Sunday, 30 July 2017

Bhaja govindam- verse 2 part3

             In  the  7th  verse  of  the  Vivekachudamani,  acharya  Sankara  ,quotes  the  famous  statement  of  the  Brihadaranyaka  Upanishad that  the  Deathless  and  the  Imperishable  can  never be  gained through  the  possession  of  wealth.  and   there  is  no hope  of  immortality by  means  of  wealth. . The  word' immortality '  here  indicates  not  a  continuous and  monotonous living  in  joy  in a  lazy  yonder  there, but  a  perfection  here within  ourselves wherein  we  experience  peace  and  tranquility.  This  peace  ,says  the  acharya  , cannot  be  gained through  wealth (  vittam )  of  sense  objects.   Here  wealth  refers  to  the  wealth  that  gives us  immediate  experience   and  it  is  the  sense  objects  that  directly  convey  experiences  to  us  from  the  external  world. . Hence  a  continuous  and  infinite experience  of  tranquility cannot  be  gained  through  the  sense  objects. 

      So  when  the  mind  is  freed  from  passion  ,  one  is  asked  to  meditate  upon  the  Lord.  When  the  mind  is  withdrawn  from  its  present  preoccupation  with  wealth , it  becomes  empty and  such  an  empty  mind  then  comes  to  be  filled  with  thoughts  of  the  Divine.  There  is  no  end  to desires , because  when  a  particular  desire  gets  fulfilled  , the  mind  remains  satisfied  just  for  a  short  while  as  it  experiences  peace   but  the  restless  and  ever  craving  mind  jumps  over  to  get  newer   and  newer  desires  fulfilled  through  the  power  of  wealth.  But  such  a  person  entertaining  desires  can  never  find  satisfaction  in  life because  wealth  can  purchase  only sense  gratifications.  Attachment  to  his  wealth  brings  sorrow because  he  has  to  find  ways  and  means to  preserve  what  he  has  acquired . So  the  struggle  for  acquiring  wealth  and  preserving  it  ,goes  on  all  through  his  life. . Lord  Krishna  says   in the  Geeta  ' surrender  unto  Me  and  I  will  take  care  of  you,  by  giving  you  what  you need  and  protecting  what  you  have '  "  Yogakshemam  vahamyaham  "  says  the  Lord. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam -verse 2 part 2

       We  saw  in the  last  page,  the  acharya  is  telling  us, seekers,  to  give  up  our  thirst  to possess  wealth.  Now  a  doubt  may  arise  in our  minds as  to  how  we  can  give  up all  our  desire  for  wealth .  We  do  need  wealth  in some  form  or the  other for  our  very  survival  ,for  fulfilling  our  daily  needs like  food  ,shelter  and  clothing .  Vedanta  is  never  against   earning  money  . Vedanta  tells  us  only  to  give  up  our  thirst  , the  craving  or  greed  for  more  and  more wealth  ,which  then makes  us  slaves  of  the  material  wealth  , in  fact  , we  have  to remain  masters  over  our  possessions. 

     This  greed  for  wealth  can  be given  up  only  by  shifting   our  minds to  subtler  aspects  of  life.  When  we  engage  our  minds in thoughts  of  God/ Self  ,  the  lower  aspects  of  our  personality  like  anger, desire  , greed  etc  will  fall  off  on their  own  .  In  this  verse , the  term 'wealth '  is  to  be  understood  to  include  all  worldly  objects  of  possession  ,with  which  the  possessor  in us  feels  a  temporary  satisfaction .  So  the  acharya  says  cleanse  the  mind off  its  lust  for  objects  ,  greed  for  possessions  ,  covetousness  for  wealth   and  divert  the  mind in  contemplation  on the  Lord  which  will  help  us in 
  giving  up  lust  and  greed  and  live  in joyous  contentment  and  satisfaction  with  what  we get  as  result  of  our  action. 

     We  seek  satisfaction  in life through  acquiring  and  hoarding  more  and  more  wealth , but  we  fail  to  see  that  they  fulfill  us  only  temporarily  and  the  thirst  returns  to  force  us  to  acquire  and  hoard  more  and  more wealth. . This continues  chasing wealth,  mercilessly  torments  us all  through  our  lives. To  come  out  of  this  vicious  cycle ,we  have  to  discover  contentment  within ourselves. . We  should  acquire  wealth  only  through  honest  means   and  not  feed  on  greed  or  covetousness  ,which  would  often  make  us  acquire  wealth  by  dishonest  means.   Only  then  we  can  find  peace  and  happiness in life  and  only   in  such  a  peaceful  mind  that  contemplation  of  the  Self  is  possible. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam- verse 2

                In  the  second  verse, the  acharya  says, ' oh  fool, give  up  the  thirst  to  possess  wealth  , create  in your  mind, devoid  of  passions  , thoughts  of  the  Reality. Whatever  you  gain  as  fruits  of  your  actions, keep  your  mind  content  with  that  wealth ' .  Human  beings  are  driven  by  two  powerful  forces - the  desire  to acquire  and  the  desire  to  enjoy. . This  verse  deals  with the powerful  desire  to  acquire. . So  a person  forces  himself to  acquire ,  aggrandise and  hoard material  wealth. . Sankara  calls  such  a  man  a  moodah  , a  fool,  because  ,this  person  though  endowed  with  the  ability  to  withdraw  his  mind  from  worldly  desires   and  direct  it  to  the  Supreme  Self  ,which  is  within  him   ,    is  busy  wasting  his  life  over acquiring  and  hoarding  material  wealth  ,which  is  temporary   .

         In  the  Kathopanishad , Nachiketas  ,a nine  year  old  boy , is  asking  Yamraj  to  explain  to  him  about  what  lies  beyond  death ,  but  Yamraj  wants  to  test  his  vairagya  ,so  he  tempts  the  little  boy with  all  the  wealth  of  this  world  ,  a life  as  long  as  he  wishes  to  live  and  so  on. . Yet  Nachiketas  refuses  to  be  tempted  by  the  worldly  pleasures  and  wealth  ,and  he  says, 'keep thou  your  chariot , dance  and  music ,  for  man  is  not to  be  satisfied with  wealth  however  much  he  has. . These  material  things  and  pleasures  will  decay  ,the  power  of  the  five  senses  also  will  decay . Even  the  longest  life  promised  by  you  is  after all only  temporary. '. Nachiketas  does   not  show  even  a  small  trace  of  desire  to  acquire anything  that  is  being   offered  by  Yamraj.  So  he  wants  his  third  boon to  be  fulfilled  by  Yama , the  Lord  of  death . He  wants  to  know  about  the  great  passing  beyond  ie  the  supreme  life after  death. . Such is  the  vairagya  being  displayed  by  this  little  boy. 

      The  explanations  for  this  verse  will  continue  in the  next  few  pages. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam -verse 1 continued-part 7

        The  term ' bhaja'  we  have  seen  means  worship  and  it is  not  a  mechanical  chanting  of  any  name  of the  Lord. . We  have  seen  there  are  nine  different  ways  in which  a  bhakta  can  worship  the  Lord  ,to  express  his  love  and  devotion  to  Him. . So  bhajan  is  an expression  of  the  devotee's  true  surrender in love  and  devotion  to  one's  own  ishta  devata. 

        The  term  ' Govinda  ' in this  verse  appears  twice  in the  Vishnusahasranama.  Govinda  is  the  highest  Reality. . The  acharya  says  'seek  Govinda'  three  times because  the  human  mind  revels in the  three  material  layers  of  the  body, mind  and  intellect  and  comes  to  identify with   these  as  the  Real  Self.    Govinda  refers  to  Lord  Vishnu -the Supreme  Reality.  So  he  says  seek  the  identity  with  Him,  the  Supreme  and  do not  waste  your  life  over  subtler  pursuits  of acquisition  and  enjoyment  . Therefore  the  implied  meaning  is  withdraw  the  mind  from  its  preoccupation  with  the  world and  direct  it  to  the  Supreme  Self,  the  Govinda  residing  in the  secret  cave  of   your  heart.  The  term  Govinda  means  the  one  who  finds  or  knows  the earth,  meaning, one  who  has  realised  the  substratum   upon  which  the  whole  drama  of  life is  going  on  ,  secondly, He  is  the  Lord  of  the  cattle  ,here  it  does  not  refer  to  Him  merely  as  the  cowherd  boy  of  Vrindavan  , but  He  is  the  one  behind  all  our  animal  passions. , thirdly,  He  is  the  One  that  blesses  us  humans  with  the  power  of  speech to  communicate  with  each  other, fourthly,  He  is known  through  the  Mahavakyas  which  proclaim  His  glories . Govinda  stands  for  the  Absolute  Reality  , the  Absolute  Truth  ,  He  is  Brahman  of  the  Upanishads 

      So  the  sum  and  substance  of  this  verse  is  that  the  acharya  expresses  an  urgency  in telling  us  not  to  waste  our  lives  over mundane  joys   or  learning  grammar rules but  to  seek  Him   and  His  Grace. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam -verse 1 continued -part 6

              In  the  Chandyogya  Upanishad  , Narada  muni  approaches  Sanathkumar   asking  for  spiritual  knowledge . The   teacher  wants  to  know  all  that  Narada  muni  knows  about   and  he  starts  enumerating  all  the  secular  knowledge , he  has  gathered , including   Grammar. . The  Guru  says  they  are  all  nothing  but  mere  names. . The  Infinite ( Bhoomaah )  is  to  be  realised  which  exceeds  all  that  Narad muni  knows . Though  we  should  not  underestimate  the  importance  of  learning  the  Grammar  of  the  Sanskrit  language  ,  yet  to  waste  one's  life time  over  the  pursuit  of  all  such  non-essentials   at  the  cost  of  knowing  what  needs  to  be  known  ,is  that  which  is  condemned  here  by  the  acharya  Sankara. 

         Another  grave  mistake  we  all  make  is  ,we  think  that   somehow  at  the  time  of  death  ,we  will   manage to remember  the  Lord. and  reach  Him. . It  is  said  in the  Geeta  that  one  who  remembers  me  at  the  'antakale  ',  reaches  the  Lord. . But  it  is  a fact  that  unless  we  have  a  constant  remembrance  of  the  Lord   at  all  times ,through  out  our  lives ,  it  will  not  be  possible  to  remember  the  Lord  right  at  the  time  of  death. . So  we  have  to  go  through  our  entire  life  remembering  Him  ,so  that   the  thought  of  the  Lord  comes  to  our  mind  spontaneously  when  Lord  Yama   is  there  in front  of  us wielding  His  rope  .

      In  this  verse  , the  acharya    says  'bhaja ' ,  which  means  chant  the  name  of  the  Lord . Chanting  is  not a  routine  and  mechanical  action  done   with  the  mind  wandering  all around . Here  'bhaja  ' means  seeking  our  identity  with  the  Lord . True  bhajan  is   total  surrender in  love  and  devotion  at  the  feet  of  the  Lord.  Hence  scriptures  speak  of  9  ways  of  glorifying  the  Lord  in order  to  express  our  love  and  devotion  to  Him . They  are  : sravanam, keertanam,  smaranam  , padasevanam  ,  archanam  , vandanam,  daasyam, ,sakhyam , and  atma nivedanam .
 Verse  1  explanation  will  continue  in the  next  pages. 


Monday, 10 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam -verse -1 -part 5

          The  Bhaja  Govindam  indicates  the  goal  of  human  life and  the  path  to  be  taken  to  reach  this  goal.  It  also  shows  the  wretchedness  of  his  present  way  of  life. and  the loss  of values  in his  life and  what  waits  him  if  he  continues  to  pursue  the path  of  ego  and  live  a  desire  oriented  life.  The  poem  is  addressed  to  a spiritual  seeker  who  has  started  walking  this  path  , but  does  not  know  it  clearly   and  hence  a  sense  of  commitment  is  not  there  in  him  to  the  correct  means  he  has  to  follow  and  so  he  wastes  his  life  in running  after  mundane  pleasures. . So  in the  Bhaja  Govindam  ,the  acharya  shows  an  urgency  in  his words  seeing  how  a man  wastes  all  his  life  over  unimportant  and  mundane  activities and  the  acharya  urges  man  to  take  up  the  spiritual  path  with  seriousness  and  finally  reach  the  ultimate  state  of  liberation.  . Hence  in the  verses,  we see   the  acharya  does  not  show  any  mercy  or  softness  towards  such  people. 

        In  the  first  verse,  the  acharya  says  ' bhaja  govindam ',  seek  Govinda, seek  Govinda  ,oh  fool  , when  the  appointed  time  comes ,  when  Yamraj  is  there  at  your doorstep  to  snatch  away  your  life ,  grammar  rules surely  will  not  help  save  you.  This  verse  is  chanted  as  a  chorus  , hence  repeated   at  the  end  of  every  verse. . Here  Grammar  refers  to  all  the  secular  knowledge  and  all  our  possessions. ,  which  will  not  anyway  help  one  whose  life  is  going  to  be  snatched  away  from  this  temporary  abode  ,  this  physical  body.  This  verse  shows  us  the  importance  of  chanting  the  Lord's  name  at  all  times .
The  explanations  on this  verse  will  continue  in the  next  pages. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam - An Introduction -part 4

         Some  of the  important  works  of  acharya  Sankara ,other  than  his  bhashyams  on  the  ten  Upanishads , the  Bhagavad Geeta  , the  Brahma  sutra  and  his  own  composition  the  Vivekachodamani, are his   devotional  compositions   like  the  Bhaja  Govindam  ,  Soundarya  Lahari,  Kanakadara  stotram,  Sivananda Lahari, Minakshi stotram ,   the Dakshinamurthy stotram  and  so  on.    Bhaja Govindam  is  one  of  the  extremely   important  works  of  the  acharya . It  is  said  that  for  an  intelligent  person, a  study  of  this  poem  can  remove  his  delusion (  moha ) , so  the  poem  is  called  Mohamudgara. 

       The  story  goes  thus  regarding  the  circumstances  that  went  on to  inspire  Adi  Sankara  to  compose  the  Bhaja Govindam , as  he   was  going  along  with  his  fourteen  disciples to  Kashi   he  overheard an  old  pundit  was  trying  to  repeat  the  sanskrit grammar  rules. . The  acharya  realised  that  the  old  man  was  wasting  his  time  over  an intellectual  accomplishment without  realising  the  Truth. The  acharya  burst  forth  into  these  verses called  Mohamudgara , now  popularly  known  as  Bhaja  Govindam. . So  he  starts  his  Bhaja Govindam with  the  lines  that  grammar  rules will  never  help anyone  at  the  time  of  death. . So  he  commands  people  to put  in all  their  efforts towards  realising  the  Truth,  that  deathless  state  of  purity  and  perfection. 

        The  acharya  is  believed  to  have  composed  12  more  verses ,which  are  a  bouquet  of  flowers  and  which   go  under the  name   dwadasa manjarika  stotram. . Each  of  the  14  disciples  were  inspired  to  compose  one  verse  each , and  they  all  go  under  the  name chaturdasa  manjarika  stotram .. Then  Sankara  blesses  all  true  seekers of all  times in  the  last  four  verses  . So  the  Bhaja  govindam  comprises  of  31  verses  though  in some  editions  the  number  varies.  

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Bhaja Govindam- the philosophy of Sankara -part 3

             We are  seeing  the  Advaita  philosophy  ,which holds  the  Atma  ,the  chaitanyam  as   the  cause  and  anatma, the  material  universe  as  the  effect. . The  effect  does not  have  an  independent  existence  of  its  own  , it  depends  on the  cause  for  its  existence,  like  ornaments  do  not exist  independent   of  gold . So  the  effect  is  cause  with only  different  names  and  forms. . The  whole  universe  is  only  just  names  and  forms  on  the  only  substance  called  Brahman / Atma . This  the  acharya  tried  to  explain  with  the  famous  snake-rope  illusion. .  The  rope   when  seen  in poor  light  is  mistaken  for  a  snake   and  creates  fear  in the  mind  of  the  one  who  sees  it  as a  snake,  In  reality  , there  is  no snake  ,when  he  sees  the  rope  in  proper  light, he  sees  it  as  a snake  only.   The  snake  was  superimposed  on  the  rope  due  to  ignorance and  when  the  right  knowledge  of  the  rope  dawns  on him  , he  sees  not  the  snake  but  the  rope  only. 

           Similarly ,  due to   the  ignorance  of  the  Self,  we  have  superimposed  the  universe  on Brahman  . When  the  ignorance  is  removed  by  knowledge  , then  the   jnani does  not  give  reality  to this  universe . . He  sees  Brahman  in its  place.  Brahman  becomes  the  adhishtanam  for  all  the   different  names  and  forms.  He  thus  established  the  Advaita  philosophy  of  'brahma  satyam  ,jagan  mithya,  and  jiva  brahma  Aikyam.  We  have  seen  the  details  of  this  in previous  pages. . It  should  be  remembered  by  all  ,that  whatever  he  tried  to  establish  through  his  reasoning  and  logic  were  not  his  own  original  thoughts. He  did  not  propound  any  new  theory  but  revived  the  teachings  of  his  own  guru  Govinda  bhagavadpada  , and  his  guru  Gaudapada charya. 

      About  the  acharya   ,Pujya  Gurudev . Swami  Chinmayananda  says, " Sankara  is  not  an  individual  . He  is  an  institution. . No  single  person could  ever  have  achieved   what  he  had  achieved  in his  short  span  of  life . No  master  or  prophet had  ever  achieved  so  much  for  so  many  in so  short  a  life  of  32  years .Very  often  this  tempts  us  to consider  the  acharya as  an  avatara "  He  is  generally  believed  to  be  an  avatara  of Lord  Shiva .