Bhaja Govindam [Praise/Seek Govinda (Vishnu) or (Krishna)] also known as Moha Mudgara (Hammer [to shatter] illusion) is a popular 8th century Hindu devotional composition in Sanskrit attributed to Adi Shankara. This work of Adi Shankara underscores the view that devotion (Bhakti) to God, Govinda, is a vastly important part of general spirituality, as emphasised by Bhakti Yoga and the Bhakti movement. This work is generally considered a summary of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta philosophy.
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This composition is a reminder that the author, Adi Shankara, who is often regarded as a stalwart advocate of the Jnana Marga (Jnana Yoga) or the "Path of Knowledge" to attain Mukti, yielded to none in appreciating, indeed enjoining the Bhakti Marga (Bhakti Yoga) or the "Path of Faith/Devotion" to the same goal, and as C. Rajagopalachari put in his commentary, "When intelligence (jnana) matures and lodges securely in the heart, it becomes wisdom (vairagya). When that wisdom (vairagya) is integrated with life and issues out in action, it becomes devotion (bhakti). Knowledge (jnana) which has become mature is spoken of as devotion (bhakti). If it does not get transformed into devotion (bhakti), such knowledge (jnana) is useless tinsel."
In this prayer, Adi Shankara emphasizes the importance of devotion for God as a means to spiritual development and to liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The prayer leaves one in no doubt that the renunciation of our egotistical differences and surrender to God makes for salvation. Many scholars hold that this composition encapsulates with both brevity and simplicity the substance of all Vedantic thought found in whatever other works that Adi Shankara wrote:
The refrain "Bhaja Govindam" which defines the composition and gives it its name invokes the almighty in the aspect of Vishnu; it is therefore very popular not only with Sri Adi Shankaracharya's immediate followers, the Smarthas, but also with Vaishnavas and others.
The metre is moraic (मात्राछन्दस्). Apart from the first verse, all other verses have 16 mAtrAs, which tend to fit the description of the pAdakulakam variety of mAtrAsamaka [मात्रासमक] in vRtta-ratnAkara.
There is a story attached to the composition of this Hymn. It is said that Adi Shankara, accompanied by his disciples, was walking along a street in Varanasi one day when he came across an aged scholar teaching the rules of Sanskrit grammar to his students by rote. Taking pity on him, Adi Shankara went up to the scholar and advised him not to waste his time on grammar at his age but to turn his mind to God in worship and adoration. The hymn "Bhaja Govindam" is said to have been composed on this occasion.
The composition consists of twenty-seven verses. Besides the refrain of the song beginning with the words "Bhaja Govindam", Shankara is said to have sung twelve other verses. Hence, the hymn bears the title "Dvadasamanjarika-Stotra" (A hymn which is a bunch of twelve verse-blossoms). The fourteen disciples who were with the Master on that occasion are believed to have added one verse each. These fourteen verses are together called "Chaturdasa-manjarika-Stotra" (a hymn consisting of fourteen verse-blossoms).
- Review Yogalife, sivananda.org, 2003.
- Bhaja Govindam, by Sankarācārya, Chinmayananda, Translated by Brahmacharini Sharada. Published by Chinmaya Publications Trust, 1967. Page5-7.
- Swami Chinmayananda, Adi Sankaracharya's Bhaja Govindam. Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, 2005.ISBN 817597107X.
- Bhaja Govindam Ancient Wisdom, Yogalife, Fall 2003 Issue. Sivananda.
- Commentary on Bhaja Govindam by C. Srinivas Kuchibhotla.
- The Hymns of Sankara, by Śankaracarya, Telliyavaram Mahadevan Ponnambalam Mahadevan, Totakācārya, Sureśvarācārya. Published by Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2002. ISBN 81-208-0097-4. Page 33.
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- Bhaja Govindam Side by side translation in Hindi and English
- Bhaja Govindam by C. Rajagopalachari (online book)
- Bhaja Govindam by K. P. Rathnakara Bhatta (online book)
- Bhaja Govindam : Follow Your Heart published by Vakils Feffer & Simons Pvt Ltd
- Complete Works of Shankaracharya
- Bharatanatyam Rendition of Bhaja Govindam
- Talk by Rajaji at carnatic.com
- Listen to Bhaja Govidam at Raaga