Follow religion and the wisdom of the Bhaja Govindam, said Manjiri Dhamankar at the recent launch of her book
The mention of ‘Bhaja Govindam’ almost always first brings to mind the voice of M.S. Subbulakshmi, with her glittering diamonds and her steadfast devotion.
But Adi Shankara’s 2000 year-old stotra, like many Hindu texts, has many versions and now Pune-based author Manjiri Dhamankar has now attempted to reinterpret the text to reveal its contemporary significance in a book titled, Bhaja Govindam.
The book published by Flywell also contains a CD and includes a translation of the Sanskrit stotra in Hindi, English and Marathi along with her work on their relevance in today’s world.
The stotras in the CD have been sung by classical vocalists AshwiniBhide Deshpande and Raghunandan Panshikar while the texts and translations have been rendered by actor Tom Alter in English, dancer Parwati Dutta in Hindi and actor Sachin Khedekar in Marathi.
“My father, H.N. Phadnis was a renowned gynaecologist. Apart from that he was also a great thinker and Bhaja Govindam was his favourite hymn. He has studied it very deeply and compiled all the verses, rearranging them in an order so as to chalk out a clear pathway for man to rise from the miseries of life,” began Manjiri, who was in conversation with journalist Sandhya Rajayer.
“I knew about his work and a year back, I picked up the book and I was amazed to see what he had done. So I too began reading the other interpretations and then rearranged my father’s work included my knowledge to make it relevant to solving today’s issues.”
Answering a question on the different layers of wisdom in the stotra, Manjiri said that the sequence is a guideline for man to follow in his lifetime.
“The first layer makes us aware of the nature of human miseries. The second stage tells us the reasons for these miseries, the third stage says they can be solved and shows us the ways to solve them. The fourth stage guides man through the path and fifth stage describes the goal, which is the state of eternal bliss.”
The goal is always reiterated in the sign line or the chorus which implores man to ‘Bhaja Govindam’, she observed.
“Adi Shankara wants to have us keep Govinda as the goal at the same time he says Murari is the only solace. Are these names of divinity or does one have to be Hindu to follow Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s advice?” asked Sandhya.
“Govinda and Murari are names of the God Krishna. But Hinduism is not about religion or rituals. It’s a way of life. For instance, ‘go’ is a Sanskrit word which refers to the senses and ‘vid’ is the one who knows about it or has the wisdom to understand it. So ‘govinda’ means one who understands the wandering nature of the senses. Once you know that senses are going to wander and you will be dragged behind, you can control them. Therefore ‘govinda’ is one who is in control and makes his senses work as he wants them to. It has nothing to do with God,” she explained.
“The second word is ‘Murari’, which also means one who has conquered avidya or ignorance. It is only in ignorance that man makes mistakes, once he conquers ignorance, it takes away the reason for his miseries. So whichever religion you follow, you can be a ‘govinda’ or a ‘murari’”.