Shiv Dayal Singh: The month of Leo

Shiv Dayal Singh wrote a group of twelve songpoems, one for each month of the Indian calendar. Unlike the Gregorian calendar we use, the Indian months are a way of tracking the movement of the sun from one constellation to the next – each month beginning when the sun moves into the next constellation in the zodiac. This songpoem is for the month of Saawan (July-August) when the sun is in Leo – the beginning of the rainy season in India. One approach to reading it is to subdivide it into 3 sections: Life’s potential; Wasted opportunity; Life well spent. As with all his other Zodiac poems, this one is pretty intense.



Sawan has come –

The second month of the year.

Mother-in-law: dead.

Father-in-law: gone home.

Mind – totally overshadowed

With thick dark clouds –

Enters the Dark Lotus

And dies there.


When clouds thunder and lightning flashes,

Expectations turn upside-down,

Hopes fly high. Endless melodies

Set in motion by the Shabds

Drench surat and nirat in a downpour.



Old age comes fast: before you know it,

Death is waiting, aiming like a thunderbolt

At your head. Only a true teacher, a satguru,

Can save you from the domain of Death.

Countless souls, terrified of dying,

End up gazing around in Jampur,

The capital of Death.


When heavy black skies settle all around you,

Death rains down in torrents.

Panic-stricken souls watch in horror

As body fortresses disintegrate,

Come crashing down. Nothing but regret,

Repenting too late, when the souls reach Jampur,

Harassed all the way by the messengers of Death.


They torment and torture the souls

Every moment, constantly inventing new ways.

After hanging from a noose round their neck,

The souls are thrown into Potter’s Hell

Where they bake with excruciating pain

And weep, unheeded.


Death’s agents are heartless,

Not a trace of compassion.

In their hands, souls wither away.

Chained to pillars of fire,

They groan and shout out in agony,

And end up shrieking, then silent –

No voice for their pain.


Nobody responds to them in their difficulty,

Nobody cares. Instead, a garland

Of snakes is placed round their neck.

Beaten, thrashed, they are attacked

From all sides. They have completely lost

The protection of the Husband.


Barely alive after the terrors

And torments of hell, they are brought round

And then dropped back into the Eighty-four.

This is what happens

When we don’t do the practice

Taught by the master:

We waste the priceless opportunity

Of having a human body.


The choice is yours: You can neglect

Your practice of meditation,

But then the agents of Death

Will reward you by spitting

Into your mouth – not once or twice,

But all the time. Make no mistake –

This is what happens to every person

Who does not link up

With the true teacher of their lifetime.


Without a satguru, nobody escapes;

Without Naam, you are forced to keep dancing

In the Eighty-four.



Thank God for the good fortune

Of finding a satguru!

Soul goes up, mind merges

In the inner skies.


We play on the swings

In the vast meadows of Sunn,

Eating the fruits, the nectar essence,

Of this month of the rains.


Soul-friends come together,

Singing all day the melodies of Sawan –

Enough to make Maya and every attachment

Run far away.


In their homes, happily married wives

Play on swings with their Beloved,

Hearts filled with his love.

And then there are other wives,

Restless with pain

Because their beloved Husband is out of sight,

Gone to some far-off land.


For them the month of Sawan –

Joyous, rainsweet – is a black cobra,

Biting again and again, leaving them delirious,

Burning with fever. Outside,

The rain comes pattering-splattering down;

Inside, a hellfire of agony.


Raging fire burns body and mind to ashes;

Drought has set in, no rains in sight.

Sawan festivals, celebrations,

What pleasure in them? Hearts heavy

With sorrow, no place for joy.


Without the Beloved, how can

The month of the rains come?

What is Sawan if the Beloved is not there?

Nothing but fire – the excruciating, pitiless

Burning of June, the month of the sun.


Souls burning in the fire of separation,

How can they feel cool and content?

Without the rainfall of the Beloved’s voice,

What green-sweet earth scent?


Souls united with the Husband,

Their radiant faces shower light:

Cool and content within, hearts happy, joy-filled,

They’re absorbed in the Sound

The endless resounding of the Anahad Toor,

The endless unending unstruck sound.


Sawan has come –

Thank God for the good fortune

Of finding a satguru!


Saawan aaya maas doosra”
Shiv Dayal Singh, Saar Bachan 38:2
English translation by Anthea Guinness, 2013
mother-in-law is Maya (Illusion), father-in-law is Kal (Creator of the physical/mental worlds); individual mind “dies” = merges with its source, liberating the soul so it can make the journey of consciousness back to its origins; Eighty-four = chauraasi (84) or the wheel of transmigration; wife = the disciple. Other terms: click on the links to go to the glossary, “It means what?

2 comments on “Shiv Dayal Singh: The month of Leo

  1. Susan Dunn says:

    WOW !!! I feel very blessed ♥

  2. Ann Watters says:

    This is a wonderful truthful poem. Thanks for posting

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