Bhaja Govindam- Verse 21 with story and essence

Verse 21

Punarapi Jananam Punarapi Maranam

Punarapi Jananijathare Sayanam

Iha Samsare Bahudustare

Krpaya pare Pahi Murare

 shankara-1

Translation:

Again birth, again death, and again lying in mother’s womb – this samsara process is very hard to cross over … Save me, Murari (O destroyer of Mura) through Thy Infinite Kindness.

Story based on Verse 21

One man was going through lot of difficulties in his life. He was the only bread winner of the family supporting his old parents, sisters as well as his wife and children. One day he fell very sick and couldn’t go to work for almost a week. The man was fired from the job. Not knowing what to do and how to support his family; he became very dejected. He saw all other people around him comfortable and happy. Why was he only suffering? As he sat brooding over his fate; there was an announcement in the village that a great saint was visiting the village and he would stay there for a month. He would be conducting some prayers in the village and also be giving spiritual discourse. During this period, a rich merchant has arranged for free meals the entire month for all the village people and all are welcome.

When this man heard the announcement, he felt relieved that atleast for a month the food issue of his home will be taken care and in the meanwhile he can start looking for another job and also avail the opportunity of listening to the Guruji.

Next morning as the Guruji arrived in the village, this man was ready to welcome the guruji and told him that he would like to serve him daily till he was here in their village. Guruji was pleased with this man and asked him to take care of his daily needs for prayers etc. This man sincerely served the Guruji daily most enthusiastically and with lot of love and devotion. Every evening he would listen to the Guruji’s discourse. However in his mind he was worried about his future and why was only he suffering so much. The Guruji was a realised Master and one evening he gave a discourse on Karma. He beautifully described Karma as follows

There are 4 types of Karma namely

Prarabdha, matured, Karma

apple tree

Imagine a fruit, an apple, on a tree. It has come of its age, it is ripe. Either it be plucked in time or it detaches itself from the tree and lands on the ground. It cannot remain on the tree forever. Similarly, prārabdha is ripe karma. At some point in time, you planted a tree and the fruit is ready to drop today. Regardless of your desire or your preference, it has taken its own course, much like the arrow that has left the bow. Once you perform any karmic act, it is registered in the universe, it will come to fruition in due course. There is no escape. Whatever you are going through in life presently, note the word presently, that you have no control over, it is your prārabdha. Whatever you have sown in last or many previous births you are reaping the good or bad accordingly. So if you think why you are suffering so much; it is the result of your past actions. One has to undergo the consequences of their past actions. But it does not mean you cannot change your future. Prārabdha is that which has matured. Any karma that may mature in the future is not prārabdha, it falls under the second category:

  1. Sanchita, stored, Karma

This is your store of karma. Not all fruits on the tree will mature the same day, it will be laden again in the next season and the next and so forth. It is for this reason that life is greatly cyclical for an overwhelming majority of people. Why? If you planted apple trees, when the season comes you will have plenty of it, and, if you planted wild berries, however attractive, thorny bushes, however protective, they will flourish too during their seasons. It is often the case why problems rarely come singly, they come in hordes, so do good times. There is something unique about sancita karma, it can be changed! If you can go to the source of your apples or baneberries, you can choose to nurture them or destroy them altogether. The key is going to the source.

  1. Agami, forthcoming, Karma

Imagine you entered the apple garden. You performed a karma, you exercised a choice, forced or voluntary, regardless. Based on this karma, you are bound to perform certain such other karmas as sighting of the apple trees, experiencing the fragrance, and a definitive karma of exiting the orchard is also waiting to mature. The importance of this karma cannot be underestimated or overstated. The choices you make today have a direct bearing on your future tomorrow, what you do in the present moment determines what unfolds in the nextĀgāmī karma is a mandatory karma, you have little choice, if any. If you have entered the orchard, you will have to perform the action of exiting as well, sooner or later. However, if you could either change the store of your sancita karma or exercise due care in the present one, this one changes automatically.

  1. Vartamana, present, Karma

It is also known as kriyamāṇa, actionable, present karma, the one that is being done. There is another term, perhaps better, called puruṣārtha, effort, karma. Let us assume you no longer want apples. You can chop the trees, you can have them uprooted. You will still have to find a way to manage or dispose off the wood, rotting apples, green waste and the rest of it, but it is a one off, albeit intense, effort. Thereafter, there will be no more fruits waiting for you year after year. You may simply choose to sow wheat and harvest after a few months, clearing your karmic field on a regular basis.

A pertinent question is how do you know if you are creating new karma or going through the results of your past karma? The answer is quite simple, when you do something out of choice, you are creating new karma, and, when you are forced to do something, you are simply repaying your karmic debt. The former will have the consequences, good or bad, drawn up for you, the latter can be tended by managing your karmic store or sanchita karma in other words. If you don’t want to have any fruits; good or bad; do all acts selflessly surrendering all your actions to the Lord. This will happen only when one has exhausted the fruits of all their previous actions.

The choices you made yesterday, voluntary or otherwise, have landed you where you are today, and the choices you are making today will dictate your tomorrow. Hence, it is paramount that you pay attention to your present actions, your present thoughts, the range of choices available in the future is a direct function, a derivative of your present actions, your future, well, your life in fact, depends on it.

Thus the Guruji concluded his discourse. This man was so happy to receive the answers to his questions and started practising good thoughts and actions. Soon it was time for Guruji to leave the village. He was very happy with the man who served him with so much faith. He blessed him profusely. The rich merchant who had sponsored the event also observed this man’s dedication and sincerity and offered the man a good job in his company and the man was relieved of all his difficulties.

So the man realised that it was his bad karma that made him suffer and his good karma that gave him the opportunity to meet and serve the guruji. He took the lessons learnt to heart and started leading a meaningful life being fully conscious of his actions.

 

Essence

One takes birth again and again to exhaust one’s vasanas or tendencies. Due to our ignorance of the way and the goal, the extrovertedness in us compels us to get ourselves attached to the objects, which have a beauty and a charm created by the imaginations of our minds! The trick is to exhaust them through actions undertaken without ego and egocentric desires. Sometimes, we become comfortable with bondage.  If we don’t get the knowledge, we are stuck. If we get it but don’t have the strength to come out of it, we are stuck again So if we sincerely invoke the Supreme’s grace, it will descend on us.

Again for students; when you are explained such philosophical concepts through simple stories and experiences which drive the point; you are more empowered to choose how to think, how to act, you become aware of your actions and you act accordingly. These values and teachings when imbibed from young will definitely blossom when it is needed most in your lives during your education, working and for life. Such people will have a balanced life and enjoy both the material and spiritual life with a clear understanding.

 Story adapted from Om Swami’s discourse

Essence- Swami Chimayananda’s expounding on Bhaja Govindam

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