"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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bhaja Govindam - 17

कुरुते गङ्गासागरगमनं व्रतपरिपालनमथवा दानम् ।
ज्ञानविहीनः सर्वमतेन भजति न मुक्तिं जन्मशतेन ॥१७॥
(भज-गोविन्दं भज-गोविन्दं)

karute gangāsāgaragamanam vrataparipālanamathavā dānam |
jnānavihīnah sarvamatena bhajati na muktim janmaśatena ||17||
(bhaja-govindam bhaja-govindam…)

कुरुते = does, गङ्गासागरगमनं = visit (pilgrimage) to the Ganga delta, व्रतपरिपालनम = observance of vows, अथवा = or, दानम् = charity, ज्ञानविहीनः = devoid of knowledge, सर्वमतेन = according to all schools of thought, भजति = he gains, न = not, मुक्तिं = release, जन्मशतेन = in a hundred births

Literal translation
One may go to the Ganga delta on pilgrimage or observe vows or perform charity. Without the first-hand experience of the Truth, all schools of thought (in Vedanta) hold that such a person will not find release in a hundred births.

After the verse from Totakacharya criticizing the householder for being prey to desire even at the end of his life, and the criticism in the previous verse by Hastamaalaka of unintelligent tapas not ridding the recluse of desire, this verse by Shri Subodha ridicules the tapas of the householder.

Devoted householders go on pilgrimages, keep fasts and perform worship rituals. Gurudev has said here that Gangasaagar may refer to the Ganga delta of the same name where the river flows into the Bay of Bengal, or could mean visiting the Ganga (Haridwar, Pryayag, Kashi, etc) and the saagar, or sea (at Rameshwaram). Such devotional practices are means to an end, but people confuse them to be goals in themselves. One needs to remember that these steps only prepare the individual to surrender to the highest ideal, and progress on the path of study and contemplation.

Shri Subodha says that all schools of thought in Vedanta are unanimous on this – the mere practice of these noble exercises cannot help one reach the goal of salvation even in a hundred lives.

Gurudev has explained here that when a person sees the rope as a snake, the snake does not go away by reciting a mantra. It is only the removal of the ignorance and the realization that it is a rope and not a snake that removes the fear. When a person is disturbed in a dream, it is only waking up and realizing it was a dream that will make the person happy. Only the experience of true knowledge that comes through contemplation, redeems a person. When a person rises above the limited individual ego and understands the infinite nature of the Self, the world ceases to be a burden.

Refer to verse 2 of Atma Bodha:
बोधोऽन्यसाधनेभ्यो हि साक्षान्मोक्षैकसाधनम ।
पाकस्य वह्निवज्ज्ञानम् विना मोक्षो न सिध्यति ॥२॥
bodhonyasādhanebhyo hi sākṣānmokṣaikasādhanama |
pākasya vahnivajjnānam vinā mokṣo na sidhyati ||2||

Which literally translates as: Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without Knowledge, there is no emancipation. Compared with all other forms of discipline, the Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means for liberation.

According to this verse of Atma Bodha, in the process of cooking, ingredients can be substituted, but fire is essential and has no alternative. Similarly, there are alternative paths that people may take for seeking the Self, but the Knowledge of the Self is essential for mokṣa – liberation.

Also, refer to the Bhagwad Geeta (4-37) in which Krishna says that as the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, so the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all reaction to material activities. Jnāna burns all āgāmi karma and liberates a person. And further, Krishna says (4-41,42) that one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge and whose mind is firmly seated in the Self, is not bound by action. So the doubts that have arisen in the mind out of ignorance can only be slashed by the weapon of knowledge.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment