Bhaja Govindam is one of the minor compositions of the spiritual giant, Adi Shankaracharya. Though sung as a bhajan, it contains the essence of vedanta and implores the man to think, “Why am I here in this life ? Why am I amassing wealth, family, but have no peace ? What is the Truth ? What is the purpose of life ?" The person thus awakened gets set on a path to the inner road back to the God principle.
The background of Bhaja Govindam is worth examining . During his stay in Kashi, Shankara noticed a very old man studying the rules of sanskrit by Panini . Shankara was touched with pity at seeing the plight of the old man spending his years at a mere intellectual accomplishment while he would be better off praying and spending time to control his mind . Shankara understood that the majority of the world was also engaged in mere intellectual, sense pleasures and not in the divine contemplation . Seeing this, he burst forth with the verses of Bhaja Govindam.
Shankara explains, nay chides, us for spending our time in useless trivia like amassing wealth, lusting after (wo)men and requests us to discriminate and cultivate the knowledge to learn the difference between the real and the unreal . To emphasize that, he concludes that all knowledge other than the Self-Knowledge is useless, Shankara makes the person realize how foolish he/she is in the conduct and behavior by these verses, and shows the purpose of our worldly existence, which is to seek Govinda and attain Him.
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