[Advaita-l] Bhaja Govindam

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Sat Aug 12 00:52:17 CDT 2006

The reference to 'DukRnj karaNe' in Sri Sankara's Bhajagovindam  in this
list recently prompted me to make this submission. As has already been
pointed out by one of the members, this expression appears in pANini's
dhAtupATha with reference to the verbal root kR meaning 'to do'. This can be
taken as a reference to the subject of grammar as a whole. The meaning of
the particular line in Bhajagovindam would then be, "Grammar will not save
you when your end comes". Does this mean that Sankara considers the study of
grammar to be useless? That cannot be, because the knowledge of grammar is
essential for understanding the meaning of the SAstras. It means only that
the study of grammar will not save one from samsAra. But why grammar alone?
What about other subjects? Can they save a person from samsAra? Here
'grammar' is 'upalakshaNa' (an indicative word) for all the SAstras,
including even the vedas. The Mundakopanishad says that there are two kinds
of knowledge—the higher (parA vidyA) and the lower (aparA vidyA). The lower
knowledge includes the four Vedas, the science of pronunciation, the code of
rituals, grammar, etymology, metre, and astrology (including astronomy). The
higher knowledge is that by which the Immutable (Brahman) is realized. The
lower knowledge is necessary for all worldly purposes, but it is only the
higher knowledge that will deliver one from the continuous chain of births
and deaths. Sankara says in vivekachUDAmaNi, sloka 61, "The mere study of
all the SAstras is fruitless if the supreme Reality is not known; if the
supreme Reality is known then too the study of the SAstras is of no use
(they are no longer necessary)". This profound truth is what is implied by
the statement  "grammar will not save you". Of course there is also an
exhortation to worship Govinda because devotion is an essential means to

    The word 'mUDhamate' in the first sloka is generally translated as
'fool'. The meaning of this word is not just 'a person deficient in
intelligence'. The word 'mUDha' is derived from the verb 'muh' which means
'to be deluded'. So the word 'mUDhamate' means 'one who is deluded'. Every
one in this world, including the most brilliant scientists, is deluded by
mAyA, until one realizes the Self. So 'mUDhamate' refers to 'all persons who
have not realized the Self'.

 In a later sloka the last line is 'bhAryA bibhyati tasmin kAye'. This is
generally translated as 'even his wife is afraid of his (dead) body'. But
the snag here is that the verb 'bibhyati'  is in the plural (though it looks
like singular because it ends in 'ti' and not 'nti'. 'bibhyati' is the third
person plural of the root 'bhI'. So the word ' bhAryA' is in the plural
(bhAryAH) with the visarga at the end getting dropped because it is followed
by the letter 'bi'. The meaning of the word 'bhAryAH' here is therefore not
'wives' but all those who were supported by him, i.e. all his dependents.


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