Knowledge No Help In Salvation Bhaja Govindam Sankaracharya

Adi Sankaracharya,as Rajaji puts it in his introduction to MS rendering of The Bhaja Govindam,who drank the nectar of Knowledge as one wold a sip of water from one’s palm, extols the virtues of Bhakti in his famous song/sloka  Bhaja Govinda,(Repeat ‘Govinda’, a Name of Lord Vishnu)

Adi Shankaracharya,t he proponent of Advaita, Non  Dualism, is one who seems to advocate Gnana Yoga, The Path Of Knowledge.

Bhaja Govindam
Bhaja Govindam

He assigns a great importance to the understanding of The Reality, Gnana Yoga.

But Sankaracharaya, who is such an ardent protagonist of the Path of Knowledge, reverts to Bhakti in his Bhaja Govindam.

It is, as decreed in the scriptures,, rare to be born a Human being, where limited Freedom Of Choice is offered to realize Godhood.

Depending on one’s mental attitude and dispositions. various paths for realizing Godhood are proposed in Hinduism.

They are,

Gnana Yoga, The Path of Knowledge,

Karma Yoga , The Path of Action,

Raja Yoga, The Path of Physical and Mental Disciple, and

Bhakti Yoga, The path of Surrender to God.

Vedic texts maintain that one requires God’s Blessings to think of God.

One needs His Anugraha to think of Him, unlike  in Purva Mimamsa.

‘அவன் அருளாலே அவன் தாள் வணங்கி ‘ Siva Puanam.

भजगोविन्दं भजगोविन्दं गोविन्दं भजमूढमते . संप्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृञ्करणे .. १..

1 Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda,
Seek Govinda, O Fool!
When the appointed times comes (death),
grammar rules surely will not save you.”

One may be well versed in Philosophy.

This, at best, can only satisfy the Intellectual curiosity.

May be in some, reinforce Faith.

But  a faith that needs reinforcement, is no faith at all.

And mind and Logic ‘ being what they are can change and argue both ways.

So one can never know or understand Reality or God.

One, can feel Him, Experience Him.

All the knowledge one possesses would be of no use to one as one lies Dying.

It is said that one’s Life flashes before him at that point of time and nothing more.

It is very rare that one remembers God when one is acute Physical agony.

Scriptures say one is reborn based one’s last thoughts.

In tune with this, it is better to remember God as frequently as possible with the hope that we would remember His Name as we lie dying, at least by force of Habit.

In  Tamil there is a Line,

-அப்போதைக்கிப்போதே சொல்லி வைத்தேன்,,

என்னை ஆண்டருள்வாய்  ‘நாராயணா ‘

‘I have called out your name in advance,

Please save me Narayana’

It is very significant to note that Adi Shankaracharya uses the name ‘Govinda’

Not any other name of Vishnu or Krishna.

Govinda is one of the Names of Vishnu.

Lord Krishna was anointed as the King by  Indra, as King of Cattle.

This, Vishnu Purana says, is the name which is very dear to lord Naranyana, , the other name being ‘

Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasu Devaya’ The Dwadasa Nama of Vishnu(12 Letters).

One may note that in the Apara Karma, including Sraradha, Govinda is used, even if  one is a worshiper of Lord Siva: those who worship Vishnu use Narayan for auspicious occasions only.

The reason is Lord Govinda is the One who is responsible for Life after death.

Sankara uses the term ‘Samprapthe’, the  good remnants of impressions of Life.

One’s death  is not in one’s hands,

No body knows how or where one will die.

The impressions of the good deeds determine the manner and the time of one’s death.

Under these circumstances, one’knowledge is useless.

Only Govinda’s name alone will help.

(Literal translation is ,

Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool ! Rules of grammar will not save you at the time of your death.


In Vedanga all Sciences are taught, including Linguistics, Logic(Tharka)Chandas(Meters) Niruktha(How words are combined)

Even such analysis will not help at the time of death)


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