Bhaja Govindam Verse 17 with story and essence

Verse 17

Kurute Gangasagaragamanam

Vrataparipalanamathava Danam

Jnanavihinah Sarvamatena

Bhajati Na Muktim Janmasatena


One may, in pilgrimage, go to where the Ganges meets the ocean, called Gangasagara, or observe vows, or distribute gifts in charity.  If he is devoid of first-hand-experience of Truth (Jnanam), according to all schools of thought, he gains to release, even in a hundred lives. O foolish mind; seek Govinda.


Story based on Verse 17

The Jnani & The Siddha

Prabhulinga, the founder of the Lingayat sect (now mostly prevalent in Karnataka State), was touring the land for the uplift of the spiritually minded. He met the famous Yogi Gorakhnath in Gokarnam (a famous place of Hindu pilgrimage on the west coast of India). The Yogi welcomed him respectfully out was however, proudly conscious of his own extraordinary powers over the elements. He considered his guest more or less his equal, expressed pleasure at meeting him, and upon greeting him, asked who he was.


Prabhulinga replied that only the one who had destroyed his ego, root and branch, and had thereby realised himself could know who he was, and wondered what he could say to a nonentity, a person who clung to his perishable body. Gorakhnath who identified his body as himself replied, “That person alone who has gained the immortality of the body, by the favour of Siva and consumption of Gulikas (medicinal herbs), will never die. Therefore one who has not gained such immortality dies”.

Prahhulinga remarked that knowledge consists in realising one’s Self and not in immortalising the body, and went on to explain at length that the body cannot be the real Self. However, Gorakhnath could not be persuaded and would not budge an inch from his ground. He proudly challenged Prabhulinga to try cutting his body, handing him a long, bright and sharp sword. When the sword struck the body of Gorakhnath it caused him no injury but was itself blunted.

Prabhulinna feigned surprise and asked Gorakhnath to try cutting his body. At first Gorakhnath hesitated to do so, saying that Prabhulinga would die, but when Prabhulinga insisted, he took up the sword and tried to cut his body. To the great surprise of Gorakhnath the sword passed easily through the body of Prabhulinga without affecting it in any way. It was as if the sword were passing through empty space!

Only then was Gorakhnath the Siddha, ready to acknowledge the superiority of Prabhulinga the Jnani. Thus his pride was humbled and he prayed to Prabhulinga to teach him the Truth. Prabhulinga then expounded Brahma-Vidya to Gorakhnath as follows: “Gorakhnath, do not think your body to be your Self Seek the Indweller (the cave-dweller) end you will once and for all rid yourself of the disease of birth and death. The cave is your heart only; the In-dweller thereof is called God, and I am that”.


The veda has two portions, the ritualistic ie karma kanda and the knowledge portion ie jnana kanda. All ritualistic portions unfold discipline but that is not to be taken as be all and end all of the total understanding.  When rituals are not backed with understanding and knowledge they become futile. There is an essential practice and a secondary practise. The secondary practise like rituals equip one with discipline, faith, patience, detachment which are essential for the purification of the mind but the real essential practice is true wisdom. True knowledge is the knowledge of the self. Mala, vikshepa and avarana ie the ego covers and projects the unreal into which we are dragged. Unless we come out of it; we cannot realise the self.


Courtesy- Story- Spiritual Stories by Ramana Maharishi

Essence- Bhaja Govindam by Swami Sukhbodananda



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