Bhaja Govindam Introduction and Verse 1 with story and essence


Composed by the great saint Sri Adi Shankaracharya, Bhaja Govindam is one of the most lucid yet insightful works of Vedanta.

It was on one of those days when Shankara and his disciples were travelling that they passed through Benaras, a holy city of India. Along the way, Shankara overheard an old pundit, scholar, memorising Panini’s grammar rules. He observed how the pundit memorised the grammar rules but missed the message of what he was studying and this inspired a masterful oration by Shankara that we call the Bhaja Govindam.

Verse 1

Bhajagovindam bhajagovindam
Govindam bhaja muudhamate
Sampraapte sannihite kaale
Nahi nahi rakshati dukrijnkarane

Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam

Worship Govinda; Oh foolish mind. The learnings of grammar will not help you in your last moments of life.

Story based on Verse 1

Akbar and the Sufi Saint


A great Sufi fakir (a Muslim ascetic who lives solely on alms) once desired some favor from Emperor Akbar.  Akbar was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned India from 1556 to 1605.

He proceeded to the palace to meet Akbar. When he reached the palace; the emperor was offering his prayers, so the fakir waited patiently for the king to finish his prayers.  The fakir observed that Akbar was praying with his hands raised towards the heavens and pleading God for more wealth and power.  As Akbar finished his prayers and stood up, he saw the fakir going out of the room. Akbar rushed out , fell  at the feet of the Fakir and enquired about  the purpose of his visit.

The fakir said, “I came to ask something from you but when I saw you asking from the Lord, I wondered what can a beggar like you , give another one. I am a beggar, a fakir, but you are a greater beggar. I just beg for food and mundane things. But you beg for bigger things like wealth and glory.  Ultimately, we both are beggars. I would rather ask  help from  God directly,  than asking  you.”

Akbar understood and realized how poor and insecure he was; though he was an Emperor. 


Adi Shankara questions us; what is it that we are begging for? Our begging can also be foolish.

He says- fool-mudhamate; because in the very depths of devotion if one cannot discover fulfillment, then that devotion means nothing. Is our devotion an extension of a barter system with the Lord?

Adi Shankara wants us to develop devotion, void of any expectation. Love directed towards Truth is bhakti. A true devotee knows and has the experience that devotion devoid of foolish desires is security in itself.   The external objects of the world do not protect us; only true devotion protects us.

Yes, being in this world; one has to accomplish one’s material needs; but along with it true devotion is very important for one to know the difference between need and greed which causes insecurity and unhappiness throughout one’s life and also during one’s last moments.

For students

Story for Students

Education should be for enriching life and not mere living. What is the difference? There is indeed a lot of difference. The formal or secular education can make one an intellectual, wise and full of knowledge; but is that mere information or knowledge enough? It can help one live in this material world but what about the inner world within us?

So students; along with this worldly knowledge garner the spiritual knowledge as well. This will help you to develop inner strength, realise your true strength and potential which will not only help you in this worldly life but also guide you in every step of your life ultimately making you realise who you really are?

Adapted from Bhaja Govindam by Swami Sukhbodananda



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