Bhaja Govindam

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Feb 25 10:19:14 CST 2002

On Mon, 25 Feb 2002, Erik Mossel wrote:

> Dear List Members,
> Shri Ganeshaya Namah
> While studying Shankara's beautiful poem "Bhaja Govindam", I had
> difficulties to analyse the word "dukrnkarane" in the refrain. With the help
> of Monier-Williams' dictionary I didn't succeed.

That's because it is not a word.  It is a sutra from Paninis' Vyakarana
(Sanskrit grammar.)  dukr~nkaraNe means du (a grammatical term not the
literal syllable) should be added to the verb kr~n (to do) when forming a
noun with an instrumental sense.  E.g. ratha = chariot, rathakara = a
maker of chariots.

The story is Shankaracharya composed the stotra after meeting an old man
who was reciting this sutra.  The stotra is addressed to him.  The refrain
is "Worship Govinda! Worship Govinda! Worship Govinda you dull-wit!  When
the time of death comes you will not be saved by dukrnakarane."

Some people have suggested that means you should just worship God
without learning Sanskrit or other complicated intellectual pursuits.
However given that Shankaracharya was no slouch intelectually and
Vyakarana is a Vedanga without which knowledge of how to Bhaja Govinda is
not possible, this seems unlikely.

A more plausible explanation is that the old man had spent his whole life
frivolously and now fearing death was scrambling to learn the shastras.
Shankaracharya is telling him if only now after wasting your life you are
trying to learn the basics (dukrnkarane is very elementary) what good do
you think it will do you?  By this time you should have reached an
advanced stage of understanding.  So worship God now, don't put it off
until later.

This is the way many people treat God.  When everything is going well
they forget Him but as soon as some calamity comes or they are about to
die then suddenly its' "God is great.  God will save me."  But if they had
worshipped Him from the beginning they would have been weaned away from
the actions that cause fear and ignorance and they wouldn't have to worry
about their fate.

Traditionally only the first 12 verses of this stotra were composed by
Shankaracharya, the rest are by his disciples.

One other thing to note is that Govinda is a name of Krishna Bhagawan but
it was also the name of Shankaracharyas' guru so there could be a double
meaning there.

> Can I find a devanagari-version of "Bhaja Govindam" on the Internet?  A
> PDF-document of a bi-lingual version (Devanagari-English) will also be
> welcome.

See (though I do not agree
100% with the translation.)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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