[Advaita-l] Adi Sankara's Bhaja Govindam - 6
sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 22 19:23:56 EST 2021
(Continued from previous post)
Sri Sankara’s own admonition is expressed in much stronger terms in the following verse.
मा कुरु धनजनयौवन गर्वं
हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम् |
ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा ||
Maa kuru dhanajana youvana garvam
Harati nimEshaat kaala: sarvam
Maayaamayamidam akhilam hitvaa
Brahmapadam tvam pravisa viditvaa
Do not (मा maa) indulge in (कुरु kuru) any conceit based on wealth, people strength, or youthfulness (धन-जन-यौवन गर्वम् dhana-jana-youvana-garvam). Death (कालः kaala:)
destroys (हरति harati) everything (सर्वम् sarvam) in a blink of an eye (निमेषात् nimEshaat). Abandoning (हित्वा hitvaa) all these (इदम् अखिलम् idam akhilam) that are illusory
(मायामयम् maayaamayam), [may] you (त्वम् tvam) enter the realm of Brahman (ब्रह्मपदम् प्रविश Brahmapadam pravisa) knowing (विदित्वा viditvaa) [the greater principles of Brahman].
The greatest risk that could accompany wealth is an arrogant attitude filled with disdain for the less fortunate. Here the term wealth encompasses not only material wealth,
but also such things as position, name, fame, power, etc. As the Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar noted, humility is a great asset for all, but for the wealthy it is an even greater asset.
எல்லார்க்கும் நன்றாம் பணிதல், அவருள்ளும் செல்வர்க்கே செல்வம் தகைத்து (“Ellaarkkum nanraam panital avarullum, selvarkkE selvam takaithu.”)
How can one take conceit in one’s wealth? One always, and forever, carries some inalienable debts – the debt to one’s teachers going all the way back to the great seers
(ऋषि ऋण rishi rina), to one’s parents and ancestors (पितृ ऋण pitru rina) and to various divine blessings (देव ऋण dEvarina). Even our offerings to God are only an offering of what
has been given by Him, and what can one take to be one’s own ( as the Hindi prayer goes तेरा तुझको अर्पण, क्या लागे मेरा? tErA tujkO arpan, kyaa laagE mErA)? . Furthermore, as noted by the
aacharya in the शिव अपराध क्षमापण स्तोत्रम् (Shiva Aparaadha KshamaapaNa StOtram), wealth is as unstable and unpredictable as a bubble or a wave in water (लक्ष्मीः तोय-तरङ्ग-भङ्गा
Lakshmi: tOya-taranga-bhanga). Over history, man has “built” many empires and lost them all due to irresponsible pride. He who enjoys wealth without giving back to the devas
(and the poor around them) is verily a thief (तैर्दत्तानप्रदायैभ्यो यो भुङ्क्ते स्तेन एव सः “tairdattAnapradAyaibhyO yO bhunktE stEna Eva sah” – Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 3, Verse 12.)
Just as wealth, so also people power and youthfulness are also not ever lasting. We have noted earlier how even close relations may come to avoid one without wealth or
earning power. And as for youthfulness and bodily strength, is there anyone who can defy the natural progression of the body to old age and eventual decay and death?
Everything we own, we shall either leave them all one day, or they will leave us – and, that is an undeniable truth.
Thus, the world and all the wealth it offers are only illusory and transient, a product of माया (mAyA). The feelings of pleasure and security they bring are only fleeting
and not real. After all, how often do we change our minds with respect to our own likes and attachment to things and people?
परमे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि न सक्तः ||
Baalastaavat kreedaasaktha: tarunastaavat taruneesaktha:
Vrddhastaavat chintaasaktha: paramE brahmani kOpi na saktha:
When one is a child (बालस्तावत् baalastaavat) one is absorbed in playthings (क्रीडा सक्तः kreedaa saktha: ) In youth (तरुणस्तावत् tarunastaavat), one takes interest in young women
(तरुणीसक्तः taruneesaktha: ). In old age (वृद्धस्तावत् vrddhastaavat), one is beset with memories and worries (चिन्तासक्तः chintaasaktha: ). No one (कोपि न kopi na) sets their mind on the
Eternal (ब्रह्मणि सक्तः Brahmani saktha: )
The Self, the Atma, is intrinsically unattached (असङ्गोहं asangOham), and the attachment we feel towards our possessions and various others is all a temporary superimposition on that Self.
Furthermore, even within that short span of such superimposition if our interest and attachments are so malleable, then we can certainly extricate ourselves from our attachments and
direct our minds to develop a strong attachment to the Eternal that is the everlasting truth, the absolute consciousness, and bliss (सच्चिदानन्द sat-chit-aananda). And, as stated in the
very opening verse of Bhaja Govindam, we can and must cultivate an attitude of prayerfulness from an early age and not be carried away by the allure of wealth, power, or personal strength
so that our own later years may become an exception to what is described above as a common plight of man.
(Continued in next post)
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