Bhaja Govindam was written by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya.
A biography of Shankara and his other compositions of vedic
literature can be found in the shankara.itx document.

Bhaja govindaM is one of the minor compositions of the spiritual
giant, Adi Shankaracharya . It is classified as a prakaraNa grantha,
a primer to the major works . Though sung as a bhajan, it contains
the essence of vedanta and implores the man to think,
``Why am I here in this life ? Why am I amassing wealth, family, but
have no peace ? What is the Truth ? What is the purpose of life ?
The person thus awakened gets set on a path to the inner
road back to the God principle.

The background of Bhaja GovindaM is worth examining . During
his stay in Kashi, he noticed a very old man studying the rules
of sanskrit by Panini .  Shankara was touched with pity at seeing
the plight of the old man spending his years at a mere intellectual
accomplishment while he would be better off praying and spending
time to control his mind . Shankara understood that the majority
of the world was also engaged in mere intellectual, sense pleasures and
not in the divine contemplation . Seeing this, he burst forth with the
verses of Bhaja govindaM.

In 31 verses, he, like no other, explains our fallacies, our
wrong outlook for life, and dispells our ignorance and delusions.
Thus bhaja govindaM was originally known as moha mudgaara, the remover
of delusions.
Shankara explains, nay chides, us for spending our time in
useless trivia like amassing wealth, lusting after (wo)men and requests
us to discriminate and cultivate the knowledge to learn the difference 
between the real and the unreal . To emphasise that, he concludes that
all knowledge other than the Self-Knowledge is useless, Shankara makes the 
person realize how foolish he/she is in the conduct and behavior by these 
verses, and shows the purpose of our worldly existence, which is to seek
Govinda and attain Him.
Bhaja govindaM is divided into dvaadasha manjarikaa stotram and chaturdasha
manjarika stotram . At the end of composing the first stanza, it is said 
that Shankara burst forth with the next 11 stanzas of bhaja govindam.
Thus stanzas 1-12 are called dvaadash manjarika stotram . Inspired by the
extempore recital by Shankara, each of his 14 disciples composed a verse
and the 14 verse compendium is called chaturdasha manjarika stotram. 
Shankara added the finishing touches by adding five of his own stanzas 
at the last bringing the total to 31-

The last two verses in this version is not found in all editions.

Bhaja govindaM has been set to musical tones and sung as
prayer songs by children . It is divided into dvaadashapaJNjarikaa and
charpaTapaJNjarikaa for this purpose.

The former is a set of verses (verses 1-12a) while the rest of the verses 
form charpaTapaJNjarikaa.

Anyone who listens to the music of Bhaja govindaM is attracted to
it . However, the significance of the text goes much deeper and
contains a well defined philosophy of attaining salvation . Shankara's words
seem to be quite piercing and seem to lack the softness and tenderness
often found in his other texts, thus addressing directly.

The reason is that this was an extempore recital to an old man . His words 
can be compared to a  knife of a doctor . The doctor's knife cruely removes 
the tumor with much pain, but removing the tumor ultimately restores good health 
in the patient. So is Shankara's words, which pierce and point out our ignorance.
It is a knife into the heart of worldiness, and by removing this tumor of ignorance, 
we can attain everlasting bliss with the grace of Govinda.

May the achaarayaa guide us from ignorance to truth . OM tat sat.

~~~~~~~~~~~Begin translation~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Oh fool ! Give up your thrist to amass wealth, devote your
mind to thoughts to the Real . Be content with what comes
through actions already performed in the past.

Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and
lust by seeing a woman's navel and chest . These are nothing but
a modification of flesh . Fail not to remember this again and
again in your mind.

The life of a person is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a
lotus leaf . Know that the whole world remains a prey to
disease, ego and grief.

So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see
what affection all those around him show . But no one at home
cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to
old age.

When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his
welfare . But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife
runs away in fear of the corpse.

The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness . Youth is lost by
attachment to woman . Old age passes away by thinking over many
things . But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in

Who is your wife ? Who is your son ? Strange is this samsaara, the world.
Of whom are you ? From where have you come ? Brother, ponder
over these truths.

From satsanga, company of good people, comes non-attachment,
from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to 
self-settledness . From self-settledness comes Jiivan muktii.

What good is lust when youth has fled ? What use is a lake
which has no water ? Where are the relatives when wealth is
gone ? Where is samsaara, the world,  when the Truth is known ?

Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth . Each one of these
are destroyed within a minute by time . Free yourself from the
illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.

Daylight and darkness, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime
come and go . Time plays and life ebbs away . But the storm of
desire never leaves.

This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian
by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the bhagavadpada.

Oh mad man ! Why this engrossment in thoughts of wealth ? Is
there no one to guide you ? There is only one thing in three
worlds that can save you from the ocean of samsaara, get into
the boat of satsanga, company of good people, quickly.
Stanza attributed to Padmapada.

There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean
shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are
clothed in orange, yet others in various colors --- all just for
a livelihood . Seeing truth revealed before them, still the
foolish ones see it not.
Stanza attributed to Totakacharya.

Strength has left the old man's body; his head has become bald,
his gums toothless and leaning on crutches . Even then the
attachment is strong and he clings firmly to fruitless desires.
Stanza attributed to Hastamalaka.

Behold there lies the man who sits warming up his body with the
fire in front and the sun at the back; at night he curls up the
body to keep out of the cold; he eats his beggar's food from
the bowl of his hand and sleeps beneath the tree . Still in his
heart, he is a wretched puppet at the hands of passions.
Stanza attributed to Subodha.

One may go to Gangasagar, observe fasts, and give away riches
in charity ! Yet, devoid of jnana, nothing can give mukthi even
at the end of a hundred births.
Stanza attributed to vaartikakaara.

Take your residence in a temple or below a tree, wear the
deerskin for the dress, and sleep with mother earth as your
bed . Give up all attachments and renounce all comforts . Blessed
with such vairgya, could any fail to be content ?
Stanza attributed to nityaananda.

One may take delight in yoga or bhoga, may have attachment or
detachment . But only he whose mind steadily delights in Brahman
enjoys bliss, no one else .
Stanza attributed to anandagiriH.

Let a man read but a little from giitaa, drink just a drop of
water from the ganges, worship but once muraari . He then will
have no altercation with Yama .
Stanza attributed to dRiDhabhakta.

Born again, death again, again to stay in the mother's womb !
It is indeed hard to cross this boundless ocean of samsaara . Oh
Murari ! Redeem me through Thy mercy.
Stanza attributed to nityanaatha.

There is no shortage of clothing for a monk so long as there
are rags cast off the road . Freed from vices and virtues, onward
he wanders . One who lives in communion with god enjoys bliss,
pure and uncontaminated, like a child and as an intoxicated.
Stanza attributed to nityanaatha.

Who are you ? Who am I ? From where do I come ? Who is my
mother, who is my father ? Ponder thus, look at everything as
essenceless and give up the world as an idle dream.
Stanza attributed to surendra.

In me, in you and in everything, none but the same Vishnu
dwells . Your anger and impatience is meaningless . If you wish
to attain the status of Vishnu, have samabhaava, equanimity, always.
Stanza attributed to medhaatithira.

Waste not your efforts to win the love of or to fight against
friend and foe, children and relatives . See yourself in
everyone and give up all feelings of duality completely.
Stanza attributed to medhaatithira.

Give up lust, anger, infatuation, and greed . Ponder over your
real nature . Fools are they who are blind to the Self . Cast
into hell, they suffer there endlessly.
Stanza attributed to bhaarativamsha.

Regularly recite from the Gita, meditate on Vishnu in your
heart, and chant His thousand glories . Take delight to be with
the noble and the holy . Distribute your wealth in charity to
the poor and the needy.
Stanza attributed to sumatir.

He who yields to lust for pleasure leaves his body a prey to
disease . Though death brings an end to everything, man does not
give-up the sinful path.

Wealth is not welfare, truly there is no joy in it . Reflect
thus at all times . A rich man fears even his own son . This is
the way of wealth everywhere.

Regulate the praaNa-s, life forces, remain unaffected by external influences
and discriminate between the real and the fleeting . Chant the
holy name of God and silence the turbulent mind . Perform these
with care, with extreme care.

Oh devotee of the lotus feet of the Guru ! May thou be soon
free from Samsara . Through disciplined senses and controlled
mind, thou shalt come to experience the indwelling Lord of your
heart !

Thus a silly grammarian lost in rules cleansed of his narrow
vision and shown the Light by Shankara's apostles.

Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool !
Other than chanting the Lord's names, there is no other way
to cross the life's ocean.

~~~~~~~~~~~End translation~~~~~~~~~~~

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