This work of Adi Shankara underscores the view that devotion Bhakti to God, Govinda, is a vastly important part of general spirituality, as emphasised by Bhakti Yoga and the Bhakti movement. The first stanza of the composition, featuring the eponymous line "Bhaja Govindam", reads as follows: [4]. Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, oh deluded mind! At the time of your death, Rules of grammar will not save you. There is a story related to the composition of this Hymn. It is said that Shri Adi Shankaracharya, accompanied by his disciples, was walking along a street in Varanasi one day when he came across an old aged scholar reciting the rules of Sanskrit grammar of Panini repeatedly on the street.

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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.

These Pancha Tanmatras are represented in our body by Pancha Jnanedriyas, i. 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. 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.

As darkness cannot stay in the face of rising Sun, atheism or perversity could not stay before the bright face lit up with the divine genius of Sri Sankaracharya. Like the stars that fade at dawn, the waywardness of the then religious preachers disappeared from the Indian scene at the dawn of Sri Sankaracharya.

The light of wisdom spread in all the four directions. The kingdom of peace was again established in Bhartavarsha. Sri Sankaracharya, the master of the Sruti, again unfolded the Vedic truth carefully to those who were fit to receive it.

The banner of Sanatana-dharma was unfurled everywhere from the Himalayas to the Cape Cameron. The gods and the manes were again delighted with the Mantras 'svaha' and 'svadha'. The Rishis -- the very embodiments of wisdom -- who were slumbering for long, were again roused up by the sacred chanting of the Upanishds. And the joy of Mother India knew no bounds.

Sri Sankaracharya brought about a moral, religious and spiritual harmony, integration, renaissance and awakening in the Hindu religion and society. The impact of His teachings is so strong and deep that the roots of His Advaita Vedanta or philosophy are firmly established as long as human race exists.

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? 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

It does not mean that one should shun away the pursuit of living for knowledge, but, at the same time, one should understand its limited capacity, and one should seriously try to acquire that knowledge which alone can save a person from the slavery of imperfections. We should remember the truth that it is a manifested world and it is impermanent. Other than God or Soul, everything else is temporary. Death will snatch away the existence of the body and the manifested world.

What is the use of all the acquisitions and secural knowledge then? So, while living in this secular world, or materialistic world, one should endeavour to understand and master the secret of purposeful life. One should identify oneself with the Lord, who can only give solace to the parched materialistic lives. One should progress spiritually after each death, instead of getting deeper and deeper into mundane pleasures. It is rather sad that quite a few of us are of the opinion that spirituality is for those who retired from employment or aged people.

The intellect, which has not been trained to remember God till one attains sixty years, will never resort to spirituality after that.

Even if it does, for argument sake, what is guarantee that the cruel hands of death will not embrace one before that. So, one should understand the fallacy of this argument and train the mind from the childhood itself to start practicing recitation of the Lord's name with every breath that one inhales and exhales, otherwise it is just impossible to remember God's name at the time of death.

It is, therefore, imperative that one should keep repeating the Divine Namas of Lord at every possible moment. Bhaja does not mean monotonous and routine ritual with mechanical chanting of some selected Namas or Mantras. It is rather much deeper than that. 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. 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.


Bhaja Govindam






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