About the Book
"Bhaja Govidam" of Sailkara consists of thirty one slokas.
Originally they were together known as : "Mohamudgaram" i.e., "Dispeller of delusion".
Because of the popularity attained by the first line, these 31 verses, came to
be commonly referred to as "Bhaja Govidam". The literal meaning of this term "Bhaja Govindam" is : "Worship Lord Krsna and
utter His Name."
these slokas, which are really addressed to the
entire humanity, it is emphasized that man should repeat the name of God and
thereby conquer his four inner enemies: Greed, Lust, Anger and Delusion, so that
he can evolve into a higher Being.
preached Adwaita philosophy. But at the same time, he
believed in Bhakti. His hymns: Soundarya Lahari, Sivananda Lahari, Hari-Sailkara Stotra, Jagannatha Asaka and this work "Bhaja Govidam", not only emphasize on Bhakti but brim with
poetic beauty. Sailkara lived only for 32 years. He
was the first one to consider the entire Bharat as his field of activity. His
missionary zeal was incomparable. In that hoary past, Sailkara
traveled all over this country three times, on foot! Sailkara's Guru Govindapada was a
Kashmiri, his Guru Goudapada was a Bengali and Goudapada's Guru, Patanjali was a Tamilian!
These facts show that though there were hundreds of kings and mini-kings ruling
over different kingdoms, spiritually and culturally India was always one!
ideas in "Bhaja Govindam"
are relevant even today. There are several books on this work of Sankara. But,
this one is unique and perhaps the largest commentary on the subject. This is
the third and revised edition of Bhaja Govindam. As predicted and expected by
the renowned Jurist, Sri. N.A. Palkhiwala,
this book is one of the popular products of Rahstriya
About the Author
Maharajapuram Natarajan Krishnamani
was born on 26th April 1948. He was a product of Ramakrishna Mission Boys' High
School, Chennai. He had his collegiate education in Vaishnav
College, Presidency College, and Madras Law College. He had a brief political
career between 1969 and 1975. He was also a Trade Union leader at that time. In
1975, under the influence of Sri Navajata of Sri
Aurobindo Ashram, Pondichery he left politics and
plunged into spirituality. Enrolled as Lawyer in 1971, he had active practice
in the Madras High Court upto 1981. He was a junior
of the world renowned Constitutionalist Sri M.K. Nambiar
and the famous Supreme Court Senior Advocate Sri K.K. Venugopal.
He shifted his practice to the Supreme Court in 1981. When he was a young
lawyer of 43 years, he was designated as Senior Advocate.
Sri Krishnamani is a prolific writer. His erudite articles have
appeared in leading Dailies and in leading Journals on spirituality and current
Affairs. Two of his books: "Bhaja Govindam" and "Godlymen
& Their Golden Words" (Two Volumes) were published by Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. His
other books include: "Sankara, the Revolutionary", "Sai on
Himself', "Sankara, Adwaita and Kancimaha". "Premopanisad" (Ten Volumes), "Divine Incarnation,
a Mystery", and "From Doubt to Certainty",
Sri Krishnamani was the President of the Supreme Court Bar
Association, which is a prestigious position, several times,
He was the President of Delhi Tamil Sangam. He
received the National Law Day Award for Excellence in Civil Law in 1998. He was
given Paramacarya's Seva-Ratna
Award in 2005. He received "Communal Harmony Award" in the year 2005.
He was the President of the Delhi Tamil Education Association running seven
schools in the capital and he is associated with several other educational and
social welfare organizations including. Banyan Tree School, Lady
Irwin Schools, Veda Parishad, Society for Communal
Harmony. Sanataan Sangeet Sanskriti, Bharat Heritage
Foundation, and International Sathya Sai Centre.
He was a Visiting Faculty in the School of Planning and Architecture (a Deemed
university) taking classes for Post Graduate students in Building laws, He is
the Chairman, All India Senior Advocates Forum - a unit of the Bar Association
of India, He was in the Governing Council of National Law School at Bangalore,
At present he is a Member of the Governing Council of National Law School
happy to bring out the second edition and fourth reprint of Bhaja Govindam authored by Shri M.N. Krishnamani. Shri Krishnamani is
not only a legal luminary and one of the leading practitioners of law in the
country; he has made original contributions to the study of Sanskrit literature
by his writings. Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan has earlier published another work by this scholar
entitled 'Godly Man And
Their Golden Words' in the series of its Golden Jubilee Publications.
Through these publications, Shri M.N. Krishnamani has
established his credentials as an academician with a genuine interest in
by Shri Krishnamani
is indeed a land mark in the history of study of stotra
literature of Sanskrit. With remarkable insight, Shri Krishnamani
here presents authentic interpretation of each and every line of this stotra. His expositions lead us to a journey in the
by Sri Adi Sankaracarya is a unique poem.
As an intellectual and a great philosopher, Sri Sankaracarya revolutionized the
whole scenario of philosophical discourse and world view. As a poet, his
writings present rare synthesis' of philosophy and
aesthetic vision. He has introduced entirely a new genre through Bhaja Govindam and
also a new metre pajjhatika in Sanskrit poetry. This small poem
also presents a meeting ground of classical Sanskrit and new Indo-Aryan
languages and transition into new idioms of poetic expression. Sankaracarya
here presents the empirical, psychic and the metaphysical worlds together. Each
stanza in Bhaja Govindam assumes
epic proportions: Shri Krishnamani has done a life long research works on this stotra
and unearthed heitherto unknown aspects.
Sankaracarya was not only a philosopher and a great poet gifted with a vision
in intuition, he was a great organizer also. The
circle of disciples like Suresvara, Padamapada and others accompanied him during his digvijaya. They formed an academy of letters.
Therefore Shri Krishnamani has rightly discussed the
contribution of these disciples in the composition of the stotra
confident that this revised new edition of Bhaja Govindam will be received with
appreciation by scholars and lovers of Sanskrit world.
Of "Bhaja Govindam" Cakravarti Rajagopalachariar
Sankara has packed into the Bhaja-
Govindam song the substance of all
and set the oneness of Jnana
and Bhakti to
Shri Krishnamani, a Senior Advocate of Delhi has taken time off his busy
professional preoccupation to write on this celestial confluence of Bhakti and Jnana. -I feel privileged to inscribe this Foreword to this work
has it that this beautiful Hymn to Govinda is Adi Sankara's compassionate
upadesa to a scholar at Varanasi who was wasting his time on
the subtleties of Sanskrit grammar to turn him towards God. Adi Sankara is said to have composed
on the spot, twelve verses, the "Caturdasa Manjari Stotra". Some
editions set them separately. there are also some
differences in speculation as to the order in which the verses occur. The
"Works 'of Sankaracarya" (Sri
Press) sets out thirty one verses of this Hymn.
second verse refers to the imperative of "vitrsnam" the de-thirsting of worldly desires.
Indeed Patanjali defines "Vairagya" as "Drstanusravika-visaya-vitrsnasya
Yasikara smjna vairagyam" (Yoga-Sutra: Sadhana Pada
explains the prevailingly absolutistic standpoint of upanisidic teaching by postulating one reality
and the rest of the universe as its appearance. The classic of Adwaita epistemology "Vedanta Paribhasa" of Dharmaraja Adhavarin
refers to how the one non-dual consciousness appears split ino
Cogniser, Cognition and the Object. Empirically this
is not possible to be explained. To say that this is the work of Maya is only to recognise it as
inexplicable. The purpose of valid knowledge is therefore not to attempt to
solve this insoluble issue of man's spiritual quest, but to go beyond it. The
profound epistemological truths are the three upanisidic
concepts of the 'Brahman'; that
metaphysically 'He' is the central principle of all, ethically, 'He' orders
everything and theistically 'He' is the goal of all philosophical quest. The Svetaswatara posits
these questions: What is the source of this Universe? Whence are we born and by
what we are sustained? What is our ultimate goal? Who guides our experience of
joy and sorrow? and answers them; to say that the
seers intuited that the source of all this is 'Devatmasakti' It is outside the reach
of the conscious working of the mind and outside the perceptive senses. It is
supra-rational and perceived only by higher levels of consciousness.
"Bhaja Govindam" stresses
that pursuit of wealth for its own sake is a deadly illness and that equally
deluding is that entrapment of lust. The last verse speaks of the liberating
force of devotion to the lotus feet of the Guru.
Shri Krishnamani has secured for the reader this purificatory
grace of the Guru by his commendable elaboration of the auspicious theme of Bhaja Govindam and
earnt their gratitude. He has endeavored
to unfold, the great beauty of the Indian philosophical traditions and the interesting
dimensions of their curiosities. He has indicated that if knowledge should
shape itself into values, it needs to be turned into action. .
for these great values and of traditions of our ancient land that Max Muller said:
"If I were asked under what sky the human mind
has most fully developed some of the choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered
over the greatest problems of life and has found solutions to some of
them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and
Kant, I should point to India."
this earnest work of dedication, Shri Krishnamani has earnt the
goodwill of all the Astikas.
Bhaja Govindam was composed by Adi Sankara when he was amused to find an old Pandit taking pains to memorise by rote a
particular 'Rule of Grammar' in Sanskrit called 'Dukrn Karane'. This
incident happened in Varanasi (Benaras) when Sankara was on yatra with his disciples in Eastern UP in North India. When he saw
that Pandit memorising the Rules of Grammar by rote, Sankara advised him on the spot that
the Rules of Grammar would get him nothing at that old age and that instead of
wasting his time in such pursuits; the old man should devote his time in
spirituality since already he had wasted a bulk of his life-time. This was the
motivation for Saizkara to come out with a garland of thirtyone flowers known together as "Bhaja Govindam".
this context, it is interesting to remember that Sankara's Guru Govindapada came
to Gaudapada only to learn Sanskrit Grammar. Sankara's Guru's Guru Gaudapada
was a student of Patanjali who
was a Sanskrit grammarian. He was also the author of the famous 'Yoga Sutra'. It is ironical that Saizkara is riduculing
the study of grammar and the over-importance given to it by the old man in Bhaja Govindam, when
his Guru, his Guru's Guru and his Guru's Guru's Guru
were all great grammarians! A careful analysis of all the thirtyone slokas would show that Sankara has referred to
"grammar" only as a symbolism. By "grammar" he means all
mundane pursuits for one's sheer material living.
they became thirtyone?
the above incident, coming back to his camp with his disciples, Saizkara ruminated over this amusing event. Sankara, a lad of just thirteen years
felt that like this old Pandita, the
entire humanity was steeped in mundane pursuits hampering its further evolution
to become Divine. The too much of animalistic existence of man throughout his
life irked Sankara. Sankara does
not say in these verses that everyone should become a monk even in childhood.
He felt that man being too much involved and engrossed in, and too much worried
about his material pursuits would ruin himself and take himself away from his
so, out of compassion to the entire humanity. This prompted him to initially
compose twelve slokas advising the entire humanity as to
how human life is a precious opportunity and how the short life-span of man cannot be allowed to be wasted
in routine animal and sub-human activity. The telve
verses initially composed by Sankara were
together known as "Dwadasamajari". Thereafter his principal
disciples numbering fourteen composed one sloka each. The total with these fourteen came to twentysix
slokas. It will be difficult to find any
difference between the slokas composed
by Sailkara and the ones composed by his sisyas. In poetic beauty and in profundity
of meaning, the slokas composed by Sankara's
sisyas were of equal excellence. One has to
remember that these sisyas have composed their fourteen slokas based on Sankaras teachings
only and by drawing inspiration from Sankara
hearing his disciples' fourteen slokas, Sailkara was immensely pleased with their marvellous
capacity in imbibing his views and in expressing those views in simple but ryhthmical Sanskrit poetry. In that pleasant mood and in
that ecstasy, Sankara composed
five more slokas and then brought the total of thirtyone! All these thirtyone slokas were originally given the name "Mohamudgaram"
by Sankara. "Mohamudgaram" in Sanskrit means the
"dispeller of delusion". Later, in view of the fame acquired by the
opening verse, which starts with the words "Bhaja Govindam",
these thirtyone verses came to be referred to
Govindam", Though fourteen of these slokas were actually composed by his sisyas, they are very much Sankara's oritinal
views. However, of these sisyas, who
composed the fourteen slokas and which sisya composed which particular slokas are also essentially Sankara's views, all the thirtyone
slokas are broadly referred to in this
book, as the work of Sankara.
An Adwaitin preaching
well-known that Sankara was
avowedly preaching "Adwaita philosophy" which means "non-
dualism" and as a part of his 'Adwaita doctrine, he was engaged in "maya vada", i.e., theory of illusion, in which he
went to the extent of claiming that like in a dream, all we see in life in the
wakeful state are also unreal and an illusion and that the only reality is the
Almighty as pure Divine Consciousness, formless and nameless. Pure Adwaita rejects the idea of a personal God.
At this level, God is one and he is formless, all-pervasive, infinite and
nameless. For an 'adwaitin it is impossible to
believe in idol-worship. It is very surprising in the face of this, that such a
personality, who was known as a great exponent of Adwaita to have composed "Bhaja Govindam", "Soundaryalahari", "Sivanandalahiri",
"Kanakadharastavam", "Daksinamurti Stotra", etc., praising bhakti marga as
the best and the most easy path. Of all these works Bhaja Govindam is marvellous since Sankara, in these thirtyone
verses, emphasises the need for pure bhakti, establishing
by logical arguments as to how material pursuits are pointless, and also by
indicating that bhakti is the basis for other paths too, if
those paths have to bear the expected fruit.
other paths, you go in one speed towards God, in bhakti you go in double speed! Swami
Bodhananda of Ramakrsna Matha says:
"God's soul-hunger is infinitely more
intense than the
It is very true. a Sufi Saint also said poetically:
"When the spark of love arises here, It is
reciprocated there! When love of God
emerges in thee
Without doubt God also
feels love for thee"
Sri Satya Sai Baba’s following assuring words
"If you come one step towards Me I will
come ten steps
towards you! If you come walking to Me, I will come running to you!"
complete knowledge of God which is synonymous with Self-realisation,
is the fulfillment of pure devotion. Without
unsullied bhakti you may only have an idea of what
Self-realisation means. But you cannot experience it without total self-surender which is the acme of pure bhakti. That is why,. though
a great vedantin and an adwaitin, Sankara emphasises on bhakti as the main means. Sankara could be said to be the
father of bhakti cult. It is only in the post-Sankara
period, Saints like Jnana Sambandha of South India and later on other Saints
like Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Tukaram, Jnaneswar, Namadeva, Kabira, Mira and other took to and propagated bhakti marga.
No conflict between the three philosophies
shows another important thing. The popular belief that Adwaita was opposed to Dwaita (dualism) and Visistadwaita (qualified
non dualism) and that it was against worship of a personal God is all dispelled
by this work of Sankara. In
Hinduism for a person who looks at it on a superficial understanding, there
would appear to be innumerable conflicts. On a proper understanding, there are
absolutely no conflicts in it at all.
other hand, there is a perfect harmony. Hinduism affords a religion which is
ideally suited to the modern man. If affords him maximum liberty of thought.
Man craves for liberty outside as well as within. It is well known that Vedas and Upanisads are the basic spiritual books for Hindus. They are
like Bible to a Christian and Quran to a Muslim. Yet, Hinduism states that
after knowing and understanding the Vedas,
a devotee, a Sadhaka has to reject them and go beyond
them. Amrtabindupanisat says:
"After studying the Vedas, the intelligent
one who is solely intent on
knowledge and realisation, should
the Vedas altogether, as a man who
to obtain rice, discards the husk."
bhakti sutra, Sage Narada says that a
devotee should reject even the Vedas, upon
reaching a particular stage.
Blessings : Swami
Paramananda Bharati, Srngeri Sankaracarya Mutha, Srngeri
Preface: Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah
(Former Chief Justice of India)
Preface to 2nd edition
Shri O.P. Malhotra
Letter from N .A. Palkhivala
Letter from Hon'ble Mr. Justice B.L. Hansaria
Instructions to read
Mundane erudition is
Faith in karma alone
Sex craving-nip it in
Life is ephemeral
Your relatives? Aye! your money's relatives!
Body vacated by
life-force: even wife is afraid of Why bharya bibhyati?
Oh! Rich man! Beware!
Even of your son!
Time waste is life
Strange indeed, is
this cycle of life & death
Satsanga leads to liberation
Right knowledge is the
way to immortality
Destroy pride, else it
will destroy you
Time passes with ticks
of clock, but grips of desire leave' you not'
Of what avail is the shaving
of the scalp?
Oh! Wrinkled and bald
man, old! Why not you get free from desires' hold?
Desire is a challenge,
even to a sanyasi
Go beyond ritual! * Apparent
contradiction * How can you see God with your limited vision?* Divine grace
is a pre-requisite * Conclusion
You want bliss? Then
renounce *Sadashiva Brahmendra
* Real Bliss lies in Self-realisation * Conclusion
Fix your mind on God;
bliss you get unsought
It is the right
resolve which matters
Seek the company of
the holy. It is not too late
births-and-deaths; end it, Oh! Krishna!
How can you understand
This world is but a
Achieve non-duality by
seeing God in everyone
Equanimity leads to
speeding up spirituality-c. sat-nama, sat-sanga and sevd
What a pity? Knowingly
you fall into a ditch
Stilling and killing
of mind the way to God
You are God, playing
hide and seek with yourself
Index to Slokas
Brahma Sutras (81)
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