Category: Bhaja Govindam

Bhaja Govindam 32: Serving Guru is the only method to exit samsara (Verse 31)

Guru caraṇāmbhuja nirbharabhaktaḥ saṃsārād-acirād-bhava muktaḥ |
Sendriya mānasa niyamādevaṃ drakṣyasi nija hṛdayasthaṃ devam || 31 ||

Meaning- If total devotion is developed towards the lotus feet of the spiritual Guru, then the person can easily attain freedom from the shackles called cycle of repeated re-births. How is this possible? By restraining both the senses and the mind, the vision of the Supreme Lord, who is seated inside you can be had.

This is the last stanza of Bhaja Govindam. The way of the world, the illusions that cause attractions and trap the beings in this world were all detailed. In addition, the ways and means to exit from these traps were also elaborated.

This stanza states that developing implicit and unflinching faith in the feet of the Guru is the only method by which living entities trapped within these sensory enticements can attain salvation. Only when the mind and senses are totally restrained, then it is possible to exit from the cycle of births and deaths.

However to waver incessantly is the nature of the mind. When the mind focuses on sensory objects, then the senses are empowered and they continue to chase these sensory objects. The mind travels and takes the senses along with it. At all times, the mind seeks to learn about new objects and thus gets deluded (moha). The mind also experiences enthusiasm, happiness, distress and impulsiveness. Even though it is aware of the dangers within them, it cannot give up these experiences. Again and again it seeks to enjoy the same experience.

For example, the person who chases business opportunities with the sole objective of earning more wealth, cannot stay away from it even if he were to make losses or gains. In the event he earns profits, he continues the business with the intent of increasing his profits even further. Where he makes losses, he seeks to recover the losses and with this intent he will continue the business. Thus, irrespective of whether he has fulfilled his desire or not, there is no question of happiness and contentment in him. In this manner, due to this delusion, the mind is the target of sorrows and unhappiness. The grip of these senses is so strong that even an all-knowing person gets trapped by them.

The only way to get out of this is by controlling the mind! However the strange quality of the mind is that- the more you try to control it, the more it chases the objects of this world. At this point the Sadguru helps. He makes us understand the triviality of the worldly experiences. With this realization, the mind will focus upon the Supreme Lord. In turn, through this, it is possible to have the vision of the God who resides within. This is called realizing the Absolute Truth (satya darshana).

Just as breathing is critical for existence, having a spiritual Sadguru is also equally critical. Only with the grace of the Sadguru, it is possible to get rid of spiritual ignorance. Only with intent of showing this to the world, incarnations such as Rama and Krishna also served their respective Sadgurus.

In the word ‘Guru’ ‘Gu’ stands for the ignorance and ‘ru’ stands for its destruction. By whose grace the ignorance that arises out of self-identity and ego (ahamkara) is washed away and we are rescued from the bondages called samsara is itself Guru.

Shiva is Guru and Guru is Shiva. This is emphatically declared by the Guru Geeta. He who possesses the Supreme Knowledge of Vedanta, is totally established in Absolute Truth, enjoys absolute peace, practices equanimity and sees no differences between beings and who out of total compassion strives to uplift His disciple, is a Sadguru. Here Shankara Bhagavad-padacharaya preaches that every person should take shelter under such a Sadguru, serve Him with implicit faith and strive to exit from this bondage of repeated re-births!

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Bhaja Govindam 31: The eight limbs of Yoga should be practiced daily (Verse 30)

Prāṇāyāmaṃ pratyāhāraṃ nityānitya viveka vicāram |

Jāpyasameta samādhi vidhānaṃ kurva vadhānaṃ mahad-avadhānam || 30 ||

Meaning – Pranayama, pratyāhara (sense-withdrawal), wisely segregating between permanent and impermanent objects in the creation, penance and absolute meditation are practices that should be mandatorily practiced daily.

In all the stanzas up to now, the way of this world and of its people was greatly elaborated. The various ways in which people get carried away by these worldly bondages and thus get entangled in the web spun by it was explained. Now in this stanza, the daily disciplines that should mandatorily followed by every single individual are being preached.

The external form (bahya roopa) of the life energy (prana shakti) is Prana-vayu (vital air). Pranayama should be practiced in accordance with the method taught by the Guru. Breath should be taken in from the left nostril, retained for some time and then exhaled through the right nostril. Thereafter it should be taken in from the right nostril and exhaled from the left nostril. Through the practice of Pranayama, absolute concentration (ekagrata) can be obtained.

Gradually through this practice, the spiritual aspirant obtains victory over the vital air. The longevity and illumination (tejas) increases in such persons. At that time, using their will power they are able to draw away their senses (indriyas) from the objects of desire and dissolve them into the mind. This sense-withdrawal is known as Pratyāhara.

The mind should then be focused upon the Self. This is Dhāraṇa. At this point great caution is required. Mind tends to get disturbed very frequently. This cannot be achieved until stringent efforts are put in. In the mind that has thus stabilized through Pranayama, the Vedic and Shastric aphorisms taught by the spiritual Guru should incessantly be recollected without any alteration in the meaning. This is the Dhyāna or meditation. With incessant practice of meditation, Samādhi, which is the final absolute state of meditation, is achieved. In Dhyana, the triad of the person undertaking meditation, meditation and object of meditation exist. In Samadhi state only the object of meditation exists. All these steps should be ascended in the manner taught by the Guru.

Patanjali Yogasutras explain the eight fold steps of Yoga- Yama, Niyama, Asana, Praṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhārana, Dhyāna and Samādhi.

Yoga is of many types. Yet it is said that there is no Yoga without Pranayama. Due to the deep inhalation and exhalation performed in Pranayama, longevity and untold radiance is attained by the person. Towards this it is essential to practise deep and long breath. We in general take only very short breath, due to which we are disease-prone and also we fail to attain ekagrata.

From a proper understanding of this stanza, we realize the importance of Pranayama which is the basis for attaining absolute concentration. Do not forget that Kriya Yoga is also a very important branch of Yoga.

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Bhaja Govindam 30: Wealth only brings sorrows; not joy (verse 29)

Arthamanarthaṃ bhāvaya nityaṃ nāsti tataḥ sukha leśaḥ satyam |

Putrādapi dhanabhājāṃ bhītiḥ sarvatraiṣā vihitā rītiḥ || 29 ||

Meaning – Understand that troubles and difficulties arise from wealth itself. There is absolutely no happiness that wealth can give.

Isn’t it true that all sins originate out of wealth? Fights, disputes, sins all stem out of wealth. There is a very well knowing saying that ‘wealthy people are afraid of their own sons’. Many in this world believe that money can buy them anything and everything that they want. Very often we come across this statement ‘Sarve gunāh kānchanam-āshrayanti’– which means ‘all virtues reside in gold (wealth)’. Such statements sound true when a person is in troubled times, yet the well-known truth is that money cannot achieve everything. In spite of this knowledge, the fascination for wealth retains its strong grip over man.

Maharishi Vashistha, who was the Guru for the Ikshvaaku clan, did not live in mansions. He did not chase money and earnings. Although Chanakya ensured that Chandragupta was crowned the king of the land, he himself chose to live in a dilapidated hut. This is a well-known fact. When asked about this choice, he replied, “If I decide to live in a palatial building, then my focus will be on wealth and money to be earned. I will stop thinking about the citizens and the needs of the kingdom.  Hence I find this hut comfortable”.

We have heard many stories of people who have got completely ruined because of their arrogance of being wealthy. Yet, our attraction towards wealth does not lessen in any way. The reason behind this is not wealth in itself; our mind craves for the comforts and for the position (power) that wealth can grant. Wealthy people end up in having disputes not merely with their relatives but also with their own immediate family members. This is something that we come across often. The entire Mahabharata war took place for wealth.

Apart from Valmiki many others have also composed Ramayana. In one of them it is mentioned that Ravana was aware of the fact that Sita was none other than Mother Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Therefore he believed that if She were to enter his kingdom, there would be no shortage of wealth ever in future. With this desire he kidnapped her. This led to his death. This and many other similar stories teach that desire/ greed for wealth is very bad. In this world we hear incidents about children murdering parents for wealth or parents killing their son/ daughter for wealth, people forging signatures so as to acquire the other person’s wealth and so on. Wealth will say, ‘You acquire me, then see what all I can shower upon you’. The truth is that it only leads him towards destruction.

This stanza therefore reminds us that wealth is very bad.  Wealth is the cause of all troubles. Excessive wealth can take a person to a state wherein he has no food to eat. A person once sought a boon that everything that he touched should turn into gold. What happened due to this? Heaps and heaps of gold were lying everywhere. He was very pleased. He was very hungry but when he touched his food, it too turned into gold. He couldn’t eat. He then thought, “Of what use is this money that cannot give me the ability to eat?” It is a myth that money brings joys; the truth is that it cannot grant even an iota of happiness and joy.

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Bhaja Govindam 24: Through Self-analysis understand this world is unreal (Verse 23)

kastvaṃ kohaṃ kuta āyātaḥ kā me jananī ko me tātaḥ |

iti paribhāvaya nija saṃsāraṃ visvaṃ tyaktvā svapna vicāram || 23 ||

Meaning – ‘Who am I? Who are you? How did I enter this universe? Who is my mother? Who is my father?’ Learn to contemplate in this manner. Understanding that this entire life is a dream that is devoid of essence, discard it and instead engage in Self-analysis.

Each living being goes through 3 states of existence- waking state, dream state and deep sleep state. Every moment of our waking time comes under Jāgrat avastha. All our daily activities take place during this waking state itself. Akin to the waking state, in the dream state, we enjoy joys, sorrows and sensory pleasures. Upon waking up, we are able to explain the dream experienced. Suṣupti is a deep sleep state in which we are not even aware of our existence. There are no dreams in this state.

Even though a person may enjoy endlessly or suffer horrendously during his dream, upon waking up he realizes that it was untrue and unreal experience. With this understanding, he does not take it seriously.

This stanza asks us to adopt this similar approach towards events of the waking state. When seen from the spiritual point of view, even this entire waking state is unreal.  Although in experience, waking and dream states appear distinctively different, as per the theory of the Self they are indistinguishably similar and overlapping. The knowledge of the objects perceived during the waking state as well as those experienced during the dream state are all illusory.

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Bhaja Govindam 29: Uncontrolled desires leads to disease and early death (Verse 28)

Sukhataḥ kriyate rāmābhogaḥ paścāddhanta śarīre rogaḥ |

Yadyapi loke maraṇaṃ śaraṇaṃ tadapi na muñcati pāpācaraṇam || 29 ||

Meaning– He who craves for lustful desires and yields to it, will become disease prone at a later date. He will also meet an early death. Even though he is aware of this, he will not abstain from sins.

Excessive enjoyments (bhoga) always lead to diseases (roga). Excessive sleeping and overeating totally harms the body. Even after eating endlessly, the tongue stills find food very tasty and seeks to chase it. But in the process, the stomach is harmed. In this way too much sensory pleasures cause great harm to both the mind and the body. The person who is completely in the grip of sensual and lustful pleasures loses the capacity to distinguish the good from the bad. Fulfilling his desire will be his sole aim. Therefore, he goes any length to fulfill them. The story of Ajamila is a fine example of this.

Ajamila, who was a great learned Veda scholar and a righteous person, developed a great infatuation for a prostitute and in the process completely stopped the performance of all his daily stipulated disciplines and worship. He even turned his back on his home and on his parents. He disowned his wife, whom he had married with the fire as a witness, and instead married this prostitute. He fathered many children. To fulfill the desires of this new wife and to sustain this family he committed many crimes such as looting and cheating others. When the villagers threw him out of the village, he shifted his residence to a dilapidated hut in the outskirts of the village. He spent his time hunting animals and birds in the forests and looting people.

Time went by and he was old. Although his body was diseased and he was incapacitated, desires continued to torment him. Once it so happened that a group of saints visited his home. Due to his past samskaras, Ajamila approached the senior most saint, narrated his entire life story and enquired about obtaining salvation. He however stated that he could not disown his second wife under any circumstances. This is how the mind behaves.

This incident shows how a person, who entertains unrighteous desires, falls to lower level. Ajamila a Vedic scholar was reduced to a wayside robber and a cheat only due to his unrighteous desires. Desiring a woman, other than the legally wedded wife, is the worst amongst all sins. Our tradition has a regulated arrangement in the name of marriage.  A contented householder keeps himself, his family members and the society happy. On the other hand the person who indiscriminately chases his unlimited lustful needs will be left with a disease-prone body. We see this in today’s world.

Even though the person is aware that excessive and unlimited enjoyments will harm the body, he does not restrict his desires in any way. Such a person will meet an early death. Death to him will be his punishment. It will be like a result of all his sins.

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