Sankara’s Smithy- Strike 4 – The “live”ly blow

Link to the Tamil Podcast


From the three strikes that we had at Sankara’s Smithy, we all understand that life is unpredictable, wealth is not permanent and so too are lust & desires based on attachment to the body.

In day to day life we fully understand this when it comes to our own (that includes our family, health and wealth) security and peace of mind ; otherwise, there is no need for any insurance and pension fund companies at all.

While on the one hand life is unpredictable when it concerns our security, on the other hand, when it comes to peace of mind by seeking permanent happiness for ourselves (studying and leading a dharmic life (based on the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita), the most often heard dialogue goes like this:

“This is all for people like you Pappa/Grandpa, people who have retired. We have tons of work to attend to, host of issues to resolve and plenty of competition and challenges to overcome. Life is not that easy like you guys had in your Teens”

A very typical dialogue between a Senior Citizen and children/grandchildren at home these days. Here the underlying theme is that life is predictable. We expect to live long and decides that following Dharmic ways of life and the time to study the Scriptures like Bhagavad Gita etc is later after retirement.

Adi Sankara understood this dichotomy and conveys the urgency of the situation. Now you have the health, mental and intellectual faculties to develop the spiritual quotient. Who knows what the future has in store? So use this precious time for inward looking and knowing about yourselves, the Brahman, Sankara advises.

Let us study this Sloka.

Sanskrit Verse


तद्वद्जीवितमतिशयचपलम् |


लोकं शोकहतं समस्तम् ||

English Transliteration


tadvadjīvitamatiśayacapalam |


lokaṃ śokahataṃ ca samastam ||

Meaning of the Sanskrit Words

nalinīdalagatajalam नलिनीदलगतजलम्. - Water [drop] on a lotus leaf  

atitaralam अतितरलम् - is very unstable.

tadvat तद्वद् - Similarly

jeevitam atisaya chapalam जीवितमतिशयचपलम्. - life too is extremely tenuous

viddhi विद्धि [that] - Understand

samastam lokam समस्तं लोकम् - the entire world, i.e. lives of people

vyādhi abhimāna grastam व्याधि अभिमानग्रस्तम् - is swallowed by ailments and attachments

śokahataṃ ca शोकहतं च - and is also full of sorrows

Meaning in English

Earthly existence is as unsteady as a drop of water on lotus leaf. It is nothing but ego and a bundle of diseases. The world is hooded with dark grief. so, pray Govinda. 


The advent of the deadly virus and the pandemic that followed (God knows if it is fully controlled even now) is a life lesson for all of us that even during this uncertain tenure of ours in this planet, there is no dearth of issues and problems.   There is disease at the physical level, sorrow at the emotional plane and arrogance at the intellectual stage. All of which create agitations. But we have got accustomed to them and do not feel the need to rise above them. We cannot visualise a life free from these hardships. Hence there is no attempt to rid ourselves of them. 

Adi Sankara in Bhaja Govindam Sloka 4, strikes this ignorant mind of ours and tries to awaken us. He says:

Life is as unsteady and unpredictable as the droplet of water, which rests on the lotus leaf (Interestingly enough, this drop of water does not touch the leaf itself). It is therefore so unsteady that even the slightest breeze will cause it to slide off. Life departs in much the same way as the droplet, with the blowing of a breeze.

Sri Sankaracarya says, life is atisaya-capalam. What does it mean? It means that there is no time to waste. Do not postpone what must be done, to the future. We procrastinate that which is unpleasant or difficult. Sri Sankaracarya says, be alert to this.

Sri Sankaracarya points out that besides vyadhi (disease in body) and abhimanam, (attachment and pride which are diseases in mind), there is another thing that dominates our life. People are always under the spell of sorrow; this world is always grief-stricken.

Every one of these were on full display across the world during this pandemic.

Therefore, what is it that you are working for or waiting for? Why does the daily prayer of Govinda not seem to find priority in life? If you think that there are pursuits in life more worthwhile than the worship of God, know that those pursuits only serve to bring pride, attachment and disease, resulting in sorrow or sadness. Therefore, realize the true nature of life and utilize whatever time you have, properly.


“Steve Jobs built his empire from scratch. But he was thrown out of his own company! He then started another organisation which did so well that he was invited back to head his original company. However, at the peak of his career he got cancer and died at a young age. This is life. 

So refuse to pamper your body. Desist from pandering to your whims and fancies. Do not carried away by your succeses. They are all transitory. Make a concerted effort to abide by your own deeper aspirations. Entertain the thought of the higher always. And see the difference”.

Sankara’s strike 4 is apt for the current situations in the world. Let us ponder ever this and get ready for the next strike. Until then……

God Bless

Author: prabhusponder

A novice venturing out to explore the meaning of life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s