Bhaja Govindam is a popular poem attributed to the scholar-saint Adi Shankara, one of the foremost advocates of the Advaita Vedanta School of philosophy. A short work, of 31 verses, it urges us to pray to Govinda (‘the herder of cows,’ another name for Krishna).
अभिमानदम्भादिकं त्याज्यम् । ६४
64. Abandon pride, hypocrisy, etc.
तदर्पिताखिलाचारः सन् कामक्रोधाभिमानादिकं तस्मिन्नेव करणीयम् । ६५
65. Having offered all activities (to the Supreme) if (still troubled) by lust, anger, pride, etc. then offer them (to the Supreme) as well.
[The Bhagavad-Gita says, “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in yajna (worship) or give as dana (charity) or give up as tapas (austerity), dedicate that to me.” (BG 9.27)]
दुस्सङ्गः सर्वथैव त्याज्यः । ४३
43. Always avoid bad company.
कामक्रोधमोहस्मृतिभ्रंशबुद्धिनाशकारणत्वात् । ४४
44. It (evil company) is the cause for lust, anger, attachment, decline of learning, and the destruction of the intellect.
तरङ्गायिता अपीमे सङ्गात् समुद्रायन्ते । ४५
45. The ripples (of lust, anger, attachment, etc.) take the form of the ocean because of such company.
In the second part of this series, we take a look at the next twenty-one sutras of Narada on bhakti (verses 22 to 42).
तत्रापि न माहात्म्यज्ञानविस्मृत्यपवादः । २२
22. Even so (in the case of the cowgirls), one can’t criticize them of being oblivious to the awareness of divinity.
The divine sage Narada is credited with the composition of eighty-four sutras (aphorisms) on bhakti (devotion). In this four-part series, I provide simple English translations of the sutras. I will first present the original in Devanagari and then the translation.
Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950) was an Indian sage. Born Venkataraman Iyer, he left home in 1896 at the age of 16 and landed at Thiruvannamalai. After years of deep tapas, he attained a state of jivanmukti (release from the bindings of the cycle of karma even when alive). An open-minded yet devout person, Ramana primarily focused on Self-inquiry as a means to exhaust ignorance and become one with the atman. Although he mostly remained silent, on occasion, he had discussions with visitors and disciples.
In their years of exile, the Pandavas lived in the picturesque Dvaitavana abounding in beautiful trees and delicious fruits. One day, a deer carried away – between its antlers – the fire-producing sticks of a poor priest who was performing an important yajña. The priest came to the Pandavas seeking help. The five brothers took up their arms and went looking for the deer. Even after exhausting all their knowledge in hunting and combat, they were unable to catch the deer.
In the Vana Parva (Book 3) of the Mahabharata, during the course of Yudhistira’s discussion with sage Markandeya, the latter narrates the story of Kaushika and Dharmavyadha. It is a wonderful episode of how a learned ascetic obtains life-lessons from an unlettered butcher in Mithila.
Following a series of incidents, Kaushika lands up at the shop of Dharmavyadha, who is busy selling deer and buffalo meat. Seeing the ascetic, Dharmavyadha rises from his seat and walks up to him. “Welcome, O holy one! Come, let us go to my house.”
Buried beneath and interspersed among the numerous layers of terse and detailed philosophical expositions are the thousands of amazing stories in the Upanishads. It is indeed a tragedy of our modern education system—that treats the human as no better than a component of economic production—that these stories have completely vanished from our school syllabi, supplanted instead by mindless Christian moral education.