The mantra is the sound-form or sound-body of the deity. The deity can take the form of the supreme formless brahman, and through grace it can take infinite recognizable forms that help us to reach the source of all
being. In “embodied” form the supreme may appear on earth as the guru. In sonic form, the supreme takes the mantra as its body. When mantras are
enlivened by the grace of the guru, they become “caitanya”, or “conscious”, that is, alive. And thus when we chant these names, they can take us back to God.
A word about the language:
Some of these mantras are in Sanskrit and some are in vernaculars, although the core names in those vernaculars are basically Sanskrit. For example, “Rama” is Sanskrit and “Ram” is Hindi/vernacular; “Jaya” is Sanskrit and “Jay” or “Jai” is vernacular. The vernaculars tend to drop the pronunciation of the final short “a”. The long “a” (as in Sita or Durga) is retained in the vernacular, and because the feminine endings tend to end in long vowels, the names of the goddesses tend to be the same in Sanskrit and in the vernaculars. And so the only major differences are the insertion of “bolo” in some of the vernacular mantras that are used in kirtan; “bolo” is Hindi for “say” or, in this context, “sing” or “sing it!!!!”
These mantras, then, are basically names of God and some ecstatic word indicators to remind us of what we are doing -- singing them out loud! Other than that, there is no actual discursive meaning. These are not sentences per se. Rather, these translations are like simple roadmaps to help the mind leap from the mental remembrance of the deity into the heart-essence where we actually meet the deity and commune with its divine essence.
1. Sita Ram Sita Ram Sita Ram Jay Sita Ram
Sita = the goddess Sita, an embodiment of devotion and loyalty, especially
in divine union/marriage. Sita is an embodiment of Lakshmi, goddess of
prosperity, abundance, good living on the earth and in the world. Esoterically, She is also the Kundalini Shakti, or power of God.
protection of the earth. Rama is an embodiment of Vishnu, lord and
protector of the created universe, the one who preserves the stability of
the worldly realms (natural and human). The supreme consciousness.
Jay = glory to, victory to
The names of the goddesses usually come first in the chants, thus
“Sita-Ram” is the standard order. They are recognized as a divine couple,
the union of male and female, lord and devotee, microcosm and macrocosm, Atma and Paramatma, Kundalini and Shiva (consciousness). In the intricacies of relationship, they sometimes switch roles, but the point is that this tradition honors the divine union.
Glory to Sita and Rama
2. Sri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram Sri [shree] = blessed, holy, glorious. It is used as a prefix to the names of divinities and also of sacred places, people, scriptures,etc. (i.e., sri guru, Sri Krishna). It is also a very ancient name of Lakshmi, the divine Goddess, and as such evokes her divine, radiant splendor.
Victory to glorious Lord Rama (OR: Glory to holy Lord Rama), and the radiant Goddess, Lakshmi
3. Bajrangi Hanuman Bajrangi Hanuman Shri Ram Jay Ram
Shri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram Om Bajrangi = literally, “having a steel frame”, i.e., “strong and sturdy”, an epithet of Hanuman
Hanuman = the monkey god, examplar of devotion to Rama and to dharma. An avatar of Lord Shiva.
Om= the sacred syllable; core sound of creation and of the entire
Om. Glory to Rama, glory to the the strong and sturdy Hanuman (who is
devotee and protector of Rama)
4. Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha
Gan Gan Ganapati Sharanam Ganesha
Jay Ganesha Jaya Jaya Gana-natha
Om Gan Ganapataye Namaha Ganesha = the elephant-headed god; son of Shiva and Parvati. The name
Ganesha means “gana” + “isha”. Gana means “troops” or mutlitudinous
spiritual attendants of Shiva. Isha means “Lord”. So Ganesha = “Lord of the troops”. Ganesha is remover of obstacles and is invoked at the beginning of any endeavor (such as the beginning of a spiritual retreat! ).
Sharanam = refuge, protection
Gan Gan = These are parts of the “bija” mantra of Ganesh; they are his
core sounds and don’t carry discursive meaning. (The less discursive the
meaning, the more potent the mantras. All of the deities have bija mantras
as well as more discursive mantras.)
Ganapati = another name of Ganesha. “Gana” = troops and “Pati” means Lord or protector. So “Ganapati” and “Ganesha” really mean the same thing, “Lord of the troops”.
(I seek) refuge in Ganesh
Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya Namah and Namaha = I bow to; I honor; glory to Shivaya = Shiva (the “aya” ending is the Sanskrit declension of the noun to indicate the grammatical construction of “unto Shiva”). Shiva is the god who destroys our debilities and ignorance; the great Lord of yogis and of transformation; also recognized as our Higher Self, pure consciousness. The name “Shiva” also means “auspicious”.
I bow to Shiva, again and again. I offer obeisance to Shiva, the auspicious one.
6. Hara Hara Hara Mahadev
Hara = a name of Shiva. It means “remover” or “destroyer”. There is great
spiritual weight in honoring Shiva as “destroyer”. (This goes for Kali and the fierce goddesses, too.) What is being destroyed is spiritual ignorance,
debilitations, anything at all that keeps us from God.
Mahadev = an epithet of Shiva. “Maha” means “great” and “dev” (Sanskrit =
“deva”) means God. Thus “great God”.
(We’re really just chanting two of the names of Shiva, invoking his
energy as the great God and destroyer.)
7. Hara Bom Hara Bom Bom Bom Bolo bolo = “say it” or “sing it”
Hara = Shiva
Bom = a bija mantra of Shiva
Sing the name of Shiva!
8. Nataraj Nataraja Jay Shiva Shankara Nataraja
Shivaraj Shivaraja Shambho Shankara Shivaraja Nataraj/Nataraja = “Lord” or “King (raja)” of the dance (nata). This is an epithet of Shiva, referring to his “tandava”, his ferocious dance whose fury causes the entire world to crumble into dust. This is the auspicious clearing away of the old and debilitated, leaving way for the creation of the new.
Shankara = an epithet of Shiva, meaning the “annihilator” (of the
universe). Shankara also means the one who bestows peace on his devotees.
Shambho =an epithet of Shiva. (The actual name is Shambhu, but the “o”
ending indicates vocative voice, which is used in direct address. The one who is situated in complete peace.
Lord of the dance, Lord of the dance, glory to Shiva, glory to the
annihilator, the Lord of the dance, lord Shiva, lord Shiva, Shambhu,
Shankara, Lord Shiva.
9. Govinda Jaya Jaya Gopala Jaya Jaya
Radha Ramana Hari Govinda Jaya Jaya This mantra has the sweet essence of the love-play of Radha and Krishna in the forest.( The “rasa” or “essence” of Radha Is “madhurya” or “sweetness”.)
Govinda = Krishna
Jaya = victory to
Gopala = protector of cows, i.e., Krishna
Radha ramana = delighted by Radha
Hari = Krishna
Glory to Krishna, whose delight is Radha
10. Jay Radha Madhava Jay Kunja Bihari Govinda Hare Gopala Hare (This is all in Hindi)
jay = glory to
Madhava = The vocative form of Madhu (Maadhu). An epithet of Krishna that means “descended from Madhu”. There is also a suggestion of springtime, for “madhu” means the spring season and it also is related to the word for honey, wine, and intoxication. So there are lots of luxurious and sweet overtones to this incarnation.
Kunja = an arbor, a grove, a bower, a lush place in the forest overgrown
with plants and wild creepers, vines, etc.
Bihari = inhabitant of
Hare = vocative form of “Hari”, i.e., “to Hari”, “to Krishna”.
Glory to Radha,
Glory to Radha’s sweet beloved Madhu,
Glory to the one who dwells in the lush forest grove,
Glory to Krisha, glory to the Cowherd, glory to Krishna.
11. Bolo Radha Ramana Hari Bol
Bolo Shree KrIshna Govinda Hare Murare Murare = vocative of Murari, which is a name of Krishna that means “enemy of [the demon] Mura”.
Sing (the name of) Radha, delight of Krishna.
Sing (the name of) Lord Krishna,
O Krishna, O Krishna, O Krishna
12. Radhe Radhe Shyam Bolo Radhe Radhe Shyam
Radhe = the vocative form of Radha, i.e., “O Radha”.
Shyam = an epithet of Krishna meaning the dark or swarthy one, a sign of
O Radha! Sing (the name of) Radha and Shyam!
O Radha! O Radha! Shyam!
13. Govinda Hare Gopala Hare
Hey Prabhu Deena Dayala Hare Hey = O!
Prabhu = master, lord, sovereign, all-powerful
Deena= poor, miserable, humble
Dayala [or dayalu] = giving, kind, considerate
deena-dayala = an epithet of God meaning “merciful to the poor”.
O Krishna, O magnificent lord, you who show mercy to the poor.
14. Shri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare
Narayana = an epithet of Vishnu or Krishna; it means “descended from Nara, the original/primordial Man”.
Vasudeva = an ancient epithet of Vishnu or Krishna; it means “Lord/God of
Shri Krishna, Oh all attractive one!
Govinda, Oh pleasure of my senses!
Oh Hari, who takes away all suffering!
Murari, Oh remover of all obstacles!
Nath, Oh Master!
Oh Narayan, the resting place of all creation!
Oh Vasudeva, creator of the universe!
15. Lakshmi Narayana Narayana Narayan
Shriman Narayana Narayana Narayan
Shriman = as with “Shri”, this means blessed, glorious, holy, etc. The
“man” after it means “endowed with”, “filled with”. “Man” can also mean “the human soul”, or “Atman”. Lakshmi and Vishnu are the divine couple who embody magnificence, splendour, wealth, abundance, security, stability of the earth and of society, harmony, order, dharma. They are worshipped independently as well as together as forms of each other. Whenever Vishnu descends from heaven to the earth-realm to restore order and harmony, Lakshmi comes with Him. Sita and Rama, as well as Radha and Krishna, are incarnations of Lakshmi and Vishnu.
Blessed Lakshmi, blessed Vishnu
16. Radharani Ki Jay Maharani Ki Jay Bolo Radha Govinda Ki Jay Jay Jay This is Hindi.
Ki = a Hindi grammatical construction that operates something like an
apostrophe; it means “of” or belonging to.
Rani = queen
Radharani= queen Radha
ki = of
jay = victory/glory Thus literally: Queen Radha’s victory/glory
Glory to Great Queen Radha! Glory!
Sing the glory of Radha and Krishna!
Glory glory glory!
17. Radhe Radhe Radhe Bolo Radhe Govinda Bolo Radhe = vocative form of Radha; thus: O Radha
O Radha O Radha O Radha
O Radha O Krishna
The mantras #18-22 all refer to the
goddess as she is glorified in the Devi Mahatmya, the “Glorification of
the Great Goddess”, a scripture which tells the story of how the Goddess
saved the world from demonic forces. In the ferocious battle that ensues,
she turns into the various forms: Uma, Parvati, etc.
18. Kali Bolo Kali Bolo Bolo Bolo Ma Kali = the goddess Kali, the black, ferocious, destructive, and yet highly
auspicious goddess; a consort of Shiva and thus she is the feminine
embodiment of his Shakti (energy). She is often called Kali Ma (Mother Kali) or simply just Ma.
Ma = ma, mother
Sing (the name of) Kali.
Sing it! Sing it! Sing it!
Call on Ma!/Call on the Divine Mother!
19. Jaya Mata Kali Mata Uma Parvati Ananda Ma
Mata = mother
Uma = one of the names of the mother goddess, the Beloved of Shiva; a version of Kali, though more gentle in form.
Parvati = the goddess Parvati, another gentle version of Kali; “Parvati”
literally means “of the mountains”; she is known as the daughter of the
Ananda = bliss, supreme joy
Glory to Mother Kali, to the divine mother, to Parvati, to Uma, to the Mother of Bliss.
20. Hey Ma Durga Hey Ma Durga Durga = the goddess Durga, literally “tough going”, or “difficult to approach”. Durga rides on a lion or Tiger; she is ferocious but is also the beneficent divine mother. She is an aspect of Kali, (or Kali is an aspect of Durga).
O Mother Durga! O Mother Durga!
21. Jaya Mata Durga Jay Jagatambe Durga Mata Jagat = world, universe
Ambe= vocative form of “amba”, meaning “mother” or “birthgiver”.
Thus Jagatambe = O mother of the universe!
Glory to Mother Durga
Glory (to you) O Mother Durga, O Mother of the Universe.
22. Mahadevi Ki Jay Mahadevi Ki Jay Bolo Uma Parvati Ki Jay Jay Jay
Mahamaya Ki Jay Mahadurga Ki Jay Bolo Uma Parvati Ki Jay Jay Jay Again, these are all epithets and aspects of the Great Goddess, especially
as she is glorified in the Devi Mahatmya.
mahamaya= “Great illusion” (Maya is the illusion that covers our consciousness. This is the mystery of the Goddess, for she embodies both
the illusion and the force that destroys that illusion. She is Everything.)
Glory to the Great Goddess,
Glory to the Great Goddess
Sing it! Glory to Uma, glory to Parvati.
Glory to Mahamaya, glory to the great goddess Durga.
Sing it! Glory to Uma, glory to Parvati.
Glory! Glory! Glory!
23. Om Namo Lakshmi Om Namo Lakshmi
Om Namo Lakshmi Prema Devi Mataji
Shri Ma Jaya Ma Jaya Jaya Ma Om I salute the Goddess Lakshmi, the Mother of the Universe, the preserver of all life, the giver of abundance, the Goddess of Love, Ma......
24. Shri Radhe Govinda Shri Radhe Gopal
Shri Radhe Govinda Shri Radhe Gopal
Mukunda Madhava Govinda Bolo
Govinda Bolo Gopala Bolo Glory to Radha and Krishna.
Mukunda = the giver of liberation
Madhava = sweeter than the sweetest sweetness
25. Samba Sada Shiva Om Shiva Om
Hara Hara Shankara Om Shiva Om All names of Shiva........
26. Hanuman Bolo Hanuman Bolo
Jay Sita Ram Jay Jay Sita Ram
Jay Sita Ram Jay Jay Hanuman 27. Govinda Jaya Jaya Shri Radhe Gopala Jaya Jaya
Radha Ramana Hari Hey Prabhu Radha Ramana Hari
28. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare “These three words, namely Hare, Krishna, and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the Maha Mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His (feminine) energy to give protection to the conditioned soul. The chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother’s presence.” – A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada