The fourteen disciples are said to have accompanied him. The story goes that when he was walking along the streets of Kashi, he was pained to observe an elderly man trying hard to learn Sanskrit grammar. At his advanced age, the remaining valuable little time of his life should have been used for worshipping the God, instead of wasting on learning a language. This prompted Sri Sankara to burst out this composition, a sort of rebuke to foolish way of living. The Acharya urges the man to turn towards God and sing His glory instead of trying to learn a language.
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This article is from the book Bhaja Govindam. Bhaja Govindam Sri Swami Chidananda Introduction: Bhagavad-pad-acharya, Jagad-guru Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever produced, unparalleled in his Realisation, as well as in his exposition of the nature of the ultimate Reality, has commented upon all the three great scriptures that form the source of our religion Sanatana Vaidika Dharma.
Vedas are the mother scriptures of those who follow the Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism. Upanishads are that portion of the Vedas, which expounds the nature of the ultimate Reality, and thus, is one of the most important parts of these scriptures. The quintessence of the Upanishads is propounded in Srimad Bhagavad Gita in a brief, concise, aphoristic yet complete form by Bhagavan Veda-Vyasa, Bhagavan Badarayana, an amsha avatar a partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
It is the second great scripture upon which the entire Sanatana Dharma rests. In the Bhagavad Gita we have got the whole of Vedanta, the whole of the upanishadic wisdom. All this has been given to us in a compact form within the range of seven hundred verses in eighteen chapters in an easy question and answer form, giving normal analogies familiar to our own experience in the world.
They form the ultimate authority to decide all questions pertaining to religion, metaphysics, philosophy, sacrament, rituals, dharma and the ultimate Reality, the transcendental Reality in Hinduism. They are the three authoritative scriptures that decide in case of all disputes, and their conclusion has to be accepted as final.
His commentary known as Shaankara-bhashya is forever of the ultimate highest standard. He has set a standard. But the style in which it is given and the way in which it is expounded to the layman are different. Bhagavad Gita, Brahma-Sutra and the Upanishads are for a Sanskrit scholar, who has already got some background of philosophy; but for Bhaja Govindam no such background is necessary, because it tells you what you already know. It tells you home truths within the range of your own bitter and sweet experiences of this world of human nature and of the state of things that prevail in human society.
Something should be done to bring quintessence of the teachings of all the great Upanishads and the Vedanta, within easy reach of the common man. I shall, for the common man, bring to their very homes, at their very doorstep, the Upanishadic message, the loftiest truths of the Upanishads in an easy, interesting, concise style, but at the same time in a complete, compact and comprehensive way. Spontaneous Poetry: The origin of all the wisdom teachings was spontaneous, unrehearsed; there was no pre-meditation.
Sri Shankaracharya had composed this great scripture, Bhaja Govindam, on the spur of the moment without any intention of composing something, not being aware that such a thing will come out of him. The sage Valmiki, before whom Sanskrit poetry did not exist, is known as the adi-kavi, the first poet. By a chance incident, when he was going to take a bath in the river, he saw a hunter aiming at two lovemaking birds.
Even so, poetry flowed spontaneously from Shankaracharya when he saw one student very diligently trying to learn by heart some grammar rule: "Dukrin karane, Dukrin karane, Dukrin karane. Shankaracharya was coming back after a bath in the holy Ganga in Varanasi. He heard this, and turned around. There was a scholar completely absorbed in getting by heart this grammar rule. Something struck Shankaracharya.
He thought: "What is the sense if this man will stretch his brain for the whole life to remember the grammar rules? Will this help him? One day death will come and say, Come on! Gita 2. Just as from the Adi-Kavi the first poet Valmiki spontaneous poetry had come out suddenly, unexpectedly, due to sudden self-expression, and it became the first poetic work in Sanskrit literature; even so, passing by the streets of Kashi, seeing a student intently trying to get by heart some grammar sutras, this wonderful poem Bhaja Govindam came out from the mouth of Shankaracharya spontaneously.
Shankaracharya must have been moving about the streets of Varanasi, going to the gnat and taking bath, and going to Sri Vishvanath Mandir, Annapurna Mandir and all that so many times. Varanasi is full of little Sanskrit schools, pathshalas and toles. So, he might have noticed futile exercise in grammatical things so many times. But on this particular day, to our good fortune and to the good fortune of the world, somehow his attention was directed to this absurdity.
Spontaneously, on the spur of the moment, the Bhaja Govindam Stotram flowed from his mouth. May be, he will become a pundit or a scholar. May be, he will set up a little school like this and it may become his source of income and profession.
He may become a karmakandi and a purohit and may perform marriage ceremonies, yajnopavit samskaras, after death samskaras and all such religious rites. He may teach other students. What all these will bring to him? He will miss the purpose for which God has sent him as a human being. The whole life will be wasted in this. Instead of making use of God-given intellect for vichara, viveka and Self-realisation, here is one who is intent upon mere intellectual acrobatic exercise.
This is not good. What will help him at the time of death? One of the greatest singers of our present contemporary age Padmashri M. Subalakshmi Mataji, who has sung before the United Nations Organization, and who has also been honoured with the great Magsaysay award, has sung this Bhaja Govindam Stotram very beautifully.
This article is from the book Bhaja Govindam. Bhaja Govindam Sri Swami Chidananda Introduction: Bhagavad-pad-acharya, Jagad-guru Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever produced, unparalleled in his Realisation, as well as in his exposition of the nature of the ultimate Reality, has commented upon all the three great scriptures that form the source of our religion Sanatana Vaidika Dharma. Vedas are the mother scriptures of those who follow the Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism. Upanishads are that portion of the Vedas, which expounds the nature of the ultimate Reality, and thus, is one of the most important parts of these scriptures. The quintessence of the Upanishads is propounded in Srimad Bhagavad Gita in a brief, concise, aphoristic yet complete form by Bhagavan Veda-Vyasa, Bhagavan Badarayana, an amsha avatar a partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
O, mad man! Why this engrossment in thoughts of wealth and beloved? Is there no one to guide you? Seeing the truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones can not see through these many disguises. Even then he can not let go of his attachment, clinging firmly to fruitless hopes and desires. Stanza attributed to Hastamalaka.
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