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Bhaj Govindam

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(1) Maneesh Panchakam, (2) Aatm Shatakam or Nirvaan Shatakam, (3) Kanakdhaaraa Stotra, (4) Kaupeen Panchakam,
(5) Saundarya Laharee, (6) Bhaj Govindam,  (7) Dakshin Moorti Stotra

Bhaj Govindam

Bhaj Govindam is one of the minor compositions of the spiritual giant, Aadi Shankaraachaarya . It is classified as a Prakaran Granth, a primer to the major works. Though sung as a Bhajan (devotional song), it contains the essence of Vedaant and implores the man to think, "Why am I here in this life ? Why am I amassing wealth, family, but have no peace? What is the Truth? What is the purpose of life?" The person thus awakened gets set on a path to the inner road back to the God principle.

The background of Bhaj Govindam is worth examining . During his stay in Kaashee, he noticed a very old man studying the rules of Sanskrit by Paanini. Shankar was touched with pity at seeing the plight of the old man spending his years at a mere intellectual accomplishment while he would be better off praying and spending time to control his mind. Shankar understood that the majority of the world was also engaged in mere intellectual, sense pleasures and not in the divine contemplation. Seeing this, he burst forth with the verses of Bhaj Govindam.

In 31 verses, he, like no other, explains our fallacies, our wrong outlook for life, and dispels our ignorance and delusions. Thus Bhaj Govindam was originally known as Moh Mudgaar, the remover of delusions.

Shankar explains, nay chides, us for spending our time in useless trivia like amassing wealth, lusting after (wo)men and requests us to discriminate and cultivate the knowledge to learn the difference between the real and the unreal. To emphasize that, he concludes that all knowledge other than the Self-Knowledge, is useless, Shankar makes the person realize how foolish he/she is in the conduct and behavior by these verses, and shows the purpose of our worldly existence, which is to seek Govind and attain Him.

Bhaj Govindam is divided into two parts - Dwaadash Manjarikaa Stotram and Chaturdash Manjarikaa Stotram. At the end of composing the first stanza, it is said that Shankar burst forth with the next 11 stanzas of Bhaj Govindam. Thus stanzas 1-12 are called Dwaadash Manjarikaa Stotram. Inspired by the extempore recital by Shankar, each of his 14 disciples composed a verse and those 14-verse compendium is called Chaturdash Manjarikaa Stotram . Shankar added the finishing touches by adding five of his own stanzas at the last bringing the total to 31 verse. The last two verses in this version is not found in all editions.

Bhaj Govindam has been set to musical tones and sung as prayer songs by children. It is divided into Dwaadash Pajnjarikaa and Charpat Pajnjarikaa for this purpose. The former is a set of verses (verses 1-12a) while the rest of the verses are form Charpat Pajnjarikaa.

Anyone who listens to the music of Bhaj Govindam is attracted to it. However, the significance of the text goes much deeper and contains a well defined philosophy of attaining salvation. Shankar's words seem to be quite piercing and seem to lack the softness and tenderness often found in his other texts, thus addressing directly. The reason is that this was an extempore recital to an old man. His words can be compared to a knife of a doctor. The doctor's knife cruelly removes the tumor with much pain, but removing the tumor ultimately restores good health in the patient. So is Shankar's words, which pierce and point out our ignorance. It is a knife into the heart of worldliness, and by removing this tumor of ignorance, we can attain everlasting bliss with the grace of Govind.

Bhaj Govindaam

Verse 1:
भजगोविन्दं भजगोविन्दं
गोविन्दं भजमूढमते .
संप्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले
नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृञ्करणे .. १..

Bhaj Govindam, BHaj Govindam, Govindam Bhaj Moodh Mate
Sampraapte Sannihite Kaale, Naahi Naahi Rakshati Dukunkarane
Seek Govind, Seek Govind, Seek Govind, Oh ignoramus, at the time of death the rules of grammar, which you are trying to cram and master, will not be able to rescue you at all.
(Grammar rules mean all secular knowledge and earthly acquisitions. Moodh Mate means a materialist, wholelly worldly-minded, who does not believe in God or the spiritual entity that is in man)

Verse 2:
मूढ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णां
कुरु सद्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णाम् .
यल्लभसे निजकर्मोपात्तं
वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तम् .. २..
Moodh Jaheehi Dhanaagam Trishnaam
Kuru Sadbuddhim Manasi Vitrishnaam
Yallabhse Nij  Karmopaattam
Vittam Ten Vinodaya Chittam ---2  |(refrain from Verse 1 to be sung after every verse...  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam.....)
Oh, Fool, give up your insatiable desire for earthly possessions; be sensible and develop serenity and contentment. Be satisfied and happy with whatever you may earn by the sweat of your brow and whatever has destiny marked for your lot.

Verse 3:
नारीस्तनभर नाभीदेशं
दृष्ट्वा मागामोहावेशम् .
एतन्मांसावसादि विकारं
मनसि विचिन्तय वारं वारम् .. ३..
Naaree Stan Bhar Naabhi Desham
Drishtwaa Maa Gaa Moh Vesham
Etan Maansaavasaa Vikaaram
Manasi Vichintaya Vaaram, Vaaram --- 3  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
Enticed by the physical glamour of a woman, do not lose your senses; the body is nothing but a conglomeration of flesh, do not forget this any time.

Verse 4:
नलिनीदलगत जलमतितरलं
तद्वज्जीवितमतिशयचपलम् .
विद्धि व्याध्यभिमानग्रस्तं
लोकं शोकहतं च समस्तम् .. ४..
Nalinee Dal Gat Jal Mati Taralam
Tadvajjeevit Matishaya Chapalam
Viddhi Vyaadhyabhimaan Grastam
Lokam Shok Hatam Cha Samastam --- 4   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
The water droplet on the lotus leaf is tremulous and unsteady. So too is life which is as uncertain. Know the body to be in the claws of disease, which may swallow it at any moment. Life is ultimately nothing but worry, misery and grief.

Verse 5:
यावद्वित्तोपार्जन सक्तः
स्तावन्निज परिवारो रक्तः .
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जर देहे
वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे .. ५..
Yaavadwivattopaarjan Saktam
Staavannij Parivaaro Raktah
Pashchaajeevati Jarjar Dehe
Vaartaam Kopi Na Prichhati Gehe --- 5   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
As long as you are fit to make an earning, so long will your kith and kin be solicitous about you, but no sooner your limbs become infirm and your earnings cease, none will care for you, not even your own home-folk.

Verse 6:
यावत्पवनो निवसति देहे
तावत्पृच्छति कुशलं गेहे .
गतवति वायौ देहापाये
भार्या बिभ्यति तस्मिन्काये .. ६..
Yaavat Pavano Nivasati Dehe
Taavat Prichhati Kushalam Gehe
GGatavati Vaayao Dehaa Paaye
Bhaaryaa Bibhyati Tasmin Kaaye --- 6   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
As long as there is life in your body, your people may have concern for you, but once the life-breath ebbs out of your body, even your own wife will run away from you.

Verse 7:
परे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि न सक्तः .. ७..
Baal Staavat Kreedaa Saktah
Tarun Staavat Tarnunee Saktah
Vriddh Staavt Chintaa Saktah
Pare Brahmani Kopi Na saktah ---  7   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
Childhood skips off on sport and play. Youth flies off in pursuits of love-making. As one grows older he is drowned in worry about the security and future of his wife and children. One's whole life gets spent in some kind of worry or other. And at no stage does man find time to lift his thoughts to God.

Verse 8:
काते कान्ता कस्ते पुत्रः
संसारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः .
कस्य त्वं कः कुत आयातः
तत्त्वं चिन्तय तदिह भ्रातः .. ८..
Kaate Kaantaa Kaste Putrah
Sansaaro Yamateev Vichitrah
Kasya Twam Kah Kut Aayaatah
Tattwam Chintaya Tadih Bhraatah --- 8   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
Who indeed is your beloved and who indeed is your son? Strange indeed are these family bonds; who belongs to you and to whom you belong? Whence did you come, Oh brother! Reflect on the truth of it all.

Verse 9:
सत्सङ्गत्वे निस्स्ङ्गत्वं
निस्सङ्गत्वे निर्मोहत्वम् .
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं
निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः .. ९..
Satsang Gatye Nissangatwam
Nissangatwe Nirmohatwam
Nirmohatwe Nishchal Tattwam
Nishchal Tattwe Jeevan Muktih ---  9   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; when attachment is lost, delusion ends; when delusion ends, the mind becomes unwavering and steady. An unwavering and steady mind is merited for Jeevan Mukti (liberation even in this life).

Verse 10:
वयसिगते कः कामविकारः
शुष्के नीरे कः कासारः .
क्षीणेवित्ते कः परिवारः
ज्ञाते तत्त्वे कः संसारः .. १०..
Vayasi Gate Kah Kaam Vikaarah
Shushke Neere Kah Kaasaarah
Ksheene Vitte Kah Parivaarah
Gyaate Tattwe Kah Sansaarah --- 10   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
When youth is gone, where is lust and its play? Where is the lake when its waters have dried up? Where are the kinsfolk when riches are gone? When Truth is realized, where is the snare of Sansaar?

Verse 11:
मा कुरु धन जन यौवन गर्वं
हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम् .
मायामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा
ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा .. ११..
Maa Kuru Dhan Jan Yauvan Garvam
Harati Nimeshaatkaalah Sarvam
Maayaa Maya Midam Khilam Hitwaa
Brahm Padam Twam Pravish Viditwaa  ---  11   Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
The pleasures and riches of worldly life are deceptive appearances. Understanding that they are all but a passing-show, be detached and dispassionate, cultivate renunciation and seek Brahman.

Verse 12:
दिनयामिन्यौ सायं प्रातः
शिशिरवसन्तौ पुनरायातः .
कालः क्रीडति गच्छत्यायुः
तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशावायुः .. १२..
Din Yaaminyau Saayam Praatah
Shishir Vasantau Pun Raayaatah
Kaalah Kreedati Gachhatyaayu
Tadapi Na Munchatyaashaa Vaayuh  ---  12  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
Day and night, dawn and dusk, winter and spring, all these are flitting across the stage of the world. While time thus is frolicking and befooling us, our life span is also running out; yet we do not, even a little, give up the clinging to our desires, nor do we let the desires loosen their grip on us.

Verse 12 a:
कथितो वैयाकरणस्यैषः .
उपदेशो भूद्विद्यानिपुणैः
श्रीमच्छन्करभगवच्छरणैः .. १२अ ..

Verse 13:
काते कान्ता धन गतचिन्ता
वातुल किं तव नास्ति नियन्ता .
त्रिजगति सज्जनसं गतिरैका
भवति भवार्णवतरणे नौका .. १३..
Kaate Kaantaa Dhan Gat Chintaa
Vaatul Kim Tav Naasti Niyantaa
Trijagati Sajjanas Gati Raikaa
Bhavati Bhavaarnav Tarane Naukaa ---  13  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
Crazy man,  Why do you worry so much about your wife and property? Why don't you seek out the Truth? Know that in these three worlds it is only the association with the good and holy that can help you in crossing safely the ocean of life.

Verse 14:
जटिलो मुण्डी लुञ्छितकेशः
काषायाम्बरबहुकृतवेषः .
पश्यन्नपि चन पश्यति मूढः
उदरनिमित्तं बहुकृतवेषः .. १४..
Jatilo Mundee Lunchhit Keshah
Kaashaayaambar Bahu krit Veshah
Pashyannapi Chan Pashyati Moodhah
Udar Nimittam Bahu Krit Veshah ---  14  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
The ascetic with matted locks, the man with the shaven head or one with hair pulled out, or the man parading in the ochre robes -- they all have eyes but yet do not see. All these are but deceptions for cheating the world, for filling their bellies. (Renunciation does not lie in external appearance, but in inward thought, attitude and feeling).

Verse 15:
अङ्गं गलितं पलितं मुण्डं
दशनविहीनं जतं तुण्डम् .
वृद्धो याति गृहीत्वा दण्डं
तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापिण्डम् .. १५..
Angam Galitam Palitam Mundam
Dashanam Viheenam Jatam Tudam
Vriddho Yaati Griheetwaa Dandam
Tadapi Na Munchatyaashaa Pindam --- 15  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
The body has become decrepit, the hair on the head has turned completely gray; the mouth has become totally toothless; the back is bent down and the old man cannot take even a step without the aid of his stick; yet he does not loosen even a bit, his hold on the bundle of desires.

Verse 16:
अग्रे वह्निः पृष्ठेभानुः
रात्रौ चुबुकसमर्पितजानुः .
तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापाशः .. १६..
Agre Vahinah Prishthe Bhaanuh
Raatrau Chubuk Samarpit Jaanuh
Karatal Bhikshas Staru Tal Vaasah
Tadapi Na Munchtyaashaa paashah --- 16  Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam....
Homeless he is; his back is bent down with age. His body has lost its heat and he has to warm himself before a fire or in the sun. Tree is his only shelter; he lives by begging and by the crumbs thrown into his palms by others; in the night he sleeps by holding his chin on his knee (because the back is bent and he cannot stretch himself and lie down). Yet, he does not let and allow the grip of desires on him loosen even a bit.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/04/14