Swami Vivekananda’s thirteen-verse poem is an ascetic’s creed and a compelling reminder of the supreme spiritual path


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, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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 atman, ever free.

Know thou art That, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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 maya, dreaming all this dream.

The Witness, He appears as nature, soul.

Know thou art That, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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 maya’s gates.

So, give these up, sannyasin 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, sannyasin 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, maya’s veil. Without

The fear of pain or search for pleasure, go

Beyond them both, sannyasin 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, sannyasin bold! Say,

“Om Tat Sat, Om!”

Swami with his disciples during his first visit to Kashmir in 1897. From left to right: Swami Trigunatita, Swami Sadananda, Swami Shivananda, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Turiyananda and Swami Brahmananda