Bhaja Govindam
Shri Shankara Bhagavatpadha

An Introduction

Sri Adi Sankara was born in a village called Kalady, to a scholarly and vaidik Brahmin couple, Sivaguru and Aryamba, and was to become, in later years, the greatest philosopher the word has ever seen. He was the first Shankaracharya of the Kamakothi Peetham, at Kancheepuram.

Shri Shankara composed a number of hymns to foster the sense of devotion in the hearts of men and this is His greatest service. Bhaja Govindam is one among His many works and in this short garland of poens in praise of Lord (Krishna) Govinda, He dwells upon the ephemeral nature of life upon the greatness of Guru, Bhakti, etc.

Some immature critics of Indian Philosophy believe and say that the way of devotion is different from the way of knowledge. The learned employ this distinction to emphasise a particular theses on which they discourse in different contexts. We should not get confused by this and fail to understand the truth.

When intelligence matures and lodges securely in the heart, it becomes wisdom. When that wisdom is integrated with life and issues out in action, it becomes devotion. Knowledge which has become mature is spoken of as devotion. If it does not get transformed into devotion, such knowledge is useless and tinsel.

To hold and to say that Jnaana and Bhakti knowledge and devotion, are as different from each other as gold is from baser metal is to expose one's ignorance. Unless the senses are controlled, knowledge will not obtain a fort-hold in the heart. Wisdom will not come into being. How is one to trestrain the native impulsion of the senses? The heart cannot be chastened if desires and attachments are not eschewed.

Its attachment is to be completely extinguished and if the mind should be released from it, the mind must be turned towards God. It must be realised that except through devotion to God, there is no other effective way to restrain the senses. Sri Shankara has packed into the "Bhaja Govindam" song the substance of all the vedantic works that he wrote and he has set the truth of the union of devotion and knowledge to melodius music which delights the ear and our soul.

Bhaja Govinadam, full 31 verses. This is a large page and will take some time to load. If you like, you can download the entire page along with this one as one single zipped file. Download now (165 K)