Secular Hymns in Hinduism

Ashok Dullu

Secular Hymns in Hinduism

Our Religion is derived from Vedas. The Vedas are not single works; each is the production of various authors, whose names (in the case of hymns and prayers at least) are attached to their compositions and to whom, according to the Hindus, those passages were separately revealed. They were written in different periods; but were compiled by in their present form in the 14th century BC.

The primary doctrine of the Vedas is the unity of God. ”There is in truth but one Deity, the Supreme Spirit, the Lord of the universe”.

Among the creatures of the Supreme Being are some superior to man, who should be adored, and from whom protection and favors may be obtained through prayer. The most frequently mentioned of these are the gods of the elements, the stars and the planets; but other personified powers and virtues likewise appear.( History of India- Mountstuart Elphinstone)

The three principal manifestations of the Divinity ( Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva),with other personified attributes and energies, and most of the  other gods of Hindu Mythology, are indeed Mentioned, or at least indicated, in the Veda; but the worship of the deified heroes is no part of the system.( Colebrooke on Vedas…)

A man yet unacquainted with religious feelings would imbibe his first notions of a God from the perception of powers superior to his own. Even if the idea  of a quiescent Divinity could enter his mind, he would have no motive to adore it, but would rather endeavor to propitiate the sun on which he depended for warmth, or the   ,which terrified him with their thunders. Still less would he commence by the worship of saints; for sanctity is only heavens conformity to religious notions already established; and a religion must have obtained a stronghold on a people before they would be disposed to deify their fellows for a strict adherence  to its injunctions; especially if they neither supposed them to  govern the world, nor do mediate with its ruler.

The Hindu religion presents a more natural course. It rose from the worship of powers of nature to theism and then declined into skepticism with the learned ,and man worship with the vulgar.

I personally believe that we have further moved away from Mountstuart  Elphinstones perceptions of Hinduism. Ours is a religion which may not conform to common definitions of religion. Even SC had to labor on it and define it as a way of life.

There seems to be a resurgence in present times to re-state and articulate our Religious and Nationalistic credentials .This is refreshing and needs to be appreciated .We only need to be cautious of the wrong projections of these  themes .

Take for instance, the basic secular nature of some of our Vedic Hymns.

Secular Hymns 

Gayatri calls out for inspiration and guidance for our intellect. No polytheism, no segregation, no discrimination. Just a genuine cry for righteousness! 

Let us meditate upon the adorable light of the Divine Ruler ,may it guide our intellects.

भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेन्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो : प्रचोदयात् 

Om Bhuur-Bhuvah Svah

Tat-Savitur-Varennyam |

Bhargo Devasya Dhiimah

Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracodayaat ||

The sound produced by the Earth,planets and galaxies is AUM( the name of formless God).That God(tat) who manifests in the form of the light of the sun(savitar) is worthy of respect(varrenyam).We should therefore ,meditate(dhimahi)upon the light ( Bhargo) of that deity ( devasya) and also chant AUM.May he (yo) guide our intellect (dhiyo) in the right direction( prachodayata).

1: Om, that (Divine Illumination) which Pervades the Bhu Loka (Physical Plane),  Bhuvar Loka (Antariksha Loka or the Astral Plane) and Suvar Loka(Swarga Loka or the Celestial Plane),
2: That Savitr (Divine Illumination) which is the Most Adorable, 
3: On that Divine Radiance we Meditate.

4: May that Enlighten Our Intellect and Awaken our Spiritual Wisdom.

 “Asato ma sad gamaya....... A longing to move from untruth to truth; from darkness to light and from death to immortality is the spirit 

असतोमा सद्गमय ।

तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमय ।

मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ॥

ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ।।

asato mā sadgamaya

tamasomā jyotir gamaya

mrityormāamritam gamaya

Oṁ śhānti śhānti śhāntiḥ

From ignorance, lead me to truth;

From darkness, lead me to light;

From death, lead me to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace

Starve bhavantu sukhinah......This elementary prayer wishes happiness, goodness and freedom from misery and pain for all.

 सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः 
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् 
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः 

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

1: Om, May All become Happy,
2: May All be Free from Illness.
3: May All See what is Auspicious,
4: May no one Suffer.
5: Om Peace, Peace, Peace. 

“Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu“ ....May peace and happiness prevail

lokah: location, realm, all universes existing now
samastah: all beings sharing that same location
sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence
antu: may it be so, it must be so (antu used as an ending here transforms this mantra into a powerful pledge)

This is a prayer each one of us can practice every day. It reminds us that our relationships with all beings and things should be mutually beneficial if we ourselves desire happiness and liberation from suffering. No true or lasting happiness can come from causing unhappiness to others. No true or lasting freedom can come from depriving others of their freedom. If we say we want every being to be happy and free, then we have to question everything that we do-how we live, how we eat, what we buy, how we speak, and even how we think. 

Satyam param dhimahi ........Let truth, divinity and knowledge shine through me.

Truth and the Divinity of the transcendental I uphold in my awareness."

It is the intellect that divides the world, and the same intellect can bring it together by soaking itself in Divinity. When the intellect discusses mundane things, it starts dividing the existence. When the intellect starts discussing Knowledge, Wisdom, Truth, then it starts uniting. It brings forth the transcendental. It re-discovers its true nature, which is non-dual.

Whether you complain, compose a poem, or speak Knowledge, you are a witness to the flow. Suppose someone is complaining or justifying. They are simply saying things spontaneously. In the same way, when you speak knowledge of the Self, or spontaneously compose a poem out loud, there is a flow from the intellect.

Anything can flow from the intellect, and you are a witness to the flow, whether it is garbage or wisdom. And all that you can do is pray to the Divine, "Let Wisdom, Divinity and Truth flow through this intellect."

“Annadata shukhbava“......this wish for happiness covers the entire food chain from the farmer to the miller to the trader to the cook to the waitress..

From today, before you eat your food, say two simple words, ‘Annadata Sukhibhava – . It means “let the one who provided me food be happy.

The food which comes to your table is because of several people involved. Let us for a second ignore everything else and count just the people who helped us buy the food and who helped cook the food.

So, the person who helped in buying the food maybe your Father, Mother, Son, Daughter or your in-laws. Without them we would have slept in hunger, so tell them “Annadata Sukhibhava.

Next, is the person who helped cook the food.  Recently, I have been hearing a lot of rifts due to cooking and food in general. Always the case of why me, why me? Not many want to cook? Even when I see some places where they do cook food regularly, it is with so much anger and frustration. We are cooking for our family, we are happy if our family is healthy and happy, right?

For just one day, stop complaining that the food prepared by your loved one, had no salt, not spicy enough, the sambar was a little watery, the chutney was tasteless. The next time you sit down to eat food, with an open mind and a broad smile ( yes, broad smile), say “Annadata Sukhibhava.

It is a very powerful word, and create a sea of change in your life, and in the life of your loved ones.

"Sanghachadwam!.......Let's progress together! 

Sangam - confluence / junction / togetherness

Sangachadwam is the last word in the Rig veda. It means let us progress (proceed or move on) together.

  • Sangachadwam - Let Us Move Together
  • Famous Rig Veda hymns ‘Sangachadwam, samvadadwam samvomanamsi janatam’ (R.V. X -192 -2) emphasis the unity of minds to create healthy powerful organizations for prosperity and happiness of all and to promote fellow feeling and righteousness.
  • 'Sangachchhadam Samvadadam Sanghayamana Srijanatam' - to go with the group, speak honestly, be 'sangha-minded' to make yourself - according to Buddhist philosophy.

In all of these , I did not find that these exist exclusively for Hindus. These are only a few I could lay my hands on. I am sure when we look for such things we shall discover a treasure in our religious literature .

Ashok Dullu