Bhaja Govindham 6
angam galitam palitam mundam dasanavihinam jatam tundam |
vrddho yati grhitva dandam tadapi na muncatyasapindam || 15 ||
The body is old and worn; head (the hairs) has turned gray; teeth have gone; he walks holding a stick; yet he hasn’t abandoned the bundle of desires.
This verse is composed by Sri Totakacharya. Here he describes an old man with grey hair, toothless mouth and infirm body that needs a stick for support while walking and regrets that he is still in the grip of worldly desires. Because desires belong to the mind and the mind can still be ‘young’ in an old body. Sensual desires, unless one deliberately tries to control and channelize in spiritual path can stay with one as an addiction till death and can get carried into the next birth as vasanas. Some do not try to control them but keep trying to satisfy them in the false belief that desires can be ended by fulfilling them. While a young body with a young mind can entertain and experience pleasures an old body with a young mind can only entertain desires but has no longer the vigour and virility to experience pleasures. Trapped in an old body and pursuing the path of indulgence, he leads an agonizing life. Sri Ramakrisna Paramahamsa points out “However long a stone may remain immersed in a river, it does not allow even a small particle of water to percolate into it. Even so the man steeped in worldliness does not permit any ethical or spiritual feelings gain access to his heart” In the same way this person in spite of his handicaps seeks fulfillment of desires only. To give up the desires that work up the mind, one should keep the mind and heart pure. This one must start practicing from one’s youth so that in old age one has peace of mind and enjoys old age with inner peace and tranquillity.
agre vahniḥ pṛsthe bhanuḥ ratrau cubukasamarpitajanuḥ |
karatalabhiksastarutalavasah tadapi na muncatyasapasah || 16 ||
There is fire in front of him and the sun at the back; at night, he crouches with his chin between his knees; he lives under a tree and has only his hands to receive alms. Alas, in spite of all this, he is not released from the rope of desire, which has bound him.
Sri Hasthamalakacharya has composed this verse. This verse depicts the other extreme, utter self-denial, in the hope that it will exhaust all desires. Here is a sanyasi who has renounced everything and is leading a rough and hard life of recluse. He has no money, no worldly possessions including essential needs of life, like the warm clothing for winter. The poor man has only the sun to give him warmth and he sits with his back turned to the sun. At night when fire is lit, he goes and sits in front of it and when there is no fire he keeps himself warm by crouching with his chin between his knees. There is no utensil to take bhiksha (alms), so he takes it in his palms. He has no place to live and so rests under a tree. Anybody may take him to be a true Yogi; but it is not so, for a closer look at him will reveal that in spite of all these external austerities, he hasn’t been able to renounce his desires. He is not free from the grip of desires, which are hidden deep in his mind. All the external efforts are of not much use with the glaring internal defect which he could not get rid of. So he has to make further efforts to bring his mind also under control to fulfill his dream of God realization. For renunciation has to be at internal level as well i.e. not only senses are controlled from sense-objects but the mind is controlled to eliminate the attachment to sense-objects. There is no doubt that renouncing the sense enjoyments is a way to keep out their influence on the mind; but there has to be deliberate mental effort as well to free the mind from the attachment to the sense objects. Internal (mental) renunciation must accompany if not precede the external (physical) renunciation if one is to reap the fruits of his sadhana.
kurute gangasagaragamanam vrataparipalanamathava danam |
jnanavihinah sarvamatena bhajati na muktim janmasatena || 17 ||
One may go on pilgrimage to the river Ganga or the ocean; may observe fasts or give away wealth in charity. However, one will not attain liberation without the Athma Jnanam, even after a hundred births. This is the opinion of all schools of thought.
This verse is composed by Sri Subhodha. Ritualistic worship, pilgrimage to holy places or temples, ‘vratas’ and charity are all performed by pious householders in the fond hope that these acts of religious discipline will enable them attain moksha after death. All these above acts, no doubt, help the devotee to progress in the spiritual path. They are all sadhanas for self-purification and self-purification is a necessary requirement for gaining Athma Jnanam, Self-knowledge. But, the acharya cautions, all these acts are not to be considered as the goal of spirituality as these are only milestones on the path, not the destination itself. They are just important steps leading to a higher truth. They are only the means and the end is attaining Athma Jnanam only i.e. the realisation of the oneness of the individual Self, Athma and the Universal Self, Brahman. Once one has attained Jnanam, i.e. realised the oneness of Athma and Brahman, one becomes free from all material desires and attachments. Other schools of philosophy besides Vedanta are also in agreement with the message that Athma Jnanam is indispensable for attaining Liberation, freedom from the cycle of birth and death. In reality, the Self is free, but it is taken to be limited and bound because of ajnanam and ajnanam can be removed only through Jnanam. Until ajnanam is removed one does not feel fulfilled totally and desire which is a symptom or manifestation of an inner dependence or an inner bondage will persist in the mind keeping one away from the final goal of Liberation.