Saturday, January 29, 2011




Sri Adi Sankaracharya






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


Ø wealth, is calamitous and ruinous; reflect thus constantly;
Ø there is not even a little happiness from it;
Ø truth is - to the rich, there is fear, even from one’s  own son;
Ø everywhere, this, is the ordained way.


Is wealth Good or bad? Does wealth give happiness or unhappiness?

There are two opinions on this question.

One opinion is - yes; wealth is good; you must earn it; Only lazy people don’t earn and remain poor; Hard working hands create wealth; thinking minds create wealth; the lazy man can never be happy; and so on;

The other opinion is – wealth is bad; nobody becomes wealthy without deceiving others; a wealthy man has no chance of entering the portals of heaven; A biblical verse says - "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

These are two opinions at two extreme ends of the spectrum of such opinions – with many laced in between.

Adi Sankara has  said – you can earn money and wealth by your own, honest, hard labour. He also said – spend it on your happiness. His disciple in the previous verse, has said – distribute wealth to the needy persons.

If you are doing all these – you are earning wealth ; you are also spending it – on your own happiness; and you are distributing to the poor and the needy.

The present verse is however referring to the wealth of the rich man, who doesn’t spend. He makes huge wealth, but does not know how to spend it on his own happiness or distribute to the needy.

Such greedy, miserly man’s wealth does not give him any happiness what so ever. Likewise, a man who is spending his wealth (possibly earned by his forefathers) very lavishly and purposelessly also cannot derive happiness from his wealth or spending.

This ugly wealth creates ugly thoughts in them minds of all persons around him. Even his own son will be looking more towards taking away that wealth from the father and enjoying it himself. His sons will be quarreling among themselves and with their parents. Were there not Kings who killed their own brothers and jailed their parents, to enjoy the kingdoms themselves? Many wars and many disputes are for wealth grabbing.

This verse also refers to the wealth of the person with huge un-satiated thirst for wealth.

Some one thinks, if I have one lakh rupees / dollars, I would lead a happy life. I won’t need any more.
But, there are many with such one lakh rupees /dollars of wealth. They are thinking – if I have one million rupees / dollars, I will be totally satisfied. I won’t need any more.
But, there are many with such one million rupees/ dollar wealth. They are thinking – If I have one billion rupees / dollars, that would totally satisfy me. I won’t any thing more.
But, the man with one billion rupees/ dollars is as much dis-satisfied, as the one with one million, who is as much dis-satisfied as the one with one lakh. Money grows; but dis-satisfaction continues; or even grows exponentially, for most people. Money addiction is worse than drug addiction. Only difference is – money addiction doesn’t kill; it prolongs the dis-satisfaction for a full life.

That is why – do not compare the ‘external’ image of others with your internal image. They won’t be proportional. They won’t match. The richest man may be highly miserable in his internals – while you may be much happier than him – if, you are not in the money addiction game.

In any case – wealth creates many enemies – known and unknown. This much is true at all times and places. Sharing wealth creates at least one friend – the almighty.





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


Ø Praanaayaama, the control of life’s energy flow in you;
Ø Pratyaahaaram, the sense-withdrawal from their respective sense-objects;
Ø Nitya anitya viveka vichaaram or the constant enquiry for the wisdom of discriminating between the permanent and the impermanent;
Ø Jaapya sameta samaadhi vidhaanam; reaching the state of Samaadhi ( total inner silence); along with japa,
Ø perform, with great diligence.


Pranaayaama and Prathyaahara are two stages of the Ashtaanga Yoga, delineated by Patanjali. It was not the invention or discovery of Patanjali. It was there from the days of Lord Siva.

It is said that Adi Sesha, the ancient, divine king cobra with thousand heads which is used as the seat of Lord Vishnu, was born as Patanjali to give the yoga Sasthra to humanity in a consummate idiom.

The Ashtaanga Yoga consists of (i) Yama (ii) Niyama (iii) Aasana (iv) Pranayama (v) Prathyahara (vi) Dharana (vii)Dhyana (viii) Samaadhi.

Of these, Yama (behavioural restrictions) and niyama (observances)  have been dealt with a lot in Bhaja Govindam so far, without calling them by these names.

Aasana is the posture of sitting for Yoga practice. It needs to be easy, comfortable and enduring.

Once these are done – the body and mind are both ready for other practices.

Pranayama – though done by taking control over breath, is actually taking control over the life energy circulating in the body which is properly called Prana. This gives huge control over body an mind functions.

Pratyahara is a method of withdrawing senses from their respective sense objects. Adi Sankara and his disciples have stressed the need for sense-control in many verses in Bhaja Govindam. Pratyahaara is a yogic method for achieving this aim.

Dharana – is a method for achieving concentration or focus. This must be done in the same order. Do Dharana after Pratyahaara. An experienced practitioner may however get into Dharana without going through the process – as it becomes instantaneous for him.

Dhyana – follows after Dharana. It is contemplation or meditation. The English words do not exactly denote Dhyana but very nearly so. Dhyana must  follow Dharana, to be really effective. As stated earlier, An experienced Yogi may go into Dhyana without the earlier processes. They become instantaneous for him.

Samadhi –Samadhi is the ultimate state in yoga sadhana.The deepest Dhyana tends to become samaadhi. Here also, there are two types of samaadhi – savitharka and Nirvitharka.

It is not proposed to go into their details in this post. It is intended to cover these in a series of posts exclusively on Ashtanga Yoga.

These are however mentioned here to indicate that Adi Sankara is commending the Astanga Yoga Path – up to the Samadhi stage to all Sadhakas.

Yoga is a great aid for the Sadhaka, though Jnana Yoga path enunciated in Vedanta  is considered the ultimate tool for final liberation.  Whether Yoga by itself gives enlightenment – is not a big topic for debate.

In addition to this, therefore, Adi Sankara has asked us to do constant enquiry into the permanent and the impermanent and keep our sights clearly on the permanent. This is called Nithyanithya viveka vicharam. Dharana and Dhyana will then happen on the permanent – and not on the impermanent.

Samaadhi will bring in the enlightenment. Adi Sankara has added the words – japa sametha. Since, the whole verse deals with Ashtanga Yoga processes – we may derive the meaning of japa also from there. V.1.27 of Yoga sutras says – “thathra vachakaha pranavah.” i.e., Eswara is represented by the sound of AUM or pranava sabda. It is sometimes represented as Ohm, or Om etc. v.1.28 says – “thath japasya thath artha bhavanam.” Contemplate on OUM and its meaning and identify your self with it. This is the japa prescribed in Yoga sutras.

Adi Sankara says – practice all these with great diligence and care.

Today – the world is taking to Ashtanga Yoga in greater numbers – but the purity of the practice is much less. Yet, there is no denying the fact that this yoga, even in bits and pieces is doing a lot of good to people, in achieving some control over their bodies and minds.




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


Ø O great devotee of the lotus-feet of the Guru;
Ø become liberated from the samsaara, very soon, ,
Ø through disciplining of the sense organs and the mind,
Ø in this manner, you will experience the Lord, that dwells in your own heart.


This is the last and final verse in Bhaja Govindam.

Adi Sankara is stressing the need for devotion and surrender to the Guru. Be devoted to your Guru, the one who removes the darkness of ignorance from your heart. You will become liberated from all the suffering through your devotion to the Guru. Samsaara in this verse, represents all the suffering in this world. Liberation from this suffering happens through the disciplining of the sense organs and the mind.

When the liberation from Samsaara happens, you will experience the lord who dwells in your own heart.

Liberation is – from the Maya, outside of you. Guru is the torch light showing the right path. Enlightenment is the experiencing of the lord deep within your own heart.

May we all experience the lord within, with the blessings of Adi Sankara, the great guru.

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  1. Hi Sir ,

    Wonderful post, again keep up the fantastic work...i am looking forward to read the entire verses of Bhaja Govindam, i am somewhere at the start....


    1. DEAR KALYAN SRINIVAS - Thanks for your encouraging comments. I have dealt with Patanjali Yoga Sutras in full in a series of Blog Posts in this Blog - which you will find in 2012-13 Posts.

      Now - I am working on a Book on the same subject, including therein, many other earlier and later explanations of Great spiritual leaders like Lord Krishna, Adi Sankaracharya and others. Hopefully, It will meet the needs of many Sadhakas in many areas of their practice.