Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The Do's & Do’nts of Life


Sri Adi Sankaracharya


There is one sure Test for progress in spirituality. It is this:

“Are you more joyful today compared to your yesterday?"

This is the almost sure test for progress in spirituality. Are we understanding life and our self better – is indicated by this one sure test. All spirituality – Vedanta in particular is emphatic about it. The more you understand and digest Vedanta, the more joyful you must become. If that is not happening, there is some lack of understanding, some direction-less-ness happening in your life. Now, let us see the Gist of post.1.

VERSE.1 : There is a time for every thing in life and every thing has its own time. Acquiring knowledge  and enjoying the joys of acquiring knowledge happens best in the first stage of life. Enjoying the worldly joys fully is in the second stage of life.  The third is a mixture of worldly joys and consciously receding from them. The fourth stage is for the joys of total devotion to the almighty. At all stages, you can and must enjoy your Life. This is the acid test of spirituality in life.

Death is certain. But, it is not to be afraid of.  No spiritual person will ever be afraid of life. Keep Govinda on your side. He will carry you safely and happily all the way. No amount of acquiring secular knowledge can come to our rescue when death comes near us at the appointed time. Only the grace of the lord can. It carries us through all travails beyond death too. 

The lord is graceful in life and in death – but only if we seek his grace, only if we love him too. ‘Bhaja Govindam’ means loving the lord, remembering the lord and seeking his love, through all of our life.

Chanting his name is not done with mouth alone. For that matter, in any work, thought, emotion, word and deed must all converge and focus, to achieve the goal. The five senses, the Manas, Buddhi, Chittam and the ‘I’ or ego centre must all participate in the chanting.

Have we not seen  people going into raptures, praying deeply and chanting the almighty’s name in many spiritual congregations. It is common in all religions. This implies the  importance, usefulness and the joys of Sathsangs or spiritual congregations where motivation levels rise very high. very easily.

Sankaracharya emphasizes the use of Sathsang in one of the Bhaja Govindam verses later.

The first verse of Bhaja Govindam very aptly emphasizes the foremost duty that all of us need to perform every day. In India, from the very ancient days, the first task on waking up that we perform is meditation and worship of the Lord. This early morning meditation has tremendous impact on our peace and happiness throughout the day. Therefore, this is the first duty of each day of our life and so, this is emphasized in the first verse by Adi Sankara. This is not limited to Old age. It starts from the youngest Brahmacharya days and continues till the last breath.

Enjoying the other worldly joys then happens effortlessly.


Moodha Jaheehi Dhanaagama trishnaam

Kuru Sadbuddhim Manasi Vitrishnaam

Yallabhase Nija karmopaattam

Vittam Tena Vinodaya Chittam

Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam.. Govindam bhaja..

Meaning :

O Fool (O you, the deluded), Give up the unending thirst for wealth. Give up these passions and create in you a serene mind that can distinguish the good from the bad, and reality from falsehood.

Be content with whatever wealth you get out of your own honest labour. 

Create happiness in your mind with what you have.


After demolishing the undue importance given to knowledge in life, Sankara is now explaining the place of income and wealth in life.

He emphatically says – you can earn wealth and income – but only with your honest and hard work. Nothing wrong in it. Sankara is emphasizing the means for acquiring wealth and money.

Now, he speaks of the ends too. He says – make yourself contented and  happy – with the money you get  by your honest and hard labour. Nija karma upattam here has a simple meaning. It is money you get by your own work. 

One may get more and another may get less – because of the type of work and other social factors involved. We may even consider the fact that karma phalam including money and wealth depends on various factors. But, in the final analysis – all that matters is – what you get by your honest labour, is some thing you have a right to enjoy and be happy.

Aristotle said – that the primary goal of life is happiness and all of man’s efforts are ultimately directed towards obtaining this happiness.

This is true – though Aristotle’s definition of happiness needs some tweaking.

Many people firmly believe that money is the root of all happiness. In India too, there is a statement, ‘dhana moolam idham jagat’, meaning that money is at the root of all world! In reality, it is at the root of most (but not all) misery and unhappiness in the world –especially when we seek money with a mad thirst.

Some people run madly after earning of money and wealth. Till their last breath, they are immersed in the pursuit of money.

Sankaracharya says – you can earn wealth – but only through your honest labour. Your happiness and entertainment must come from your hard earned money. The ends and means are clearly defined by Sankara.

Sankara gives a clear warning – Give up your unending thirst for wealth. Remain devoid of undue passion for wealth. If you are thirsty  and unduly passionate for wealth as such, wealth becomes an end in itself. You will then adopt all unfair means to acquire wealth. You will commit crimes against others. Wealth becomes your master and You become its slave.

Sankara therefore says – kuru sadbuddhi!  Sath means truth or reality. Create a serene mind in you, a mind wedded to truth and reality. 

As long as mind is wedded to truth, money earned does not create  undue passions but does create happiness. Money doesn’t become your master, but remains your servant.

At the end of each verse, the first 2 lines of the first verse are repeated – to emphasize that – all other things apart, seeking the grace of the lord is still the primary duty of us.


Naaree Sthanabhara Naabheedesam

Drishtvaa Maa Gaa Mohaavesam

Etan Maamsa vasaadi Vikaaram

Manasi Vichintaya Vaaram Vaaram

 Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Govindam ..


Moha means lust and attachment to the woman’s body contours. This is stated from the man’s view point. The reverse is equally true for the woman.

O, you the deluded one, do not become lustful and lose your mind by looking at the attraction of the bosom and navel of the woman.

Remind your self again and again of the fact that it is merely the changes and modifications occurring in her flesh and fat.


Knowledge was the first weakness. Money was the second.

Now, - the third weakness of man high lighted is - sex and lust. Sex and lust make a man lose all his knowledge, all his common sense and all his sense of public behaviour too. 

It is said – kaamaathuraanaam na bhayam na lajja, which means, the man possessed by lust for woman loses all fear and shame and blindly runs after her.  Do we not see this happening to so many men today?

Even very old people running after very young women and rendering themselves into a laughing stock - is becoming common. Young men, forgetting their studies, their career, their parents and their own life - running madly after a chosen woman (whether the woman likes him or not being immaterial) is the order of the day. Unsatisfied lust in the man is a consuming poison. The longer the lust remains unsatisfied, the uglier the man’s actions become. The start of this all-consuming passion and lust is the sight of the woman. Her attractive bosom and navel create the sex lust in the man. The same is true in the reverse for the woman who is attracted to a handsome man. But, it is usual for the man to become consumed by the sex lust first. 

We cannot call all these, by the name of LOVE, which is godly,  serene,  selfless and which does not take away your wisdom.

That is the reason why – at the very first stage of life, namely Brahmacharya, a man is trained to control his senses and his lust. While Brahmacharya literally means the path of Brahman, in common parlance, it is also understood as strict control of sensuality and lust. Man must rise higher.  Once man achieves control of senses in Brahmacharya, marital relations remain in his control and Grip. He does not become a slave and lose all sense of proportion by sex and lust. Brahmacharya is the training, preparatory for marital life.

Sex and lust must be within the bounds of Dharma or righteousness. Readers may kindly read the earlier post on Dharma-Artha-Kaama-Moksha to understand this concept. Sex practiced in this way lasts longer in life, gives greater happiness and does not swerve man from self control.

3 weaknesses were examined so far. Knowledge, Money and lust. When you are in control, they become your servants and serve you faithfully and give you great happiness. But, when you become their slave and they dominate your life – they make you lose all happiness, all direction in life and create endless misery. 

So, the Main question in life is – Are you the Master, or, are they the master?  Be you their Master and enjoy life and life beyond both.

Moha is the face of Maya and brings in all these and other weaknesses. Whoever becomes its slave loses all happiness and all intellectual capacity.
Are these our only weaknesses? Sankara’s answer comes in the next verse.

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