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Baja Govindam

(of Sri Sankaracharya - English translation)

Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,
Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,
Rules or grammar profit nothing
Once the hour of death draws nigh.

Renounce O fool, your ceaseless thirst
For hoarding gold and precious gems:
Content yourself with what may come,
Through deeds performed in earlier lives;
Devote your mind to righteousness,
And let dispassion be your law.

Lust at the sight of a woman's body
Springs from ignorance, springs from error;
Inwardly reason, over and over,
Bodies are flesh and blood and fat.

Uncertain is the life of a man,
As rain-drops on a lotus leaf;
The whole of mankind is prey
To grief and ego and disease.

While a man supports his family,
See what loving care they show!
But when his ageing body falters,
Nearing the time of dissolution,
None, not even his nearest kin,
Will think to ask him how he fares.

While man's souls remains in his body,
Fondly his family wish him well;
But when the life-breath leaves its dwelling,
Even his wife will flee in fear.

Remember, riches bring in grief;
Truly, no joy abides in them.
A rich man even fears his son;
This is the position everywhere.

Lost in play is the carefree stripling,
Lost in his sweetheart's charms, the youth;
The old man brooks upon his sorrows;
None there is, alas, whose spirit,
Yearns to be lost in the Parabrahman.

Who is your wife? And who is your child?
Strange indeed is this mortal world!
Who are you? And who is your own?
Where is the region whence you come?
Brother, ponder on these things.

Good association breeds detachment;
Detachment leads to freedom from delusion;
Undeluded, one contacts changeless Reality;
Contact with Reality bestows Liberation while alive.

Youth being fled, what good is passion?
Water gone, what use is a lake?
Where to be found our friends and kinsmen,
Once the money is all exhausted?
Where is the world when Truth is known?

Boast not of youth or friends or wealth;
Swifter than eyes can wink, by Time
each one of these is stolen away.
Abjure the illusion of the world,
and join yourself to timless Truth.

Sunrise and sunset, daylight and darkness,
Winter and springtime, come and go;
Even the course of time is playful;
Life itself soon ebbs away;
But man's vain hope, alas! goes onward,
Tirelessly onward evermore.

Through this bouquet of a dozen verses
Was imparted succintly to a grammarian
Instruction supreme by the all-knowing
Sankara, adored as the Bhagavapada.

Dreaming of wife, dreaming of wealth,
Why do you roam restless as the wind?
Is there none to take you in charge?
Know then, my friend, in all the three worlds,
The company of the good is the only boat,
That can take you across the samsara sea.

Many are those whose locks are matted,
Many whose heads are closely shaved,
Many who pluck out all their hair;
Some of them wearing robes of ochre,
Some of them clad in other colours-
all these things for their stomach's sake.
Seeing Truth revealed before them,
Still the deluded see it not.

Feeble has grown the old man's body,
Toothless his gums and bald his head;
But there he goes, upon his crutches,
Clinging firmly to fruitless hope.

Seeking for warmth, the penniless beggar,
Closely crouches before t=his fire,
Or sits with only the sun to warm him;
Nightly he lays down to slumber,
Curling up to keep out the cold;
Hungrily eats his beggar's portion
Out of the bowl his hands provide him;
Takes up his dwelling under a tree;
Still in his heart a helpless prisoner
Bound with the chains of empty hope.

Though, for the sake of salvation,
Man may go a-pilgrimage to Ganga-sagara,
Keep his vows, and give to the poor,
Failing the Knowledge of the Highest,
Nothing of this assures him freedom
Even in the span of a hundred lives.

Make a temple or tree your home,
Clothe yourself in the skin of a deer.
And use the bare earth for your bed,
Avoid gifts and sense delights;
Could any fail to be content,
Blest with dispassion such as this?

Plunge in yoga or in enjoyment,
Mix with all or stand severely apart;
For the heart that delights ever in Brahman
It is bliss, bliss, bliss- bliss without end.

Let a man but read from the Gita,
Drink of the Ganges but a drop,
Worship but once the Lord Almighty,
And he will set at rest forever,
All his fear of the King of Death.

Birth unceasing! Death unceasing!
Ever to pass through a mother's womb!
Hard to cross is the world's wide ocean;
Lord, redeem me through Thy mercy.

Rags cast off along the highway
Serve as a garment for the monk;
Freed from vice and freed from virtue,
Onward he wanders; in his sight,
Nor I nor you nor the world exists.
Why, then, so give way to sorrow?

Who am I? And who are you?
Whatr is the place from which I come?
Who is my mother? Who is my sire?
Pondering thus, perceive them all
As fancies only, without sustance;
Give up the world as an idle dream.

Vishnu alone it is wjo dwells
In you, in me, in everything;
Empty of meaning is your wrath,
And the impatience you reveal.
Seeing yourself in everyone,
Have done with all diversity.

Be not attached to friend or foe,
To son or kinsman, peace or war;
If you aspire to Vishnu's realm,
Look upon all things equally.

Give up the curse of lust and wrath;
give up delusion, give up greed;
Remember who you really are.
Fools are they that are blind to Self;
Cast into hell, they suffer there.

Every day recite from the Gita;
Chant the thousand names of Vishnu,
Cherishing Him within your heart,
Take delight to be with the holy,
Give your riches away to the poor.

He who yields to lust for pleasure
Leaves his frame a prey to disease;
Yet, though death is the final ending,
None forswears his sinfulness.

Control the self, restrain the breath,
Sift out the transient from the True,
Repeat the holy name of God,
And still the restless mind within.
To this, the universal rule,
Apply yourself with heart and soul.

Cherish your guru's lotus feet
And free yourself without delay
From the enslavement of this world.
Curb your senses and your mind
And see the Lord within your heart.

Thus was a silly grammarian,
Lost in conning rules,
Cleanses of his narrow vision,
And shown the Light by Sankara's apostles.

Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,
Worship Govinda, foolish one!
Other than chanting the Lord's sweet names,
Means there is none to cross life's ocean.