While the rest of the world was still in the dark ages the wise Indian had discovered the laws of life that govern not only the outside world but the fascinating inner realm. The focus shifted from conquering the world to gaining control over the mind. And a brilliant sage appeared on the scene periodically to revive the sagging values in society.
Adi Shankaracharya was one such outstanding master. While he wrote commentaries on the subtle Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita he also composed original texts that re-presented the same knowledge in a modern context. The Bhaja Govindam is a composition that gives the timeless wisdom of the Vedas in simple nuggets.
Shankara begins by focussing on the two main aspects of human pursuits – wealth and enjoyment. You chase after wealth. Having acquired it you want to enjoy what you have acquired. Bhaja Govindam dispels the misunderstanding that spiritual life entails shunning of wealth, family and the good things of life. Do not renounce wealth. Give up the thirsting, craving, lusting after wealth which comes in the way of acquiring wealth. Be content with what you have. Swami Rama Tirtha said – ‘If you are not happy as you are you will never be happy’. Be aware of all that you have been blessed with. Then you will develop the irresistible urge to share, contribute, give. Often, the richest people are tormented by the feeling of deprivation while those who have nothing feel supremely abundant. The law is – Give you gain. Grab you lose. Fix a higher ideal. Work dedicatedly for the welfare of others. Prosperity and happiness will come to you!
The whole world is in a frenzied chase after enjoyment. The more you indulge the less you enjoy. Vedanta restores the enjoyment you have already lost. The way out is mindful, regulated contact with sense objects. So the thrill of a sense enjoyment does not diminish. Your honeymoon with life never ends!
Vedanta helps maintain wonderful, meaningful relationships. It identifies attachment as the root cause of all conflict. Attachment springs from a deep sense of insecurity. When you are not self-sufficient you need the support of spouse and children. You become dependent on them. You feel threatened by others with whom they relate. You imagine they are your enemies. You are nasty and hateful to your greatest benefactors and are tormented by all the toxic thoughts you have espoused. You are then shunned by the very people for whom you did all this to begin with! The law is – Attach you suffer. Attach you lose. Your closest relationships become conflict-ridden and finally you lose them. So attachment is not an option. The way out is ‘detachment’ or true love. Love people for what they are. Have no expectations, make no demands and do not imprison them. True love begets love. The love you give is returned in ample measure and you have amazingly satisfying relationships.
Life is as uncertain as a drop of water on a lotus leaf. Any moment death may occur. Even during your life you are consumed by disease, sorrow and arrogance. Insure yourself by investing in thought of the higher. Upgrade your feelings and thoughts. Keep the company of good people, loving and uplifting thoughts. This is what makes your future. ‘As you think so you become’ is the law.
People adopt various methods to gain happiness. Some resort to extreme indulgence. Others unintelligently abstain from the world. Still others live a mechanical good life. None of these give liberation in life. The way to success, happiness and spiritual evolution is Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga as. Act in a spirit of service and sacrifice, enlarge your circle of love and constantly reflect on the distinction between the permanent and impermanent aspects of life. Follow this up with meditation. You will move from this state of confinement and finitude to the state of infinite Bliss.