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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