Bhaja Govindam- Verse 23 with story and essence


Verse 23

Kastvam Koham Kuta Ayatah

Ka Me Janani Ko Me Tatah

Iti Paribhavaya Sarvamasaram

Visvam Tyaktva Svapnavicharam

Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam

Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come? Who is my mother? Who is my father? Thus reflect, leaving aside the entire world, essence-less and a mere dream born out of imagination. Seek Govinda


Story based on Verse 23

Story of Sage Ribhu

There is a puranic story of Sage Ribhu and his disciple Nidagha. Although Ribhu taught his disciple the supreme Truth of the One Brahman without a second, Nidagha, in spite of his erudition and understanding, did not get sufficient conviction to adopt and follow the path of Jnana (Wisdom), but settled down in his native town to lead a life devoted to the observance of ceremonial religion. But the Sage loved his disciple as deeply as the latter venerated his Master. In spite of his age, Ribhu would himself go to his disciple in the town, just to see how far the latter had outgrown, his ritualism. At times the Sage went in disguise, so that he might observe how Nidagha would act when he, did not know that he was being observed by his Master.

On one such occasion Ribhu, who had put on the disguise of a village rustic, found Nidagha intently watching a royal procession. Unrecognized by the town-dweller Nidagha, the village rustic enquired what the bustle was all about, and was told that the king was going in procession.

“Oh! it is the king. He goes in procession! But where is he?” asked the rustic. “There, on the elephant,” said Nidagha. “You say the king is on the elephant. Yes, I see the two,” said the rustic, “but which is the king and which is the elephant?” “What!” exclaimed Nidagha. “You see the two, but do not know that the man above is the king and the animal below is the elephant? What is the use of talking to a man like you?” “Pray, be not impatient with an ignorant man like me,” begged the rustic. “But ‘you said ‘above’ and ‘below’ — what do they mean?”

Nidagha could stand it no more. “You see the king and the elephant, the one above and the other below. Yet ‘ you want to know what is meant by ‘above’ and ‘below”’ burst out Nidagha. “If things seen and words spoken can convey so little to you, action alone can teach you. Bend forward, and ‘ you will know it all ‘ too well”. The rustic did as he was told. Nidagha got on his shoulders and said: “Know it now. I am above as the king, you are below as the elephant. Is that clear enough?” “No, not yet,” was the rustic’s quiet reply. “You say you are above like the king, and I am below like the elephant. The ‘king’, the ‘elephant’, ‘above’ and ‘below’ — so far it is clear. But pray, tell me what you mean by ‘I’ and ‘you’?”

When Nidagha was thus confronted all of a sudden with the mighty problem of defining a ‘you’ apart from an ‘I’, light dawned on his mind. At once he jumped down and fell at his Master’s feet saying: “Who else but  my venerable Master Ribhu, could have thus drawn my mind from the superficiality of physical existence to the true Being of the Self? Oh! benign Master, I crave thy blessings”.


This verse highlights the importance of questioning in our lives. We have unconsciously been thinking continuously of the body, mind and intellect being in this world. We usually never remember the presence of a fourth entity – the Self. It is only the Self that is immune to the influence of the world and only those who think incessantly of Atman become It. Thereafter they become one with that supreme Power, completely free and independent of the world.

The waking world that seems so real now is as real as the dream which we now understand to be a mere projection and dismiss. Any state appears real as long as we are in it. The moment we move to another plane it appears a meaningless projection. The waking state is also similar. So, the Master urges us to contemplate on ‘Who am I? ie The self by seeking Govinda and come out of the illusory world.

For students

The story for students for this verse

From  childhood  they should be guided in this path through practice of silent sitting and in realising their inner potential which is not based on external factors. Once they develop the inner strength; their self confidence increases and they start believing in themselves ie their core rather than getting influenced by external factors limiting them. If they start practising this in their lives; in their later years it will be easier for them to understand the above concept of ‘Who am I?’





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: