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V.10 Bhaja Govindam Study Class Notes

SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 21 - 04/06/23

Chinmaya UK Study Class, Śaṅkarācārya, Swami Chinmayananda (Sw. C.)



Vayasi Gatē Kaḥ Kāmavikāraḥ

Śuṣke Nīrē Kaḥ Kāsāraḥ |

Kṣīṇe Vitte Kaḥ Parivārō

Jñātē Tattvē Kaḥ Saṃsāraḥ || 10 ||


When youth is gone, where is lust and its play?

When water has evaporated, where is the lake?

When wealth is reduced, where is the retune?

When Truth is realised, where is (the snare of) saṃsāra?


Verse 10: No Cause...no effect!


Last week we saw:

How these statements are continuations of themes (lust, life's impermanence, and wealth) that Śaṅkarācārya has asked us to examine extensively in previous verses. Here he indicates that when the cause has ended, the effects cannot continue.

(1) When youth has passed, where are lust and its play?

Lust springs from youthfulness: when our bodies are fully functional, our skin is tight and muscles are hard, our blood is stormy (hormones are surging through us), and we are young and hearty. In our youthfulness, a natural but primal, hormonal urge surges through us, and our young, immature, and emotional/sentimental selves drive our lust for possession.

By virtue of maturing, lust sometimes dissolves. In these cases, love and understanding develop, and right relationships with the world of objects, people, mind, and situations develop.

In other cases, we run after youth as if it is our identity and there is something wrong with us if we age. Here lies the anti-ageing, billion-dollar industry creating an illusion of being forever young and profiting from our marketing-inflicted insecurities.

THINK: What is it about youthfulness that we want to hold on to so desperately? Is it attractiveness to others - being desired? Is it having the energy and will to do things? Is it pure vanity? Or is it our fear of death? The realisation of the body's mortality?

Through this reflection, we come to see what we are chasing after: being desirable, ability, vanity, fear of death etc. However, through contemplation of who we are - not the BMI - when we come to, at least logically, realise our identity as satchitananada, that our body's are instruments and a healthy, happy one gives us the abity to serve and express our gifts, then we are prepared to experience every age with grace and serenity.


How do we come to understand this?

Say you are known for your youthfulness and have many admirers, and one day an accident occurs and your beauty/handsomeness is instantly gone.

Are you gone, or are you still experiencing you without beauty/handsomeness?

Say the next day you have plastic surgery and your beauty/handsomeness is restored. Is it suddenly a different person experiencing beauty/handsomeness, accident and loss of beauty/handsomeness, surgery, and beauty/handsomeness? Or are you there through all the experiences?

Replace beauty with anything else we identify with - reputation/wealth/profession/values etc. Are these things who YOU are?

THINK! Who are you, and what have you identified with?

Secondly, if the underlying reason we run after youth and are afraid to age is that we fear the uncertainty of death and the unknown, then if we take the view that it is just the body that dies and the subtle body receives another body to continue its journey [or consciousness, if it has realised itself, merges back into itself—Infinite Reality], then where is the need to hold on to youth? Ageing and death of the body are vital and natural occurrences of the soul's journey back hOMe.

Again, think: who are YOU? By constantly reflecting on the question "who am i?" and "what am i not" - the identification with our instruments lessens and we become more aware of them, and we centre ourselves more in that awareness.


(2) When the water has evaporated, where is the lake?

Water can be seen here as our thoughts, and the lake is our minds.

As long as the waters (thoughts) of desires are playing in the mind, we passionately run after them, trying to fulfil our every passing desire. When the desires have dried up and we realise the permanent happiness we are searching for is not in those desires, then the desire to strive and court diminishes.


Does this mean we don't do anything?

Lol, try it! For just one day, not to do anything. Try.

😅 EVEN if we have become desireless - things, people, and situations still come to us. Cause and effect are still at play. Prarabhda karma must exhaust itself (though past life and future karma may be burned on realisation, our present karma cannot).

So, then?

Act without clinging attachment to any particular, self-given outcome. In the words of Sw do our best and leave the rest. Then we can act without anxiety. We play our roles to the very best of our ability, without expectation. And whatever the result, after giving our 100%, we accept the outcome with grace and gratitude as prasād.

We see the mechanics, implications, and implementation of this in a later part of the verse.


(3) When wealth is reduced, where are the relatives?

True connections are built on shared values, trust, and support beyond material wealth. Although we would like to focus on nurturing and cherishing genuine relationships that transcend material circumstances. However, when our wealth of energy, of wisdom, of money, of resources, dry up, then society, loved ones, supporters, dependents, and relatives who are busy with 'making a living' and 'surviving' have less time for us.

This is a hard fact of life. Even if they want to spend time with us, modern lifestyles and situations rarely allow it.

THINK: If we examine life closely, do we observe such phenomena in ourselves, in our families, and in society?

To know this actually empowers us to live our lives whilst we are young in a way that when we are old the need for loved ones is minimal. It is not to say we do not cherish the time with people and are fully present when we are together, but that we barely notice when/if they are not there. This level of self-reliance is important for spiritual growth becasue it makes our minds free of attachments and desire.


In these lines, Śaṅkarācārya has shown us that when the cause is absent, the effect is also absent. if we carry this line of thinking into subjective realms of spiritual growth and perfection, the final line in the verse asks When Truth is realised, where is (the snare of) saṃsāra?


This we shall see in the next class...until then, Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam!!

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