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Bhaja Govindam: Dukrunjkarane

tks

Well-known member
There was a discussion about Bhakthi a while ago, wherein I commented about the first stanza of Baja Govindam as follows.

Reference: http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/showthread.php?t=32805&p=352955&posted=1#post352955>


"Baja Govindam is a sloka whose real meaning is profoundly vedantic. It is attributed to Sri Sankara and it might be anyone else in his lineage.


Regardless, the meaning given to the first stanza is:

"Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool !
Rules of grammar will not save you at the time of your death."

Idea of this popular translation is about reciting the name Govinda . Not sure how it is supposed to help ward off death of a fool. There is even a seemingly concocted story that there was an old fellow studying grammar and Sri Sankara was addressing such people from getting caught up with grammar issues and instead say the name of the Lord - Govinda.

This is the common interpretation of 'Bhakthi for Mukthi' type people...

Govinda means one who is understood by Shabda (words) of Veda. It will make no sense to call anyone reading this as fools and then tell them to ignore grammar. How is that supposed to help one be saved from death. What does being saved mean anyway? Why pick on grammar of a language?

There are more profound and more fitting translation with particular emphasis of choice of words in the stanza including the use of डुकृञ्करणे"

The objective of this thread is to pick up where the above post left off, in order to examine if there is more to the meaning than a simple translation.

For someone given to a belief in Bhagavan, there is no need for further explanation.

The Go in Govinda can be taken as cow and one that protects the cows in general is Govinda which is another name for Sri Krishna. So asking people to worship Sri Krishna in order to have better after life, post death will make perfect sense for someone who is raised in a Hindu religious household. This is especially true if they equate the elusive Moksha with going to a place called Vaikunta after death in order to worship the Lord for eternity.

It is a beautiful Sloka (and one of my favorites) and if one is given to above set of beliefs, my suggestions is for one to continue reciting names of the Lord with the Bhava of Bhakthi.

On the other hand, if one wants to understand if there is a more profound meaning and message behind this popular sloka, the following posts in this thread may be of interest.

What I am sharing here is not from any particular source that can be Googled for. If there is a reference appropriate I will share it. Style of presentation is my own though my hope is that the meaning is what one would get when one studies Vedanta in a school devoted to proper sampradaya. One has to bear with what may appear to be my meanderings and shortcomings. I plan to open more questions than answers so as to generate interest in the topic area. I do not plan to respond to any comments (unless they are relevant or asking for clarifications) until the end of the thread.

The sloka starts with worship of Govinda.

So what is worship? Is that emotionalism one feels for a deity? Can someone who profess to study Vedanta capable of expression of Bhakthi? How does one worship Govinda?

Who does this Sloka address? In other words who is a fool (if that is the right translation).

What is the significance, if any, of the choice of the name of the Lord here?

Without doing deep dive into too much grammar, some comments are needed to understand the choice of this expression Dukrunjkarane. Is there a significance to using this phrase? If so what is being conveyed?

In what way worshiping Govinda connected to teachings of the Upanishad?

Why is the falling of the body, namely death emphasized here? If it is a Vedantic message, why is death even talked about since loosely speaking Atma is taught as immortal?

Time itself is an illusion as supported by today's science and of course Vedantic teaching. If so why call attention to time of death in this stanza,

If one were to look at each Stanza of this Bhaja Govindam verses one would find innumerable questions.

A religionist, given to a belief will say - "With all these questions, you are just doing what this stanza tell you not to do , oh fool - Like grammar rule, you are splitting hair asking all kinds of questions, Just get back to worship of Govinda"

I agree with such people and this thread is not for you,

I also agree that worship of Govinda is indeed a wonderful thing. Whenever I find time and ability to log into this site I will post (I am not able to login most often) . Until then let us enjoy this sloka as sung by MS Subbulakshmi whose expression of Bhakthi has no peers.

Bhaja Govindam song By MS Subbulakshmi
 

renuka

Well-known member
The story is not about finding fault with Paninis grammar.

The story goes that the Brahmana was memorizing one of the Sutras of Panini डुकृञ् which gives rules on how the root word कृ is derived by the rules that warrant the डु and the ञ् to be dropped to derive the words that denote the action of doing करणे.

Now that Brahmana was memorizing this rule to impress the King to secure a well paying job.

So here is where Adi Shankara points out that one should know which knowledge will take you to a state of realization and not dwell on worldy knowledge alone.

So the Bhajo Govindam here is not merely implicating blind bhakti ..the word Govinda is a combination of Go and Vindate/Vindati
Vindate/ Vindati means " to find".

Now its left to us to decipher the meaning of the word Go.
And Go has so many meanings eg.
Cow, sky,ray of light,diamond, the earth,water, the eye,a mother, speech, senses, the sky and at times even denoted by some as to mean Veda as in knowledge.

I guess we can put 2 and 2 together now
 

a-TB

Well-known member
I have a few questions that can be answered whenever it is possible .
Why is 'Worship Govinda' repeated three times? Is that just for poem's meter? Or is it being addressed to a fool?
Are we all fools?

Good thread.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
[FONT=q_serif]Shankara was the proponent of Advaita. Bhaja Govindam is the phrase telling to remember and worship Brahman, which is the eternal truth. It is neither referring to exclusively Shri Hari Vishnu or Shiva, it is to both, the distinction disappears into one Brahman at the consciousness level of Shankara.[/FONT]
 

renuka

Well-known member
I have a few questions that can be answered whenever it is possible .
Why is 'Worship Govinda' repeated three times? Is that just for poem's meter? Or is it being addressed to a fool?
Are we all fools?

Good thread.
Meter rules mostly and fool is a word that is used to denote ignorance as in not aware of " The Truth"

Its just how people use words...for eg the word disabled is not used in certain middle east countries instead the term " people of determination" is used which conveys the challenges faced without insulting the person.

Our Hindu religious texts were written in.an era where people with different needs like visually impaired were harshly called blind.
Those of a different IQ were at times called fools...the same is seen in other religious texr calling people blind and ignorant.

Over time we humans realized these harsh words has many shades of " ignorance"themselves and we evolved to be more polite.
 

a-TB

Well-known member
Meter rules mostly and fool is a word that is used to denote ignorance as in not aware of " The Truth"

Its just how people use words...for eg the word disabled is not used in certain middle east countries instead the term " people of determination" is used which conveys the challenges faced without insulting the person.

Our Hindu religious texts were written in.an era where people with different needs like visually impaired were harshly called blind.
Those of a different IQ were at times called fools...the same is seen in other religious texr calling people blind and ignorant.

Over time we humans realized these harsh words has many shades of " ignorance"themselves and we evolved to be more polite.
"Meter rules mostly" - Is that an opinion or there is a basis? What does 'mostly' mean?
So meter is selected first and repetition is done asking one to worship three times in order to fit the meter? Does not seem logical to me.

I am not sure if this is a section to offer personal opinions like in the General Section. My opinion is that we cannot judge which words are harsh by today's standards of a poem written hundreds of years ago.
 

renuka

Well-known member
"Meter rules mostly" - Is that an opinion or there is a basis? What does 'mostly' mean?
So meter is selected first and repetition is done asking one to worship three times in order to fit the meter? Does not seem logical to me.

I am not sure if this is a section to offer personal opinions like in the General Section. My opinion is that we cannot judge which words are harsh by today's standards of a poem written hundreds of years ago.

Ok....let me explain in detail from what I know about Chandas.

The most common Chandas used in Anushtub which tehnically means "Following " and commonly used to mean "Following God " but interestingly the Kama Sutra is also Anusthub Chandas(so I guess its FOLLOW!)

Ok..coming back to Chandas story..there are 2 types of Chandas

1)Varna Chandas..meter based on syllables

2)Matra Chandas ..meter based on syllabic instants.

Bhajo Govindam comes under Matra Chandas that too a subtyped named Padakulakam in which each verse has 16 matras.

Matra chandas calculation rules:

1) One count for a short vowel and consonants with short vowels.

2) Two counts for long vowels,consonants with long vowels and conjunct consonants.

In Bhajo Govindam there is a peculiarity ..that is the first verse does not really entirely follow the Matra Chandas rules...hence I used the word "Mostly" in my earlier post.

Let me explain:

In the 1st verse of Bhajo Govindam.

Bhajagovindam Bhajagovindam
Govindam Bhaja Moodhamathe
Samprapte Sannihite Kaale
Nahi Nahi Rakshati Dukrinkarane

The mention of the word Bhajo Govindam 2x in the 1st line is to keep within the 16 matras.

You had mentioned in your post as why is Govindam mentioned 3x...nope we go line by line...so its only 2x Bhajo Govindam in the 1st line that adds up to 16 matras.

Now..the 2nd line does NOT follow the 16 matra rule...the 2nd line "Govindam Bhaja Moodhamathe "only has 14 matras

The 3rd and 4th line follow 16 matras too.


So I dont know why only the line which say "Fool" has 14 matras..no one explains why?

Who knows may be since we are calling another a fool the composer decided to play the fool around too and not follow 16 matra rule?

My explanation could be a bit technical but I had to explain detail as I feel it would be clearer then.
 

renuka

Well-known member
I am unable to edit my post as its showing internal error 500.

So i am making the corrections here :


I wrote this above:

Bhajo Govindam comes under Matra Chandas that too a subtyped named Padakulakam in which each verse has 16 matras.

It should be "Bhajo Govindam comes under Matra Chandas that too a subtype named Padakulakam in which each verse has 4 lines that has 16 matras each.
 

a-TB

Well-known member
[FONT=q_serif]Shankara was the proponent of Advaita. Bhaja Govindam is the phrase telling to remember and worship Brahman, which is the eternal truth. It is neither referring to exclusively Shri Hari Vishnu or Shiva, it is to both, the distinction disappears into one Brahman at the consciousness level of Shankara.[/FONT]
If Sankara is teaching Advita (meaning 'not two'), it makes no sense for him to tell us to worship Govinda. In a worship there has to be two - one the worshiper and the other worshiped. That is two, not one. So the explanation has issues of logic
 

a-TB

Well-known member
Ok....let me explain in detail from what I know about Chandas.

The most common Chandas used in Anushtub which tehnically means "Following " and commonly used to mean "Following God " but interestingly the Kama Sutra is also Anusthub Chandas(so I guess its FOLLOW!)

Ok..coming back to Chandas story..there are 2 types of Chandas

1)Varna Chandas..meter based on syllables

2)Matra Chandas ..meter based on syllabic instants.

Bhajo Govindam comes under Matra Chandas that too a subtyped named Padakulakam in which each verse has 16 matras.

Matra chandas calculation rules:

1) One count for a short vowel and consonants with short vowels.

2) Two counts for long vowels,consonants with long vowels and conjunct consonants.

In Bhajo Govindam there is a peculiarity ..that is the first verse does not really entirely follow the Matra Chandas rules...hence I used the word "Mostly" in my earlier post.

Let me explain:

In the 1st verse of Bhajo Govindam.

Bhajagovindam Bhajagovindam
Govindam Bhaja Moodhamathe
Samprapte Sannihite Kaale
Nahi Nahi Rakshati Dukrinkarane

The mention of the word Bhajo Govindam 2x in the 1st line is to keep within the 16 matras.

You had mentioned in your post as why is Govindam mentioned 3x...nope we go line by line...so its only 2x Bhajo Govindam in the 1st line that adds up to 16 matras.

Now..the 2nd line does NOT follow the 16 matra rule...the 2nd line "Govindam Bhaja Moodhamathe "only has 14 matras

The 3rd and 4th line follow 16 matras too.


So I dont know why only the line which say "Fool" has 14 matras..no one explains why?

Who knows may be since we are calling another a fool the composer decided to play the fool around too and not follow 16 matra rule?

My explanation could be a bit technical but I had to explain detail as I feel it would be clearer then.
Thank you.

What i said was not mention of Govinda but that the directive to worship Govinda is mentioned 3 times. If the directive is repeated three times, it now appears it is not for fitting into this meter because you say the second line does not follow the rule of 16 matras.

So the great Adi Sankara made a poem to not fit to a clean meter rules? Something is not adding up here.

Also in Post 2, it was said that this old guy was trying to impress a king by memorizing some rule. Why would Sankara interfere with his activities and tell him to worship Govinda? Somehow it is illogical to think some grammar convention (it is not even a rule it seems) is equated to worldly knowledge. If we live in the world, worldly knowledge alone will work. How come worship became a better knowledge? Again these stories defy basic reasonableness.
 

KRN

Active member
Idea of this popular translation is about reciting the name Govinda . Not sure how it is supposed to help ward off death of a fool. There is even a seemingly concocted story that there was an old fellow studying grammar and Sri Sankara was addressing such people from getting caught up with grammar issues and instead say the name of the Lord - Govinda.

This is the common interpretation of 'Bhakthi for Mukthi' type people...

Govinda means one who is understood by Shabda (words) of Veda. It will make no sense to call anyone reading this as fools and then tell them to ignore grammar. How is that supposed to help one be saved from death. What does being saved mean anyway? Why pick on grammar of a language?
In my understanding.....

In Adi Sankara's time there was a very ancient and influential group of grammarian-philosophers called Sphota-vadins. Like the mimamsakas, their philosophy also originated from attempts to interpret the powerful material results produced by the performance of Vedic rites (which must have been very common in that period).

Their philosophy is highly interesting in it's own way, but was rejected by Sankara in his Brahma-sutra Bhashyam. Just one thing I want to highlight here - that repetition is a very important aspect in Sphota siddhanta. For example, repetitive learning of Vyakarana sutras.

Grammar is important to all, but to a Sphota-vadi or a mimamsaka, grammar is all-important. In the Mahabhashya, Rishi Patanjali (presumably a Sphota-vadin) gives ten different reasons why Grammar must be learnt by all. He even gives reasons like, the use of grammatically correct language gives rise to 'Vira purushas' or heroic men. He also mentions a story to the effect that the Asuras used ungrammatical language and that is why they lost in battle with the Devas who used 'perfect' language. So the mimamsakas hold the opinion that, by following Vedic injunctions, reciting the Vedas perfectly etc and making statements as per precise grammatical rules, they will enjoy all happiness in the here and hereafter. Nothing else is required but to be precise in following the rules. Sankara is totally against this view.

Now although the mimamsakas and the grammarians were having a regular fight of their own, both groups were in alignment in accepting that the relation between words and meaning is eternal, without the need of a God or Brahman who is beyond all that, a stand which is anathema to Sankara.

So the issue that Sankaracharya has with the Sphotavadins is, they don't give due significance to the Upanishads or the 'Jnana marga' portion of the Vedas. In the Jnana marga, there is the story of Narada who approaches Sanatkumara saying "I know Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, etc etc...(a big list, which includes grammar too) but I am still sorrowful. With all this information, I am still unable to overcome my sorrow. I have heard that only a knower of the Atman will be able to overcome sorrow. So kindly teach me that which alone helps a person tide over sorrow".

Now the above (and subsequent passages in the Upanishad) outlines the Upanishadic stand clearly - that knowledge of Vedas, Grammar etc is just not enough. This is the perspective of Sankaracharya as well.

Now why is 'worship' suggested as an alternative to grammar, in Bhaja Govindam? Sankaracharya accepts that not everyone is capable enough to acquire knowledge of the Atman directly through meditation on the Mahavakyas. So he accepts that some relatively 'manda buddhis' might be more comfortable with a staged evolution, through worship of Omkaara or some forms of Saguna Brahman like Vishnu, Siva etc. In Sankaracharya's philosophy, even such devotees are on the right path, since at the end of life, they will reach the abode of their God, and basically will not have to return to this world. While at the abode of their God, they will need to wait till end of the kalpa, before merging with Nirguna Brahman, together with their God. So in Acharya's perspective, a worshipper of Saguna Brahman is definitely in a better way when compared to the mimamsaka who might be adept in Vedas, Yagas, Yajnas etc but all of which gives results that will ultimately be exhausted in higher lokas some day, and then the person will have to return to this world.

Now why the worship of Govinda in particular? I think, because Govinda was the preacher of the Bhagavad Gita, which removed the sorrow of Arjuna, while also outlining various upanishadic ideas related to the Nirguna and Saguna Brahman. In the Bhaja Govindam, Acharya asks the person to recite the Gita daily. Acharya definitely had a very high opinion on the Gita, as can be seen from his Gita Bhashyam. At one place in the Bhashyam he quotes the Anugita part of the Mahabharata wherein it is mentioned "Aside from the Bhagavad Gita, nothing is required. By itself the Bhagavad Gita is enough to lead one to the highest Purushartham". And it can be seen that in his other Bhashyas, whenever Acharya wanted to quote a Smriti for support, he would invariably turn to the Gita.

Another point here is, the Gita removed the sorrow of Arjuna who, somewhat similar to Narada in the Upanishad, initially tries to impress Krishna with his intellectual knowledge, until checked by Krishna once he starts replying, with the statement "You speak a lot, like a Pandit. But he is the true Pandit, who never feels sorrowful for anything". Sanatkumara also tackles Narada in a similar way in the Upanishad.

Another thing is, the Gita itself supports Acharya's view that following Vedic rites complacently, is just not enough. Slokas from Gita 2.42 onwards can be referred for this.

Now why the reference to death in the first sloka of Bhaja Govindam? As the Saguna Brahman, Krishna advises in Gita (8.5) and (8.12-13) on what one needs to do when death is approaching (of course, presuming that one has the memory and presence of mind at the time :eek:). So Sankaracharya who believes in the message of the Gita, warns the grammarian that his "Dukrunjkarane" or any other grammatical rule for that matter, will be of no avail at the time of death, rather he will be better off, following the instructions of Govinda in the Gita.

I have tried to respond above, not as a person who believes in bhakti (though I am one), but as someone who has tried to read Sankara's works and from that perspective, thought what might have led Sankara to author these verses (presuming, of course, that Bhaja Govindam was indeed fully or partially written by Sankara)
 
Last edited:

Jaykay767

Well-known member
Shankara says in his advaitic vedantam that knowledge is the most important to liberation apart from Sadhana, etc.. So in this case, worship Govinda clearly means worship knowledge/ Veda and not the grammar.

For our Brahmins in ancient times, the quest to liberate was the most important goal, so he asks him to find knowledge else at the time of death, he will end up in repeated life death cycle of reincarnation.
 

a-TB

Well-known member
Shankara says in his advaitic vedantam that knowledge is the most important to liberation apart from Sadhana, etc.. So in this case, worship Govinda clearly means worship knowledge/ Veda and not the grammar.

For our Brahmins in ancient times, the quest to liberate was the most important goal, so he asks him to find knowledge else at the time of death, he will end up in repeated life death cycle of reincarnation.
One can worship Goddess Saraswathi. But one cannot worship 'knowledge'. One can only learn and live by the learning
 

tks

Well-known member
In my understanding.....

1. In Adi Sankara's time there was a very ancient and influential group of grammarian-philosophers called Sphota-vadins. Like the mimamsakas, their philosophy also originated from attempts to interpret the powerful material results produced by the performance of Vedic rites (which must have been very common in that period).

2. Their philosophy is highly interesting in it's own way, but was rejected by Sankara in his Brahma-sutra Bhashyam. Just one thing I want to highlight here - that repetition is a very important aspect in Sphota siddhanta. For example, repetitive learning of Vyakarana sutras.

3. Grammar is important to all, but to a Sphota-vadi or a mimamsaka, grammar is all-important. In the Mahabhashya, Rishi Patanjali (presumably a Sphota-vadin) gives ten different reasons why Grammar must be learnt by all. He even gives reasons like, the use of grammatically correct language gives rise to 'Vira purushas' or heroic men. He also mentions a story to the effect that the Asuras used ungrammatical language and that is why they lost in battle with the Devas who used 'perfect' language. So the mimamsakas hold the opinion that, by following Vedic injunctions, reciting the Vedas perfectly etc and making statements as per precise grammatical rules, they will enjoy all happiness in the here and hereafter. Nothing else is required but to be precise in following the rules. Sankara is totally against this view.

4. Now although the mimamsakas and the grammarians were having a regular fight of their own, both groups were in alignment in accepting that the relation between words and meaning is eternal, without the need of a God or Brahman who is beyond all that, a stand which is anathema to Sankara.

5. So the issue that Sankaracharya has with the Sphotavadins is, they don't give due significance to the Upanishads or the 'Jnana marga' portion of the Vedas. In the Jnana marga, there is the story of Narada who approaches Sanatkumara saying "I know Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, etc etc...(a big list, which includes grammar too) but I am still sorrowful. With all this information, I am still unable to overcome my sorrow. I have heard that only a knower of the Atman will be able to overcome sorrow. So kindly teach me that which alone helps a person tide over sorrow".

6. Now the above (and subsequent passages in the Upanishad) outlines the Upanishadic stand clearly - that knowledge of Vedas, Grammar etc is just not enough. This is the perspective of Sankaracharya as well.

7. Now why is 'worship' suggested as an alternative to grammar, in Bhaja Govindam? Sankaracharya accepts that not everyone is capable enough to acquire knowledge of the Atman directly through meditation on the Mahavakyas. So he accepts that some relatively 'manda buddhis' might be more comfortable with a staged evolution, through worship of Omkaara or some forms of Saguna Brahman like Vishnu, Siva etc. In Sankaracharya's philosophy, even such devotees are on the right path, since at the end of life, they will reach the abode of their God, and basically will not have to return to this world. While at the abode of their God, they will need to wait till end of the kalpa, before merging with Nirguna Brahman, together with their God. So in Acharya's perspective, a worshipper of Saguna Brahman is definitely in a better way when compared to the mimamsaka who might be adept in Vedas, Yagas, Yajnas etc but all of which gives results that will ultimately be exhausted in higher lokas some day, and then the person will have to return to this world.

8. Now why the worship of Govinda in particular? I think, because Govinda was the preacher of the Bhagavad Gita, which removed the sorrow of Arjuna, while also outlining various upanishadic ideas related to the Nirguna and Saguna Brahman. In the Bhaja Govindam, Acharya asks the person to recite the Gita daily. Acharya definitely had a very high opinion on the Gita, as can be seen from his Gita Bhashyam. At one place in the Bhashyam he quotes the Anugita part of the Mahabharata wherein it is mentioned "Aside from the Bhagavad Gita, nothing is required. By itself the Bhagavad Gita is enough to lead one to the highest Purushartham". And it can be seen that in his other Bhashyas, whenever Acharya wanted to quote a Smriti for support, he would invariably turn to the Gita.

9. Another point here is, the Gita removed the sorrow of Arjuna who, somewhat similar to Narada in the Upanishad, initially tries to impress Krishna with his intellectual knowledge, until checked by Krishna once he starts replying, with the statement "You speak a lot, like a Pandit. But he is the true Pandit, who never feels sorrowful for anything". Sanatkumara also tackles Narada in a similar way in the Upanishad.

10. Another thing is, the Gita itself supports Acharya's view that following Vedic rites complacently, is just not enough. Slokas from Gita 2.42 onwards can be referred for this.

11. Now why the reference to death in the first sloka of Bhaja Govindam? As the Saguna Brahman, Krishna advises in Gita (8.5) and (8.12-13) on what one needs to do when death is approaching (of course, presuming that one has the memory and presence of mind at the time :eek:). So Sankaracharya who believes in the message of the Gita, warns the grammarian that his "Dukrunjkarane" or any other grammatical rule for that matter, will be of no avail at the time of death, rather he will be better off, following the instructions of Govinda in the Gita.

12. I have tried to respond above, not as a person who believes in bhakti (though I am one), but as someone who has tried to read Sankara's works and from that perspective, thought what might have led Sankara to author these verses (presuming, of course, that Bhaja Govindam was indeed fully or partially written by Sankara)

Sri KRN,

Thank you for your comments. I enjoyed reading your post.

There are many things that are not in alignment with my understanding. I have shared some of the points only. I really do not want to debate further on what follows and you are welcome to have the last word on the issues I have raised. I marked paragraph numbers on your post for easy reference.

Regards,


==================================================


"Sankara is totally against this view" Paragraph 3 above-

In studying Bhashyam with proper teacher, I never got the impression about Sri Sankara being against any view. He was only for stating the truth as expounded in the Upanishads, B. Gita and Brahma Sutra. In the process, his presentation includes making a compelling case for various viewpoints including those of Mimansakas before refuting them systematically and presenting the Siddhanta.


"So the issue that Sankaracharya has with the Sphotavadins is, they don't give due significance to the Upanishads or the 'Jnana marga' portion of the Vedas" - Paragraph 5.

Same comment as above

"Now why is 'worship' suggested as an alternative to grammar, in Bhaja Govindam? Sankaracharya accepts that not everyone is capable enough to acquire knowledge of the Atman directly through meditation on the Mahavakyas. So he accepts that some relatively 'manda buddhis' might be more comfortable with a staged evolution, through worship of Omkaara or some forms of Saguna Brahman like Vishnu, Siva etc." - Paragraph 8

Based on studying the Bhashya one never gets any such impression about Sri Sankara thinking anyone to be a Manda Buddhi. That will be downright condescending for ordinary people and will go against everything Sri Sankara ever commented on. There are lots of incorrect books by authors that have never studied under proper setting and with a proper Guru, who may be propagating such views. Many stories in Sankara Vijayam and other such books portray a wrong view in my understanding.

Sri Sankara's approach to Purvapakshas is one of respect. In some instances, one is almost sold on the logic in certain cases based on how Sri Sankara presents the Purvapakshas. When he is dealing with Mimansakas and their objections, Sri Sankara uses their own methods to examine the meanings of a given construct. In other words it was one of utmost respect in which he presents their points of views.

When Sri Sankara did make a mistake he immediately corrected and accepted the so called Chandala as his Guru (Manishapanchakam).

In fact, intellect and intellectual accomplishments are one of the enemies of gaining true wisdom. When it comes to the language of the Hridayam where non-directional Love only emanates, as in the case of a Jnani such as Sri Sankara, categorizing others as Manda Budhi and prescribing a special method for them for staged evolution is not possible. All the teachings of Upanishads are against such thinking altogether. In fact, there is no such thing as a staged evolution when it comes to enlightenment. Ignorance and Mosksha are in the NOW. Timelessness is the essence of one's swarupa and it cannot be put in the flow of Time.

A true Jnani is indeed a true Bhakta as well.

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Going forward, I am thinking of presenting what I had in mind in a different way.

The thought is to present as a discussion between several Imaginary persons (IP1, IP2, … etc. ). Responses are not full and complete in the discussion but only address what is relevant in a given context of the discussion (and denoted by R).

Here is a sample.

IP1 : Members have made effort to participate in the discussion. Will it not be respectful to continue with presenting points and counter points?

IP2: Even if it slows down whatever needs to be presented, it will be useful to argue one's point

R: I prefer to debate and not argue. In fact I am terrible at arguments when I get drawn into them. Any such forum is not really suited for a debate in my experience.

IP1: What do you see as the difference between debate and argument?

R: An argument progresses to prove WHO is right, often leading to clashes of ego. It is rarely ever settled. Dale Carnegie in his teachings declares a rule to never argue since there are never any winners in an argument. A debate is one to prove WHAT is right. It requires every participant to examine what is being presented with the single view to determine the (relative) truth in a given context. Science, with the scientific method attempts to do this though there are people who practice Science as a religion and argue.

IP2: That means you should be willing to examine what others say as well with the possibility that you may be wrong

R: That is correct, but the focus is not on WHO is wrong (it can be me or anyone else). The focus has to determine WHAT is the right thing.

IP3: How do you try to practice your focus on 'WHAT' in a discussion?

R: Though I may fail, I remind myself if what I am participating in a real world discussion or in a forum, from the view point if it is helping me in my quest. I have no issue learning from anyone if they are qualified (and that is a judgment). Similarly I have no issues to help by sharing whatever little I know. I also know my weakness to get drawn into unproductive arguments. If someone is serious to know the truth at all cost, it is refreshing even if their current state of knowledge in a given subject is not very much. In the end intellect is one's enemy normally but it can be our friend with the right training.

IP1: In what way intellect and mind can be a friend?

R: As we go through analyzing the first verse of Bhaja Govidam I hope to make this point. Tweezers of our intellect cannot be used to grasp the Truth but it can help us identify all that is false. More on this in the next post.

 

KRN

Active member
Sri KRN,

Thank you for your comments. I enjoyed reading your post.

There are many things that are not in alignment with my understanding. I have shared some of the points only. I really do not want to debate further on what follows and you are welcome to have the last word on the issues I have raised. I marked paragraph numbers on your post for easy reference.

Regards,


Sri TKS,
I merely shared my understanding, on why it is quite natural that Adi Sankara, an ardent Krishna Bhakta, could have written Bhaja Govindam. Also about the likely purpose of his authoring this work, in the context of his debates with the Sphotavadins, the mimamsakas etc. My purpose was not to argue with you in any manner. You had posed some queries in your introductory post, to which other members posted responses as per their understanding, and I too pitched in. As the subject is close to my heart, I enjoyed replying to your queries. So I am not after getting any "last word" here. Quite possibly we might learn from each other. Now let me respond to the issues raised.

"Sankara is totally against this view" Paragraph 3 above-

In studying Bhashyam with proper teacher, I never got the impression about Sri Sankara being against any view. He was only for stating the truth as expounded in the Upanishads, B. Gita and Brahma Sutra. In the process, his presentation includes making a compelling case for various viewpoints including those of Mimansakas before refuting them systematically and presenting the Siddhanta.
Please read the line before the line you quoted. What I stated is, according to the mimamsakas “Nothing else is required but to be precise in following the rules. Sankara is totally against this view”. Again in paragraph 5, I stated “So the issue that Sankaracharya has with the Sphotavadins is, they don't give due significance to the Upanishads or the 'Jnana marga' portion of the Vedas.”. In paragraph 6, I stated “Now the above (and subsequent passages in the Upanishad) outlines the Upanishadic stand clearly - that knowledge of Vedas, Grammar etc is just not enough. This is the perspective of Sankaracharya as well”. The point here is, Mimamsa or Sphotavada might be respectable or useful in many ways, but since they don't give 'due significance' to the Upanishadic concepts of the Brahman, insofar as the ultimate purpose of acquiring Purushartham is concerned, they are “not enough". For Sankara, the key to the attainment of Purushartham lies in the proper interpretation and application of Upanishadic concepts. So any philosophy that considers itself complete, without giving any/due significance to the concepts outlined in Upanishads, is to be refuted, and he has ruthlessly rejected such views in the Brahma Sutra Bhashyam and elsewhere.

"So the issue that Sankaracharya has with the Sphotavadins is, they don't give due significance to the Upanishads or the 'Jnana marga' portion of the Vedas" - Paragraph 5.

Same comment as above


Responded above

"Now why is 'worship' suggested as an alternative to grammar, in Bhaja Govindam? Sankaracharya accepts that not everyone is capable enough to acquire knowledge of the Atman directly through meditation on the Mahavakyas. So he accepts that some relatively 'manda buddhis' might be more comfortable with a staged evolution, through worship of Omkaara or some forms of Saguna Brahman like Vishnu, Siva etc." - Paragraph 8

Based on studying the Bhashya one never gets any such impression about Sri Sankara thinking anyone to be a Manda Buddhi. That will be downright condescending for ordinary people and will go against everything Sri Sankara ever commented on. There are lots of incorrect books by authors that have never studied under proper setting and with a proper Guru, who may be propagating such views. Many stories in Sankara Vijayam and other such books portray a wrong view in my understanding.

Sri Sankara's approach to Purvapakshas is one of respect. In some instances, one is almost sold on the logic in certain cases based on how Sri Sankara presents the Purvapakshas. When he is dealing with Mimansakas and their objections, Sri Sankara uses their own methods to examine the meanings of a given construct. In other words it was one of utmost respect in which he presents their points of views.

When Sri Sankara did make a mistake he immediately corrected and accepted the so called Chandala as his Guru (Manishapanchakam).

In fact, intellect and intellectual accomplishments are one of the enemies of gaining true wisdom. When it comes to the language of the Hridayam where non-directional Love only emanates, as in the case of a Jnani such as Sri Sankara, categorizing others as Manda Budhi and prescribing a special method for them for staged evolution is not possible. All the teachings of Upanishads are against such thinking altogether. In fact, there is no such thing as a staged evolution when it comes to enlightenment. Ignorance and Mosksha are in the NOW. Timelessness is the essence of one's swarupa and it cannot be put in the flow of Time.

A true Jnani is indeed a true Bhakta as well.
I think you have picked on a minor matter, without delving into any of the key points in my initial post. Anyway, though I agree with the sentiments you expressed, it is nevertheless true that Adi Sankara did use the word mandabuddhi, in several places. So firstly, here are some direct references, from Sankara’s works, in the same context that I mentioned.

Na hi avikaare anante brahmani sarvaih pumbhih sakyaam buddhih sthapayitum manda madhyottamabuddhitvaad pumsaamiti. (Brahma Sutra Bhashyam 3.2.33)

Meaning : For, as some men are of inferior, others middling, others again of superior intelligence, not all are capable of fixing their mind on the infinite Brahman devoid of any change or transformation.

Again see

Manda madhyama dhiyaam tu pratipannasadhakabhavanaam sanmargagaaminaam sanyasinaam matranaam padanaam cha kluptasamanyavidaam yadhavad upasyamaana Omkaaraka Brahmapratipattaye alambanibhavati. (Mandukya Bhashyam 12)

Meaning: For people of slow or middling intellect, but who are Sannyasins engaged in Sadhana and lead a virtuous life, a right meditation of Omkaara based on the correspondence between the padas of the Atman, and four parts of Omkaara becomes a prop to the mind in their effort to attain Brahman.

Secondly, I think there is nothing condescending or disrespectful in Sankara’s usage of the word ‘manda buddhi’. The word means one thing in Sanskrit, and another in a different language, like Malayalam, for example, where in common usage it is sometimes used in a derogatory way.

As I mentioned elsewhere, Sankara himself was an ardent Krishna Bhakta, so how is it possible for him to be disrespectful to other Bhaktas? Whenever he uses such words, one has to see the context, the entire passage, to appreciate the meaning intended.

Here is another example where Sankara has referred to people of inferior intellect.

Ye Srotriyaah Sthulabuddhitvaad Ajaativastuna sadaa Aatmanasham pashyati. Tesham Sraddhadhaanam Sanmargavalambinaam Jatyupalambhakritaam doshaam siddhim nopayasyanti.

Meaning : Some devotees of the Vedas, not being of sharp intellect, shrink back from the Nirguna, unborn Parabrahman. For such, the wise have conceded meditation with form. As these people are full of faith and of correct conduct, the harm done by meditation with form will be very little.

I have responded to the two issues you raised above.
I learnt Advaita Vedanta at the feet of a Sanyasin, a proper Guru, in a proper setting. My understanding is not based on Sankara Vijayams or any second hand books.

In my original post, except for a few statements where I clearly indicated that I was presuming something, everything else are based on Sankara Bhashyas.

Thanks for your insightful comments.
 
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KRN

Active member
When Sri Sankara did make a mistake he immediately corrected and accepted the so called Chandala as his Guru (Manishapanchakam).
I beg to differ. The five verses of Manisha Panchakam does not mention anywhere that he made a mistake. Based on his other writings, I would rather presume that the stotra came first, and gave rise to the tale afterwards (found only in the mostly unreliable Sankara Vijayams) and not vice versa.

In fact, intellect and intellectual accomplishments are one of the enemies of gaining true wisdom. When it comes to the language of the Hridayam where non-directional Love only emanates, as in the case of a Jnani such as Sri Sankara, categorizing others as Manda Budhi and prescribing a special method for them for staged evolution is not possible. All the teachings of Upanishads are against such thinking altogether. In fact, there is no such thing as a staged evolution when it comes to enlightenment. Ignorance and Mosksha are in the NOW. Timelessness is the essence of one's swarupa and it cannot be put in the flow of Time.


Saguna Brahman as a staged evolution to Nirguna Brahman is well dealt with, in the Brahma Sutra Bhashyam.
 
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tks

Well-known member
Sri KRN,

What I meant by the usage of the Phrase 'last word' is that I was not going to further debate and just acknowledge your response if any , as is.

You have spent some time providing a detailed response. Hence I offer the following comments minimally, without intending to debate. I leave you to decide if my queries and comments to you are relevant. After this I want to go back to my next post following the opening post.

Sri Sankara is not a person and if he existed had merged with Hiranyagarbha. All we have are the words attributed to him. I study those words with the help of qualified teachers, to see if they offer me a chance for my quest for liberation. When you said these topics are close to your heart (I am paraphrasing) I assume that is what you meant as well. What I have found is that Sri Sankara is not teaching new things but has shown us a way to understand the truth - both relative and absolute- as applicable to all human being and as found in the Upanishads, Gita and Brahma Sutra. I do not view these merely as a Philosophy which is mostly a mental thing. The teaching and commentaries expound nothing but the truth. As a scientist by training I am not accepting any of the statements without challenges until the vision is clearer to me.

Having said this, my understanding is that Sri Sankara has provided perspectives and objections of not only Mimansakas but also Vaiseshikas, Sunyavadies, Sankyas, and Patanjali Yoga Darshana followers to name a few. These are provided as Purvapakshas most of which are still relevant today. Some of the models of the universe that today's Physicists hypothesize can be likened to ideas put forth by one of these schools of thoughts. Sidhhanta is then needed to unfold the truth as applicable in the context. It is not the purpose of these commentaries to correct anyone or ask anyone to focus on Jnana scriptures. When we project a personality on Sri Sankara we deprive ourselves from the focus on the message of the teaching itself. But expounding the truth may come across as challenging those other schools of thoughts but that is not the focus. In putting forth these refutations Sri Sankara's commentaries reveal utmost respect to all those other schools of thoughts.

In this subject matter, my conviction is that focus on history and psycho analysis of characters in Upanishads (or even the teachers) are fruitless and lead one to go away from learning the truth. In this context, if you say the Chandala story came after the verses, that is fine by me. The respectful way of treating everyone is all I pointed out and it is natural for a Jnani.

You offered examples from Brahma Sutra Bhashyam and from Mandukya Upanishad Bhashyam about Bhashyakara's usage of words translated as 'low intellect'. I applaud you for providing concrete example to make your point. The context of usage is very different and not applicable in the context of the discussion about Bajagovindam and its usage of the word 'Moodamathe'. Let me offer very brief comments since I do not want to get distracted with discussions about these verses of Mandukya Upanishad at this point.

The quote of Bhashyakara that you provided from Mandukya upanishad (verse 12) actually makes reference to verse 16 of his Parmaguru's (Gaudapada) Karika in the Advita Prakararanam. He has provided commentaries on the verses of the Karika as well as you know. I am mentioning this only to provide a more holistic context in interpreting the word in question.

Madhyama means middle implying there is higher and lower. The Karika verse provides clarification on what these three are.

Intellect is not uniform across all people. Obviously there are people with higher intellect, people with lower intellect and those that lie closer to the median in a Gaussian curve. In the vision of Upanishads, intellect is actually an impediment because one has to dismantle so many wrong notions to arrive at the truth, if they are so fortunate. Nevertheless, intellect has a role to help one know all that is not the truth and it is valuable in that sense. It is also helpful to understand the teachings of a teacher whose pointing fingers point to the truth with the help of the Sruthi. But some people may not have the intellect to go beyond staring at the pointing fingers instead of looking at what is pointed.

For example, second sloka of Sri Dhakshinamurthi stotram shines light on cosmogony of the universe in the vision of the Upanishads. But then one does not need all those discussions if one truly understood the essence of the teachings of Mandukya Upanishad which has powerful analysis of the states of our existence. To appreciate the whole picture, where the teaching method involves deliberate superimposition only to be negated later, requires superior intellect. Many can get stuck in the seeming contradictions.

A person may already be striving to lead a life of a Karma Yogi but not have the emotional fortitude for Upasana (Middle case) and also not have the vision to follow the teachings as in the example above (manda buddhi). The purpose of the teaching is to dismantle the Ahankara through Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhdhyasanam (Brihadaranya Upanishad). Now a person who is given to a life of Karma yoga and not quiet there in terms of following the teaching due to poor vision of the teachings, is offered to meditate on Omkara. This is to extoll the virtues of Omkara as all-pervading silence (and not just removal of noise) with its ability to destroy Ahankara. This is suggested to such people and is viewed as an approach of compassion by the Sruth (as per the Karika verse 16).

This is not the case with the verse of Bhaja Govindam which provides no context upfront and calls out the 'Moodamathe' to anyone listening to the verses.

Moving on, I am unable to understand your comment about staged evolution. Yes, the Brahma Sutra does address Saguna and Nirguna aspects of reality. But Sruthi also teaches that 'I am Brahman' and that Brahman is indivisible and whole with no parts. How do you square away these statements with your understanding of the 'staged evolution'? I want to stop with these questions. You don’t have to answer them here. I offered these comments and questions just to respond respectfully to a set of long posts with references.

I will now move on when I get a time and able to login to the site to the original topic of the thread.
 

KRN

Active member
Sri tks,

I have posted above all that I wished to convey on the topic. There won't be any more posts from me in this regard. Adieu! :)


KRN
 

tks

Well-known member
Bhaj Dhathu

Continuing the conversations …..

IP1 : There is this story of Adi Sankara creating these verses just to help out an old man who was struggling to memorize grammar rules. He was told that at the time of death such worldly knowledge will not help and that he should instead worship Govinda. Is that how this poem came into existence?


R: Actually the story of who created is not relevant because all we want to know is if this sloka is useful for our quest for liberation. Given the profound teaching it conveys, Bhaja Govindam can serve to be a Prakarana Grantha , namely preparatory text. Having said this, reviewing the structure and usage of Sanskrit language many experts believe that Adi Sankara is unlikely to have composed this. Anyone that has spent time studying Bhashya (commentaries) of Sri Sankara knows that he was a natural expert in Vyakarana (Grammar) as well as Vakyartha (study of understanding sentences, a specialized expertise of Mimasakas). The language level is too elementary to have been composed by Adi Sankara. It might very well have been composed by another acharya in that lineage. For us, the history is really irrelevant

IP2: If Adi Sankara did not compose this, the story itself is likely to be made up

R: Indeed, that is possible. The story is used wrongly by many to shut people from thinking and ask them to mindlessly chant the name of the Lord. Chanting the name of Lord has its value to calm one's mind. But the reason used while referring to Bhaja Govindam is often wrong. Some use the term Dukrunjkarane as a pivot point to explain that worldly knowledge is not going to be helpful. That is not incorrect but it is a big extrapolation by taking an expression of Panini grammar to mean all worldly knowledge. There is another reason why the story is unlikely to be true. Telling an old man that he is nearing death is absurd. Death as dramatized by Yama resides in the heart of every person between the two beats of the heart. I have known people who are living to be 100 and some pass away very young abruptly. So the idea of saving oneself from death has nothing to do with age because it is poor to single out a older person to tell them they are closer to death. Somehow I cannot imagine any Jnani talking like that. But that is just my view.


IP3: Is there another explanation other than what the way the story is interpreted. Many great acharyas have used and continue to use the story as a basis to discuss about worldly knowledge.

R: That is correct and there are better explanation which will require a bit of deep dive into grammar itself. Without getting too technical we can make an interpretation as to what the term actually coveys.

Digression beging (one can omit reading)


Here is a bit of digression about basic things needed to interpret the whole verse. Spoken language of Sanskrit evolved significantly before the grammar rules came in. It is indeed the genius of Panini how he was able to reverse engineer the rules though expression in Vedas do not always fall within the rules. There are about 4000 rules spelled out in terms of Sutras out of which 2000 is considered more than adequate. The entire universe is seen as moving, and hence verbal roots dealing with action are considered the basic building block of the language. The verbal root themselves are not actual words used but a set of transformation (sutras) modify the verbal root to create either nominal stem or base word for verbs.

Verb in usage is created based on more transformations based on tenses like present, past, and future etc. In Sanskrit there are 6 tenses and 4 moods. The nominal stem is again modified via transformations to create nouns linked to verbs.

For example, a nominal stem is used to create subject, object, instrument, dative cases etc. etc. Anyone that has memorized Rama Shabdam will related to what I am saying. Nouns do not exist by themselves but expressed only in relation to other nouns or verbs. That is why the order of the words do not matter in most cases since sentence is understood. In English 'Man bites dog' is different from 'Dog bites man' because the meanings are different. Because the order is correctly understood in Sanskrit , the language has enabled one to create poems to a meter and it is not a surprise that the largest poem in the world in Mahabharatha with close to 100000 verses.

All words have their origin in a verbal root. There are 2200 or so such roots organized into groupings of 10.


There are three kinds of verbs in Sanskrit, परस्मैपद Parasmaipadam (P) and आत्मनेपद Atmanepadam (A) are the major categories out of the three. P is used when I do something for someone else. So when I cook for someone else it will be one kind of usage पचामि (P). However, if I cook for myself, it will be पचे (A). There are verbs that can be both P and A and these are called उभयपद Ubhayapada (U). The verb denoted by Dukrunjkarane happens to be Ubhayapada. One can only imagine the number of transformations in order to correctly determine the right kind of usage when we consider A, P, U. in the context of 6 tenses and 3 moods. Sometimes there could 15+ transformations to reach the right usage. That is why the language is more suited for computer implementation. There was an initiative and research at NASA that knowledge representation and human language comprehension can be completely done if one were to use Sanskrit. That effort did not go anywhere due to lack of expertise but there are papers that attest to how rich the language of Sanskrit is in communicating precise meanings that even a computer can comprehend.


End of digression

IP1: What is all the above background needed for?

R: Let us start with the first word Bhaja in the sloka. The root word of this action is Bhaj denoted as
[FONT=&quot]√[/FONT]भज्. This root word can give rise to usage via transformations and there are wide variety of meanings possible. The Sanskrit dictionary gives the basic meaning as serving or giving. If one were to use the meaning as serve then its extension becomes 'to worship'. It can also give rise to words via transformation in context to mean to cook , to accept, to resort to etc. These are from my class notes taken a long time ago.

There is one meaning that best fits here to interpret this verse. From one of my reference it states
भजत् bhajat (bhaj) [FONT=&quot]√[/FONT]भज् सेवायाम् seek - seeking.


So in Bhaja Govindam - means Seek Govinda.

As pointed earlier in Post #2, Govinda has many possible meanings. Govinda itself is a compound word (called Samasa)
गोविन्दम् = गां विन्दति इति गोविन्द:
Not planning on doing transliteration but will cover the meanings. Using my past notes taken many years ago let me share a meaning that fits the context well.

Govinda also means Bhagavan as known by the Vedas.
गोविन्दम् = गोभि: विद्यते (उपनिशद्वाक्यै: ज्ञायते) इति गोविन्द- this is a case of upa-pada samasa a particular rule governing formation of compound words.

Therefore Bhaja Govindam means 'Seek Bhagavan known through the Vedas'

To be continued.
 
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