Saturday, January 15, 2011




Sri Adi Shankaracharya


Life is a mid way path in many aspects. You need many things for essential survival and for enjoying life – like Knowledge, money, marital life, the love of family members and others  and so on.

But, what matters is – Who is the master of your Life?

Are you the Master?

Or, are they – the knowledge, the money, the sex and lust, the love of family members and others?

Undue passion and thirst for them makes them your master. If you are to enjoy your life well, and not suffer from these three needs, ensure that they do not enslave you. Keep the reins in your hand. Beyond all these needs – is the need to keep the almighty’s grace on your side always. This is your primary need. Do not forget that. There is the greatest joy in that.

We also saw how disease affects human life invariably. It affects everybody, some time or other, all through life.  By all means, guard your body and mind against it, like you keep a temple clean as it houses the god. But when disease comes, accept it easily. Disease is not permanent. The grace of the almighty is. If you are attached too much to the body, and do not assume the role of a trustee, your suffering will be high. Be a trustee for the body and mind. Remember – pain comes with disease – but suffering is still optional. Remember how Ramana Maharshi and the likes of them faced disease so calmly and cheerfully.

While disease makes your body painful from inside, conceit makes you suffer from inside you and outside you both.  Conceit makes you bigger than your self – but only in your eyes – but many times, the bigger image is broken by others from outside.  Then, you will look smaller in your own eyes and the eyes of others too. You are bound to suffer by your conceit.  You really own nothing – to be conceit-ful.  You bring nothing with you, and take nothing with you – and this includes your body and mind too. So, Deha-Abhimaana (body based conceit) is the worst conceit that you can have.  Money, knowledge etc are all creators of conceit.

Conceit can easily become your master and enslave you without your knowledge. Be thou very careful of this weakness.

 We will now see what other weaknesses are inherent in us.


Yavath pavano Nivasathi Dehe

Thaavath prichchathi Kusalam Gehe

Gathavathi Vaayau Dehaapaaye

Bhaaryaa Bibhyathi Thasminkaaye

(... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Govindam.)

Meaning :

As long as the life giving breath (Prana vayu) dwells in the body, other people at home ask about your welfare. But when this life giving breath departs permanently from the body, and the body starts decaying, even the wife is terribly afraid of the same physical body.


‘Deha – Abhimaana’ or attachment to the body is the strongest weakness of human beings –because it is the only visible, tangible entity of the human being. It houses all sense organs, organs of action, the mind etc.  

What keeps the body and all of its parts alive and working is the Prana vayu (the life breath) which keeps on, going in and out of the body. People at your home, care for you and keep asking about your welfare only so long as this life breath moves in the body.

Once the life breath stops moving, the body becomes useless. It starts decaying. Then, people want to move the same body out of the home as quickly as possible and either burn it away or bury it under the ground.
Even the wife who kept so intimate a relationship with the body when the life breath was moving in it, is now terribly afraid of touching the body.

This is the fate of this body, for which you develop so much of attachment.
No doubt you must keep the body clean and healthy, as the body houses the soul within. But, always know that you are not the body and know that your body is subject to decay, even when you are alive. Know that the decay is very fast, once the life breath leaves the body. Know that the body is totally useless to any one after the life breath stops moving in it. No one likes the body after the life breath leaves. Not even your wife.

DON’T  nurture too much attachment to the body, which you have to leave one day. This implies a great DO also. Right now, the body houses YOU. Do take care of it – but, like a trustee.


Baalastaavat Kreedaa saktah

Tarunastaavat Taruneesaktah

Vriddhastaavat Chintaasakatah

Pare Brahmani Kopi Na Saktah

(... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Govindam..)


In childhood, we are  all so much attracted to playing and sports.
When youth comes, our interest (and obsession) shifts to the opposite sex and we become much interested in them. When old age arrives, out interests again shift and we indulge our time in various anxieties and worries.

But, No one alas, is attached to the supreme Brahman, the almighty, at any period of life.


We start our independent life in childhood. After weaning away from mother, all that we want is playing and playing different kinds of plays. Is there a child which does not indulge in playing? Is it not uniform throughout the world? Don’t you see some kind of compulsiveness in that happiness and playing in childhood. A child just cannot keep away from playing.

But, when youth arrives, slowly but surely, the old immersion in different kinds of play no more gives that much of happiness. Now, the internal hormones are active and the attention shifts to the opposite sex. People get attached to the opposite sex, as if that is the only aim of life. That is youth and its compulsive attraction.

Old age arrives – as surely as did childhood and youth. Now, we start worrying about almost everything in the world. We worry not only about our children, but about their children too. We worry about whatever happens in the world. This too is almost a compulsive behavior built into us. But then, all these worries and anxieties will be of no avail to us.

All of us go through all stages of life with the built-in compulsive behavior – which may be sports and play in childhood, attraction to opposite sex in youth and anxieties and worries of all kinds in old age. There is no awareness that these are compulsive behaviours.

Adi Sankara keeps on warning us against falling for the compulsive attractions that await us at each stage of life. They are diversions; they are delusions.

The reality is only the supreme Brahman. The earlier, we recognize the Brahman, the sooner are we liberated from the transient (and compulsive) pleasures, anxieties and worries that toss us up and down in life constantly.
Once the awareness of Brahman settles within us, we can play with life, as we want, without getting adversely affected by it. Lord Krishna never abstained from any life’s games. Neither did Lord Rama. None of the Trimurthis (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara) are shown to have abstained from life’s joys.  Awareness of life  and of Brahman are what liberate us from the pit falls.


Kaa The Kaanthaa Kasthe Puthrah

Samsaaroyam atheeva Vichitrah

Kasya Tvam Kah Kuta Aayaatah

Tattvam Chintaya Tadiha Bhraatah

(... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Govindam..)


Who is your wife? Who is your son? Very strange are these family bonds !

Who are you? And, Of whom are you? From where have you come? O Brother, ponder over that Truth here.


Adi Sankara says – O brother, ponder over the truth. Know the truth. Do not be under delusion.

Sankara asks - who is your wife? You love her so much. She came in the middle of your life and either she goes away in the middle of your life or you go away, leaving her behind. In either case, one of you will weep for the other for a day or two or a few more  – and then get along with life as though the other person does not matter now. Don’t you see that you both are joined as fellow travelers for some time in life and that your relationship not a permanent relationship.

You say, she is my wife. This is called ‘mamakaara’, the ‘my’ feeling, which is a delusion. Neither she is yours nor are you hers. Your temporary delusion blinds you to the truth of the only permanent relationship you have – that is with the almighty.

The next question is – who is your son? He too comes in the middle and you will leave him in the middle of his life. You did not choose your son! Neither did he choose you. This ’my’ son feeling also is a delusion.

All these family bonds that we develop for people who come in the middle and leave in the middle is really very strange.

You claim them as your wife, your son and so on. But,  Who are you?
Do you really know who you are? Do you say, you are your wife’s husband and you are your son’s father? If so, why do you leave them in the middle and why do they leave you in the middle? Who are you really?

Do you know , of whom are you? Are you of your wife, or, of your son, or of your father? Of whom, are you?

You do not know who you are and of whom you are – but you nurture a huge mamakaara (mine feeling), and ahamkaara (I feeling).
Both ahamkaara and mamakaara are great delusions. Know the truth of who you are and of whom you are.

How can you come out of these delusions, and how can you know who you are? The answer comes in the next verse (in the next post).

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