Om Sri Ganesaya Namaha
The basic purpose of human existence is to realise the Self. Soul is considered as the representative of God in the human body, which is made of Pancha Tanmatras, i.e., Sabda, Sparsa, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha. These Pancha Tanmatras are represented in our body by Pancha Jnanedriyas, i.e., Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue and Skin. If these gross aspects are properly used for the service of others with Nishkama Bhavana and for self-advancement spiritually, then one can overcome the innate sense-habits of body-identification and develop intuitive perception and discrimination. Discrimination is distorted by the limitations of sense impressions. The only way out of getting entrapped in this quagmire or quicksand is to raise oneself above the body-consciousness. There are several ways for it. Of them, the most important are Bhakti, Jnana and Karma Yogas. Yoga means to unite; to unite one with the chosen God or Goddess following one of the three paths identified above, depending upon one's temperament and taste. One of the minor compositions "Bhaja Govindam" of Jagatguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya, shows the way to achieve this.
It is undoubtedly and indisputably crystal clear that nowhere in the world one has witnessed a Jagatguru of Sri Adi Sankaracharya calibre and stature. It is to the credit of India that it has produced the greatest scholar, philosopher and thinker ever produced in any country in the world. He is the unique combination of a philosopher, a devotee, a mystic, a poet and a religious reformer. Although He was born twelve hundred years ago, His spiritual genius is still green even to this day and shall remain ever green till the end of this Kaliyuga at least, if not more. His philosophy has a profound impact on the lives of Indians.
It is considered that God (Lord Siva) incarnated Himself as the teacher of mankind, assuming the name Sri Sankara, in order to relieve the world, when the earth was tormented by the weight of demoniac beliefs and rituals of the religion prevailing then and to arrest the religious decadence, disharmony, and discord mounting up among the various sects of the Hindus.
Bhaja Govindam is a small or minor composition of Jagatguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya compared to His other monumental works such as "Bhasyas", but it contains the essence of Vedanta and awakens the man to think on such questions as "What is the purpose of this life?", "What is the Truth?", "Where does one get peace of mind?", etc. Such questions are many and may appear simple but the answers are very difficult. Bhaja Govindam is known as "Prakarana Grantham", or introduction to spiritual studies or initiation.
There is a small but popular story, which describes the circumstances in which this great poem burst forth from the lips of Sri Sankaracharya. Once in Banaras (Kasi), as Sri Sankaracharya along with his disciples was going to the Ganges for taking bath, He overheard a very old Pundit cramming Panini's grammar rules. Sri Sankaracharya was touched and moved with pity at the ignorance of the old Pundit, who was wasting away the most precious time at that age for a mere intellectual accomplishment instead of enlightenment and for release from the bondage of Samsara. Of course, it is the same state of affairs with almost every one of us today. We all waste and while away our lives in material pursuits, earthly attachments, relegating God to one of the objects that we require for our physical comfort and convenience. We think God can also be bought like T.V., Refrigerator, Air-conditioner, car, flat, social status, etc. As we aspire for material objects SO ALSO God, and the attachment for Samsarik pleasures over-weigh our desire to have God realisation. So, ultimately God becomes one of the material objects to be acquired and even relegated to the last item in the list. But, we forget the truth due to our ignorance that if we succeed in realising God, acquisition of all other material objects will turn out to be so simple. God is the only goal to be achieved to get release from the bondage of Samsara. Sri Sankaracharya, out of compassion for man's plight and folly, bursts forth into these Bhaja Govinda stanzas. He preaches man to spend his time in contemplation of the Lord rather than wasting away life in futile pursuits of acquiring mundane pleasures and groveling in the mire of earthly attachments, forgetting what is the purpose and goal of Manava Janma.
Sri Sankaracharya attacks Moha at its roots through this composition, which was initially known as Moha Mudgara, but later on popularised as Bhaja Govindam, so as to dispel illusions and delusions and show where the remedy lies for the misery. In 31 simple, sweet and lucid Slokas, giving easy and homely analogies and illustrations for easy understanding, Sri Sankaracharya dissects the human psyche by explaining the fallacy and futility of the human life, if one does not take shelter under Dharma or Truth or God. It contains fundamentals of Vedanta, which are taught in simple and musical verses so that, even from childhood one can grow up amidst the melody of Advaita. With each sloka He removes the veils of ignorance, dispels Maya, explains the reasons for illusion and delusion and also prescribes remedy for the misery. He exhorts each one of us, through these slokas, to develop discerning and discriminating faculty, which is dormant in us, due to our complete surrender to Moha and worldly attractions, in order to distinguish between the permanent and the transitory, the real and the unreal and to practice dispassion (or Vairagya). All this is possible only by cultivating devotion for realising Govinda, the abiding Truth and making a concerted effort to get released from the bondage of this phenomenal existence.
"Sri Sankara crossed the ocean of Maya as easily as one steps over a small irrigation channel in the field. He wrote a number of Vedantic works for imparting the knowledge of the Self. He composed a number of hymns to foster the sense of devotion in the hearts of men and this I consider to be his greatest service. One of these hymns is the famous Bhaja Govindam.
Some immature critics of Indian philosophy believe and say that the way of devotion is different from the way of knowledge. The learned employ this distinction to emphasise a particular thesis on which they discourse in different contexts. I think, we should not get confused by this and fail to understand the truth. When intelligence matures and lodges securely in the heart, it becomes wisdom.
When that wisdom is integrated with life and issues out in action, it becomes devotion. Knowledge which has become mature is spoken of as devotion. If it does not get transformed into devotion, such knowledge is useless tinsel. To hold and to say that Jnana and Bhakti, knowledge and devotion, are as different from each other as gold is from baser metal is to expose one's ignorance."
Govinda means the One who could be known through Vedas. Go or Gobhih means (Vedic) words, statements or declarations of Upanishads. It has various other meanings such as sky, earth, voice, senses and so on. Govinda leads us from darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge and despair to aspiration. Bhaja Govindam means, always sing the glory of the Lord, who is the knower of Jivatman or the destiny of beings. The Knowing One never goes wrong in handling things and events.
Bhaja Govindam Stotram is a bouquet of 31 Stanza-freshly
bloomed flowers. Of them, 13 slokas are of Sri Adi Sankaracharya and the
rest are attributed to HIS disciples. It is full of nectar for the students
who are capable of entering the bottom of Vedanta. By delving deeper into
the philosophical implications of these verses, a sincere seeker will
get the rare gems of knowledge in this simple composition of Jagatguru
Sri Adi Sankaracharya. While reciting, it sounds like a prayer or devotional
song rather than a group of few sanskrit slokas and expounds the art of
realisation with a deeper diagnosis for human unhappiness.
Bhaja - Seek, Govinda - The Lord Govinda, Moodhamathe - O Fool, O Ignoramus, Samprapte - (When) comes, Sannihite - appointed, Kaale - Time, Nahi - Surely never, Rakshati - Saves, Dukrinkarane - Grammar rule.
Seek or Worship Govinda, Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda, O Fool or ignoramus. When the death comes at the appointed time, grammar rules will not save or rescue you.
By repeating the words "Bhaja Govindam" thrice in the very first two lines of the first sloka itself, Jagatguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya is trying to bring home the point that human being has no other escape except immersing oneself in the thoughts of Lord, and praying with utmost sincerity, reciting the Divine Namas of the Lord rather than getting engrossed in anxieties to possess wealth or acquire social status or achievements. Here the rules of grammar mean all secular knowledge and earthly acquisitions or possessions. The one who runs after materialistic gains is Moodhamathi.
The purport of these words is that any amount of knowledge cannot save the soul when death knocks at the door of this limited body. At that time, one has to leave behind one's material benefits and social status. These acquisitions will not help one gain the knowledge of the Soul, which is permanent, when the impermanent body withers, it turns out to be a dead-wood.
Bhaja does not mean monotonous and routine ritual with mechanical chanting of some selected Namas or Mantras. It is rather much deeper than that. The true Bhajan of Lord is to offer True Seva or Service to Lord with Love and devotion and in that sense, every human being is a Lord. Bhagavan is Bhava Graahi. He does not get enamoured or attracted by the pomp and show of the devotee. He looks deep into the heart of the devotee to see how much sincere one is while worshiping Him or serving the needy, treating them as (the) God Himself (i.e., Manava sevahi Madhava seva).
There are Nine types of Service to be offered at the feet of Lord. A devotee can adopt any one, according to one's choice and temperament. They are (1) Sravanam (listening to the stories or glory of Lord), (2) Keertanam (Singing the glory of the Lord), (3) Smaranam (Constantly thinking about the nature and beauty, divine qualities and characteristics of the Lord, (4) Paadasevaram (Adorning the sacred feet of Lord in a spirit of self-obliteration), (5) Archanam (Worshiping the Lord with rituals, mantras and with self-less love), (6) Vandanam (Salute or to pay obeisance to the Lord), (7) Dassyam (Serving the Lord), (8) Sakhyam (Invoking an affectionate friendship with Lord, and (9) Aatmanivedanam (To offer oneself with complete dedication or total surrender to the Lord as a humble gift at His altar). Every devotee has the liberty to choose a path that is convenient and appealing to one to realise the God.
In all the above modes of worship, the spirit of Bhaja is visible. With this bhava, the devotee has to worship the Govinda, who is the knower of each atom of this universe. He is the very essence of all animate and inanimate beings in this universe. So, Govinda is the Atman, Govinda is the Brahman, Govinda is the Highest Reality and the very Essence of this Universe. Each devotee should seek one's identity with that Spirit, Force, Reality, Truth and Supreme Braman or God, instead of wasting one's time in materialistic pursuits of secular knowledge for worldly possessions, name and fame.
... Bhaja Govindam ..
O Fool, give up your (insatiable) thirst or desire to possess or amass wealth and earthly objects, devote and develop your mind to thoughts of serenity, contentment and Reality, be happy and satisfied with whatever you get as a reward of your past actions and entertain your mind with such noble thoughts.
After attacking the desire of acquiring mere scholarship in the first sloka, Sri Adi Sankaracharya attacks the desire of amassing wealth in this sloka. The extrovert human being goes away not only from Reality but also from himself. He searches for happiness outside himself in possessing or amassing earthly objects, wealth, name, status, fame, etc. While struggling for these mundane pleasures, he loses equipoise due to greed, lust, power, and many such evils. He completely immerses in samsaara and invites sorrow and enjoys temporary happiness. He forgets his originality, which is endless peace and selfless love. Every such extrovert is a fool as one is suffering from one's own ignorance, because all the satisfaction that one gets from wealth and worldly objects is temporary. Acquiring wealth is not wrong, but the insatiable desire to keep on acquiring wealth is a sin and one has to give it up sooner than later. There is no need to condemn those objects which give physical happiness, but one's relationship with them is always limited and transitory. While meditating on Reality, it is easy for one to use one's discriminatory intelligence and enjoy the worldly objects with a passionless mind. The whole problem is with the mind. If mind is withdrawn from the sensory objects and the objects of entertainment, it stops from dissipating itself on mundane pleasures It will become empty and its infinite power starts working. So, it is very important to cleanse the mind off its lust for objects, greed for possessions, covetousness for wealth, hungry for power, and worry for status in the society and apply the same mind to contemplate on Reality, the Eternal Brahman. One has to live in this world in contentment and satisfaction with whatever one gets as a result of one's past deeds. Desires multiply as long as we keep on satisfying them. With increasing hunger to satisfy desires, one gets deeper and deeper into that quicksand and loses peace of mind and ultimately ends up in frustration. Wealth can purchase only sense-gratification that too for a limited period of time but if one wants permanent peace of mind, the only recourse is to contemplate on God. So, all methods we apply to acquire wealth will only lead us to disarray and disintegration and results finally in degradation, as attachment brings endless worries. True enjoyment stems from true renunciation. The fundamental truth is that one will never get God through greed for wealth.
One has to make sincere efforts to raise one’s sense objects above the mundane and selfish requirements, as one grows from childhood to adulthood, one does not pay much attention to the toys available in the market, but the child accompanying one, may get attracted to them, the same way one should try to raise one’s mind above the earthly objects by using one’s viveka or discriminatory powers.
Naaree Sthanabhara Naabheedesam
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam ..
Naaree - the maidens, Sthanabhara - with the weight of their bosom, Naabheedesam - their naval, Drishtvaa - having seen, Maa - do not, (Aa) Gaa - fall a prey, Mohaavesam - maddening delusion, Etat - this is, Maamsam - of flesh or fragrance, Vasaa - of fat, Aadi - etc., (Etan Maamsavasaadi), Vikaaram - a modifiction, Manasi - in your mind, Vichintaya - think well, Vaaram Vaaram - again and again.
Do not fall prey to maddening delusion and get enticed
at the sight of the physical glamour of women having full bosom of young
maidens and their naval, as these are nothing but a modification of flesh
and fat. Do not fail to remember this truth and think over and over again
in your mind.
In this Sloka, Sri Adi Sankaracharya strikes at the evil of lust, which is the most intractable of all. Sri Sankaracharya exhorts both men and women to resist the temptation of getting into the passions for the opposite sex. Our elders always warned us to keep away from two important things if we wish to grow steadily in the path of spirituality. They are Kaantha or Kaminee and Kaanchana, i.e., women and wealth. These are forbidden things, as they are the most attractive things of lust in the world.
Having carried away by the external appearance of beauty of the body, some people argue that beauty is to enjoy, at least by looking at them, whether it is a beautiful woman or an handsome man. This argument does not have any weight because it is self-deception. Looking at things will not produce satisfaction, it only breeds more desire. Attraction towards opposite sex is natural, but the ultimate destination of this attraction is sorrow, as this attraction and the enjoyment one gets out of it is temporary and transitory. The allurement towards woman's physical beauty or the physical fitness or body-building of man will fade away with the passage of time. They become old and they will not be any more attractive. This biologically natural urge for opposite sex is to be controlled, disciplined, purified, sublimated and, if possible, eliminated. Unlike animals, intelligent human beings should not act according to instincts and impulses, but by rational analysis, curb and control the flow of passions and divert them for nobler and divine activities.
Sri Sankarcharya pleads by prescribing an efficient antidote for this evil. He suggests that if one analyses and perceives mentally the reality, the body is composed of only abhorrent flesh and fat, packed in a bag of skin, having nine holes. If one keeps on analysing on these lines, the spiritual mind shall retreat from the disgusting ugliness of this body immediately. This is the only easy and best way to educate our mind so that we will not run after the perishable and filth-filled body, but dedicate ourselves for the nobler cause to attain the Lotus Feet of Lord.
We might have passed through several lives and lived through the two passions of thirst for wealth and instinctive hunger for flesh of women or men. Now, we have attained this manava janma due to some punya karmas in our earlier births. It is the time now to achieve required balance of mind and to maintain it all through our lives. We need to practice again and again (vaaram vaaram) to acquire this art and ultimately firmly establish in it, because Mother Maya is always ready to strike at us with Her attractions of world of objects spread around us. We should opt for Shreyas rather than Preyas, by effectively using our discriminatory power.
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam ..
Nalineedalagata jalam - the water (drop) playing on a lotus petal or leaf, Ati - extremely, Taralam - uncertain (existence), Tadvat - so, Jeevitam - life, Atisaya - ever (greatly), Chapalam - unstable, Viddhi - understand, Vyaadhi Abhimana Grastam - consumed by desease and conceit (Vyaadhyabhimaanagrastam), Lokam - the world, Soka - with pangs, Hatam - is (riddled) beset, Cha - and, Samastam - whole.
The water drop on the lotus-leaf is very unsteady and has extremely uncertain existence, so also is life. Understand that the world is equally unstable and it will be swallowed by disease and conceit. Life is ultimately nothing but worry, misery and grief.
After giving a stern warning in the first three Slokas against the arrogance of knowledge, the lure of wealth and the lust for sex, Sri Sankaracharya speaks of the nature of life in this sloka.
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Yaavath - as long as, Vith - of wealth, Upaarjana - to earn, Saktah - (is bent upon) has the ability, Taavath - so long, Nija Parivaarah - your dependents, Raktah - attached (to you), Paschaat - afterwards (later on), Jeevati - lives (comes to live), Jarjjar - infirm, Dehe - body, Vaartaam - word, Kopi - anyone, Na - not, Prichchati - cares to speak (asks), Gehe - at home.
As long as one is fit and able to earn and support one's family, all the kith and kin and dependents attached are affectionate to him, no sooner one becomes old and infirm and one’s earnings cease, no one cares to enquire of his well-being even in one's own home.
Man is essentially selfish and without expecting something in return, he will not do anything. Even the intimate relationships between persons in a family are mostly deferential towards the earnings and savings of a person. Therefore, most of the relationships either in the family or in the society are dependent on one's ability to earn materialistic pleasures. Only that person, who is rich and wealthy, earns reverence, respect, power and is adored by others, as most of the people are under the wrong notion or delusion that only money can purchase anything and everything. It may be true in a materialistic sense, but it is rather an obstruction in one's spiritual progress if one does not realise the truth that the riches are transitory and may leave one at any time. If money can purchase happiness, then it is but natural that the absence of it can procure only sorrow. Wealth does not mean only money, but it also means, power, social status, physical strength, secular knowledge and many such materialistic qualities. Human life being what it is, faculties and capacities must necessarily wane away, since age must sap all physical and intellectual efficiencies.
This sloka is a warning against vanities of life and by contemplation, curbing the mind away from the false values and deceptive sense of security, one has to struggle to dedicate oneself in devotion in the service of the Permanent Source of Knowledge. It is possible only through constant practice when one is young and one's faculties and mental efficiencies are at the prime, so that by the time one becomes old, one is in a position to visualise the Truth of Life and succeed in attaining It as one is nearing the concluding part of one's journey. The real achievement is to be gained in one's own personal inner contemplation by clinging to the sacred feet of Govinda, so that even long before the world comes to reject, one can reject the world of activities and retire into a higher world, where only the Supreme Truth or Govinda exists.
Yavatpavano Nivasati Dehe
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam.
Yaavat - as lons as, Pavanah - the breath (life), Nivasathi - dwells, Dehe - in (your) body, Taavath - so long, Prichchati - enquires, Kusalam - of (your) welfare, Gehe - at home, Gatavati Vaayau - when the breath (life) leaves, Dehe Apaaye - (when) the body decays, Bharyaa - (even) your wife, Bibhyati - fears, Tasmin - that very (in that very), Kaaye - body.
As long as there is life in one's body, people enquire kindly about one's welfare and show concern, but when the soul departs from the body, even one's own wife runs away in fear of the same body (corpse).
No doubt that body is the carrier of the soul and one should look after it as a temple, but not with attachment and vanities. One should keep it clean, feed it, clothe it, etc., as one does for one's vehicles that one uses in one's day-to-day materialistic life, but with perfect understanding and contemplation that it is only an instrument and through it one has to earn the Sacred Feet of Lord.
Baalastaavat Kreedaa saktah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Baalah Taavat - so long as one is in his childhood, Kreedaa - (towards play) to play, Aasaktah - (one is) attached, Tarunah Taavat - a youth (so long as one is in youth), Tarunee - towards young women (towards passion), Saktah - (one is) attached, Vriddhah Taavat - so long as one is old (an old man), Chintaa - towards anxiety, Aasaktah - (one is) attached, Pare - to the Supreme, Brahmani - Brahman, Kah Api - any one (alas), Kopi na - no one is (seen), Saktah - attached.
The childhood is lost in sport and play. Youth flies off in pursuits of love-making (passion). Old age passes away on thinking over many past things and in worry about the security and future of one's wife and children (pang). And there is hardly any time left for contemplation on God, as at no stage one is lost in the thoughts of Parabrahman.
At successive stages of life, one is engrossed in inconsequential anxieties of life. Never does one turn to the quest for true wisdom. Life is wasted in the quest of what is transient and deluding. Though aware of the delusion, at no period of one's life, does one seek to know the Real.
How to get over this delusion? The only answer to get away from this extreme sense of attachment to the world is through intelligent discrimination and detachment. One has to identify the purpose and mission of life. One has to use one's freedom to rationally judge even one's own inclinations, temperaments and tendencies, and reject them when they are found to be foolish and dangerous. This trait in man is special and one should use it to elevate oneself to the highest perfection.
Kaa Te Kaantaa Kaste Putrah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Kaa - who is, Te - your, Kaantaa - wife, Kah - who is, Te - your, Putrah - son, Samsaarah Ayah - this Samsaara, Ateeva - supremely, Vichitrah - (indeed) wonderful, Kasya - of whom, Tvam - are you, Kah (Tvam) - who are you, Kutah - from where, Aayaatah - have come, Tattvam - of that Truth, Chintaya - think, Tad Iha - that here alone, Bhraatah - O Brother.
Who is your wife? Who is your son? Very strange is this family bond or samsaara. Of whom are you? From where have you come? O Brother, ponder over that Truth here.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya asks his younger brethren in this
... Bhaja Gonvidan, Bhaja Govindam
Sat sangatve - through the company of the good, Nissangatvam - (there arises) non-attachment, Nissangatve - through non-attachment, Nirmohatvam - (there arises) freedom from delusion, Nirmohatve - through the freedom from delusion, Nischala - Immutable, Tattvam - Reality, Nischalatattve - through the Immutable Reality, Jeevanmuktih - (comes) the state of 'liberated-in-life'.
The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, when the delusion ends, the mind becomes unwavering and steady and from an unwavering and steady mind comes Jeevat Mukti (liberation even in this life).
Of course, it is very difficult for a beginner, for a devotee, who has just started his spiritual journey like me, to understand, appreciate and put into practice such noble intentions. Sri Adi Sankaracharya, having understood this practical difficulty of the beginners in devotion, has given a ladder-of-progress, by carefully climbing which, a seeker can comfortably reach the pinnacle of perfection.
In spite of all this discussion, the fact remains that we are living in the midst of tremendous temptations of life, whether it is amassing wealth or running after men/women or artificial life or pretentious postures, etc. The objects of fascination are so numerous and their enchantments are so powerful that it is too difficult to resist and fight against. It is, therefore, advised by Sri Adi Sankaracharya to keep company of good people or look always for Satsangat. Only with good thoughts from within one cannot keep on fighting against the predating bad habits of this life and prarabdha of earlier lives. One has to fight against the hordes of temptations every day, at the same time, and for that one has to look for association with the good people. Such a company will infuse sufficient power so as to erect a strong fortress around oneself against the magic of the world outside. It does not mean that one should run away into forests, leaving behind the kith and kin or dependents high and dry. It also does not mean that one should cling on to these relations, let what may come, but what it really means is that one should make sincere efforts to develop discriminatory sense and understanding and educate oneself constantly between the real and the unreal, so as to reach the Ultimate. In other words, one should conquer the sensory objects from within through constant contemplation and effort instead of running away from them or controlling them forcefully. That may not help, as the vaasanaas will remain dormant and spring back at the earliest opportunity.
Vayasi Gate Kah Kaamavikaarah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Vayasi gate - when the age (youthfulness) has passed, Kah - where is, Kaamavikaarah - lust and its play, Sushke Neere - when water is evaporated (dried up), Kah - where is, Kaasaarah - the lake, Ksheene vitte - when the wealth is reduced, Kah - where is, Parivaarah - the retinue, Gyaate tattve - when the Truth is realised, Kah - where is, Samsaarah - the Samsaara.
When youth is gone, where is the lust and its play? When water is evaporated, where is the lake? When the wealth is reduced, where are the relatives? When Truth is realised, where is the (snare of) Samsaara.
Without any doubt, the only unfailing remedy for the sorrows of life in this Samsaara is knowledge of the Self. Any kind of sorrow of life will cease on its own accord upon the dawn of the knowledge of the Self. One is afflicted by sorrows so long as there is delusion in the mind. The only true path available for a sadhaka to remove delusion is wisdom. Good conduct, character and devotion are necessary to secure wisdom. By mere bookish knowledge one does not get wisdom. (The writer of this commentary is the best and readily available example of this fact.) There is a lot of difference between bookish learning and knowledge of the self. By drawing three beautiful analogies, Sri Adi Sankaracharya brings home the point to explain how it is possible.
As long as one is in the grip of desires, whether one is young or old, one strives to fulfil them. But, when once these desires are dried up, one is freed from all problems. When the water dries up, the lake loses not only its form and existence but also its meaning and utility. So is with our emotions and desires. Once the dawn of life sets in, the passion and lust lose their grip on our body, thereby one is liberated from the pangs of all worldly problems.
When wealth is reduced and one becomes poor, all the relations disappear into nowhere. One will enjoy name and fame as long as one is rich. Once one loses one’s wealth, even one's own family members may not turn back to help.
After giving the above three analogies, Sri Adi Sankaracharys asks the sadhaka that when the Truth is realised, where is the Samsara? Even the most persistent sorrows will be cured by the true knowledge of the self, as with the dawn of wisdom, man's native powers will assert themselves. One cannot seek true fulfilment in life by striving to acquire and possess the outer world. The misconceptions must end and one should know the Reality, as only Truth will eliminate the false ego and its meaningless achievements.
Maa Kuru Dhanajanayauvanagarvam
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Maa - do not, Kuru - take, Dhana - in possession, Jana - in the people, Yauvan - in youth, Garvam - pride, Harati - loots away (takes away), Nimeshaat - in a moment, Kaalah - the Time, Sarvam - all these, Maayaamayam - full of illusory nature, Idam - this, Akhilam - all, Hitvaa - after learning or knowing, Brahmapadam - the state of Brahman, Tvam - you, Pravisa - enter into, Viditvaa - after realising.
The pleasures of worldly life, such as wealth, friends and youth, are deceptive appearances. Do not boast of them. Understand that each one of these is destroyed within a minute by time. Be detached and dispassionate from the illusion of the world of Maya and cultivate renunciation and realise the state of Brahman.
One gets entangled in Samsaara due to the attachment to the tools of Maya, such as wealth, friends, youth, etc. These are all false vanities and hollow conceits, which will vanish in no time, if fortune begins to frown on one. One should not, therefore, be proud of one's wealth, youth, health, etc. All the arrogance born out of these false attachments will change in a moment into shame, because of their instability. One invites problems when one maintains relationship with the world of objects, feelings and thoughts through one's body, mind and intellect.
Indulgence in sense enjoyment will lead to miseries. The desire to possess and enjoy will one day end in dissipation, as these sense objects will wither away with the time. Wealth is neither constant nor stable. Many human beings are slaves to this aspect of Maya, as the materialistic world is completely dependent on this. Like wise, the other faces of Maya are youth and friends. As we learnt from the earlier slokas, the relationship with kith and kin is proportionate to the wealth one possesses. Once it is vanished, all the relationships will vanish in no time. The youth of today will be an elderly person of tomorrow. One cannot escape from the Kala-chakra, i.e., jaws of the wheel of time. With the passage of time, the body decays and perishes.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya, therefore, warns that one should not dissipate one's energies in these false vanities. Instead, realising the illusory nature of these world of objects, one should concentrate and realise the state and true nature of Brahman. Only that will give relief from the vicious cycle of birth-death-birth.
Dinayaminyau Saayam Praatah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Dinayaminyau - day and night, Saayam - dusk, Praatah - dawn, Sisira vasantau - winter and spring, Punah - again, Aayaatah - come (and depart), Kaalah - time, Kreedati - sports, Gachchhati - ebbs away (goes away), Aayuh - life (breath), Tat api - and yet, Na - not, Munchati - leaves, Aasaa vaayuh - the gust of desire.
Day and night, dawn and dusk, winter and spring come and depart again and again. Time thus frolics and plays and life ebbs away. Yet, one does not give up the storm of desires.
Both pleasure and pain must be borne with equanimity. A person leading a dharmic life must also submit to sorrows as willingly as one accepts pleasures. Following the words of Sri Adi Sankaracharya sincerely, one shall acquire the courage to bear the sorrows of life unperturbed. In the silent march of the wheel of time, days and nights and with it the age slips unnoticed and unrealised. One may escape any or all other hardships, but death and the parting of ways are inevitable. Time will never stop for any person and under any circumstances. Present will become past and the future will become present. While the past disturbs the present, the future worries it. It is true with almost all human beings that when the luck is not in favour, any amount of maneuvers, will not yield desired results and all plans get defeated and routed. One must acquire the true knowledge to bear these vicissitudes of time and life with fortitude. That is what Sri Adi Sankaracharya is teaching and preaching.
Nachiketa's exchange of words with Yamaraja (Lord Death), rejecting all gifts that He offers to him for learning the same true knowledge, which Sri Adi Sankaracharya is preaching, will bear the true testimony.
Time cuts off the days of life and the death snatches away the life. The jiva will ultimately depart with painful bundles of vasanaas acquired in one's desire-ridden selfish life. The mind makes one to believe that all objects of glitter with an illusory beauty will give happiness, but time proves it otherwise. Life steadily ebbs away, but the desires only grow due to sense gratifications. Although with the age, human being becomes infirm from disease ridden body, desires and sense-enjoyments, worries and anxieties still haunt one.
It is not too late to realise the truth and follow the path shown by Sri Adi Sankaracharya to reap the benefits in this birth and in the forthcoming ones.
Kaa Te Kaantaa Dhanagatachintaa
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
O Distracted one! why worry about wife, wealth, etc. Is there no one to guide you? Know that in the three worlds, only the association with good people alone can save you as a boat to cross the ocean of life (birth and death).
To worry on anything materialistic means waste of our
mental energies. By allowing the mind besieged by the worries and thoughts
of wife and wealth, one is making it impoverished. If one starts reflecting
and thinking rationally about these attachments and examine carefully
the connection between one soul called wife and another soul called self
or husband in this life and also between oneself and the wealth one wishes
to amass, one can easily understand that all this botheration is for transitory
Self-control will lead to mental peace, which ultimately result in inner-joy or peace of mind. So, sajjana sangati, i.e., association with devout people is an important prerequisite for one who wishes to tread on this path. This sajjana sangati will work as a nauka or boat to cross the ocean of limitation. As the boat keeps floating on the water, the sadhaka, while living in this materialistic world, will float on it by not getting entangled in the maya.
Sloka 14 (Attributed to Totakacharya)
Jatilo Mundee Lunchhitakesah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindan
Jatilah - one ascetic with matter locks, Mundee - one with shaven head, Lunchhitakesah - one with hairs pulled out one by one, Kaashaaayaambara bahukritaveshah - one parading with ochre robes, Pasyan api cha - seeing, Na - never, Pasyati - sees, Moodhah - a fool, Hi - indeed, Udara nimittam - for belly's sake, Bahukritaveshah - these different disguises or apparels.
An ascetic with matted locks, a person with shaven head, one more with hair pulled or plucked out and another parading with ochre or any other colour robes, all these are for a livelihood. They all have eyes but yet do not see. All these are indeed disguises and deceptions for the sake of filling one's stomach.
Renunciation does not lie in external appearance (which I used to do earlier), but in inward thought, feeling and attitude. One has to renounce everything Manasa, Vacha and Karmana. Surrender does not mean barter system. It has to be total. As the head and body bows before the deity, the manas and the vachanam should also portray the same attitude and this attitude should continue to grow deeper and deeper, till one completely forgets what the negative feeling is. Swami Vivekananda beautifully expresses this while describing His Guru, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He says that, "In the presence of my Master, I found out that man could be perfect, even in this body. Those lips never cursed anyone, never even criticised anyone. Those eyes were beyond the possibility of seeing evil, that mind had lost the power of thinking evil. He saw nothing but good. That tremendous purity, that tremendous renunciation is the secret of spirituality". That is the pinnacle of surrender or complete surrender to God and with such an one-pointed sadhana, nothing becomes impossible. When the desires for materialistic pleasures burning in the heart are not weeded out, these external forms mean nothing. They are only for show-business or a kind of propaganda about oneself. Such a person will get exposed soon. In the present day world, we often come across people using sanyaasa as a means for power or influence.
A person resorts to unethical methods if one wants to earn things in an easy way. History and the present-day world stand as witness that whenever man's desire exceeded the rightful means of possession, one becomes obsessed with it and to fulfil it, one never hesitated to become barbarous. These persons are dangerous to the society. With them the whole society suffers, which include the noble souls as well. Great personalities like Bhishma Pitamah, Dronaacharya, Kripaacharya, etc. are typical examples of this fact.
If so, what is the use of all these disguising appearances, if not for the sake of filling one's own stomach?
Sloka 15 (Attributed to Hastamalaka)
Angam Galitam Palitam Mundam
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Angam - the body, Galitam - (has been) worn out, Palitam - has turned grey, Mundam - the hair (the head), Dasanaviheenam - toothless, Jaatam - has become, Tundam - mouth, Vriddhah - the old man, Yaati - moves (goes) about, Griheetvaa - having taken (leaning on), Dandam - (his) staff, Tadapi - even then, Na - never, Munchaty - leaves, Aasaapindam - the bundle of desires.
The body has become worn out. The head has become bald or turned grey. The mouth has become toothless. The old man moves about with the support of crutches. Even then the attachment is so strong that he clings firmly to the bundle of (fruitless) desires.
Whatever activity one may be engaged in, that should be governed by the spirit of renunciation in the heart. The mind should always be kept pure, whatever may be the external form. To give up truly is to abandon the desires that work up the mind. It is possible by only one method, i.e., by keeping the heart and mind pure. The only possible way out is that one should become pure in heart and mind by meditating on the All-pervasive Almighty in whatever form one likes or closer to one’s heart with love and devotion. One should cry for God as incessantly as a small child cries for her or his mother. As one progresses, by HIS karuna and kripa, one will get enlightenment and power in some measure to ward off desires. The state of renunciation cannot be attained and one will not get enlightenment by mere book learning without having devotion and complete surrender to God.
The essence is that when one is young, one should learn and put into practice the art of renunciation of desires, which is the basic reason for all sufferings, so that by the time one gets old, it becomes a habit to adjust oneself to the situation at that time and one retires with peace of mind and ultimately leaves the body in tranquility and inner joy.
As an anecdote of this fact, once an aged gentleman had approached Swami Vivekananda for his guidance in Vedanta and renunciation. Swamiji asked that person to go and play foot-ball and come back to receive the lessons. The aged person expressed his inability to do so, because of his old age. Then Swamiji explained to him that one should learn Vedanta, etc., when one is young enough to control the mind, body, senses, etc., as it is of no use even if Swamiji teaches him at that old age. The old habits will overtake the mind and it is difficult to control the mind at that age.
Sloka 16 (Attributed to Subhoda)
Agre Vahnih Prishthe Bhaanuh
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Agre - in front, Vahnih - the fire, Prishthe - at the back, Bhaanuh - the sun, Raatrau - at night, Chubuka samarpit jaanuh - with (his) knees held to (his) chin (he sits), Karatala bhikshah - alms in (his own) scopped palm (he receives), Tarutalavaasah - under the shelter of the tree (he lives), Tadapi - and yet, Na - never, Munchati - spares (leaves), Aasaapaasah - noose of desires.
In front the ire, at the back the sun, at night he curls up the body, he receives alms in his own scooped palm and lives under the shelter of some tree, and yet he is a puppet at the hands of passions and desires.
Sloka 17 (Attributed to Sureshwaracharya)
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Kurute - goes to pilgrimage, Ganga saagara gamanam - to where the Ganges meets the ocean, Vrataparilamanam - observes the vows, Athavaa - or, Daanam - distributes gifts away, Gyaanaviheenah - devoid of experience of Truth, Sarvamatena - according to all schools of thought, Muktim - release, Na - not, Bhajati - gains, Janmasatena - even in hundred lives.
One may go and take bath in the holy Ganges or even at the confluence of Ganga and ocean, or observe vows and perform many charities, yet devoid of jnana and unless one has the glimpse of Truth or God, one will not gain mukti or get released from the birth-and-death cycle even in hundred lives, according to all schools of thought.
Unless one has not attained Jnana, one cannot get rid of the great delusion. A person may go in pilgrimage to holy places, bathe in the holy Ganges or even at the meeting point of Ganga with the ocean or distribute gifts in charity, but only after realising what is Truth or having a glimpse of God, that one is relieved from the vicious cycle of birth-death-birth.
All the above actions are wonderful exercises for developing healthy habits and attitudes to life and these may help one on to the path of study and contemplation, but without knowledge of the Infinite Reality, liberation from sense objects will not be achieved. Generous and positive actions may give some gainful results, but not liberation from birth even in hundred years. It is true from any school of thought that one wishes to refer. Even these positive actions, one has to perform with faith, dedication, devotion and sincerity.
Pilgrimages, vows, charities, etc., are all exercises to prepare the seeker's mind for the great path of meditation and through meditation, until the Highest is actually apprehended, total freedom from the natural human weaknesses can never be gained, not even in hundred lives.
Sloka 18 (Attributed to Nityananda)
... Bhaja Govinda, Bhaja Govindam
Sura mandir taru moola nivaasah - dwelling (sheltering) in temples, under some trees, Sayyaa - bed (sleeping), Bhootalam - on the naked ground, Ajinam - (wearing)) skin (deer's) Vaasah - cloth, Sarva parigrahah - of the possession, Bhogah - of thirst to enjoy, Tyaagah - renouncing, Kasya - whose, Sukham - happiness, Na - not, Karoti - brings, Viraagah - dispassion.
No one can disturb the peace of mind and vairaagya, if one is willingly taking shelter in some temples, under some trees, sleeping on the naked ground, wearing a deer skin, and thus renouncing all idea of possession and thirst to enjoy.
Sloka 19 (Attributed to Anandagiri)
Yogarato Vaa Bhogarato Vaa
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Yogaratah - (let) one who revels in Yoga, Vaa - or, Bhogaratah - (let) one who revels in Bhoga, Vaa - or, Sangaratah - (let) one seek enjoyment in company, Vaa - or, Sangaviheenah - (let) one who revels in solitude away from the crowd, Yasya - for whom, Brahmani - in Brahman, Ramate - revels (sports), Chittam - the mind, Nandati - (he) enjoys, Nandati - (he) enjoys, Nandatyeva - only he enjoys.
One may take delight or revel in Yoga or bhoga, may have attachment or detachment or in other words, let one seek enjoyment in company or in solitude, but only he whose mind revels in the bliss of Brahman, will enjoy and verily he alone enjoys.
As we learnt from earlier slokas, pleasure is a state of mind. The satisfaction springing from sense enjoyment has very limited life and it binds one in karma. But the enjoyment of bliss in the union of God is beyond one's description. It is difficult to describe, as it is beyond the qualities of any qualifications. Yes, it is possible that though one is engaged in worldly concerns and not immersed in meditation, one can still turn one's mind towards God and be fixed on Him. It is immaterial in what form and by what name a devotee worships God. Bhakti is mainly Bhava pradhan, rather than outward show. The heart, which melts at the singing the names of God, will bear fruit, otherwise whatever length of time that one spends in devotional practices, it will be futile. There is absolutely no confusion with regard to the God or Goddess that one wishes to worship, whether it is Siva or Vishnu. If at all there is one, it is in the mind of the devotee, but not in that power or energy, which is known as God or Goddess. That power or energy is one and the same, but only the name is different, to facilitate the devotee to concentrate, according to one's choice. That is all.
Sloka 20 (Attributed to Dhridhabhakta)
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Bhagavat Gita - The Bhagavad Geeta, Kinchid - (even) a little, Adheetaa - has studied, Gangaajalalavakanikaa - a drop of Ganga water, Peetaa - has sipped, Sakrit api - at least once, Yena - by whom, Muraarisamarchaa - worship of the Lord Murari (Murasta ari - the enemy of Mura, a Raakshasa), Kriyate - is done, Tasya - to him, Yamena - with Yama, the Lord of Death, Na - never, Charchaa - quarrel (discussion).
Even a little study and understanding of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, or sipping of even a drop of the waters of holy Ganges or even a little worship of Murari will surely save one from confrontation with Yama, the Lord of Death.
While Srimad Bhagavad Gita explains in detail what exactly is the secret essence and goal of life and what are the methods by which these can be achieved, the perennial river Ganges symbolises the "spiritual knowledge" for the Hindus. Until the ego (or shall we call it Mura, the Raakshasa) in us is annihilated, there is no hope of realising the Real Truth or Knowledge. Man is basically bound by the body-consciousness and the ego-sense, arising out of false identification with matter. This can be removed only by devoted worship and prayer at the altar of the very Destroyer of Ego (Murari). In the process, one has to withdraw one's mind from all other preoccupations and keep reminding it of the goal and then nurture of the self is the only method by which one can reach the destination. The one, who has acquired the real knowledge, i.e., Sastraas, and has the burning desire to reach the goal should put in untiring efforts to reach the destiny and such a sadhaka will not have fear of death.
Sloka 21 (Attributed to Nityanaatha)
Punarapi Jananam Punarapi Maranam
Punah api - once again, Jananam - birth, Punah api - once again, Maranam - death, Punarapi - (and) again, Jananeejathare - in the mother's womb, Sayanam - lying, Iha - here, Samsaare - in this Samasaare (process), Bahudustaare - (Samsaara) which is very hard to cross over, Apaare - (Samsaara) which has no end, Kripayapaare- through Thy Infinite Kindness, Paahi - save, Murare - O Destroyer of demon Mura.
Undergoing the pangs of birth again and again, passing through the throes of death again and again, lying in the mother's womb over and over again, this process of samsaara is very hard to cross over without the Infinite Kindness of Lord (Murari). O merciful Father, kindly save me.
As Geetacharya instructed and preached, the only path to get rid of the vicious cycle of birth-death-birth is to incessantly pray Lord to shower His bountiful and infinite kindness on us. Our prayers should be so powerful and strong that they should cross the outer periphery of our being and penetrate into HIS kingdom in our innermost-self and outside (as one imagines in Dwaita Bhaava) and melt HIM. Then only HE will bestow HIS benign blessings on us or come down to save us from this Samsaara, as HE saved Gajendra, Prahlada, Ambarisha and many such great souls, in response to their sincere prayers. To develop such an intense feeling, one has to resort to Sadhana and there is no other way out except this. And as Geetachaarya says, one has to give up all other paths, surrender oneself completely to Him and then He shall save one from every sin and one does not need to grieve. This assurance will become true only when our inner-self is free from all kinds of malice for anything and anybody.
The desires give birth to ego and from that stems all problems and karmas, which bind one to take birth again and again. Once one gets entangled in this vicious circle, the vasaanas of earlier births will make life difficult in this birth, unless and until one realises the futility of taking support assuming that the world of objects and beings will give one permanent pleasure. So, one has to live upto the sahaja vaasanaas and to exhaust them through actions undertaken without ego and egocentric desires, so that no new vaasana may precipitate in us. In other words, all actions should be done with samarpana bhaava or with an attitude of dedication, in a spirit of yagna and with an idea to serve for the sake of loka kalyaanam or for the welfare of the world.
When such an attitude is perfected and the thought-disturbances calm down, then one transcends and experiences the bliss of Infinite Spirit. From that point onwards, a new life starts, where there is no room for any thoughts. The soul dictates the brain to act for the sake of society rather than one’s own selfish ends. Thus, one is relieved from the causes of repeated births totally.
Sloka 22 (Attributed to Nityanatha)
... Bhaja Govindaj, Bhaja Govindam
Rathyaa - the road, Charpata - pieces of old cloth, Virachita - made of, Kanthah - godadi (a shawl) (He who wears the godadi - shawl made up of pieces of cloth rejected by others on the road), Punya apunya - merit and demerit, Vivarjita - well left, Panthah - the path (One who walks the path that is beyond merit and demerit), Yogee - the Yogin (sage), Yoga niyojita chittah - whose mind is joined in perfect Yoga, Ramate - sports (lives thereafter), Baalvat eva - as a child (or), Unmattavath eva - as a madman.
Clad in stray rags, treading the path beyond good and evil or merit or demerit and whose mind is always in meditation, he revels in God-consciousness, having lost all outward norms and decorum, he behaves like a child or as a madman.
Sloka 23 (Attributed to Surendra)
Kastvam Ko'ham Kuta Aayaatah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Kah - who, Tvam - (are) you, Kah - who, Aham - am I, Kutah - from where, Aayaatah - did I come, Ka - who (is), Me - my, Jananee - mother, Kah - who (is), Me - my, Taatah - Father, Iti - thus, Paribhaavaya - enquire, Sarvam - all, Asaaram - essenceless, Visvam - the entire world of experience, Tyaktvaa - leaving aside, Svapnavichaaram - a mere dreamland (born of imagination).
Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come? Who is
my mother? Who is my father? Thus enquire, and you will realise that the
entire world of experience -- all the worries and problems -- is but a
dream, born out of imagination and delusion.
One has to understand and aware oneself vis-a-vis one's relationship with the other individual and at the same the Maya that is binding both of them. It does not mean that one should not have such bonds, but one should understand the fragility and its limitations, as most of such relations related to body rather than soul. Soul mate does not at all refer to wife-and-husband relation, but any soul which gets enriched by the experience and relation to the other soul in spirituality is a soul mate. It is, therefore, important to know oneself before forging any relationship with the other individual.
While making use of the rational intellect by asking such questions as to whence and whither have we come from and who are our parents, etc., we should root out our misconceptions and reach to the roots of Reality. It is definitely a difficult task to overcome this state of mind at the moment, but through consistent sadhana and rational approach, one develops the ability to look within oneself totally to get freedom from these bonds.
Having successfully dismissed all the sense-passions from one's mind, turn the mind inwards for a close and critical observation of oneself to find out answers to the above questions, one would understand the hollowness of the world of names and forms and the enchantments of the objects and their vanities around us.
Sloka 24 (Attributed to Medhaatithira)
Tvayi Mayi Chaanyatraiko Vishnuh
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Tvayi - in you, Mayi - in me, Cha - and, Anyatra - in all oher places (too), Ekah - (there is) but one, Vishnuh - All pervading Reality (Vishnu), Vyartham - unnecessarily, Kupyasi - you are getting angry, Mayi - with me, Asahishnuh - being impatient, Bhava - become, Samachittah - equal-minded, Sarvatra - everywhere (in all circumstances), Tvam - you, Vaanchhasyachi yadi - if you want, Achiraat - soon, Vishnutvam - The Vishnu-Status.
In you, in me and everywhere there dwells only one, the All-pervading Reality, i.e., Vishnu or Parabrahma Paramaatma. Getting impatient and angry with other is meaningless. Giving up all egoistic-feelings of duality completely and maintaining equal-minded in all circumstances, attain soon the Vishnu-status.
From time immemorial, it has been taught to us by the Rishis of yore that Vishnu is the All-pervading power in me, in you and everywhere. This Viswam is nothing but Vishnu Mayam, i.e., the All-pervading Reality. How to believe this truth? There is no short-cut for this. Every student of spirituality has to understand this Reality in one's own heart. Till then, it is a kind of repetition, which is necessary to emphasise that one point, which says that the multiplicity is the nature of the world, but the Realised Soul sees only One-ness in and through of all. It means, there is only One, without second and that One is appearing in multiple facets, because of one's ignorance. As long as one does not realise that One-ness in all, one keeps getting doubts and requires answers too. When one has reached the Perfection or realised the Truth, then the feeling of imperfection will automatically give way to completeness or complete satisfaction. What is the first step to reach the Ultimate or to realise the Truth? It is "be-equal-minded in all circumstances". Yes, it is a tall order, as most of us are in the grip of moods and momentary pleasures. No amount of study of scriptural literature will help one to realise the Truth, unless one applies the knowledge learnt in search of that Truth. Theoretical knowledge to know how the "sweet" tastes is fine, but the experience will be altogether different if one really tastes "sweet". Likewise, the acquired knowledge should help us to realise the truth and make us to resolve not to take rest till we achieve the Ultimate. The ultimate is nothing but "Atma-saakshaatkaaram", which is possible to be accomplished by making our mind receptive to the truth, such as, first one has to make a concerted effort to remove all the cobwebs that have been formed over a period of time, erase all likes and dislikes from the hard-disk of the mind, be equal minded for anything and everything, position and treat oneself as mere witness to the whole drama that is unfolding in front of one. As one succeeds in this sadhana, the subtle influences from the higher planes of Consciousness starts emanating and the mind has to be made to listen to these influences to progress and to reach the Ultimate Reality.
Samachittatvam i.e., equanimity of mind, is an important ingredient in the whole sequence of things, which makes one to lead a life of a witness rather than a participant. This equanimity or even-mindedness should not get disturbed or shaken by the world of external objects and either positive or negative happenings in one’s life. One has to be solid and strive to filter away from one's mind the influences of vicissitudes of life in order to develop the mental equipoise. All this is possible with only Sadhana, dedicating the action, devotion to the Lord, service to the mankind, constant introspection, and contemplation on the Highest. Samatvam, i.e., equal vision on all things and beings and in all circumstances is, therefore, an essential part of Sadhana to attain the Ultimate.
Satrau Mitre Putre Bandhau
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Do not waste your efforts to win the love of or to fight against friend or foe, son or relative. Seeking the Self everywhere, lift the sense of difference (or give up the feeling of duality completely) born out of ignorance and treat all alike.
One must attain liberation by gradually reducing and ultimately getting rid of attachments, as from attachment flows grief and delusion. In other words, in our dealings everyday, one should develop equanimity and try to see the Divinity in everyone and everywhere. It is possible only when one cultivates a sense of impartiality, as friendship or enmity only perpetuates the impediment of attachment. Yes, it is a very difficult task to achieve in worldly life.
It is no use to pretend to be calm externally when anger burns inside in the heart, and how many occasions come about for anger. It is no doubt that it is a tall order to ask the human beings who are totally immersed in worldly affairs, where one is after the life of the other, for petty gains to develop divine outlook. Like wise, hate can come only when one sees the other as something different from one. One does not hate one's own body, though it is stinking due to some disease, but the person hates even one's own most loved person, if the body of that person has the same problem. Why? It is because, one thinks that person is different from self. Can one hate or get angry if one's teeth bite one's tongue? It is but natural that one forgives the teeth without giving any punishment to them. Like wise, when the whole universe is born out of One (whether one calls it Mother, Father, God, Reality or with any other name), how can one afford to hate or get angry with the other. When all are One and there is no Second, where is the question that One is different from the Other, as all are HIS manifestations alone.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya has provided an easy remedy to
overcome the feeling of duality. He says (to me, especially), that one
should nurture pure (untainted by selfish intentions) love while constantly
reminding oneself and firmly believing in the truth that Govinda resides
in everybody. The way to control and overcome anger and aversion is to
keep telling oneself, how many times one was guilty of one's own lapses
and how many are the evils that lodge in one's heart concealed from the
gaze of others. If so, then others are also like me and what right do
I have to get angry and aversion about the other person? The lapses of
others are also like mine and I have no genuine right to get angry on
others. Precisely for this reason, our elders keep telling us to remember
God's name or Govinda always, so that one day the heart is filled with
HIS love and it will be lifted upto HIM.
Instead of expiating one’s countless sins and defects, how can one indulge in wasting time thinking of the vices of others? One has to cry out to Govinda, as counting the lapses of others will only add to one's misery. Life after life will be wasted in such pursuits. Therefore, there should not be any doubt in one’s mind that the first and foremost task to accomplish is to quickly go about purifying one’s heart and that is possible only when one takes refuge in the lotus feet of Govinda.
After one's duties are over every day or for that matter even while doing one's duties, try to lift up one's thoughts upto Govinda, as contemplation of Govinda is the most effective means of purifying one's heart. One should always remember the truth that one can be a friend or foe of one's own self.
So, it is important to recognise the truth that One Eternal Source, as expressing through all the names and forms, is to change the very nature of our environment, the very vision of our world around. When one experiences oneness everywhere, no sorrow, anger, hatred or any other evil can reach one.
Sloka 26 (Attributed to Bharati Vamsa)
Kaamam Krodham Lobham Moham
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Kaamam - desire, Krodham - anger, Lobham - greed, Moham - delusion, Tyaktvaa - having left, Aatmaanam - the Self, Pasyati - see (the seeker), So'ham - 'He am I', Aatmagyaana Viheenah - those who have no self-knowledge, Moodhaah - the fools, Te - they, Pachyante - are tortured, Narak nigoodhaah - in hell as captives.
Free yourself from desire (or lust), anger, greed, and delusion. Meditate on who you are. Ask of yourself, Who am I? The fools who fail to understand the self are caught even here in hell-fire and suffer torture.
The first step every human being has to take is to get rid of the desire from its roots. It is not that easy. Because, if one desire is satisfied, another wells up. And the life passes by fulfilling one desire after another. There is no end to it. One thinks that one can be happy if the first desire is satisfied and with that starts the endless chain of desires and one does not find an end to it. It goes on till one leaves the body. That is the reason, one must be ever ready to eschew the desire the moment it springs in the mind, especially when such a desire it unreasonable, sexual and inconceivable. The mind must be diverted to something else, preferably to good thoughts or spiritual thoughts. The beauty is that there is no room for two thoughts in the mind at the same time. So, if one succeeds in engaging the mind by lodging and entertaining it with good thoughts always, there is no room for bad thoughts at all. Otherwise, the mind will become a slave to thoughts and schemes to fulfil them one way or the other. A sinful thought pollutes the pure heart, even if it is in dormant state, as it springs up at an opportune moment. Since anger gives birth to hatred, one should take maximum care and precaution to keep away all kinds of desires from the mind.
When one desire is not fulfilled, it sows the seed of anger. It is the greatest enemy of man. Anger harms not only the self but also others. The more one feels hurt, the more the intensity of the anger. Anger reduces one's reasoning faculty by reducing one to an animal.
Then Lobha or greed signifies the profitless pursuit of things unaware of their real nature and lack of value. Lobha is such a desire that one is not entitled or eligible but still one wants to have it. For example, one wishes to do all such things to make others to believe so that one gets a good name in the society. Such actions are mere pretentions, not born out of a noble thought or one really intends to serve other. All that glitters is not gold is the clear example of Lobha, as in the present day world, most of us go for the outward shine and the price, without knowing what is its use ultimately.
Moha is the delusion or attachment. Attachment to worldly things will make one to forget the Actual Source of Pleasure.
We should grow from the objective knowledge to the subjective
knowledge to understand the real nature of the Supreme Source. The knowledge
that we gain from the books may make our lives happy in a materialistic
sense, but that knowledge does not teach us anything about our own Self.
The real knowledge, which makes us to realise what we are, is the spiritual
knowledge. That is what we should opt for always. The spiritual knowledge
is the key to discover one's Self and once it is achieved, the meaning
of So'ham, as said in this sloka, will become crystal clear. The purpose
of this life is to gain that Self-knowledge (Atma-gyaana), which dispels
all types of desires, anger, greed and delusion.
Sloka 27 (Attributed to Sri Sumati or Sumitra)
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Geyam - is to be chanted (sung), Geetaa - Bhagavad Geeta, Naamasahasram - Sahasranaamam, Dhyeyam - is to be meditated upon, Sripati - the form of the Lord of Lakshmi, Ajasram - always, Neyam - (the mind) is to be led, Sajjana sange - in the association (company) of the good, Chittam - the mind, Deyam - is to be distributed, Deenajanaaya cha - to the needy, Vittam - wealth.
Regularly sing the glory of God as given in Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Sri Vishnusahasranamam, always meditate upon the form of Aadi Purusha Sri Mahavishnu, the Lord of Lakshmi, make every effort to take the mind towards the company of the good, noble and holy, and share the wealth with the poor and needy.
So far the commentaries of all the slokas has removed one doubt very clearly that without true knowledge, life in this world is a mixture of sorrow and pleasure, and this mixture only helps increasing body-consciousness and over a period of time, life will become a hell. In other words, one will be tossed up and down by temporary pleasures and pains. Sri Adi Sankaracharya prescribes four important points to put into practice sincerely. They are, (1) Regular reading of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, (2) daily recitation of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamams or worship of Sri Mahavishnu, (3) keep the company of the good, noble and holy people, and (4) serve the poor and the needy by sharing the wealth one has.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya is suggesting here two pronged strategy to break open the shackles that we put on ourselves by conditioning our thoughts and actions. He says, first, that read Srimad Bhagavad Gita, as it explains both the goal and the path and also gives different techniques of living and, secondly, recite the thousand names of the Lord with one-pointed devotion. It means very clearly that by reading and understanding Srimad Bhagavad Gita one acquires the true knowledge and with that one learns to distinguish between Shreyas and Preyas, good and bad, true and false, permanent and impermanent, pleasure and pain and chose that one, which is good for the development and refinement of the self, and by reciting the thousand names of the Lord, i.e., Sri Vishnusahasranamams, one develops devotion on that Force, which is running the whole universe every minute in a systematic and orderly manner from time immemorial. As one keeps doing these two regularly, one is definite to learn both the knowledge required to refine the soul and intensify bhakti in one’s heart over a period of time. The path will become very clear if one tries to approach the goal from these two paths, although if one opts for one path, at the end of it, one will come to know about the second path automatically. Therefore, one path, i.e., either knowledge or devotion, is sufficient, but so as to quicken the process, I personally believe, it is better to have these two legs to walk properly. Reading any holy book with full devotion and with a sincere approach to learn the basic truth coupled with regular sadhana will help one to understand the Maya and ultimately to overcome it by HIS grace.
As the fish, which are close to the net, do not fall in the net, so as the devotees, who are close to the feet of the Lord do not get entangled in the Maya-chakra.
Mere study does not lead one to anywhere, although study is absolutely necessary for the intellectual satisfaction of the seeker. Unless the ideas gained from reading scriptures are diligently put into practice in one's life, the acquired knowledge will not get one the required result.
The biggest enemy of human being is his ego. Sincere
and devotional reading of holy books will fill one's heart with humility,
love and real joy. The first and the strongest sign of ego is development
of body-consciousness. Identifying oneself with "I" is the biggest
stumbling block for the spiritual progress. Most of the human beings are
under the wrong notion that one gets real pleasure if one succeeds in
keeping the body comfortably. Srimad Bhagavad Gita teaches the basic difference
between the body and the soul and how to overcome the body-consciousness,
so that one is always established in the Soul-consciousness, which is
the real happiness. Like-wise, surrendering oneself at the altar of Narayana
by reciting Sri Vishnusahasranamams and thereby getting oneself attuned
to Him is the true worship. By attuning oneself with the sacred names
of the Lord, the devotee tries to elevate oneself to those noble qualities
of the Lord.
Charity being made with true feeling will make one understand that the needs and requirements of others are as important as one's own. The charity must flow from one's own abundance and it should be done without any pomp and show, with a sense of brotherhood.
Sensory pleasures are momentary and lead to grief. If one gets used to the pleasures, which the senses give, an insatiable craving for them set in again and again. Therefore, one has to realise this truth and do not attach any importance whatsoever to the pleasures which come from the senses. Equanimity of mind is alone the true joy.
By renouncing the fruits of action, i.e., attachment, but not the action, which is the duty, itself, is the only possible path to lead a life free from sensual pleasures and selfishness. One has to learn to do every action as a form of worship to God, according to Srimad Bhagavad Gita. So, what has to be renounced sincerely is the desire and the attachment with an intention and spirit of dedication to God. What one can do to achieve this is to turn the intentions behind all actions towards good, positive or spiritual channels, as, at times, it may be difficult to by-pass or change the native and in-born tendencies.
While constantly remembering all the ideas enlisted above, one has to learn to recognise the truth that One Infinite Life is running through in everybody’s heart and everywhere in the society and respect every human being with such a feeling that he or she is the Lord him/herself. Otherwise, all other ostentatious and elaborate worships of Lord or pretensions will not give one salvation.
Sukhatah Kriyate Raamaabhogah
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Sukhatah - For the sake of happiness, Kriyate - (is done) one indulges in, Raamaabhogah - carnal pleasures, Paschaat - later on, Hanta - alas, Sareere - in the body, Rogah - disease (comes), Yadyapi - even though, Loke - in the world, Maranam - death, Sarnam - (is) the ultimate end, Tadapi - even then, Na - (he) does not, Munchati - leaves, Paapaacharanam (Aacharanam Paap) - sinful behaviour.
The lust or craving for sex, or getting enticed by the opposite sex, is the greatest undoing for both male and female sadhakas. This animal and momentary impulse is like fire, which can be used for good and bad. It will serve or destroy one completely. Although the force and urge of attraction between male and female is a natural phenomenon, if controlled, it is good for the home and the society at large, if not, it will burn many lives, as fire burns everything that it touches.
One has to consciously make efforts to keep away all thoughts related to sex, being a member of the civilised society. Then only one can transform noble thoughts into action and save the soceity from chaos. As one enjoys the company of mother, sister, daughter, father, brother, son and other such relations of opposite sex, the same way one should move with other in the society, killing animal thoughts and learning to seek delight in a cultured manner. First of all, one has to sincerely practice the art of forgetting the sex of other person. Then only one can turn away the mind from the impulses of the flesh and body-consciousness.
The other convenient way to overcome this base instinct is to enjoy nature or some such avocation, like painting, humour, singing, reading, etc. One has to make every effort not to allow the mind to stray even for a little while into forbidden grounds, otherwise, it will overpower and drag one into the depths of shame.
Living in flesh and implicitly obeying to the wretched body-consciousness is universally very easy for any one, as the body wants such sensory pleasures or gratification and no practice is necessary for that, but to fight against its own low instincts and come to win the divine mastery over the flesh is very difficult. Not only that, such tendencies will lead to physical suffering and disabilities as the faculties start decaying slowly and surely. Unfortunately, even the staring death into one's own face will not stop the human being from getting over such a shameful desire. The Maya of lust is so strong that in spite of realising that the ultimate destination is death, one finds it difficult to overcome this temptation. So, one has to be very and very careful so that one does not get into the iron grip of Maya.
Arthamanartham Bhaavaya Nityam
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Wealth is ruinous as there is no (real) joy in it. Reflect thus at all times. A rich man is frightened even by his own son. This is the way with wealth everywhere.
Like any evil, amassing wealth also leads to unassuming problems. There is nothing wrong in earning to make a living, but the objection is against avarice, hunger to earn and accumulate more and more wealth. With the accumulation of wealth, the desires also increase, which ultimately breed pain and misery. It is also difficult to keep the accumulated wealth safe from others like thieves and cheats and a time comes even one's own son or kith and kin may become enemy. The so-called source of strength will become a source of fear for the miserable man, who amasses wealth. Natural love disappears due to fear and ego.
In fact, the real happiness lies in sharing and the real joy comes when one relishes the idea of distributing or sharing of one’s excess wealth, whether it is food, money, clothing or anything that is required for subsistence by the needy. Excessive money or wealth is not a source of happiness by itself. It has a limit and anything beyond will become a cause for concern, anxiety and unhappiness. Unfortunately, in the present day world, most of us are under the false belief that a bundle of currency notes will bring us happiness. Thinking so, we become its slaves. At the end of the journey, every one has to go on two bamboo sticks and the amassed money or wealth will not accompany the one who sacrificed one's life to accumulate it. In some cases, the siblings start fighting with each other and come to blows or try to kill each other over the property. Any number of reasons or any length of argument to hoard money for self or for dependents will not justify it for the simple reason that the excess it is accumulated the more contempt it breeds and the more problems it invites.
The grip of Maaya is so strong and powerful in us that we never give different aspects of life their right and appropriate value for enrichment. It is really strange that money was discovered and made by man and yet man has become its slave. One should not delude oneself thinking that one can feel secured by amassing wealth. One should learn to do the duty without any attachment and only such an attitude will give happiness. The foolish man wastes one's entire life for wealth by giving exaggerated importance to it thereby breeding subhuman impulses. The money-mania would make one jealous and conceit and it gives false confidence that one is very powerful.
When one possesses money, wealth is a blessing, but when it is allowed to possess one, then the wealth is a curse.
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Praanaayaamam - the control of all activities (of life's manifestations in you), Pratyaahaaram - the sense-withdrawal (from their respective sense-objects), Nitya anitya viveka vichaaram - the enquiry (reflection) consisting of discrimination between the permanent and the impermanent, Jaapya sameta samaadhi vidhaanam - along with japa and the practice of reaching the total inner-silence, Kuru - perform, Avadhaanam - with care, Mahat avadhaanam - with great care.
Regulated breathing or pranas and sense control or withdrawal (from their respective sense-objects), reflection or discrimination (of values between permanent and the impermanent or eternal and the transient) along with japa on the holy name of God and meditation to reach the inner-self or to silence the turbulent mind - one has to perform these with care and extreme care.
The main concern of the devotee is to restrain the senses so that they will not run like unchecked horses without reins. In fact, Sri Adi Sankaracharya prescribed four fold sadhana to control and restrain the unbridled horses. They are, (1) pranaayam, i.e., control of breath, (2) withdrawal of senses, (3) discrimination, and (4) japa and meditation. All these and more are means to reach the end. Although they may not give the sadhaka immediate results, one should not feel despair and continue the efforts till one reaches the ultimate goal.
The mind is the seat of all thoughts and activities. One has to be on the alert to keep the mind free from all kinds of negative thoughts. The intelligence should ever awake and work as a guard to the mind, as only the intelligence is bestowed with the discriminatory powers between good and bad, true and false, permanent and impermanent, reality and appearance, etc.
Praana consists of five distinct modifications. They are: Praana (perceptions and reception of things into the subjective life), apaana (rejection of things and responses), Vyaana, (the digestive system), Samaana (the circulatory system), and Udaana (the capacity to lift ourselves from our present state of understanding to a nobler and better peak of thought on the mount of knowledge). All these five elements put together is called Praanaayaama.
It is a kind of systematic and regular training, as it is just impossible to force the mind, crush the instincts, belabour the passions, etc., as force will create suppression, deformities and abominable ugliness of personality. So, one has to be careful in one's systematic and regular training to reach the Ultimate Reality.
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Guru charan ambuja nirbhara bhaktah - great devotee of the lotus-feet of the teacher, Samsaarat - from the samsaara, Achiraat - soon, Bhava muktah - become liberated, Sendriya maanas niyamat - through the discipline of the sense organs and the mind, Evam - in this manner, Drakshyasi - you will experience, Nija hridayastham - that dwells in one'w own heart, Devam - the Lord.
O devotee of the lotus-feet of the teacher! may you become liberated soon from the samsaara through the discipline of the sense-organs and the mind. You will experience (behold) the Lord that dwells in your own heart.
Our body is the temple and the Soul in it is God. It is our duty to keep both the body and the Soul pure by guarding them from defilement. There are several means suggested by our great ancestors, which are valid for all times. These suggestions were time tested and proven beyond an iota of doubt. It is our duty and utmost endeavour to put them in practice. While making mental obeisance to these great masters and personages, we should resign ourselves to the will of God.
Faith is the secret power in the human mind to hold on
to what one intellectually believes and not yet come to experience in
one’s life. Faith in God and faith in the wisdom of Guru are most
important for the disciple to become liberated from samsaara soon, because
once surrendered to the lotus feet of the Guru, it is his burden to guide
the disciple till he reaches the destination. But, the disciple, on his
part, has to obey the Guru, manasaa, vaacha and karmana so much so that
he firmly believes that Guru is God. Sincere adoration and devoted surrender
to the Guru are the most important ingredients. While establishing such
a firm faith in Guru, the disciple has to control his sense-organs and
the mind so as to experience the Lord that dwells in one's own heart.
Moodhah Kashchana Vaiyaakarano
... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam
... Bhaja Govndam, Bhaja Govindam
Thus, a grammarian, who has lost in rules, cleansed of his narrow vision and shown the Light by Sri Adi Sankaracharya's teachings.
Therefore, O fool, at least now understand the purport
of life and cross the life's ocean with the help of worshiping Govinda
and reciting His sacred names with every breath that you take.
While I was trying to understand the meaning of the Thousand Names of the Lord of Sri Vishnusahasranaamams and then started writing the same for my own benefit and posterity, I had a unique urge of knowing and writing the meaning and essence of Bhaja Govindam. I know my effort is like showing a lamp to Sun. I also know very well my own limitations in understanding and then expressing myself, as it looks like a blind man guiding the other blind men. In spite of this apparent lacuna, I ventured to write this commentary for Bhaja Govindam mainly for my own reference in my own understanding and language. I am sure that it has HIS stamp of approval and appreciation to do that. It is my good fortune and the result of some good deeds of my earlier birth that I could think of undertaking such a task. It is HE who has instigated, inspired, initiated and encouraged me, sometimes through dear and near, till it is completed. It may have to be revised for several mistakes. As and when I am blessed with new ideas, I will keep incorporating them in this commentary and submitting it to HIM every time. I have no words to express myself and I am thankful to HIM from the core of my heart for His inspiration to accomplish this sacred assignment. My Lord, let THY will prevail always.
Always wishing to be a Paramaanu of Your Lotus Feet
1. The Universe That is God by Dr. I. Panduranga Rao, published by Jnana Pravaha Centre for Cultural Studies, Varanasi.
2. Life of Sri Ramanuja by Swami Ramakrishnananda, translated from Bengali by Swami Budhananda, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras.
3. Thousand Ways to the Transcendental Vishnu Sahasrnama by Swami Chnimayananda, published by Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai.
4. Aadi Sankaracharya's Bhaja Govindam by Swami Chinmayananada,
Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai.
Sri P Gopi Krishna