Bhaja Govindam was orginally composed by Adi Shankaracharya in tribute to Lord Govinda. These collection of shlokas contain the highest truths of Vedanta, so essential for man’s mental and spiritual health.
There is a story attached to the composition of the present Hymn. Acharya Shankara, it is said, was walking along a street in Varanasi, one day, accompanied by his disciples. He heard the sound of grammatical rules being recited by an old scholar. Taking pity on the scholar, he went up to him and advised him not to waste his time on grammar at his age but to turn his mind to God in worship and adoration. The Hymn to Govinda was composed on this occasion.
भजगोविन्दं भजगोविन्दं गोविन्दं भजमूढमते |
संप्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृञ्करणे || (1)
Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda, O Fool! When the appointed time comes (death), grammar rules surely will not save you.
मूढ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णां कुरु सद्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णाम् |
यल्लभसे निजकर्मोपात्तं वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तम् || (2)
O Fool! Leave off the desire for accumulation of wealth; Create in your mind, devoid of passions,
thoughts of the Reality. With whatever you get, entertain your mind, be content.
नारीस्तनभर नाभीदेशं दृष्ट्वा मागामोहावेशम् |
एतन्मांसावसादि विकारं मनसि विचिन्तय वारं वारम् || (3)
Seeing the seductive female form, do not fall prey to maddening delusion. That (female form) is (but) a modification of flesh and fat. Think well thus in your mind again and again.
नलिनीदलगत जलमतितरलं तद्वज्जीवितमतिशयचपलम् |
विद्धि व्याध्यभिमानग्रस्तं लोकं शोकहतं च समस्तम् || (4)
The water on the lotus-leaf is very unsteady; so also is life extremely unstable. Know that the entire world is devoured by disease and conceit, and smitten with sorrow.
यावद्वित्तोपार्जन सक्तः स्तावन्निज परिवारो रक्तः .
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जर देहे वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे || (5)
As long as you have the ability to earn money, so long will all your dependents be attached to you. Later on, when you come to live with an old, infirm body, no one at home cares to speak even a word with you!!
यावत्पवनो निवसति देहे तावत्पृच्छति कुशलं गेहे |
गतवति वायौ देहापाये भार्या बिभ्यति तस्मिन्काये || (6)
As long as there is breath in the body, so long people in the household ask about one’s welfare. Once the breath leaves, the body decays, even the wife fears that very same body.
बालस्तावत्क्रीडासक्तः तरुणस्तावत्तरुणीसक्तः |
वृद्धस्तावच्चिन्तासक्तः परे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि न सक्तः || (7)
When a boy, one is attached to sport; when a youth, one is attached to a young woman; when old, one is attached to anxiety; To the Supreme Brahman, no one, alas, is attached!
काते कान्ता कस्ते पुत्रः संसारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः |
कस्य त्वं कः कुत आयातः तत्त्वं चिन्तय तदिह भ्रातः || (8)
Who is your wife? Who is your son? Exceedingly wonderful, indeed, is this empirical process! Of whom are you? Who are you? Whence have you come? Oh brother, think of that truth here.
सत्सङ्गत्वे निस्स्ङ्गत्वं निस्सङ्गत्वे निर्मोहत्वम् |
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः || (9)
Through the company of the good (saints), there arises non-attachment; through non-attachment there arises freedom from delusion; Through delusionlesness, there arises steadfastness; through steadfastness, there arises liberation in life.
वयसिगते कः कामविकारः शुष्के नीरे कः कासारः |.
क्षीणेवित्ते कः परिवारः ज्ञाते तत्त्वे कः संसारः || (10)
When youth is spent, what lustful play is there? When water is evaporated, where is the lake? When the money is gone, what dependents are there? When the Truth is known, where is samsara?
मा कुरु धन जन यौवन गर्वं हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम् |
मायामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा || (11)
Take no pride in your possession, in the people at your command, in the youthfulness that you have. Time loots away all these in a moment. Leaving aside all these, after knowing their illusory nature, realize the state of Brahman and enter into it.
दिनयामिन्यौ सायं प्रातः शिशिरवसन्तौ पुनरायातः |
कालः क्रीडति गच्छत्यायुः तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशावायुः || (12)
Day and night, dusk and dawn, winter and spring come repeatedly; Time sports, life is fleeting; yet one does not leave the winds of desire.
द्वादशमञ्जरिकाभिरशेषः कथितो वैयाकरणस्यैषः |
उपदेशो भूद्विद्यानिपुणैः श्रीमच्छन्करभगवच्छरणैः || (12 a.)
This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the Bhagavadpada.
काते कान्ता धन गतचिन्ता वातुल किं तव नास्ति नियन्ता |
त्रिजगति सज्जनसं गतिरैका भवति भवार्णवतरणे नौका || (13)
O Distracted One! Why worry about wife, wealth? Is there not for you the One who ordains? In these three worlds, it is only the association with good people (saints) that can serve as the boat to carry one across the sea of birth & death.
जटिलो मुण्डी लुञ्छितकेशः काषायाम्बरबहुकृतवेषः |
पश्यन्नपि चन पश्यति मूढः उदरनिमित्तं बहुकृतवेषः || (14)
The ascetic with matted locks, the one with his head shaven, the one with hairs pulled out one by one, the one who disguises himself variously with the ochre – colored robes – such a one is a fool, who, though seeing, does not see. Indeed, this varied disguise is for the sake of the belly.
अङ्गं गलितं पलितं मुण्डं दशनविहीनं जतं तुण्डम् |
वृद्धो याति गृहीत्वा दण्डं तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापिण्डम् || (15)
The body has become worn out. The head has turned grey. The mouth has become toothless. The old man moves about leaning on his staff. Even then he leaves not the bundle of his desires.
अग्रे वह्निः पृष्ठेभानुः रात्रौ चुबुकसमर्पितजानुः |
करतलभिक्षस्तरुतलवासः तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापाशः || (16)
In front, there is fire; at the back, there is the sun; in the night, (the ascetic sits) with the knees stuck to the chin; he receives alms in his palms, and lives under the trees; yet the bondage of desire does not leave him.
कुरुते गङ्गासागरगमनं व्रतपरिपालनमथवा दानम् |
ज्ञानविहिनः सर्वमतेन मुक्तिं न भजति जन्मशतेन || (17)
One goes on pilgrimage to the place where the Ganga joins the sea; or observes the religious vows with care; or offers gifts. But if he be devoid of knowledge, he does not gain release – according to all schools of thought – even in a hundred lives.
सुर मंदिर तरु मूल निवासः शय्या भूतल मजिनं वासः |
सर्व परिग्रह भोग त्यागः कस्य सुखं न करोति विरागः || (18)
Living in temples or at the foot of trees, sleeping on the ground wearing deer-skin, renouncing all idea-of-possession and thirst-to-enjoy – to whom will not dispassion bring happiness?
योगरतो वाभोगरतो वा सङ्गरतो वा सङ्गविहीनः |
यस्य ब्रह्मणि रमते चित्तं नन्दति नन्दति नन्दत्येव || (19)
Let one revel in Yoga or let him revel in Bhoga (sense-enjoyment). Let one seek enjoyment in company or let him revel in solitude away from the crowd. He whose mind revels in Brahman, he enjoys, verily, he alone enjoys.
भगवद् गीता किञ्चिदधीता गङ्गा जललव कणिकापीता |
सकृदपि येन मुरारि समर्चा क्रियते तस्य यमेन न चर्चा || (20)
For him, who has studied the Bhagavad Gita even a little, who has sipped at least a drop of the Ganga water, and who has performed the worship of the Destroyer of the demon Mura (viz. Shri Krishna) at least once, there is no quarrel with Yama (the Lord of Death).
पुनरपि जननं पुनरपि मरणं पुनरपि जननी जठरे शयनम् |
इह संसारे बहुदुस्तारे कृपयाऽपारे पाहि मुरारे || (21)
Again birth, again death, and again lying in mother’s womb – this samsara process is very hard to cross over. Save me O destroyer of Mura (Lord Krishna), through Thy infinite kindness.
रथ्या चर्पट विरचित कन्थः पुण्यापुण्य विवर्जित पन्थः |
योगी योगनियोजित चित्तो रमते बालोन्मत्तवदेव || (22)
The Yogin who wears but a godadi (shawl made of rags), who walks the path that is beyond merit and demerit, whose mind is joined in perfect Yoga with its goal, he revels (in God-consciousness) – and lives thereafter – as a child or as a madman.
कस्त्वं कोऽहं कुत आयातः का मे जननी को मे तातः |
इति परिभावय सर्वमसारम् विश्वं त्यक्त्वा स्वप्न विचारम् || (23)
Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come? Who is my mother? Who is my father? Thus enquire, leaving aside the entire world which is comparable to a dream, and is essenceless.
त्वयि मयि चान्यत्रैको विष्णुः व्यर्थं कुप्यसि मय्यसहिष्णुः |
भव समचित्तः सर्वत्र त्वं वाञ्छस्यचिराद्यदि विष्णुत्वम् || (24)
In you, in me, and elsewhere too, there is but one Vishnu (God). Being impatient, you are unnecessarily getting angry with me. See the Self in all things, and leave off everywhere ignorance which is cause of difference.
शत्रौ मित्रे पुत्रे बन्धौ मा कुरु यत्नं विग्रहसन्धौ |
सर्वस्मिन्नपि पश्यात्मानं सर्वत्रोत्सृज भेदाज्ञानम् || (25)
Make no effort to be either at war with, or in league with, enemy, friend, son, or relative. If you want to attain the status of Vishnu (Godhood) soon, be equal – minded towards all things.
कामं क्रोधं लोभं मोहं त्यक्त्वाऽत्मानं भावय कोऽहम् |
आत्मज्ञान विहीना मूढाः ते पच्यन्ते नरकनिगूढाः || (26)
Leaving off egocentric desire, anger, greed and delusion, make self – inquiry: Who am I? They are fools who are without Self-knowledge: as captives in Hell, they are tortured.
गेयं गीता नाम सहस्रं ध्येयं श्रीपति रूपमजस्रम् |
नेयं सज्जन सङ्गे चित्तं देयं दीनजनाय च वित्तम् || (27)
The Bhagavad Gita and the Sahasranama should be sung; the form of the Lord of Lakshmi should be always meditated on; The mind should be led towards the company of the good; and wealth should be shared with the needy.
सुखतः क्रियते रामाभोगः पश्चाद्धन्त शरीरे रोगः |
यद्यपि लोके मरणं शरणं तदपि न मुञ्चति पापाचरणम् || (28)
One easily takes to carnal enjoyment; afterwards, lo, there is disease of the body. Even though in the world the ultimate end is death, even then man leaves not his sinful behavior.
अर्थमनर्थं भावय नित्यं नास्तिततः सुखलेशः सत्यम् |
पुत्रादपि धन भाजां भीतिः सर्वत्रैषा विहिआ रीतिः || (29)
Wealth is no good: Thus reflect always. There is not the least happiness therefrom: This is the truth. For the wealthy, there is fear even from the son; everywhere this is the way with wealth.
प्राणायामं प्रत्याहारं नित्यानित्य विवेकविचारम् |
जाप्यसमेत समाधिविधानं कुर्ववधानं महदवधानम् || (30)
The regulation of breath (pranayam), the withdrawal of the senses (from their respective objects), the inquiry consisting in the discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal, the method of mind-control associated with the muttering of mantras – perform these with great care.
गुरुचरणाम्बुज निर्भर भकतः संसारादचिराद्भव मुक्तः |
सेन्द्रियमानस नियमादेवं द्रक्ष्यसि निज हृदयस्थं देवम् || (31)
Being devoted completely to the lotus-feet of the Guru, become released soon from the transmigratory process. Thus, through the discipline of sense and mind-control, you will come to experience the Lord that dwells in your own heart.
मूढः कश्चन वैयाकरणो डुकृञ्करणाध्ययन धुरिणः |
श्रीमच्छम्कर भगवच्छिष्यै बोधित आसिच्छोधितकरणः || (32)
Thus a silly grammarian lost in rules was cleansed of his narrow vision and shown the Light by Shankara’s apostles (disciples).
भजगोविन्दं भजगोविन्दं गोविन्दं भजमूढमते |
नामस्मरणादन्यमुपायं नहि पश्यामो भवतरणे || (33)
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