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V.11 Bhaja Govindam Study Class Notes


SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 24 - 25/06/23

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

Verse 11 Pride comes before a fall!


mā kuru dhana jana yauvana garvaṁ

harati nimeṣātkālaḥ sarvam |

māyāmayamidamakhilaṁ buddhvā

brahmapadaṁ tvaṁ praviśa viditvā || 11 ||

Take no pride in your possessions, in the people (at your command),

in the youthfulness (that you have).

Time loots away all these in a moment.

Leaving aside all these, after knowing their illusory nature,

realise the state of Brahman.


Pride

Most of us take pride in the things we have, be they possessions, people (relationships, status, power etc), or youth (energy, ability, drive etc). They make us feel good. Invincible sometimes. We think they will always be there.

- This is not a bad thing, as such. However, the caution here is not to take pride in those things. Not to think that they make us who we are, not to make them our identity, or as, to put it in Sw. C's blunt terms, they are but 'false vanities and hollow conceits' that keep us bound to saṃsāra or the 'wheel of woe'.


Why?

Because, as quickly as they come, they go.

Time takes all of these away from us. And it is this change that affects us when we (our body, mind and intellect (BMI)) have a strong relationship or identity with the world of objects, feelings, and thought.

Through our BMI's relationship/identity we create a false attitude: 'my things,' 'my people,' 'my joys/sorrow,' 'my ideas' etc., and these false vanities veil us from the Self, causing us to suffer the 'storms of finitude' and 'floods of change' both of which are the nature of the objective world.


Think - what in this world isn't finite? What doesn't change?


Nothing.


There is no thing/person/situation that is infinite in this world - even the oldest star will one day implode back into itself. Everything that is born, must one day die. What stays the same forever? Our bodies? The people around us? Our roles? The environment?

Everything we percieve/feel/think changes.

If we get stuck in the way things are right now and think that anything lasts forever (this also includes our own limited habit patterns when we get attached to one way of thinking/being/perceiving ourselves), we get a sorrowful and rude awakening when it changes or needs to change!

But if all these things change, then who am I?

There is something behind the change, illuminating it all - that is always there, always will be and never changes. It's there when we wake up/sleep, when we are happy/sad, alone/in company, when we were a baby/and every second until the body ceases. Tell me a time when 'you' were not there. It is this Consciousness or Infinite Reality that is the substratum of everything.

Swami Chinmayananda created the BMI chart as a visual framework for this:



This is the tragedy/comedy!

This Reality, this sat-chit-ananda is what unknowingly our lives are in search of, that is who 'I' am. But instead, because of our veils of impressions/ignorance, we search in the opposite direction - through our BMI's through which we perceive/feel/think the objects/people/situations of the external world and the emotions and thoughts they conjure up within us.

We have seen time and again that we are not our bodies, mind and intellects; they are always changing - yet we are there in all those changes. This 'I' has manifested a BMI as an effect of our vāsanās.

- When we realise this, we start to introspect to become aware of our own minds, the likes and dislikes, judgements, and prejudices within us and we start to see them for what they are, impressions from the past - family, society, childhood conditioning that we have taken on board unquestioned.

- We build our sense-enjoyments on our wealth, social connection/status and youth. We compete, envy, and trample on others so we can come out on top. But on top of what?

- All of these are temporary and don't give us that permanent happiness we constantly seek.

Why? Let's break them down....


Dhana (Wealth)

Wealth is never constant or faithful. In the Hindu imagination, wealth is personified as Goddess Lakshmi, who is beautiful, charming, generous, and charismatic, but also can̄cala—'inconsiderate', 'nimble', 'shaking', 'inconstant', 'moveable', 'flickering', 'moving', 'unsteady', 'fortune'. She moves from place to place, visiting all.

Wealth comes and goes. One moment the markets are doing well, and the next the bubble has burst. One day we may be in a well-paying job; the next it could all get taken away.

Possessions lose their value in an instant. We may experience a surge of pride on purchasing the latest phone, or a new car/house, or pair of Jimmy Choos...but we get deflated when a newer version comes out or ours gets old, broken or stolen.

- Insurance of our possessions has become another commodity in and of itself. Yet, things are constantly changing, ageing, and breaking.

We become sorrowful over things that we imagined to define us!

Wealth, possessions etc are supposed to be used for the greater good. Enjoy them whilst they are here in service of something larger.

THINK!


Youth

Youth can't, by the laws of nature, last forever. Yet, how much time, energy, and money do we spend on products to keep us youthful? It's a multi-billion pound industry that feeds off and fosters pride of youth.

What is so great about youth?

It has it's place, of course, as every age has its beauty. The innocence and care-freeness of childhood, the wisdom and experience of years both have their beauty too.

If we live each moment as it is, doing our best, there will be no regret or wish to return to an imagined glorified youth (just think back to how it actually was/is!).

In fact, age and time become mere constructs. All there is is here and now.

Jana (people)

Jana is a broad term for all our relationships, social status, popularity, power etc, all of which are dependent on the mood of the hour.

One moment we may be praised, the next criticised. Even if we spend our time trying to be liked or uphold our status, or compromise ourselves by pandering to those around us - we cannot - in fact never will be able to be praised by everyone at all times. We don't agree/praise/criticise/like/dislike everyone all the time - how do we expect it of others? Even Lord Rama and Princess Sita were not immune to this. It is very much dependent on the moment.

In this regard, it is better to live lives of integrity that is in line with dharma (that which upholds and sustains) and swadharma (our own nature). It then becomes less relevant what others think of us and even what our own minds are desiring, as we hold our own benchmark for ourselves.

Living a life of dharma sometimes seems more difficult, but actually, it is a way to live whereby we live out our karma without adding new baggage. As Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:

śhreyān swa-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣhṭhitāt

svabhāva-niyataṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣham 18:47


"It is better to do one’s own dharma, even though imperfectly,

than to do another’s dharma, even though perfectly.

By doing one’s innate duties, a person does not incur sin."


When we realise this, it becomes easier not to compare or compete. We allow ourselves to be the original versions of ourselves. No two beings, no matter how closely related, are the same. There can never be another one of us. We may appreciate others but don't envy their lot because we see the karmic perfection and beauty in our own.

Once we start to honour our own journeys, we can celebrate, commiserate and empathise with others rather than judge or try to forcibly change anyone else.

THINK!


Our Predicament

We go through life thinking wealth, people, and youth will always be with us and that it is our god-given right that they should always be with us. But who said?

Loved ones can go, possessions can lose their value and we can age in a moment.

None of it is a guarantee. it is our folly to think it is. And this is what causes us so much sorrow.

As Sw. C. put it: 'This drama of passion and lust can end only in utter dissipation and personality exhaustion.'

Remember, these things have come due to our own past actions and will go along their journeys as per their karma. We are all on our journey back hOMe, learning from each other on the way. It is our choice whether we open our hearts to Life or close them in defence of the little 'i'.


So, what to do?

The advice is to leave all these aside and realise the state of Brahman.


Know Thy Self!


Realise who you are, independent of the illusory appearances of dhana, jana, and yuva.

The shimmer of these three preoccupies only the delusory ego (little 'i'), which arises when we identify with the perceiver-feeler-thinker within ourselves rather than the Self.


Śaṅkarācārya roars: māyāmayamidamakhilaṁ buddhvā brahmapadaṁ tvaṁ praviśa viditvā (Leaving aside all these, after knowing their illusory nature, realize the state of Brahman.)

Realising this, seek the knower of it all - the principal that illuminates all experiences, that sakshi chaitanya (witness consciousness) that lies in the very core of our heart.

Realise that this consciousness that is ever aware of our inner experiences is the Infinite Consciousness (Brahman) that is everywhere.


Time to become conscious!


We'll see the next verse in the next class...


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