Category: Bhaja Govindam

Bhaja Govindam 28: The four easy paths for spiritual upliftment (Verse 27)

Geyaṃ gītā nāma sahasraṃ dhyeyaṃ śrīpati rūpam-ajasram |

Neyaṃ sajjana saṅge cittaṃ deyaṃ dīnajanāya ca vittam || 27 ||

Meaning – Regularly chant the verses from Bhagavad Gita and the Sahasranama; at all times meditate upon the form of Lord Vishnu; let the mind always associate with holy saints; give away in charity to the poor and needy people.

In this hymn, the relationship between speech (vak), mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and wealth is being preached. Four easy paths are being taught here to the spiritual aspirants.

First is to recite the verses from the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita contains the essence of all the Upanishads. This sacred Gita was made available to the world by Lord Krishna himself! At the time of the war, Krishna preached this holy Gita to Arjuna who was unwilling to complete his duty and thus the merciful Lord washed away his grief. When a person immersed in terrible grief or troubles conducts the regular parayana of Bhagavad Gita, he will begin to clearly understand his ‘duty’. His sorrows will be washed away and the mind rendered peaceful. Bhakti (devotion), jnana (knowledge) and vairagya (dispassion) have been explained in a very easy manner in Bhagavad Gita.

‘Reciting the Bhagavad Gita’ means ‘to practice what is preached in it’.  Bhagavad Gita contains in it the solution for every single difficulty that we come across in life. Ignorance cannot envelop the person who diligently chants the Bhagavad Gita daily.

‘Reciting Vishnu Sahasranama’ means ‘to sing the glories of the Supreme Lord’. All of us are aware of the greatness and importance of chanting divine names. Amongst the 9 forms of devotion the simplest and easiest is ‘nama sankeertana’. Just as food energizes the body, bhajan energizes the mind. It purifies the mind. That is why it is said- ‘Kalou nama sankeertana’ which means, ‘In Kali Yuga, liberation can be achieved through singing the glories of the Supreme’.

The second path is to constantly meditate upon Srihari. When the mind is completely filled with the Lord, then there will be no space for desire, anger etc. within it, isn’t it? The mind will not run towards the objects of desire. The human mind acquires only that which it constantly contemplates/ thinks. By constantly thinking about the Supreme Lord, it acquires that supreme bliss, which is an inherent trait of that Lord. If the mind focuses upon the materialistic objects of desire then it will imbibe traits such as anger, greed and the like.

The third recommended path is to maintain friendship with holy persons. Shankara Bhagavad-padacharya in an earlier stanza ‘satsangatve nissangatvam’ has already explained about the greatness of satsang. Society (sanga) causes attachment and other bondages. Yet, at the same time, it is not so easy to live without society. Living within the society is the natural trait of the mind. (Man is a social being). Therefore, if at first satsang is practiced, then gradually the mind will reach the state of living without this social setup (nissanga). The story of Valmiki is the finest example of satsang.

The fourth path is helping the poor and the needy. It is very important to be charitable. Helping our own near and dear ones cannot be termed ‘charity’ (daana). Charity should be offered to a needy person in the society. A beggar, who went from door to door seeking alms, had the following message to those greedy persons who refuse to indulge in charity- ‘O man, do not be greedy. By not giving away in charity in this birth, do not take the risk of being born like me (beggar) in your next birth. Be charitable in this birth and once again be born in this good status itself”.

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Bhaja Govindam 27: Give up desires, anger, delusion and greed (Verse 26)

Kāmaṃ krodhaṃ lobhaṃ mohaṃ tyaktvātmānaṃ paśyati soham |

Ātmaṅñnāna vihīnā mūdhāḥ te pacyante naraka nigūdhāḥ || 26 ||

Meaning – Give up desires, lust, anger, greed and delusion. Ponder about your true Self. Understand that fools i.e. those who fail to acquire Self-realization will be thrown into a secretive place in hell (naraka) wherein they will suffer terribly.

Giving up desire and anger is the essence that every good book preaches. This stanza teaches the adverse effects of failing to give up this desire and anger (kāma, krodha).

What connection does hell have with our desires and anger? In Bhagavatam it is said that Lord Narayana while preaching Maharishi Narada about the type of action, explained about the results of bad, sinful actions. In this context He mentioned the 28 types of hells that exist.  Succumbing to the 6 inner enemies of desire, anger, greed etc., those who proceed on the path of adharma (unrighteousness) will have to suffer dreadfully in Rourava and its associated 28 hells. Based on the type of the evil deed, the living entity will have to suffer in a different type of hell. On the other hand, those pious beings, who abide by dharma (righteousness) during their life, will enjoy the comforts of heaven. This is why it is extremely essential to abide by dharma.

Among the six inner enemies, desire (kāma) is the first. Everyone seeks that his desires should necessarily be fulfilled, but it is not always possible. From one desire stems another; fulfillment of one desire leads to the birth of another- in this manner desires are endless. Just as offering of ghee only increases the flames, the fulfillment of desires leads to the birth of endless more desires.  Amongst them some are fulfilled and some are not.

When a desire is not fulfilled, it instantly leads to anger (krodha). The person develops hatred towards those people and those circumstances due to which his desire could not be fulfilled. Wisdom as well as power of discrimination degenerates in such a person. When discrimination is lost, dharma will not be visible to him. To ensure that his desire is fulfilled in some way or the other, he will torture others. He will retort to vile and despicable methods. He will thus be eligible to be sent to hell.

Seeking to exclusively enjoy all that he has earned is greed (lobha). At every second he will worry that his earnings may get exhausted. The root of all this is moha (infatuation). Imagining the non-existing as existing and trying to acquire is delusion (moha). The fire fly sees the burning fire and believing that it is something awesome, runs and falls into it. Thus it meets its end. In the similar manner, the human being falling into infatuation & enticed by this world, runs towards it and is caught in the huge fire called desire and anger. All this is caused due to spiritual ignorance.

What exactly is spiritual ignorance? Not being able to understand one’s original Self is spiritual ignorance! Not realizing the happiness that inherently exists within, searching for it outside is ignorance! The person whose ignorance has been wiped away and in whom Spiritual Knowledge (Jnana) has dawned is able to see the triviality of his desires. He understands the limitations of this world and all its comforts. He begins the search for truth.

That is why this stanza asks the person to give up desires and anger (kaama-krodha) and to begin the search for truth.

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Bhaja Govindam 26: It is impossible to reach God if filled with feelings of hatred (Verse 25)

Śatrau mitre putre bandhau mā kuru yatna vigraha sandhau |

Sarvasminnapi paśyātmānaṃ sarvatrot-sṛja bhedāṅñānam || 25 ||

Meaning – Do not waste your energy in developing enmity with your enemy, friend, son or any other relative. If you are eager to understand the Supreme Essence, then at the earliest, try to develop feelings of equal-mindedness towards one and all.

As discussed earlier, the message contained in Bhaja Govindam is applicable to everyone, be it a learned pundit or an ordinary person who is entangled in worldly bondages. Those who are entangled in these bondages have to necessarily abide by the rules of communal living.

In this world there are many elders who wrongly interpret the teachings of Gurus. Just because the previous stanza preached about discarding the feelings of love and hate towards family members, can a person neglect his family and instead develop love towards the neighbouring family? It will result in lot of problems. Yet, there are many in this world who practice this. This stanza contains a message for such people. It states- ‘My dear, you are living in this world and therefore you should be bound by its rules. Learn to treat your enemy, friend, son and relative with feelings of equality. Do not develop feelings of hatred and enmity towards anyone’.

This hymn emphasizes that it is impossible to reach God when the person is enveloped with feelings of hatred/ enmity towards another being. Isn’t this the essence contained in the story of Maharishis Vishwamitra and Vashishta? Vishwamitra was blessed with the divine vision of Lord Brahma yet was unable to give up feelings of enmity towards Sage Vashishta. For this reason he could not become a Brahmarishi (he who has attained the highest divine knowledge). When Lord Brahma appeared before him for the second time, he asked the Lord, “Have I become eligible to be blessed with the title of ‘Brahmarishi’?” To this the Lord replied, “If Vashishta agrees, then it is possible.” Vishwamitra now approached Vashistha and enquired, “Have I become eligible to be called a Brahmarishi?” Vashishta replied, “The very moment you gave up enmity towards me, you became a Brahmarishi”.

Vishwamitra had undertaken limitless sadhana and penance; yet he had forgotten this most important principle. Vashishta now reminded him of it. Among the crores of living species in this creation, the human being is unique. This is because only the human being is blessed with the ability to obtain the vision of the Lord. This is possible only if the person gives up feelings of love, hate, jealousy and enmity.

This same principle is explained in the Srimad Bhagvatam in this manner- Even after creating innumerable species such as mosquito, fly, ant, animals and birds, Lord Brahma was not content. He then created the human being and after endowing him with the abilities needed for obtaining the vision of the Supreme, Brahma felt peace and joy.

With this we understand that the end goal of a human birth is to obtain the vision of the supreme. We should put in the required efforts in that direction. Simultaneously along with the penance needed to reach this goal, feelings of jealousy, anger etc. should necessarily be given up. Isn’t the story of Vishwamitra a fine example of this?

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Bhaja Govindam 25: Give up differences of every form (Verse 24)

Tvayi mayi sarvatraiko viṣṇuḥ vyarthaṃ kupyasi mayyasahiṣṇuḥ |

Bhava samacittaḥ sarvatra tvaṃ vāñchasyacirād-yadi viṣṇutvam || 24 ||

Meaning – It is only Lord Vishnu who dwells within me, within you and within everything in this creation. He is the Supreme Lord. Feelings of jealousy and anger in you serves no purpose. If you seek to attain oneness with Vishnu, then it is essential to practise equal-mindedness towards everyone at all times.

The previous hymn asked the person to contemplate on thoughts such as – ‘who am I? From where did I come?’ We were taught to realize that this samsara is completely useless. In this hymn, the results of such contemplation are being explained.

This hymn preaches practising equanimity and treating everyone equally. Kathopanishad declares-  anor aniyan mahato mahiyan  atmasya jantor nihito guhayam –

The Self is subtler than even a sub-atomic particle yet is greater than the greatest object. The Self exists within the heart of every living being. He who is devoid of anger, jealousy and who has absolutely no desires can, through mental purity and purity of senses, experience the greatness of this Self.

This same concept is being taught in this stanza. All our Vedas, epics and scriptures teach this concept. Some of these however are very difficult to practice.

Repeated cycle of re-births (samsāra) originates out of likes-dislikes. To get hold of the snake that is hiding within his hole, the snake charmer throws sand into the hole. In a similar manner, to get over likes-dislikes, it is essential to cut out jealousy. Jealousy means to be unable to tolerate the prosperity of another person.

As the ability to see the Supreme Lord in every being and in every object is a very difficult task requiring tremendous practice, it is essential to at first begin by giving up differences of every form. In other words, feelings such as ‘he is ‘my’ person/ relative, hence he should prosper’ and/or ‘she is not dear to me, hence she should suffer’ should be completely given up.

Sarve ca sukhinah santu, sarve santu nirāmaya‘- In this prayer we pray for the welfare and prosperity of one and all. ‘Every living being should be comfortable and disease- free. Let auspiciousness be showered upon every being. Let no living being in this creation suffer’.

If we pray wholeheartedly in this manner then gradually such feelings remain permanently in the mind. This can also be addressed as ‘nishkāma karma’. The person who seeks the prosperity of even those who are not even remotely connected to him is a truly elevated being (uttama).

There is another important point in this stanza- The Supreme Lord exists within every being; yet only that person who realizes this great truth is able to enjoy the supreme bliss. The person who cannot realize this truth suffers with feelings of jealousy (asuya). There are people who derive great satisfaction in thoughts such as ‘Along with my house, my neighbour’s house also collapsed. I am happy that he has incurred more financial loss than me.’ When the feelings of jealousy have peaked in the person, such thoughts will occur. Jealousy is that which comes in the way of prosperity and happiness. Even though we possess every comfort in life, that which does not enable us to enjoy it is ‘jealousy’.

It is imperative therefore that we should give up feelings of differences and develop feelings of equanimity and equal-mindedness.

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Bhaja Govindam 23: Behaviour of Avadhootas and Self-realized persons (Verse 22)

rathyā carpaṭa viracita kanthaḥ puṇyāpuṇya vivarjita panthaḥ |

yogī yoga niyojita cittaḥ ramate bālonmattavadeva || 22 ||

Meaning- The yogi very happily wears discarded and torn rags. He walks on the path that is far away from punya-papa (virtues- vices). Having been able to achieve total ekagrata (concentration) through his Yoga and totally immersed in bliss he wanders like a small child or like a madman.

When referring to Lord Datta, the phrase- ‘balonmatta pisāchavat’. These traits being explained here are very similar to the traits of an Avadhoota. The truth is that such persons are jeevanmuktas. They behave like small children or at times like absolute madmen. They will be jumping and shrieking as if possessed by some ghost. To them no disciplines apply. Restrictions such as ‘this should be done; this should not be done’ are not valid for them. They are free from virtues and sins (punya-papa), positives and negatives, and from joys and sorrows. This does not imply that they will indulge in sinful acts. This means that they enjoy absolute freedom; they are not under the control of any force.

Bewildered by their actions many times we misunderstand them.  Externally they appear as if they lack compassion towards others. There is no basis by which we can gauge their actions. They will be wandering in a state that is over and above the limitations of the three attributes of Nature (sattva, rajas, tamas). To one who is in this state, can there be a limiting factor?

The mind of such a person will be omnipresent in all the states of existence (sarvāvastha). It would have merged totally into that of the all-pervading Paramatma. It envelops the entire creation. He will be able to see himself as pervading throughout the creation. He sees himself in every object and in every living entity. He sees them in himself. The limitations of place & time, the extremities of heat and cold, the feelings of like-dislike do not affect him in the least. In fact, he is  over and above all these forms of limitations. He is above mind. He does not get entrapped in virtues-vices (punya-papa). Such a person is a omniscient and omnipresent.

Such highly knowledgeable Jnani always appear like ignorant innocent children. It is only the ignorant who seek external pomp. But an all-knowing Jnani is unaffected by any of these. He seeks no external pomp.

Sadashiva Brahmendra was a great Avadhoota. He would roam about in a digambara state. People would not even notice his presence and he too would be oblivious of people around him. He would never accept anything that was offered to him. Simply he would wander about. Once he was walking through a forest where a great Nawab was enjoying with his retinue. The Nawab was enjoying a luxurious meal in his tent when suddenly Sadashiva Brahmendra Swami walked in. The saint stepped on to that plate of the king as he passed by. Unaware and unaffected, the saint exited from that tent and continued to walk. The infuriated Nawab chased the saint and had both the arms of the saint chopped off. Sadashiva Brahmendra Swami was unaware of even this fact as He continued to walk. This is the state of an Avadhoota. After some time, the Nawab realized his mistake, and in great repentance, ran and fell at the feet of the great saint. But what a surprise! Both the arms of the great saint were intact.

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