|Bhaja Govindham of Shankaracharya|
Bhaja govindam is one of the minor compositions of the spiritual giant, Adi Shankara. Though sung as a bhajan, it contains the essence of Vedanta and awakens the man to think, "Why am I here in this life? Why am I amassing wealth, family, but have no peace? What is the Truth? What is the purpose of life?" Man is thus awakened and gets set on a path to the inner road back to God. Man is thus drawn out of miry by-lanes of life in which he is stuck in and put onto the royal road of spirituality and self-realization.
It is said that once in Banaras when he, together with his fourteen disciples, was going along on his daily rounds, he overheard a very old Pundit cramming Panini's grammar rules. Sankara was touched with pity at the ignorance and folly of the man to be wasting away the most precious 'dusk hours' of his life for a mere intellectual accomplishment instead of spending them in contemplation on the Lord, praying for spiritual enlightenment and for release from the bondage of Samsara. He knew that this was not the state of that particular old man only, but was the general state of most of the men.
Sankara intimated that men waste and while away their lives in many (or most) futile ways, groveling in the mire of earthly attachments forgetting God who is the only goal in life. In compassion for man's plight, he burst forth into these stanzas, famous as Moha Mudgara, now popularly known by the refrain of the song, which is Bhaja Govindam.
"Oh, Mudha! Oh, ignoramus! Grammar rules (in fact all your secular learning) will not come to your rescue when death knocks to snatch you away. Instead of wasting away the precious span of your life in a futile manner, turn to and seek Govinda, who alone can save you from the Jaws of Life and death".
In thirty-one simple, sweet and lucid Slokas, giving homely analogies and illustrations for our easy understanding, Sankara tells us about the fallacy and futility of our life; and sloka by sloka he removes veil after veil, dispelling our ignorance, illusions and delusions (moha) and showing us where the remedy for all our misery lies. The poem is, therefore also called "Moha Mudgara." He touches all aspects of our life, how these blind and bind us, plunging us deeper and deeper into the abyss of ignorance and misery. He wants each one of us to cultivate a discerning and discriminating eye (viveka) to distinguish the permanent from the transitory, the real from the unreal, to practice dispassion (vairagya) for worldly attractions and distractions, to cultivate devotion for realizing Govinda, the abiding Absolute Truth and thus getting released from the misery and bondage of this phenomenal existence
*BHAJA GOVINDAM OF ADI SHANKARA*
BHAJA GOVINDAM, BHAJA GOVINDAM
Worship Govinda! Worship Govinda! Worship Govinda! Oh ignorant man, When the time to go is near, the rules of grammar, which you are trying to cram and master, will not protect you.
Day and night, evening and morning, winter and spring, come again and again! Tim rolls on; life is spent; yet the wind of desire does not leave him.
With a fire in front of him or the sun behind, huddled with his chin on his knees at night, he begs for food with only his bare hands. He lives under trees, yet the noose of desire does not leave him.
As long as he is able to earn money, his relatives remain attached to him. Later, when he dodders with his decrepit body, not even the people in his own house ask for news of him.
With matted locks, a shaven head, or plucked hair, clad in many ways with ochre-dyed clothes, such fools can see but they do not see (the Truth). They are dressed in these different ways only for the sake of their stomachs.
If one has studied the Bhagawad Gita, even a little, or drunk the tiniest drop of the waters of the holy Ganges or only once worshipped Murari, what can Yama (the lord of death) say about him?
When the body has drained, hair turned white, and a toothless mouth,
the old man walks supporting himself on a stick, yet the meat of desire
does not leave him.
In childhood, one is engaged in play; in Youth, one is attached to a young woman; in old age, one is burdened with anxiety; but no one is ever concerned with Brahman.
Born again, dying again, sleeping once again in a mother's belly - here in this endless ocean of samsara (the world), which is difficult to cross, protect me by your grace, O Murari.
Another night, another day, another two weeks, another month, another half a year, and another year (all pass by), yet the passion of desire does not leave you.
When youth is gone, where is passion? Where the water dries up, can there be a lake? Where wealth is lost, where are one's relatives? When the Truth is known, where is this world?
A woman burdened with breasts and (the act of) entering below the navel are frenzied delusions brought on by deceitful Maya. Reflect in your mind again and again that these are only modifications of flesh, fat, and so on.
Who are you? Who am I? From Where have I come from? Who is my mother, who is my father? In this way, think of everything as meaningless and renounce the world, knowing it to be just a dream.
Recite the Gita; and the (Vishnu Sahasranama), meditate unceasingly on the form of the Lord of Shri Vishnu, direct your mind to the company of saintly beings, and give money to needy people.
The people in his house ask his well being as long as there is life in the body, but when the breath has left his dead body, even his wife is afraid of his corpse.
One who enjoys a beautiful woman with pleasure, but look - afterward one's body becomes diseased. Although death is the only refuge in this world, still one does not give up sinful conduct.
With his clothes made of cast-off rags from along the road, a monk
follows the path that is beyond merit and demerit. Neither you nor I
nor this world exist, so why should he grieve?
One may go where the holy Ganges flows into the sea, observe vows,
or give money in charity, yet by themselves these cannot release one
without knowledge - even in a hundred lives.
(Refrain from Verse 1 to be sung after every verse...BHAJA GOVINDAM, BHAJA GOVINDAM..........)
Oh, Fool! Give up your insatiable desire for earthly possessions; be sensible and develop serenity and contentment. Be satisfied and happy with whatever you may earn by the sweat of your brow and whatever has destiny marked for your lot.
The water droplet on the lotus leaf is tremulous and unsteady. So
too is life, which is as uncertain. Know the body to be in the claws
of disease, which may swallow it at any moment. Life is ultimately nothing
but worry, misery and grief.
Who indeed is your beloved and who indeed is your son? Strange indeed
are these family bonds; who belong to you and to whom you belong? Whence
did you come, Oh brother! Reflect on the truth of it all.
The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; when
attachment is lost, delusion ends; when delusion ends, the mind becomes
unwavering and steady. An unwavering and steady mind is merited for
Jeevan Mukti (liberation even in this life).
The pleasures and riches of worldly life are deceptive appearances.
Understanding that they are all but a passing-show, be detached and
dispassionate, cultivate renunciation and seek Brahman.
Crazy man! Why do you worry so much about your wife and property? Why don't you seek out the Truth? Know that in these three worlds it is only the association with the good and holy that can help you in crossing safely the ocean of life.
Who can disturb the peace and happiness of a man if he has the true
spirit of renunciation and has controlled his desires, even if he be
the poorest, sleeping only in the temple halls and choultries or under
trees or on the bare ground and just with a deer skin to cover.
Whether one is immersed in yoga or is reveling in bhoga (i.e., outward enjoyment), whether he is enjoying himself in social company or has retired into solitude, true happiness certainly cannot be his; but who alone is reveling inwardly in Brahman, (wherever he be), he alone will be truly happy and will verily enjoy.
In you, in me and everywhere, there is but the one Vishnu. Mistakenly
viewing me with a sense of difference, you are ill disposed towards
me. Try to see in all beings only the Vishnu who is your own self. Give
up your false and egoistic sense of separateness from other beings.
Cultivate a sense of kinship, unity and oneness with all.
Do not look at anybody in terms of friend or foe, brother or cousin; do not fritter away your mental energies in thoughts of friendship or enmity. Seeking the Self everywhere be amiable and equal-minded towards all, treating all alike.
Free yourself from lust, anger, greed and delusion. Contemplate
on 'who you are'. Enquire within yourself, who am I? The fools who fail
to apprehend the Self are caught in hell-fire even here and now itself
and suffer torture.
It is wealth only that causes all harm and brings about one's ruin.
Bear this truth in mind always. Know that the pursuit of wealth does
not lead one to happiness at all. The rich fear and are even afraid
of their own sons. This is the outcome of riches anywhere and ever.
Regulated breathing and sense control, discrimination between the
Enduring and the fleeting, the Eternal and the transient, Japa and meditation,
and submerging of the bodily and mental consciousness in the Consciousness
of the Spirit, merging oneself into the total Inner Silence -- one must
practice these with unrelenting fervor.
Surrender yourself to the Lotus Feet of the Guru; with your senses and mind disciplined, and freed from the shackles of Samsara you will behold the Lord who is seated in your heart.
"SEEK GOVINDA, SEEK GOD, BHAJA GOVINDAM", IN THIS REFRAIN COMPRISING OF TWO WORDS, SRI SANKARA, HAS SUMMED UP IN A NUTSHELL AS IT WERE, THE ENTIRE PREACHING OF VEDANTA AND RELIGION FOR THE REDEMPTION OF MANKIND. IT GIVES US THE KEY FOR ENTERING INTO THE REALM OF BLISS, THE ABODE OF GOVINDA AND FOR TERMINATING THE MISERY OF LIFE WE ARE IN AT PRESENT.