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WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BHAJA GOVINDAM ( ADI SHANKARA) ?PART-01...GURU 02


1-Sri Adi Shankaracharya has composed the Bhaja Govindam during his famous pilgrimage to Kashi (Benares). The fourteen disciples are said to have accompanied him. The story goes that when he was walking along the streets of Kashi, he was pained to observe an elderly man trying hard to learn Sanskrit grammar.

2-At his advanced age, the remaining valuable little time of his life should have been used for worshipping the God, instead of wasting on learning a language. This prompted Sri Shankara to burst out this composition, a sort of rebuke to foolish way of living.

3-The Acharya urges the man to turn towards God and sing His glory instead of wasting on mundane things. A censure is implied when the Acharya calls the man a fool (Moodhamathe). It may be added here that the tone of Bhajagovindam is somewhat striking, in spite of its exotic poetic beauty and perfection of composition.

4-This is no wonder, because such a treatment is required to wake up man from his slumber. A milder approach would delay the matter. The matter is urgent, as the Acharya explains in the next verse, for, when the hour of death approaches without any forewarning, the hard-learned verses of grammar are not going to save the poor soul.

Hence the song rightly starts without any preamble:----

bhajagovindaM bhajagovindaM govindaM bhajamuuDhamate . saMpraapte sannihite kaale nahi nahi rakshati DukRiJNkaraNe .. (1)

MEANING--Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.

mUDha jahiihi dhanaagamatRishhNaaM kuru sadbuddhiM manasi vitRishhNaam. yallabhase nijakarmopaattaM vittaM tena vinodaya chittam. .. (2)

MEANING--Oh fool ! Give up your thirst to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.

naariistanabhara naabhiideshaM dRishhTvaa maagaamohaavesham. etanmaaMsaavasaadi vikaaraM manasi vichintaya vaaraM vaaram. .. (3)

MEANING--Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and lust by seeing a woman’s navel and chest. These are nothing but a modification of flesh. Do not fail to remember this again and again in your mind.

naliniidalagata jalamatitaralaM tadvajjiivitamatishayachapalam . viddhi vyaadhyabhimaanagrastaM lokaM shokahataM cha samastam .. (4)

MEANING--The life of a man is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a lotus leaf. Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief.

yaavadvittopaarjana saktaH staavannija parivaaro raktaH . pashchaajjiivati jarjara dehe vaartaaM ko.api na pRichchhati gehe .. (5)

MEANING--So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.

yaavatpavano nivasati dehe taavatpRichchhati kushalaM gehe . gatavati vaayau dehaapaaye bhaaryaa bibhyati tasminkaaye .. (6)

MEANING--When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his welfare. But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife runs away in fear of the corpse.

baalastaavatkriiDaasaktaH taruNastaavattaruNiisaktaH . vRiddhastaavachchintaasaktaH pare brahmaNi ko.api na saktaH .. (7)

MEANING--The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness. Youth is lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over many past things. But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in parabrahmam.

kaate kaantaa kaste putraH saMsaaro.ayamatiiva vichitraH . kasya tvaM kaH kuta aayaataH tattvaM chintaya tadiha bhraataH .. (8)

MEANING--Who is your wife ? Who is your son ? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you ? From where have you come ? Brother, ponder over these truths here.

satsaNgatve nissN^gatvaM nissaNgatve nirmohatvam.h . nirmohatve nishchalatattvaM nishcalatattve jiivanmuktiH .. (9)

MEANING--From Satsangh comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to self-settledness. From self-settledness comes Jeevan Mukti.

vayasigate kaH kaamavikaaraH shushhke niire kaH kaasaaraH . kshiiNevitte kaH parivaaraH GYaate tattve kaH saMsaaraH .. (10)

MEANING--What good is lust when youth has fled ? What use is a lake which has no water ? Where are the relatives when wealth is gone ? Where is samsara when the Truth is known ?

maa kuru dhana jana yauvana garvaM harati nimeshhaatkaalaH sarvam.h . maayaamayamidamakhilaM hitvaa brahmapadaM tvaM pravisha viditvaa .. (11)

MEANING--Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth. Each one of these are destroyed within a minute. Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.

dinayaaminyau saayaM praataH shishiravasantau punaraayaataH . kaalaH kriiDati gachchhatyaayuH tadapi na muJNcatyaashaavaayuH .. (12)

MEANING--Daylight and darkness, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime come and go. Time plays and life ebbs away. But the storm of desire never leaves.

dvaadashamaJNjarikaabhirasheshhaH kathito vaiyaakaraNasyaishhaH . upadesho bhuudvidyaanipuNaiH shriimachchhankarabhagavachchharaNariH .. (12a)

MEANING--This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the bhagavadpada.

kaate kaantaa dhana gatachintaa vaatula kiM tava naasti niyantaa . trijagati sajjanasaM gatiraikaa bhavati bhavaarNavataraNe naukaa .. (13)

MEANING-Oh mad man ! Why this engrossment in thoughts of wealth ? Is there no one to guide you ? There is only one thing in three worlds that can save you from the ocean from samsara. Get into that boat of satsangha quickly. Stanza attributed to Padmapada.

jaTilo muNDii luJNchhitakeshaH kaashhaayaambarabahukRitaveshhaH . pashyannapi cana pashyati muuDhaH udaranimittaM bahukRitaveshhaH .. (14)

MEANING-There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are clothed in saffron, yet others in various colors — all just for a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones see it not. Stanza attributed to Totakacharya.

aNgaM galitaM palitaM muNDaM dashanavihiinaM jataM tuNDam. vRiddho yaati gRihiitvaa daNDaM tadapi na muJNcatyaashaapiNDam...(15)

MEANING-Strength has left the old man's body; his head has become bald,his gums toothless and leaning on crutches. Even then theattachment is strong and he clings firmly to fruitless desires.Stanza attributed to Hastamalaka, CONTD.

......SHIVOHAM....