A current thread by Gerard (titled Lust and the undeveloped mind) brought these verses from Adi Shankara's Bhaja Govindam to mind...
॥ भज गोविन्दं ॥
Bhaja Govindam was written by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya.
A biography of Shankara and his other compositions of Vedic
literature can be found in the shankara.itx document. Bhaja
govindaM is one of the minor compositions of the spiritual giant,
Adi Shankaracharya. It is classified as a prakaraNa grantha, a
primer to the major works. Though sung as a bhajan, it contains
the essence of Vedanta and implores 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 ?
The person thus awakened gets set on a path to the inner road
back to the God principle.
The background of Bhaja GovindaM is worth examining. During his
stay in Kashi, Adi Shankaracharya noticed a very old man studying
the rules of Sanskrit by Panini. Shankara was touched with pity
at seeing the plight of the old man spending his years at a mere
intellectual accomplishment while he would be better off praying
and spending time to control his mind.
Shankara understood that the majority of the world was also
engaged in mere intellectual, sense pleasures and not in the
divine contemplation. Seeing this, he burst forth with the verses
of Bhaja govindaM. In 31 verses, he, like no other, explains our
fallacies, our wrong outlook for life, and dispels our ignorance
and delusions. Thus bhaja govindaM was originally known as moha
mudgAra, the remover of delusions.
Shankara explains, nay chides, us for spending our time in useless
trivia like amassing wealth, lusting after (wo)men and requests us
to discriminate and cultivate the knowledge to learn the difference
between the real and the unreal. To emphasise that, he concludes
that all knowledge other than the Self-Knowledge is useless,
Shankara makes the person realize how foolish he/she is in the
conduct and behaviour by these verses, and shows the purpose of
our worldly existence, which is to seek Govinda and attain Him.
Bhaja govindaM is divided into dvAdashamanjarikA stotram and
chaturdashamanjarika stotram. At the end of composing the first
stanza, it is said that Shankara burst forth with the next 12
stanzas of bhaja govindam. Thus stanzas 2-13 with 1st as refrain
are called dvAdashmanjarika stotram. Inspired by the extempore
recital by Shankara, each of his 14 disciples composed a verse and
the 14 verse compendium is called chaturdashamanjarika stotram.
(There are no evidences to prove the exact individual authorship
of these 14 verses, we have some traditional hearsay eviences as
attribution.) Shankara added the finishing touches by adding five
of his own stanzas at the last bringing the total to 31.
The combined 31 are also termed as mohamudgaraH by some. The last two
verses in this version is not found in all editions.
Bhaja govindaM has been set to musical tones and sung as prayer
songs by children. It is divided into dvAdashamanjarikA and
charpaTamanjarikA for this purpose. The former is a set of verses
(verses 2-13) while the rest of the verses form charpaTamanjarikA.
Anyone who listens to the music of Bhaja govindaM is attracted
to it. However, the significance of the text goes much deeper
and contains a well defined philosophy of attaining salvation.
Shankara's words seem to be quite piercing and seem to lack the
softness and tenderness often found in his other texts, thus
addressing directly. The reason is that this was an extempore
recital to an old man. His words can be compared to a knife of a
surgeon. The surgeon's knife cruelly removes the tumour with much
pain, but removing the tumour ultimately restores good health in
the patient. So are Shankara's words, which pierce and point out
our ignorance. It is a knife into the heart of worldliness, and
by removing this tumour of ignorance, we can attain everlasting
bliss with the grace of Govinda.
May the AchAryA guide us from ignorance to truth.
OM tat sat.
भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं
गोविन्दं भज मूढमते ।
सम्प्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले
नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृङ्करणे ॥ १॥
Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool !
Rules of grammar will not save you at the time of your death.
मूढ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णां
कुरु सद्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णाम् ।
वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तम् ॥ २॥
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.
दृष्ट्वा मा गा मोहावेशम् ।
मनसि विचिन्तय वारं वारम् ॥ ३॥
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. Fail not to remember this again and
again in your mind.
लोकं शोकहतं च समस्तम् ॥ ४॥
The life of a person is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a
lotus leaf. Know that the whole world remains a prey to
disease, ego and grief.
स्तावन्निजपरिवारो रक्तः ।
वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे ॥ ५॥
So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see
what 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
यावत्पवनो निवसति देहे
तावत्पृच्छति कुशलं गेहे ।
गतवति वायौ देहापाये
भार्या बिभ्यति तस्मिन्काये ॥ ६॥
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.
परमे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि न सक्तः ॥ ७॥ var परे
The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness. Youth is
lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over
many things. But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in
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