[Advaita-l] Adi Sankara's Bhaja Govindam - 14

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue May 10 19:32:04 EDT 2022

(Continued from previous post)
Bhaja Govindam – 5
Part V – The Bliss of the Renounced
V. Ramaswami
After discussing in Part II and Part III the transient nature of the world and in Part IV the piteous plight of the multitude who do not recognize that transience,
we are now ready to consider a set of verses describing the bliss brought on by dispassion and renunciation. While such bliss is fully realized by the true ascetic,
a significant amount of that is within the reach of others as well. We begin with a verse that summarizes the piteous plight of man and the way out of it.
Verse 13
का ते कान्ता धनगतचिन्ता, वातुल किं तव नास्ति नियन्ता ।
त्रिजगति सज्जनसं गतिरेका, भवति भवार्णवतरणे नौका ॥
kā tē kāntā dhanagatacintā, vātula kĩ tava nāsti niyantā |
trijagati sajjanasaṁ gatirēkā, bhavati bhavārṇavataraṇē naukā ||
Who (का, kā) (is) your wife (ते कान्ता, te kāntā) (or what is) this worry about wealth (धनगतचिन्ता, dhanagatichintā)? Why is there nothing (किं न अस्ति kim na asti) to regulate (नियन्ता niyantā)
you (तव tava) who is (vascillating) like the wind (वातुल vātula) ? To cross this cycle of life and death (भव अर्णव तरणेbhava arnava taraṇē) in all these three worlds (त्रिजगति trijagati)
association with good men (सज्जनसम्गति: sajjanasangatih) becomes (भवति bhavati) the only boat (एका नौका).
We saw in Part II the evanescent nature of one’s wealth from which one can after all get separated by death in a moment without even a notice. In Part III we saw that all our
relationships, including the one with one’s spouse, is but temporary, for we know not what we two were before we were born or what we two will be after our death. In such a case,
why are we so attached to our family and so fond of the acquisition and hoarding of wealth?
Vāta means air and vātula means one whose mind is under the influence of the wind, i.e., constantly moving like the wind. chinta here means worry. In the context of the order
(niyantā) one should understand that worry and over attachment are the consequences of ignoring the fact that everything in the world is indeed ordered by the Ordainer, and one
needs to have faith in that divine order.
As the ācharya elaborates in another work of his called dṛg-dṛśya-vivēka, what is seen is not all there is to things, and the mind is not all that matters. There is great peace
in acknowledging a pervasive divine order and the fact that we are only an instrument thereof (निमित्त्तमात्रं भव nimitta maatram bhava – Bhagavat Gita).
The ācharya not only chides us like one would a child for our indulgences, but also suggests the only remedy to get over these misdirected priorities as association with good
and wise people. It is through such association that one develops the necessary dispassion (vairagya) to discharge one’s duties even as a householder, without either the relationships
or the means to sustain them creating a confining bond. To the sanyāsin also, satsanga is eqully important in that the company of wise men in the form of other true sanyāsins is one
that reinforces one’s renouncement of worldly ties helping one’s mind to be fixed on the ultimate Reality.
As noted by Swami Viditātmānanda in his commentary, the entrapments of this world are like a limitless ocean (अर्णव ārṇva) that leave us in the tortuous state of neither floating nor
drowning but in the shape of one who frequently comes up for air only to drown again. Thus, to the vast multitude who have not fully renounced and repeatedly get drowned in
attachments, the metaphor of the boat in this verse that keeps one above water is indeed quite fitting.
Verse 26
कामंक्रोधंलोभंमोहं, त्यक्त्वाऽऽत्मानं पश्यति सोऽहम् ।
आत्मज्ञान विहीना मूढा: , ते पच्यन्ते नरकनिगूढा: ॥
kāmaṁ krōdhaṁ lōbhaṁ mōhaṁ, tyaktvā”tmānaṁ paśyati sō’ham ।
ātmajñāna vihīnā mūḍhā: , tē pacyantē narakanigūḍhā: ॥
Having given up (त्यक्त्वा tyaktvā) one’s lust (कामम् kāmam), anger (क्रोधम् krodham), greed (लोभम् lobham), and delusion (मोहम् moham), [the seeker] sees (पश्यति pashyati) oneself (आत्मानम् ātmānam)
[as] ‘He alone am I (स: अहम् [इति])’. [However,] those fools (ते मूढा: tē moodah) without an understanding of the Self (आत्मज्ञान विहीना atmajñāna vihinah) are cooked (पच्यन्तेcooked) [as] prisoners
of hell (नरकनिगूढा: naraka nigūḍhāh).
The greatest bliss of the renounced seeker is the understanding of the Self as none other than a manifestation of the eternal Brahman. With that understanding such a seeker realizes
one’s inherent fullness (pūrnam idam) and is freed from many of the human failings like lust, anger, greed, and delusion [of seeing the world we live in as real.]
Unlike those who develop a high level of dispassion, as life throws its inevitable challenges the rest are “cooked” within and often go through an emotional roller coaster and create
a vicious cycle of suffering and improper reactions. The hell alluded to here as imprisoning them is not some physical locale elsewhere but rather the internal state of suffering
and inadequacy, a condition that the truly renounced individuals do not suffer from. The dispassionate are able to accept whatever comes with equanimity as part of a larger order
(प्रसादबुद्धि: prasāda buddhi) and react to it constructively carrying on one’s duties as though they were a prayer too (ईश्वरार्पण-बुद्धि:iswarārpaṇa buddhi).
(Continued in next post)

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