Bhaja Govindam 12: Arrogance and egoism distance us from wisdom (Verse 11)

Mā kuru dhanajana yauvana garvaṃ harati nimesāt-kālaḥ sarvam |

Māyāmayamidam-akhilaṃ hitvā brahmapadaṃ tvaṃ praviśa viditvā || 11 ||

Meaning – Let not money, power over people, and youth cause arrogance and pride in you. Time has the ability to destroy them all in just a minute. In this illusory world, distance yourself from the materialistic objects and aim at acquiring the state of liberation (Brahmapada).

This visible world that we are now experiencing was, before birth, devoid of distinctions such as bhokta (one who is enjoying) and bhogya (that which could be used or enjoyed). It was in a nirvikalpa (devoid of changes) state. It was over and above the triputi (triad of seer, seen and object being seen). At that point, only the Self existed! The Vedas confirm this- atma vā idam ekā ivagra asit. “Prior to the creation of this universe, only the Self existed.”

Before plant emerges from the seed, all that exists is a changeless (nirvikalpa) seed. This seed transforms into a huge tree with stems, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit. Akin to this, in the beginning, without any distinctions such as enjoyer (bhokta) and ‘that which is enjoyed’ (bhogya), only the Self existed. All these distinctions such as space and time are being created by illusion, which is completely under the Supreme Lord’s control. This combination led to the formation of this vast universe with so many distinctions and differences. Shankara Bhagawad-pādāchārya elucidates this in his Dakshinamurthy stotram.

We should therefore understand that this world, which is visible to us, is purely illusory. Only the causative factor (kārana) is permanent and indestructible. From mud we create objects such as pots. But these pots made of mud disintegrate back into mud. Akin to this, this entire world which emerged from Him will merge back into Him who was the causative factor behind it. At that time only He will remain. That is why the Upanishad reiterates- Brahma satyam, jagat mithyam.

A person who does not acquire an in-depth understanding of this subject continues to be enveloped in traits such as arrogance, pride, egoism etc. These traits distance him from wisdom and discriminatory capacities (viveka).  ‘I am very wealthy; I can buy anything in this world with my money; why should I care?’ will be the attitude of a wealthy person. This is known as pride of wealth.

People who have a large fan following and plenty of supporters also have arrogance in them. They assume that they can accomplish any task with this mass support. This is the pride of power.

The third is pride of youth. In the prime of youth when the body is healthy & the senses are robust, a person believes that he can accomplish even the most difficult tasks with ease. Due to this he will not respect elders and will move about with a ‘don’t-care’ attitude.

The reasons behind this arrogance are wealth, power and youth. However all these are time-bound and time-controlled. When these vanish, a person is left without even a shelter to protect himself. Just as the toughest pumpkin also has to surrender to the might of a knife, everything in life is under the control of time. Time can make the pauper a millionaire or it can render a millionaire as a pauper.

A self-realized Brahmajnani, who has distanced himself from these materialistic objects, is however unaffected by the changes caused by time. Such Brahmajnani reaches those ultimate planes from where there is no return. He will go over these shackles of births and deaths. Such a state is called Brahmapada.

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