Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rules. What rules? Just pray.

Bhaja Govindam
Verse 1

भजगोविन्दं भजगोविन्दं
गोविन्दं भजमूढमते |
संप्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले
नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृञ्करणे ||

Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Govindam Bhaja Mudhamate
Sampraapte Sannihite Kale
Na Hi Na Hi Rakshati Dukrinkarane

Seek Govinda! Seek Govinda!
Seek Govinda! Oh Fool!
When the appointed time (death) comes,
rules of grammar surely will not save you.

Adi Shankaracharya's teachings (well i havent imbibed it all!) has always held a fascination for me. No sooner than someone explained a bit about his teachings and the concept of his philosophy, i believed that this path or his explanation rang close to what i could accept as the truth. I dont claim to have understood it all, nor do i claim to have read them all either. But this simple song or poem, call it what you want, has contained in it, many thoughts of philosophy and theology.

I have listened to the song, before i even knew what it was. The refrain of Bhaja Govindam, and the other most commonly quoted verse 'Punarapi Jananam  Punarapi Maranam' were well entrenched in my mind, much before i sat down to understand what it all really meant. These verses have also held a special place, thanks to music. Musicians, Carnatic and otherwise have sung these as a song tuned with music, again helping it take root in your psyche.

Adi Shankaracharya, and his disciples, credit with the creation of these verses, did not merely mean this to be a sing-song tune or a bhajan to raise the frevor of bhakti. It is instead small tidbits of advice to help one navigate their life through the ocean of maya and moha - delusion and desire. These verse promote the very core of the hindu philosophy, attainment of universal bliss - moksha. Moksha is attained many ways, and one path is the shedding of ego, desires and other worldy passions and emotions that rock your mind and soul.

To me personally, these verses have helped many a time, by allowing my mind to ponder about these 'rules' of life. How should we behave? react? respond? It is almost always at times of hopelessness, despair, loss of wealth or family or at time of deep fear. Fear again, because of not knowing what all your efforts will achieve ? Fear again of losing.

It also hold special signficance today, when people of differnt hues and religious persuasions, are attemping to color god and religion, with a singular safforon color. It shows to them, all rules, are to be broken, in the pursuit of god. Rules not just of grammar, but of who is of a high and low caste. Rules that tell you how to divide people. And funnily even rules that tell you how to annoint god. May be, this one verse goes out all of them, 'Bhaja Govindam......'.