So far, in the six Slokas of Bhaja Govindam, we have learnt abiut the impermanence of our body, the acquired wealth, our lust, our life itself, our relations and even our own breadth.
'Rare, rare, rare to be born as a human being. It is even rarer to be born without any challenges such as cripple, blindness or deafness’ said Avvayaar, the famous Tamil poetess.
This rare breed of Human’s life span (the period from birth to death) can be divided into several stages or seasons. The number of categories vary as per each individual's perspective. If you surf the internet, you will find from two stages to tweleve seasons.
In general, these seasons or stages broadly cover the childhood, youth and old age phases. A human being primarily passes through 4 stages of growth
1) infancy (bāla), 2) childhood (koumāra), 3) manhood (youvanna) and 4) old age (vārdhakya).
From the cradle to grave how do we spend our lives? Are we living upto our reputation of being a rare breed?
In Sankara’s Smithy, Adi Sankara, provides a season-wise snapshot of our focus and the way we live in this Strike (Sloka) No 7.
बालस्तावत् - baalastaavat - When one is a child, so long one is in one’s childhood
क्रीडा असक्तः - krida + asakth = to play + attached
तरुणस्तावत् - taruna statvat = so long as one is in youth
तरुणीसक्तः - tarunisaktah = attached to one’s young woman(passion)
वृद्धस्तावत् - vridhha stavat = so long as one is old
चिन्तासक्तः - chintasaktah = attached to anxiety
परमे ब्रह्मणि - parame brahmani = to the Supreme Brahman
कोपि न - ka api (kopi) + na = alas + not
असक्तः - asakth = attached
Meaning in English
During childhood one is attached to play, during youth one is attached to women. In old age one is attached to anxiety. Yet no one is attached to the Supreme brahman. O! foolish mind !! Seek Govinda!
In the previous two verses, the poet used Death to remind us of how the empty and false relationships can distract our foolish mind from our spiritual goal.
In this verse, he warns us of the pitfalls that face us in our journey throughout the different stages of our lives. There are distractions in every stage of our life. So much so, that we hardly find time for God or for our own introspection about ourselves.
This Sloka looks at these distractions.
1. When we all were children, by and large we were all busy with play as that was the true nature. This is the situation even today.
2. But as we grew into the next stage, the youth, the principal attraction was the other sex. The young man is concerned about how many girl friends he has and the young woman is concerned how many boyfriends are behind her!
3. As we become old, we enter the pre-final/final stages of our life, our focus shifts completely and is on safety/security/worries of our belongings, children, grand children etc. We start ““vomiting out our memories” on every occasion as our genuine worries.
Sankara laments that in all their lives, not many people make efforts to get engaged with self inquiry and seeking the Supreme Brahman, God. Due to lack of training, the mind will refuse to entertain thoughts about God.
Shankaracharya is clearly addressing this verse to each individual. The responsibility is on each one of us to bring Divinity into our life at the earliest possible age. If this can be done before we get sucked into the worldly affairs of the Body, Mind and Intellect complex of ours, then it would save us a lot of bitter experiences in life.
We must clearly understand that Sankara is not against the worldly pursuits as they are your expected duties. A child must play, a young man must earn and raise a family and obtain wealth by honest means, but one must also find some time, early in life, to begin the God focussed inward journey so that when we are in our old age, avoidable worry about our worldly possessions do not rob us of our composure and peace of mind.
And, as stated in the very opening verse of Bhaja Govindam, we can and must cultivate an attitude of prayerfulness from an early age. We are therefore told, bhaja govindam bhaja govindam, govindam bhaja mudhamate. Remember why you have come here. Do not be diverted from your goal.
A similar message is given in Saint Kabir Das’s poem in Hindi:
“ Alas my life is passed away without your meditation O Lord! I spent my child hood playing, in my youth my pride overtook me. I have lost most of my life (principal amount) in useless pursuits and the desires of my mind and senses are still not quenched. Kabir says listen o Sadho (seeker), the saints dwelling on His name have crossed this ceaseless ocean of the world”.
This Hammer Strike (Sloka) is a snap shot of our life. It captures clearly our “mooda mathe”, our foolish mind .
It is a clarion call to each one of us, to take a pause, think and then proceed in our journey called life. It is for us to start executing.
We will continue our visits to Sankara’s Smithy. Until our next visit ……
One thought on “Sankara’s Smithy – Strike 7 – The “Season”al Blow”
Good morning sir
Thank you sir
div>Have a good Sunday
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