[Advaita-l] Adi Sankara's Bhaja Govindam - 5

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 16 19:59:54 EST 2021

(Continued from previous post)
Look at this verse from Bhaja Govindam itself:
Verse 5
यावद्वित्तोपार्जन सक्तः
स्तावन्निज परिवारो रक्तः |
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जर देहे
वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे ||
“Yaavad vithOpaarjana saktha:
     TaavannijaparivaarO raktha:
Paschaajjeevati jarjara dehe
   Vaarta kOpi na prchati gEhE”
So long as (यावद् yaavad) one is able to earn money (वित्त-उपार्जन-सक्तः vithah upaarjana saktha: ), [only] until then (तावत् taavat), one’s relations (निज परिवारः nija parivara: )
remain affectionate (रक्तः raktha: [santi]). Later [when one is unable to earn] (पश्चात् paschaat) one lives in a decript body (जर्जर देहे जीवति jarjara dehe jeevati). 
No one (कोपि न kOpi na) at home (गेहे gEhE) bothers to ask even a word (वार्तां पृच्छति vaarthaam prchati).
Even that learned seer, Sri Sankara, who opted for sanyaasa even as a boy and did not live to see old age, does indeed recognize the importance of wealth and security.
But he is pointing out that just as education alone does not bring happiness particularly towards one’s end, nor does wealth. One does indeed need divine grace.
In this verse, the adjective निज (nija) can be interpreted as qualifying one’s relations (परिवारः parivaara) as those that one begets without choice due to one’s 
प्रारब्दकर्मफल praarabda karma phala (the fruits of those actions in prior birth that has made one take this one), unlike the conscious choice of the more elevating relationship
with Brahman that one can establish.
Wealth is only a means to certain ends, and if one pursues it for its own sake, then one can end up being possessed by one’s possessions. When one’s increasing desires
grow into avarice, one inevitably gets afflicted by feelings of inadequacy and jealousy at others, and could fall into many temptations to do wrong. Each day’s newspaper
has at least one such story especially from the political sphere and from the financial world. Although wealth may appear to be an exception to the ‘Law of Diminishing
Marginal Utility’ of economics, in reality abundance of wealth and a mindless pursuit of it can indeed bring its own problems and thereby become a liability. Later in
Bhaja Govindam, we will see a line पुत्रात् अपि धनभाजां भीतिः “putraat api dhanabhaajaaam bheeti:” (the wealthy are afraid of even their sons). History is replete with tales of
many vile intrigues in various royal families of the past, and today we see even among the not-so-super-rich much strife caused by wealth, and strange insertions
like “pre-nuptial agreements” and the like in what should otherwise be relationships of unconditional trust.
Going back to verse 2, the term “निजकर्मोपात्तं nijakarmOpaattam” in it lends itself to two equally important interpretations. At a mundane level, it translates to “what is
obtained by one’s own true effort.” At a more philosophical level, it translates to “what is obtained as our प्रारब्दकर्म praarabda karma” in line with the Hindu belief that
birth is taken by the human being, among others, to enjoy and pay off certain actions of prior births. While the former is a call to earn with integrity and to be
content with what one gets as a payoff commensurate with one’s efforts and the value it offers, the latter is a call to accept whatever comes, with the attitude that
it is a divine blessing ( प्रासादबुद्धिः prasaada buddhi). With a commitment to integrity one avoids further entanglement due to sinful actions, while with a prasaada buddhi,
one is freed from envy and avarice making it easier to lead a life of integrity filled with inner peace.
Finally, of what use is wealth after all, if one spends most of one’s time worrying about its preservation or growth, and loses sleep over it? Wealthy indeed is the one
who has no craving for more, and poor certainly is the one who is wanting more. No material possessions however dear can bring lasting happiness, for, happiness is a
state of mind and, at a higher level, a realization of the true nature of the Self ( सत् चित् आनन्द sat-chit-aananda). That realization is enabled only by spiritual uplifting,
and that uplifting cannot be made by others. It has to be done for one by oneself (“उद्धरेत् आत्मानं आत्मना UdvarEt aatmaanam aatmanaa”, Bhagavat Gita, Ch. 6, Verse 5).
The line “कुरु सद्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णां kuru sadbuddhim manasi vitrushnaam” is a prescription for the right antidote for the toxicity of our endless desires. Such replacement
of an undesirable set of thoughts by something desirable is a technique in yoga sastra called प्रतिपक्षभावन prati paksha bhaavana (adopting an opposite standpoint).
Clearly, contentment is the right antidote for craving.
In this context, the primary advice from the Aacharya comes in Verse 29 of Bhaja Govindam.
Verse 29
अर्थमनर्थं भावय नित्यं
नास्तिततः सुखलेशः सत्यम् |
पुत्रादपि धन भाजां भीतिः
सर्वत्रैषा विहिआ रीतिः ||
“Artham anartham bhaavaya nityam
    Naasti tata: sukhalEsa: satyam
Putraadapi dhanabhaajaam bheeti:
    Sarvatraishaa vihitaa reeti:”
Always (नित्यं nityam) consider (भावय bhaavaya) wealth (अर्थं artham) as harmful (अनर्थं anartham). Honestly (सत्यं satyam) in it (ततः tata: ) even a bit of happiness (सुखलेशः sukhalEsha:)
does not obtain (न अस्ति na asti). To the wealthy (धनभाजां dhanabhaajaam) [there is] fear (भीतिः bheeti:) even from their own sons (पुत्रादपि putraadapi). Everywhere (सर्वत्र sarvatra)
this (एशा Eshaa) [appears to be the] ordained way (विहिता रीतिः vihitaa reeti:).
Much as it is needed, money also creates anxiety and fear of losing it, increases one’s greed for more money, creates fear, suspicion and envy, and divides people.
The pleasures it can buy are at best of a fleeting kind and at worst harmful. You may buy the best bed, but could you buy sleep? Therefore, even when one is young and
is pursuing material wealth, one should constantly cultivate a measured detachment from it. Keeping one’s mind focused on the divine (Govinda) and keeping one’s compass
on the true North through constant reinforcement by maintaining good company (सत्सङ्गः satsanga) are truly how one can prevent oneself from being parched by the thirst for wealth.
Fortunate and most wealthy are indeed those who acquire that skill early on in life like the boy Nachiketa of KathOpanishad who refuses the offer of many types of wealth
including ब्रह्मलोकः BrahmalOka (the heaven of unimaginable pleasures) by Lord Yamaa. He shuns them with the words, “All life is short, thine alone may remain thy horses,
dance and song” सर्वं जीवितं अल्पमेव तवैव वाहाः तव नृत्यगीते (sarvam jeevitam aplpamEva, tavaiva vaahaa tava nrtyageetE), “Man is not satisfied by wealth” न वित्तेन तर्पणीयो मनुष्यः 
(na vitthEna tarpaneeyO manushya:) and “we also live only as long as you rule [i.e., allow us to].” (जीविष्यामः यावत् ईसिष्यसि त्वम् jeevishyaama: yaavat eesishyasi tvam),
and asserts that the only boon he wants is the one to be craved for (वरस्तु मे वरणीय एव varastu mE varaneeya Eva), namely, knowledge of the eternal Brahman.
(Continued in next post)

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