May 5, 2012

Diving into the Divine...

Composed by Adi Shankaracharya, Bhaja Govindam, is a popular devotional song in Hinduism. The 31 stanza composition in Sanskrit is not just a devotional song. Each word in Bhaja Govindam is imbibed with meaning and the composition reflects the teachings of Santana Dharma. The verses of this hymn have divinely been sung by MS Subbulakshmi.

My having learnt Carnatic classical music during childhood always attracted me towards bhajans, especially the ones sung by MS Subbulakshmi- The Nightingale of Carnatic Music. Bhaja Govindam being one of my favorite, is close to my heart. And the meaning, so delightful and beautiful. All I can say is that this is sheer bliss. The amazing part is that I see a new dimension to this song everytime I listen to it and it gets deeper and deeper!

Play the video and follow the lyrics and the meaning given below!

भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं,
गोविन्दं भज मूढ़मते।
संप्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले,
न हि न हि रक्षति डुकृञ् करणे ॥१॥

Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda,
Seek Govinda, O Fool!
When the appointed times comes (death),
grammar rules surely will not save you.

मूढ़ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णाम्,
कुरु सद्बुद्धिमं मनसि वितृष्णाम्।
यल्लभसे निजकर्मोपात्तम्,
वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तं ॥२॥

O Fool! Give up the thirst to possess wealth.
Create in your mind, devoid of passions,
thoughts of the Reality.
With whatever you get, entertain your mind, be content.

दृष्ट्वा मागा मोहावेशम्।
मनसि विचिन्तय वारं वारम् ॥३॥

Seeing the full bosom of young maidens and their navel,
do not fall a prey to maddening delusion.
This is but a modification of flesh and fat.
Think well thus in your mind again and again.

विद्धि व्याध्यभिमानग्रस्तं,
लोक शोकहतं च समस्तम् ॥४॥

The water drop playing on a lotus petal has an extremely uncertain existence;
so also is life ever unstable.
Understand, the very world is consumed by disease and conceit,
and is riddled with pangs.

तावन्निजपरिवारो रक्तः।
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जरदेहे, 

वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे ॥५॥

As long as there is the ability to earn and save,
so long are all your dependants attached to you.
Later on, when you come tolive with an old, infirm body,
no one at home cares to speak even a word with you!!

यावत्पवनो निवसति देहे,
तावत् पृच्छति कुशलं गेहे।
गतवति वायौ देहापाये, 

भार्या बिभ्यति तस्मिन्काये ॥६॥

As long as there dwells breath in the body,
so long they enquire of your welfare at home.
Once the breath leaves, the body decays,
even the wife fears that very same body.

बालस्तावत् क्रीडासक्तः,
तरुणस्तावत् तरुणीसक्तः।

परे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि न सक्तः ॥७॥

So long as one is in one’s boyhood, one is attached to play,
so long as one is in youth, one is attached to one’s own young woman;
so long as one is in old age, one is attached to anxiety,
yet no one, alas to the Supreme Brahman, is ever seen attached.

का ते कांता कस्ते पुत्रः, 
संसारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः।
कस्य त्वं वा कुत अयातः, 

तत्त्वं चिन्तय तदिह भ्रातः ॥८॥

Who is your wife? Who is your son?
Supremely wonderful indeed is this samsara.
Of whom are you? From where have you come?
O brother, think of that Truth here.

सत्संगत्वे निस्संगत्वं, 
निस्संगत्वे निर्मोहत्वं।
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं 

निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः ॥९॥

Through the company of the good, there arises non-attachment;
through non-attachment there arises freedom from delusion;
when there is freedom from delusion, there is the Immutable Reality;
on experiencing the Immutable Reality, there comes the state of ‘liberated-in-life’.

यसि गते कः कामविकारः,
शुष्के नीरे कः कासारः।
क्षीणे वित्ते कः परिवारः, 

ज्ञाते तत्त्वे कः संसारः ॥१०॥

When youthfulness has passed, where is lust and its play?
When water is evaporated, where is the lake?
When the wealth is reduced, where is the retinue?
When the Truth is realised, where is samsara?

मा कुरु धनजनयौवनगर्वं,
हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वं।
मायामयमिदमखिलम् हित्वा,
ब्रह्मपदम् त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा ॥११॥

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 गच्छत्यायुस्तदपि 

न मुन्च्त्याशावायुः ॥१२॥
कथितो वैयाकरणस्यैषः।
श्रीमच्छंकरभगवच्चरणैः ॥१२अ॥

Day and night, dawn and dusk, winter and spring,
again and again come and depart.
Time sports and life ebbs away.
And yet, one leaves not the gusts of desires.

काते कान्ता धन गतचिन्ता,
वातुल किं तव नास्ति नियन्ता।
त्रिजगति सज्जनसं गतिरैका,
भवति भवार्णवतरणे नौका ॥१३॥

O Distracted One! Why worry about wife, wealth?
Is there not for you the One who ordains?
In the three worlds it is the association-with-good-people alone
that can serve as a boat to cross the sea of change, birth and death.

जटिलो मुण्डी लुञ्छितकेशः, 
पश्यन्नपि च न पश्यति मूढः, 

उदरनिमित्तं बहुकृतवेषः ॥१४॥

One ascetic with matted locks, one with shaven head,
one with hairs pulled out one by one, another parading in his ochre robes
– these are fools who, though seeing, do not see.
Indeed, these different disguises or apparels are only for their belly’s sake.

अङ्गं गलितं पलितं मुण्डं,
दशनविहीनं जतं तुण्डम्।
वृद्धो याति गृहीत्वा दण्डं,
तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापिण्डम् ॥१५॥

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।

तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापाशः ॥१६॥

In front the fire, at the back the sun, late at night he sits with hisknees held to his chin;
he receives alms in his own scooped palm and
lives under the shelter of some tree,
and yet the noose of desires spares him not!

कुरुते गङ्गासागरगमनं,
व्रतपरिपालनमथवा दानम्।
ज्ञानविहिनः सर्वमतेन, 

मुक्तिं न भजति जन्मशतेन ॥१७॥

One may, in pilgrimage, go to where the Ganges meets the ocean, called the Gangasagar,
or observe vows, or distribute gifts away in charity.
If he is devoid of first-hand-experience-of-the-Truth,
according to all schools of thought, he gains no release, even in a hundred lives

सुर मंदिर तरु मूल निवासः,
शय्या भूतल मजिनं वासः।
सर्व परिग्रह भोग त्यागः, 

कस्य सुखं न करोति विरागः ॥१८॥

Sheltering in temples, under some trees,
sleeping on the naked ground, wearing a deerskin,
and thus renouncing all idea-of-possession and thirst-to-enjoy,
to whom will not dispassion bring happiness?

योगरतो वाभोगरतोवा,
सङ्गरतो वा सङ्गवीहिनः।
यस्य ब्रह्मणि रमते चित्तं, 

नन्दति नन्दति नन्दत्येव ॥१९॥

Let one revel in Yoga or let him revel in Bhoga.
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 ॥२०॥

To one who has studied the Bhagavad Gita even a little,
who has sipped at least a drop of Ganges-water,
who has worshipped at least one Lord Muraari,
to him there is no quarrel with Yama, the Lord of Death.

पुनरपि जननं पुनरपि मरणं, 
पुनरपि जननी जठरे शयनम्।
इह संसारे बहुदुस्तारे, 

कृपयाऽपारे पाहि मुरारे ॥२१॥

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 ॥२२॥

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 ॥२३॥

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-of-experience,
essenceless and a mere dreamland, born of imagination.

त्वयि मयि चान्यत्रैको विष्णुः,
व्यर्थं कुप्यसि मय्यसहिष्णुः।
भव समचित्तः सर्वत्र त्वं, 

वाञ्छस्यचिराद्यदि विष्णुत्वम् ॥२४॥

In you, in me and in all other places too there is but one All-Pervading Reality.
Being impatient, you are unnecessarily getting angry with me.
If you want to attain soon the Vishnu-status,
be equal-minded in all circumstances.

शत्रौ मित्रे पुत्रे बन्धौ,
मा कुरु यत्नं विग्रहसन्धौ।
सर्वस्मिन्नपि पश्यात्मानं, 

सर्वत्रोत्सृज भेदाज्ञानम् ॥२५॥

Strive not, waste not your energy to fight against or to make
friends with your enemy, friend, son or relative.
Seeking the Self everywhere,
lift the sense-of-difference born out of ‘ignorance’.

कामं क्रोधं लोभं मोहं,
त्यक्त्वाऽत्मानं भावय कोऽहम्।
आत्मज्ञान विहीना मूढाः, 

ते पच्यन्ते नरकनिगूढाः ॥२६॥

Leaving desire, anger, greed and delusion,
the seeker sees in the Self ‘He Am I’.
They are fools those who have not Self-knowledge,
and they consequently, as a captive in hell, are tortured.

गेयं गीता नाम सहस्रं,
ध्येयं श्रीपति रूपमजस्रम्।
नेयं सज्जन सङ्गे चित्तं, 

देयं दीनजनाय च वित्तम् ॥२७॥

The Bhagavad Gita and Sahasranama are to be chanted;
always the form of the Lord of Lakshmi is to be meditated upon;
the mind is to be led towards the company of the good;
wealth is to be shared with the needy.

सुखतः क्रियते रामाभोगः,
पश्चाद्धन्त शरीरे रोगः।
यद्यपि लोके मरणं शरणं, 

तदपि न मुञ्चति पापाचरणम् ॥२८॥

Very readily one indulges in carnal pleasures;
later on, alas, come diseases of the body.
Even though in the world the ultimate end is death,
even then man leaves not his sinful behaviour.

अर्थंमनर्थम् भावय नित्यं,
नास्ति ततः सुखलेशः सत्यम्।
पुत्रादपि धनभजाम् भीतिः, 

सर्वत्रैषा विहिता रीतिः ॥२९॥

‘Wealth is calamitous’, thus reflect constantly:
the truth is that there is no happiness at all to be got from it.
To the rich, there is fear even from his own son.
This is the way with wealth everywhere.

प्राणायामं प्रत्याहारं,
नित्यानित्य विवेकविचारम्।
जाप्यसमेत समाधिविधानं, 

कुर्ववधानं महदवधानम् ॥३०॥

The control of all activities,
the sense-withdrawal, the reflection, along with japa
and the practice of reaching the total-inner- silence
– these, perform with care, with great care.

गुरुचरणाम्बुज निर्भर भक्तः, 
संसारादचिराद्भव मुक्तः।
सेन्द्रियमानस नियमादेवं, 
द्रक्ष्यसि निज हृदयस्थं देवम् ॥३१॥

O Devotee of the lotus-feet of the teacher!
May you become liberated soon from the samsara through the discipline of the
sense-organs and the mind. You will come to experience the
Lord that dwells in your own heart.


  1. it is really awesome!!! i just loved it..... :)

  2. Honestly, I felt really really sad that I've just considered it as a brilliant song. It is only after I got to know the meaning that I realized that it is a marvel of wisdom. :)

  3. sudarshan rangarajanMay 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    something different
    i used to have this cd earlier on tht had rajaji's intro speech followed by this and then the vishnu sahashranamam .. good to know the meaning in detail.

  4. It was an awesome post.It took me half an hour to read it and understand the deep meanings. Continue your good work Divya. This post proved that u re too mature for ur own age :)....LOVED the post specially point 20 and 25.

    1. Thanks a lot yaar!! :) :) Glad you read it fully!!!

  5. Omg! I totally totally love this song.. It takes me to that higher heavenly state. That too in MSS amma's voice. Its divine. My eyes brim with tears when I listen to this song and I seriously don't know why.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this divya :))

  6. Superb posting, I share the same views. I wonder why this particular world truly does not picture for a moment like me and also the blog site creator :D