"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bhaja Govindam - 16

अग्रे वह्निः पृष्ठे भानुः रात्रौ चुबुकसमर्पितजानुः ।
करतलभिक्षस्तलतरुवासस्तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापाशः ॥१६॥
(भज-गोविन्दं भज-गोविन्दं)

agre vahnih pruśThe bhānuh rātrau chubuka-samarpita-januh |
karatala-bhikśastala-taruvāsastadapi na muncatyāśāpāśāh ||16||
(bhaja govindam bhaja govindam…)

अग्रे= in front, वह्निः= fire, पृष्ठे = behind, भानुः = sun, रात्रौ = at night, चुबुकसमर्पितजानुः = with his knees to his chin, करतल = in his palm, भिक्ष = alms, तलतरुवास = in the shade of the tree, तदपि = and yet, न = not, मुञ्चति = leaves, आशापाशः = noose of desires

Literal Translation:
In front the fire, at the back the sun, late at night he sits with his knees held to his chin, he receives alms in his own scooped alms, and lives under the shelter of a tree, and yet the noose of desire does not spare him.

The previous stanza ridiculed the householder for not being free of desire even at the end of life. In this stanza, the state of the monk is described. The tyranny of desire is universal. Consider the life of the ascetic - someone who has renounced everything, lives with the bare necessities of life given to him by others, lives with the vagaries of weather, and yet even a man who has chosen to live such a simple life as this is subject to desire.

If self-denial is not accompanied by mental purity, it becomes nothing but self-suppression. Renouncing the world is not real renunciation. The goal is to be rid of the thirst to enjoy the world. Asceticism should result in the conservation of vitality that would be otherwise spent in indulgence. This re-directed energy can be used for positive development and spriritual unfoldment - this is the sublimation of instincts.

Sublimation, not suppression - is the message of this verse, credited to Hastaamalaka, one of the disciples of Shankaracharya.

Reference Text: Bhaja Govindam by Adi Shankara, commentary by Swami Chinmayananda 

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