Bhaja Govindam

Bhaja Govindam

भज गोविन्दं means paise God. The first 12 verses1 of Bhaja Govindam was composed by Adi Shankaracharya.2. The next 14 verses 3 were added by each of his 14 disciples after which Adi Shankaracharya added the 5 concluding verses of the Bhaja Govindam.
The Bhaja Govindam is also known as the मोहमुद्गर moha mudgaara (the remover of delusions)

भज गोविन्दभज गोविन्दगोविन्दभज मूढमते
म्प्राप्ते ्निहिते काले हि हि रक्षति डुकृङ्करणे ॥ १॥

Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
Govindam bhaja mooḍh-mate.
Sampraapte sannihite kaale
Nahi nahi rakshati ḍukraṇg-karaṇe

Spend your time worshipping God instead of being foolishly caught up in arguing about God or arguing about grammar and rules of worship. Spend your time in Devotion.

मूढ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णां कुरु द्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णाम्
ल्लभ िजकर्मोपात्तं वित्तं ते विनोदय ित्तम् ॥ २॥

Mooḍha jaheehi dhan-aagama-triṣhṇaa
Kuru sad-buddhi manasi vitriṣhṇaam.
Yallabhase nija-karm-opaattam
Vittam tena vinodaya chittam.

Do not be foolishly attached to the desire for wealth and riches; forsake and abandon this insatiable thirst. Let your mind and intellect focus on reality and truth. Learn contentment with the wealth that comes because of your ethical work and your good actions. Attachment to the desire will yield frustration instead of contentment.

ारीस्तनभराभीदेशं दृष्ट्वा मागामोहावेशम्
एत्मांसवदिविकारं मनसि विचिन्तय वारं वारम् ॥ ३॥

Naaree-stanabhara-naabhee-desham
Ḍriṣhṭvaa maagaa-mohaa-vesham.
Etan-maamsa-vasaadi-vikaaram
Manasi vichintaya vaaram vaaram.

Do not get drowned in a delusion by becoming overcome by the emotions and sight of the body parts of anyone. The body is nothing but a modification of flesh. Do not become attached to the flesh. Contemplate this logic.

लिनीदलगतजलमतितरलं तद्वज्जीवितमतिशयचपलम्
विद्धि व्याध्यभिमानग्र्तं लोकं शोकहतं मस्तम् ॥ ४॥

Nalinee-dala-gata-jalam-ati-taralam
Tadvaj-jeevitam-atishaya-chapalam.
Viddhi vyaadhi-abhimaana-grastam
Lokam shoka-hatam cha samastam.

Just like the droplets of water on a lotus leaf that trembles uncertainly (of falling off), in a similar manner, life is unsteady and restless and fickle. And, the fickle life in a fickle world becomes overtaken by diseases and ailments regardless of the ego and false pride. Our attachments, like the water to the leaf, are uncertain. Why focus on the uncertain when the Almighty Certain Force is ever-present?

ावद्वित्तोपार्जनसक्त ्ताव्निजपरिवारो क्तः
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जरदेहे वार्तां कोऽपि पृच्छति गेहे ॥ ५॥

Yaavad-vittopaarjana-saktah-
Staavannija-parivaaro saktah.
Pash-chaaj-jeevati jarjara-dehe
Vaartaam ko’pi na prichchhati gehe.

How fickle is this life? When we are healthy and wealthy, everyone loves us. But when there is no wealth or when age overtakes this body, then no one will even make time to query about our well-being.

ावत्पव िवति देहे तावत्पृच्छति कुशलं गेहे
तवति वा देहापाये भार्या बिभ्यति तस्मिन्काये ॥ ६॥

Yaavat-pavano nivasati dehe
Taavat-prichchhati kushalam gehe.
Gatavati vaayau dehaa-paaye
Bhaaryaa bibhyati tasmin-kaaye.

How long we are alive, our family members and friends would regularly enquire about our welfare. But, when the breath leaves the body, even the loving spouse will run away in fear of the dead body.

बालस्तावत्क्रीडासक्तः तरु्तावत्तरुणीसक्तः
वृद्धस्ताव्चिन्तासक्तः परे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि क्तः ॥ ७॥

Baala-staavat-kriḍaasaktah
Taruṇa-staavat taruṇeesaktah.
Vṛiddha-staavach-chintaa-saktah
Pare brahmaṇi ko’pi na saktah.

During childhood, we are absorbed in playfulness. In our youthful age, we become absorbed into desires, lust and fascination with the body. In our old age, we spent our time being anxious and stressed. But, rarely do we want to spend time being absorbed in the Supreme God.

काते का्ता ्ते पुत्रः ारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः
्य त्वं कः कुत ातः तत्त्वं िन्तय तदिह भ्रातः ॥ ८॥

Kaate kaantaa kaste putrah
saṁsaaro-ayam-ateeva vichitrah.
Kasya tvam kah kuta aayaatah
tattvam chintaya tad-iha bhraatah.

Who is your spouse? Who is your son or child? Do we know from where came the spouse or relative? How strange is this cycle of birth and death! How mysterious and wonderful is this world! From whom and from where did you come here? Consider these truths, O brother.

त्सङ्गत्वे िस्सङ्गत्वं िस्सङ्गत्वे िर्मोहत्वम्
िर्मोहत्वे िश्चलतत्त्वं िश्चलतत्त्वे जीव्मुक्तिः ॥ ९॥

Satsaṅgatve nissaṅgatvam
Nissaṅgatve nirmohatvam.
Nirmohatve nishchala-tattvaṁ
Niśhchala-tattve jeevan-mukti

Being in the company of good and wise persons can help us to become detached to unimportant things; This non-attachment allows us to be free from delusion and unreality. Freedom from unreality and falsehood leads us towards realising the unchangeable truth, and this realisation of the Truth and Reality leads us to liberation and emancipation in this lifetime.

ि ते कः काविकारः शुष्के ीरे कः कारः
क्षीणे वित्ते कः परिवारः ज्ञाते तत्त्वे कः ारः ॥ १०॥

Vayasi gate kaḥ kaama-vikaarah
śhuṣhke neere kah kaasaarah
Kṣheeṇe vitte kah parivaarah
Gyaate tattve kah saṁsaarah,

Passion and lust are useless when youthfulness has flown by. A lake without water is of no use. There are no family and friends when all wealth has disappeared. Similarly, when absolute truth is understood, the world of birth and death becomes insignificant.

मा कुरु धन जन ौव गर्वं हरति िमेषात्कालः र्वम्
माामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा ॥ ११ ॥

Maa kuru dhana jana yauvana garvam
harati nimeṣhaat-kaalah sarvam.
Maayaa-mayam-idam-akhilam hitvaa
brahma-padam tvam pravisha viditvaa

All of the pride and arrogance we display in life is temporary. Wealth, friends, youthfulness and strength can all disappear in time as short as the twinkling of an eye. By detaching ourselves from these delusions of wealth, power and ego, we can enter the realm of Godliness.

दिनयामिन्यौ प्रातः शिशिरव्तौ पुनरायातः
कालः क्रीडति ्छत्यायुः तदपि मुञ्चत्याशावायुः ॥ १२ ॥

Dina-yaaminyau saayam praatah
shishira-vasantau punaraayaatah.
kaalah kreeḍati gacchati-aayuh
tadapi na muñchati-aashaa-vaayuh.

Time comes and goes; days and nights, mornings and evenings, winters and summers all arrive and depart repeatedly. Eternal time plays while life goes on by – and yet, we cannot free ourselves of the storms of desire and attachment in the passage of time.

द्वादशमञ्जरिकाभिरशेषः कथितो वैयाकरण्यैषः
उपदेशोऽभूद्विद्यानिपुणैः श्रीमच्छङ्करभगव्छरणैः

Dvaadasha-mañjarikaabhira-sheṣhah
kathito vaiyaakaraṇasyaiṣhah.
Upadesho-bhood-vidyaanipuṇaih
shreemacchaṅkara-bhagavachharaṇaih.

This compact assortment of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by Shankara, who is known as the holy acharya

  1. These 12 verses are often called द्वादशमञ्जरिका ्तोत्रम् (Dvaadasha-manjirikaa stotram) which means twelve-verse-blossoms hymn of praise.
  2. As is noted after Verse 12, the first 12 verses were composed by Adi Shankaracharya after a discussion with a grammarian. (While the grammarian spent all of his time talking about the rules and principles of the grammar of the various Sanskrit verses, Shankaracharya posited that the same time could be spent in worship and discovering God)
  3. These fourteen verses are often called the तुर्दशामञ्जरीका ्तोत्रम् (chaturadasha-manjirikaa stotram) which means fourteen verse-blossoms hymn of praise)