to be happy! Time and again, we need to be reminded of this, and what better place than the lap of the universal mother, to learn of our life and its essence!


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    • suman on July 23, 2009 at 9:33 AM
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    • Praveen on August 20, 2009 at 3:59 AM
    • Reply

    @Suman: Thanks 🙂

    • meera on September 22, 2009 at 4:59 AM
    • Reply

    Can you tell me the name of the album in wch this song appears?

    • anamika on October 19, 2009 at 10:33 PM
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    Hi Praveen, thanks a lot for this stotra. I had a cassette which I had bought in Chamundi hills, and this stotra was sung beautifully in that cassette. Unfortunately I could not bring it US. Thanks a lot for stotra, do share the link if you ever get it.

    • anamika on October 19, 2009 at 10:40 PM
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    Man its you? I dont believe it.
    I have read your blogs on channelone blogs, and they are always funny and more funny and yes stupid.. but never thought you can write something like this. Cool………..

    • Praveen on October 20, 2009 at 9:58 AM
    • Reply

    @Anamika: Hehehe.. well.. this is really interesting!! Seems like someone for CTS stumbled upon this blog!! And May I know who this is?!! I had a nice laugh..well so now I've kinda redeemed myself of my stupidity eh!! But don't be beguiled though 😉 I just compartmentalize my interests and show only a few of it out.. hehehe.. now may I know as to the identity of this anamika from Onsite! HEhehe

    • anamika on October 20, 2009 at 12:49 PM
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    Arre see… you are back to "normal". May I know what is so funny here that you have gone back to your good old days? 🙂

    • Praveen on October 20, 2009 at 12:57 PM
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    well it wasn't funny but amusing no doubt!! First of all.. the fact that someone from CTS stumbled upon this.. and that too someone who actually reads me on ChannelOne!! I thought am history there!! and finds it funny.. and then sees this and is surprised.. that I could dish something out like this…

    I dunno about u.. but to me this whole sequence is amusing!! LOL.. and well my threshold for laughter is real low!! So.. hehehehe there u go!! Now tell me who this is puhleeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzz

    • anamika on October 20, 2009 at 1:11 PM
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    We are all your fans man… we follow your blogs and enjoy them. I am actually greatful to you as I can always go back to your blogs when I am sad.So Keep blogging and keep your fans happy… 🙂

    • Praveen on October 20, 2009 at 4:05 PM
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    Aaaarggghhhh!! The suspense kills me!!

    Awwwwwww!! Thatz like the sweetest thing to say!! Ofcourse its kinda scary to know that there are expectations that need to be met! But still.. you haven't answered the basic question of who you are!! 🙁 And that makes Pavi sad! 🙁

    • anamika on October 20, 2009 at 9:37 PM
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    Who am I? I am someone who follows your blogs always, and appreciate them.

    • Bhavani on November 24, 2012 at 6:41 PM
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    This is wonderful Praveen… You should write about Nirvana Shatakam.. I stumbled across the hymn and it has impacted me like no other. Personally, my interpretations of it are at multiple levels, each of them affecting me equally. Would love to hear your views.

  1. Hey Bhavani!! So nice to see your comment! And welcome to my web space! 🙂 I have read Nirvana Shatakam and certainly is a great creation. I’ll surely write about that soon. 🙂 Thanks for the impetus and the idea. That post would be dedicated to you 🙂

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