Bhaja Govindam- Verse 18 with story and essence


adi shankara

Verse 18


Sayya Bhutalamajinam Vasah


Kasya Sukham Na Karoti Viragah

Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam

Sheltering in temples, under some trees, sleeping on the naked ground, wearing a deerskin, and thus renouncing all idea-of-possession and thirst-to-enjoy, to whom will not dispassion (vairagya) bring happiness?

Story based on Verse 18

A GREAT MAHATMA was living as a sadhu under a tree in a forest. He always used to keep with him three stones. While sleeping, he used to keep one of them under the head, another under the waist and the third under the legs and cover himself with a sheet. When it rained, the body used to be on the stones and so the water would flow underneath, and the water that fell on the sheet too, would flow down. So there was no disturbance to his sleep; he used to sleep soundly. When sitting, he used to keep the three stones together like a hearth and sit upon them comfortably. Hence snakes and other reptiles did not trouble him nor did he trouble them, for they used to crawl through the slits under the stones. Somebody used to bring him food and he would eat it. And so, there was nothing for him to worry about.


A king, who came to that forest for hunting, saw this sadhu and felt, ‘What a pity! How much must he be suffering by having to adjust his body suitably to those stones and sleep thereon. I will take him home and keep him with me for at least one or two days and make him feel comfortable’. So thinking, he went home and sent two of his soldiers with a palanquin and bearers, with instructions to invite the sadhu respectfully and bring him to his palace. He also said that if they did not succeed in bringing the sadhu, they would be punished. They came and saw the sadhu and told him that the king had ordered them to bring him to the palace and that he should come. When he showed disinclination to go with them, they said that they would be punished if they returned without him. So they begged of him to come, if only to save them from trouble. As he did not want them to get into trouble on his account, he agreed to go with them. What was there for him to pack up? A kaupeenam, a sheet and those three stones. He folded and kept the kaupeenam in that sheet, kept those three stones also in the sheet and tied them together. ‘What is this? This Swami is bringing with him some stones when he is going to a Raja’s palace!

Is he mad or what?’ thought those soldiers. Anyway, he got into the palanquin with his bundle and came to the king. The Raja saw the bundle, and thinking it contained some personal effects, took him into the palace with due respect, feasted him properly and arranged a tape cot with a mattress of silk cotton to sleep upon. The sadhu opened his bundle, took out the three stones, spread them on the bed, covered himself with the sheet and slept as usual.

The next morning the king came, bowed to him with respect and asked, “Swami, is it comfortable for you here?”Swami: “Yes. What is there wanting here? I am always happy.”
King: “That is not it, Swami. You were experiencing hardships in the forest by having to sleep on those stones. Here this bed and this house must be giving you happiness. That is why I am asking.”

Swami: “The bed that was there is here also. The bed that is here is there also. So I have the same happiness everywhere. There is nothing wanting at any time, either in regard to my sleep or to my happiness.”

The king was puzzled and looked at the cot. He saw that the three stones were on it. Whereupon, the king immediately prostrated himself before the sadhu and said, “Oh great man! Without knowing your greatness I brought you here with the intention of making you happy. I did not know that you are always in a state of happiness, and so I behaved in this foolish manner. Please excuse me and bless me.”
After making up for his mistake in this way, he allowed the sadhu to go his way. This is the story of the sadhu.

“So, in the eyes of Mahatmas, the free life is the real happy life?” asked that devotee. “What else? Life in big buildings like this is like prison life. Only I may be an ‘A’ class prisoner. When I sit on mattresses like these, I feel that I am sitting on prickly pears. Where is peace and comfort?” said Bhagavan.


One suffers not from the world but from our expectation of the world. Our mind is filled with likes and dislikes and if the world does not fit into that we feel disappointed. We blame the world for our sorrow. Without understanding we renounce the world, we forget that renunciation is internal. One should renounce the mind that is filled with the unhappiness rather than the world. Simplicity is not external but internal. When one is internally simple he will be happy anywhere. There is no need for such a person to renounce the world. He is always happy because it is from within. He lives in the world but is not attached to it.

For most of us; it is our ego which comes on our way and though we try to renounce externally; the ego within remains. When one is entangled too much in the world; he gets attached to it and it is not easy to let go. No matter how much external changes he tries ; it is challenging to develop that ‘vairagya’ from within. Vairagya born out of Viveka ( ability to discriminate between Real and Unreal) is what is  meant by detachment. Continued spiritual practices to know the Self only will make one internally detached. So the Master reminds us again to lead the foolish mind within and not outside.

For students

Story based on the above verse

Unity of thought, word and deed is very essential. One should develop these qualities from young age. Parents and teachers should lead the example. When thought, word and actions are in unison there will be no confusion, no pretension. It is not easy to lead a double life. Posing what one is not. First of all such a person will not be trusted or respected by others in long term though initially people will just hear their sweet talks and be carried away. Secondly, they themselves will not be peaceful within as they are also embodiments of divine which will remind them that their act was not consistent with their thoughts and words.

Story- Spiritual Stories by Ramana Maharishi

Essence- Adapted from Bhaja Govindam by Swami Sukhbodananda


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 )

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: