“Because of the simplicity of the vocabulary employed, the melody of the verses, the cadence in the metre chosen and the general atmosphere of the song and thrill in this congregation song. Bhaja Govindam has become very popular in our country and till recently we could hear these stanzas in almost all the streets. Throughout the length and breadth of Bharat. Children lisped it, boys thundered it, intelligent people appreciated it and practioners (sadhakas) made use of these stanzas and fulfilled their lives.”
For want of better words, I quote Swami Chinmayananda’s succinct description of this great Master, ‘An exquisite thinker, a brilliant intellect, a personality scintillating with the vision of Truth, a heart throbbing with industrious faith and ardent desire to serve the nation, sweetly emotional and relentlessly logical; in Sankara the Upanisads discovered the fittest spiritual ‘General’.
Acarya Sankara left no stone unturned in his sixteen odd years of unwavering service to the rsi culture, carrying forward the lofty ideals of the Upanisads to the common man, fuelling in them a quest of the Higher. His writings, ranging from soft poetry to hard logic, have survived over the centuries, inspiring many a seeker to strive on. Bhaja Govindam, one of the seemingly simpler texts composed by him, is an extremely important poem and a very well-known one too. The rhythm in them makes it easy to remember. Yet, the verses have great depth if the intelligent seeker so wishes to dive in. Through this poem Acarya Sankara hits hard, attempting to knock sense into people living false lives with their false notions, sounding out the urgency to seek the Higher. Hence, the poem is also called Moha Mudgara (mudgara - hammer) - one that can remove all delusions (moha).
An inspiring story forms the background of this composition. Once as Acarya Sankara was walking along with fourteen of his disciples, in Benaras, they came across an old pandita reciting grammar rules. Irked by this waste of precious time in gathering worldly information at that advanced age, instead of working on his spiritual growth, Acarya Sankara is believed to have burst forth into thirteen hard hitting verses. Inspired, each of the fourteen disciples then added a verse each. Finally, four more stanzas were added by Acarya Sankara to complete the composition.
As one of the main texts during the study period of the Youth Empowerment Program, this poem has been an eye opener for many of us, inspiring us to live a fuller life with the clear understanding of being a seeker first. This book - Bhaja Govindam for Yuva - is a dream that was envisaged by the Yuva Veers of batch one along with our mentor Swami Mitrananda (Director, All India Chinmaya Yuva Kendra). Many an afternoon was spent in unfolding the verses to present them in a youth friendly format. Ten years down the line it has become a reality with the concerted efforts of Yuva Veers from YEP 8, with timely help from Yuva Veers of all the other batches. The making of this book bound us closer together making us realise, 'We are one, not eight!'
We are extremely grateful to our beloved "Tatha" (Mr Krishnamoorthy R) for sponsoring the first edition through the Lalitha Charitable Trust, Hyderabad.
We hope this book will inspire readers to read the original text and experience its full blown knock out effect.
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