The Bhaja Govindam (named after the opening verse) is a short work (34 verses) written as a simple hymn (singable by children), and it serves as a general introduction to the Advaita Vedanta philosophy, one of the six orthodox schools of Indian Philosophy. It answers the questions: "Why am I here? Why do I have no peace, despite outward prosperity? What is the Truth? What is the meaning of life?" Because each section attempts to dispell the foolish ideas and illusions of the reader, it is sometimes called the Moha Mudgara or the Remover of Delusions. Here are the verses in transliterated Sanskrit and then translated into English (for more background, read about the author, Shankara):

  1. bhajagovindaM bhajagovindaM
    govindaM bhajamuuDhamate
    saMpraapte sannihite kaale
    nahi nahi rakshati DukR^iJNkaraNe

    Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.

  2. mUDha jahiihi dhanaagamatR^ishhNaaM
    kuru sadbuddhiM manasi vitR^ishhNaam.h
    yallabhase nijakarmopaattaM
    vittaM tena vinodaya chittam.h

    Oh fool! Give up your thrist to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.

  3. naariistanabhara naabhiideshaM
    dR^ishhTvaa maagaamohaavesham.h
    etanmaaMsaavasaadi vikaaraM
    manasi vichintaya vaaraM vaaram.h

    Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and lust by seeing a woman's navel and chest. These are nothing but a modification of flesh. Do not fail to remember this again and again in your mind.

  4. naliniidalagata jalamatitaralaM
    tadvajjiivitamatishayachapalam.h
    viddhi vyaadhyabhimaanagrastaM
    lokaM shokahataM cha samastam.h

    The life of a man is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a lotus leaf. Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief.

  5. yaavadvittopaarjana saktaH
    staavannija parivaaro raktaH
    pashchaajjiivati jarjara dehe
    vaartaaM ko.api na pR^ichchhati gehe

    So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.

  6. yaavatpavano nivasati dehe
    taavatpR^ichchhati kushalaM gehe
    gatavati vaayau dehaapaaye
    bhaaryaa bibhyati tasminkaaye

    When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his welfare. But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife runs away in fear of the corpse.

  7. baalastaavatkriiDaasaktaH
    taruNastaavattaruNiisaktaH
    vR^iddhastaavachchintaasaktaH
    pare brahmaNi ko.api na saktaH

    The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness. Youth is lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over many past things. But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in parabrahman.

  8. kaate kaantaa kaste putraH
    saMsaaro.ayamatiiva vichitraH
    kasya tvaM kaH kuta aayaataH
    tattvaM chintaya tadiha bhraataH

    Who is your wife? Who is your son? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you? From where have you come? Brother, ponder over these truths here.

  9. satsaN^gatve nissN^gatvaM
    nissaN^gatve nirmohatvam.h
    nirmohatve nishchalatattvaM
    nishcalatattve jiivanmuktiH

    From satsangh comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to self-settledness. From self-settledness comes Jeevan Mukti.

  10. vayasigate kaH kaamavikaaraH
    shushhke niire kaH kaasaaraH
    kshiiNevitte kaH parivaaraH
    GYaate tattve kaH saMsaaraH

    What good is lust when youth has fled? What use is a lake which has no water? Where are the relatives when wealth is gone? Where is samsara when the Truth is known?

  11. maa kuru dhana jana yauvana garvaM
    harati nimeshhaatkaalaH sarvam.h
    maayaamayamidamakhilaM hitvaa
    brahmapadaM tvaM pravisha viditvaa

    Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth. Each one of these are destroyed within a minute. Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.

  12. dinayaaminyau saayaM praataH
    shishiravasantau punaraayaataH
    kaalaH kriiDati gachchhatyaayuH
    tadapi na muJNcatyaashaavaayuH

    Daylight and darkness, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime come and go. Time plays and life ebbs away. But the storm of desire never leaves.

  13. dvaadashamaJNjarikaabhirasheshhaH
    kathito vaiyaakaraNasyaishhaH
    upadesho bhuudvidyaanipuNaiH
    shriimachchhankarabhagavachchharaNariH

    This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the bhagavadpada.

  14. kaate kaantaa dhana gatachintaa
    vaatula kiM tava naasti niyantaa
    trijagati sajjanasaM gatiraikaa
    bhavati bhavaarNavataraNe naukaa

    Oh madman! Why this engrossment in thoughts of wealth? Is there no one to guide you? There is only one thing in three worlds that can save you from the ocean from samsara. Get into that boat of satsangha quickly. Stanza attributed to Padmapada.

  15. jaTilo muNDii luJNchhitakeshaH
    kaashhaayaambarabahukR^itaveshhaH
    pashyannapi cana pashyati muuDhaH
    udaranimittaM bahukR^itaveshhaH

    There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are clothed in saffron, yet others in various colors --- all just for a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones see it not. Stanza attributed to Totakacharya.

  16. aN^gaM galitaM palitaM muNDaM
    dashanavihiinaM jataM tuNDam.h
    vR^iddho yaati gR^ihiitvaa daNDaM
    tadapi na muJNcatyaashaapiNDam.h

    Strength has left the old man's body; his head has become bald, his gums toothless and leaning on crutches. Even then the attachment is strong and he clings firmly to fruitless desires. Stanza attributed to Hastamalaka.

  17. agre vahniH pR^ishhThebhaanuH
    raatrau chubukasamarpitajaanuH
    karatalabhikshastarutalavaasaH
    tadapi na muJNcatyaashaapaashaH

    Behold there lies the man who sits warming up his body with the fire in front and the sun at the back; at night he curls up the body to keep out of the cold; he eats his beggar's food from the bowl of his hand and sleeps beneath the tree. Still in his heart, he is a wretched puppet at the hands of passions. Stanza attributed to Subodha.

  18. kurute gaN^gaasaagaragamanaM
    vrataparipaalanamathavaa daanam.h
    GYaanavihinaH sarvamatena
    muktiM na bhajati janmashatena

    One may go to gangasagar, observe fasts, and give away riches in charity! Yet, devoid of jnana, nothing can give mukthi even at the end of a hundred births. Stanza attributed to Sureshwaracharya.

  19. sura ma.ndira taru muula nivaasaH
    shayyaa bhuutala majinaM vaasaH
    sarva parigraha bhoga tyaagaH
    kasya sukhaM na karoti viraagaH

    Take your residence in a temple or below a tree, wear the deerskin for the dress, and sleep with mother earth as your bed. Give up all attachments and renounce all comforts. Blessed with such vairagya, could any fail to be content? Stanza attributed to Nityananda.

  20. yogarato vaabhogaratovaa
    saN^garato vaa saN^gaviihinaH
    yasya brahmaNi ramate chittaM
    nandati nandati nandatyeva

    One may take delight in yoga or bhoga, may have attachment or detachment. But only he whose mind steadily delights in Brahman enjoys bliss, no one else. Stanza attributed to Anandagiri.

  21. bhagavad.h giitaa kiJNchidadhiitaa
    gaN^gaa jalalava kaNikaapiitaa
    sakR^idapi yena muraari samarchaa
    kriyate tasya yamena na charchaa

    Let a man read but a little from gita, drink just a drop of water from the ganges, worship murari (govinda) just once. He then will have no altercation with Yama. Stanza attributed to dR^iDhabhakta.

  22. punarapi jananaM punarapi maraNaM
    punarapi jananii jaThare shayanam.h
    iha saMsaare bahudustaare
    kR^ipayaa.apaare paahi muraare

    Born again, death again, birth again to stay in the mother's womb! It is indeed hard to cross this boundless ocean of samsara. Oh Murari! Redeem me through Thy mercy. Stanza attributed to Nityanatha.

  23. rathyaa charpaTa virachita kanthaH
    puNyaapuNya vivarjita panthaH
    yogii yoganiyojita chitto
    ramate baalonmattavadeva

    There is no shortage of clothing for a monk so long as there are rags cast off the road. Freed from vice and virtue, onward he wanders. One who lives in communion with God enjoys bliss, pure and uncontaminated, like a child and as someone intoxicated. Stanza attributed to Nityanatha.

  24. kastvaM ko.ahaM kuta aayaataH
    kaa me jananii ko me taataH
    iti paribhaavaya sarvamasaaram.h
    vishvaM tyaktvaa svapna vichaaram.h

    Who are you? Who am I? From where do I come? Who is my mother, who is my father? Ponder thus, look at everything as essenceless and give up the world as an idle dream. Stanza attributed to Surendra.

  25. tvayi mayi chaanyatraiko vishhNuH
    vyarthaM kupyasi mayyasahishhNuH
    bhava samachittaH sarvatra tvaM
    vaaJNchhasyachiraadyadi vishhNutvam.h

    In me, in you and in everything, none but the same Vishnu dwells. Your anger and impatience is meaningless. If you wish to attain the status of Vishnu soon, have samabhava always. Stanza attributed to Medhaatithira.

  26. shatrau mitre putre bandhau
    maa kuru yatnaM vigrahasandhau
    sarvasminnapi pashyaatmaanaM
    sarvatrotsR^ija bhedaaGYaanam.h

    Do not waste your efforts to win the love of or to fight against friend and foe, children and relatives. See yourself in everyone and give up all feelings of duality completely. Stanza attributed to Medhaatithira.

  27. kaamaM krodhaM lobhaM mohaM
    tyaktvaa.atmaanaM bhaavaya ko.aham.h
    aatmaGYaana vihiinaa muuDhaaH
    te pachyante narakaniguuDhaaH

    Give up lust, anger, infatuation, and greed. Ponder over your real nature. Fools are they who are blind to the Self. Cast into hell they suffer there endlessly. Stanza attributed to Bharativamsha.

  28. geyaM giitaa naama sahasraM
    dhyeyaM shriipati ruupamajasram.h
    neyaM sajjana saN^ge chittaM
    deyaM diinajanaaya cha vittam.h

    Regularly recite from the Gita, meditate on Vishnu in your heart, and chant His thousand glories. Take delight to be with the noble and the holy. Distribute your wealth in charity to the poor and the needy. Stanza attributed to Sumatira.

  29. sukhataH kriyate raamaabhogaH
    pashchaaddhanta shariire rogaH
    yadyapi loke maraNaM sharaNaM
    tadapi na muJNchati paapaacharaNam.h

    He who yields to lust for pleasure leaves his body a prey to disease. Though death brings an end to everything, man does not gives up the sinful path.

  30. arthamanarthaM bhaavaya nityaM
    naastitataH sukhaleshaH satyam.h
    putraadapi dhana bhaajaaM bhiitiH
    sarvatraishhaa vihiaa riitiH

    Wealth is not welfare, truly there is no joy in it. Reflect thus at all times. A rich man fears even his own son. This is the way of wealth everywhere.

  31. praaNaayaamaM pratyaahaaraM
    nityaanitya vivekavichaaram.h
    jaapyasameta samaadhividhaanaM
    kurvavadhaanaM mahadavadhaanam.h

    Regulate the pranas, remain unaffected by external influences and discriminate between the real and the fleeting. Chant the holy name of God and silence the turbulent mind. Perform these with care, with extreme care.

  32. gurucharaNaambuja nirbhara bhakataH
    saMsaaraadachiraadbhava muktaH
    sendriyamaanasa niyamaadevaM
    drakshyasi nija hR^idayasthaM devam.h

    Oh devotee of the lotus feet of the Guru! May thou be soon free from Samsara. Through disciplined senses and controlled mind, thou shalt come to experience the Indwelling Lord of your heart!

  33. muuDhaH kashchana vaiyaakaraNo
    DukR^iJNkaraNaadhyayana dhuriNaH
    shriimachchhamkara bhagavachchhishhyai
    bodhita aasichchhodhitakaraNaH

    Thus was a silly grammarian lost in rules cleansed of his narrow vision and shown the Light by Shankara's apostles.

  34. bhajagovindaM bhajagovindaM
    govindaM bhajamuuDhamate
    naamasmaraNaadanyamupaayaM
    nahi pashyaamo bhavataraNe

    Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool! Other than chanting the Lord's names, there is no other way to cross the life's ocean.

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