TRANSLATION OF ADI SANKARA’S MOHA MUDGARAM (HAMMER THE ILLUSION), popularly known as BHAJA GOVINDAM / Translated by Radhakrishnan Krishnan


Born in a traditional Tamil Brahmin family, most of my childhood days were spent waking up hearing the rendition of BHAJA GOVINDAM by M.S. Subbalaksmi. Bhaja Govindam was written by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century AD in Sanskrit language. Though sung as devotional bhajan, it contains essence of philosophy. It ponders over questions, why we are here in this life, why we are amassing wealth,what is the absolute truth and purpose of life, to lead us to the right path where we can avoid the never ending cycles of birth and death.The original name of Adi Shankara’s verses is called MOHA MUDGARAM(Hammer the illusion) but popularly came to known as BHAJA GOVINDAM.

I have translated all the 31 verses from original sanskrit version . I am not a scholar of Sanskrit. I took the help of my mother-in-law who is a post graduate in Sanskrit language.

I will be grateful if any of the Sanskrit scholars correct my translation and suggest improvement.

भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं 
गोविन्दं भज मूढमते । 
सम्प्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले
नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृङ्करणे ॥ १॥

1. Chant the name of Govinda, chant the name of Govinda,
Chant Govinda, O’ person of deluded intellect,
Repeating again and again of fruitless chroes,
Will not protect you from clutches of death.


मूढ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णां
कुरु सद्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णाम् ।
यल्लभसे निजकर्मोपात्तं
वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तम् ॥ २॥

2.O’ mindless idiot, shun your greed for amassing wealth,
Focus your mind in Truth, discarding earthly passions,
Face the karma of your past,
Purify your mind denouncing all bitterness.


दृष्ट्वा मा गा मोहावेशम् । 
मनसि विचिन्तय वारं वारम् ॥ ३॥

3. Don’t lust for voluptous breasts and slender naval of women,
Immerse not in the lustful swamp of desires,
All bodies are made of flesh and bones that will perish,
Think of this truth again and again.


4. नलिनीदलगतजलमतितरलं 
तद्वज्जीवितमतिशयचपलम् । 
विद्धि व्याध्यभिमानग्रस्तं 
लोकं शोकहतं च समस्तम् ॥ ४॥

4. Life is a ever changing mirage, so uncertain,
Like a dew drop on the leaf of lotus,
Learn, the world is infested with disease of conceit,
Complete with full of sorrows and grief.


स्तावन्निजपरिवारो रक्तः । 
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जरदेहे 
वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे ॥ ५॥

5. You earn respect and love while you earn and provide,
Your family members adore you and care for you,
When your body decays from old age.
Your kith and kin will leave you without love.


यावत्पवनो निवसति देहे 
तावत्पृच्छति कुशलं गेहे । 
गतवति वायौ देहापाये 
भार्या बिभ्यति तस्मिन्काये ॥ ६॥

6. While you live, you have many contacts,
They care for your welfare and express well wishes,
When the soul departs from your body,
Everyone will be eager to dispose of your corpse, even your wife.


तरुणस्तावत्तरुणीसक्तः । 
परमे ब्रह्मणि कोऽपि न सक्तः ॥ ७॥

7. Our childhood is lost in playful ways,
Youth is lost in the embrace of women,
Old age is lost in the memories of past,
Oh, there is none left to merge with Brahman(the Supreme self)


का ते कान्ता कस्ते पुत्रः 
संसारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः । 
कस्य त्वं कः कुत आयात- 
स्तत्त्वं चिन्तय तदिह भ्रातः ॥ ८॥

8. Ponder over mystery of life to find answers,
Who is your wife, who is your son, who are you and how did you all evolve?
Think over these qeustions to realize truth for salvation
Through your endless cycles of birth and death.


सत्सङ्गत्वे निस्सङ्गत्वं 
निस्सङ्गत्वे निर्मोहत्वम् । 
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं 
निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः ॥ ९॥

9. Bond with noble men to attain the state of detachment,
Detachment prompts freedom of delusion
When the mind is free of all delusions, the ultimate truth will dawn
When you realize the ultimate truth of your being, you are closer to salvation


वयसि गते कः कामविकारः 
शुष्के नीरे कः कासारः । 
क्षीणे वित्ते कः परिवारः 
ज्ञाते तत्त्वे कः संसारः ॥ १०॥

10. Lust will lose its purpose when youth leaves,
Like a lake that loses its purpose when water recedes,
Your kin will leave you when wealth vanishes,
What is the purpose of this worldly bondage when truth appears?


मा कुरु धनजनयौवनगर्वं 
हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम् । 
मायामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा 
ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा ॥ ११॥

11. Flaunt not your wealth, youthful vigor and companions,
All these will vanish instantly before you realize
Severe those illusionary bonds of Maya (Delusion)
Attain the ultimate truth that is the only constant factor.


दिनयामिन्यौ सायं प्रातः 
शिशिरवसन्तौ पुनरायातः । 
कालः क्रीडति गच्छत्यायु- 
स्तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशावायुः ॥ १२॥

12. Dusk precedes dawn every day,
Spring follows winter as seasons change,
They all come and go as life passes,
But lust and desire always stay.


का ते कान्ता धनगतचिन्ता 
वातुल किं तव नास्ति नियन्ता । 
त्रिजगति सज्जनसङ्गतिरेका 
भवति भवार्णवतरणे नौका ॥ १३॥

13. Why do you yearn to acquire more wealth?
Don’t you have none to guide you the correct way?
Only the company of noble souls can save you,
From those wordly greeds.


जटिलो मुण्डी लुञ्छितकेशः 
काषायाम्बरबहुकृतवेषः । 
पश्यन्नपि च न पश्यति मूढो 
ह्युदरनिमित्तं बहुकृतवेषः ॥ १४॥

14. Feigned peity, untidy hair, or shaven heads,
Robes of false religiosity,
They are meant to fool others for personal benefit,
Those who believe in them are fools, myopic to truth.


अङ्गं गलितं पलितं मुण्डं 
दशनविहीनं जातं तुण्डम् । 
वृद्धो याति गृहीत्वा दण्डं 
तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापिण्डम् ॥ १५॥

15. Bald heads, toothless gums develop with old age,
Though seeing these signs of time’s warning,
An old man’s desires never wane,
Desperately clinging to fruitless desires.


अग्रे वह्निः पृष्ठे भानुः 
रात्रौ चुबुकसमर्पितजानुः । 
स्तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशापाशः ॥ १६॥

16. Here lies a man warmed by sun,
At night culs up to escape from cold,
Eats food from the palms of his hand and sleeps beneath tree,
Yet he remains slave to the worldly passions.


कुरुते गङ्गासागरगमनं 
व्रतपरिपालनमथवा दानम् । 
ज्ञानविहीनः सर्वमतेन 
मुक्तिं न भजति जन्मशतेन ॥ १७॥

17. Taking a dip in holy Ganga,
Or fasting and offering food to poor,
One can’t attain liberationthough he may take repeated births,
Without the realization of absolute truth.


शय्या भूतलमजिनं वासः । 
कस्य सुखं न करोति विरागः ॥ १८॥

18. Shun life of comfors and live in temples or trees,
Shun bawdy garments and wear deer skin and sleep in floor,
Give up worldly attachments and comforts,
Be satisfied with pious detached life.


योगरतो वा भोगरतो वा 
सङ्गरतो वा सङ्गविहीनः । 
यस्य ब्रह्मणि रमते चित्तं 
नन्दति नन्दति नन्दत्येव ॥ १९॥

19. One can indulge in Yoga to have a union of mind and body,
Or ‘Bhoga’, the sheer lust and pleasure,
One can get attached or detached from world,
But eternal joy will erupt only by meditating Supreme Soul.


भगवद्गीता किञ्चिदधीता 
गङ्गाजललवकणिका पीता । 
सकृदपि येन मुरारिसमर्चा 
क्रियते तस्य यमेन न चर्चा ॥ २०॥

20. If one reads little of Bhagwad Gita,
And drink a drop of Ganga water,
Worship Murari(God) atleast once,
He need not fear his death.


पुनरपि जननं पुनरपि मरणं 
पुनरपि जननीजठरे शयनम् । 
इह संसारे बहुदुस्तारे 
कृपयाऽपारे पाहि मुरारे ॥ २१॥

21. These repeated circles of birth and death,
Putting burdens in mother’s womb,
Oh, Murari(God), guide us in this voyage of endless ocean,
And save us from this vicious circle.


पुण्यापुण्यविवर्जितपन्थः । 
योगी योगनियोजितचित्तो 
रमते बालोन्मत्तवदेव ॥ २२॥

22. One can wear clothes of virtue or vice,
As he can tread along life’s path,
If one is surrounded by divinity and purity,
Like a child, the happiness linger on to spread.


कस्त्वं कोऽहं कुत आयातः 
का मे जननी को मे तातः । 
इति परिभावय सर्वमसारम् 
विश्वं त्यक्त्वा स्वप्नविचारम् ॥ २३॥

23. Who are you and from where you evolved?
Who is your mother and father?
Think of these myteries, seeing all without form,
To shun the world and its fruitless dream.


त्वयि मयि चान्यत्रैको विष्णु- 
र्व्यर्थं कुप्यसि मय्यसहिष्णुः । 
भव समचित्तः सर्वत्र त्वं 
वाञ्छस्यचिराद्यदि विष्णुत्वम् ॥ २४॥

24. The God is in you, in me and in all where He dwells,
Anger and impatience are impeding you to seek Him,
If you yearn to merge with God in great measure,
Equanimity to one and all is the way out.


शत्रौ मित्रे पुत्रे बन्धौ 
मा कुरु यत्नं विग्रहसन्धौ । 
सर्वस्मिन्नपि पश्यात्मानं 
सर्वत्रोत्सृज भेदाज्ञानम् ॥ २५॥

25. A foe or a friend, son or kin,
Expecting from them love or hate,
They are hallow and wasted emotions,
See yourself in all and all in you, denying feelings of duality.


कामं क्रोधं लोभं मोहं 
त्यक्त्वाऽऽत्मानं भावय कोऽहम् ।
आत्मज्ञानविहीना मूढा-
स्ते पच्यन्ते नरकनिगूढाः ॥ २६॥

26. Weedout the feelings of lust, anger, greed and obsession,
Rhink deeply to realize your true self,
Fools are those who are myopic to self realization,
To languish in hellof life to suffer till their end.


गेयं गीतानामसहस्रं 
ध्येयं श्रीपतिरूपमजस्रम् । 
नेयं सज्जनसङ्गे चित्तं 
देयं दीनजनाय च वित्तम् ॥ २७॥

27. Recite Bhagwadgita and chant the name of God,
Praise the Lord of his thousand glories,
Join the gang of noble and righteous souls,
Share your wealth among poor, oppressed


सुखतः क्रियते रामाभोगः 
पश्चाद्धन्त शरीरे रोगः । 
यद्यपि लोके मरणं शरणं 
तदपि न मुञ्चति पापाचरणम् ॥ २८॥

28. If you indulge in lust for the pleasures of body,
The body will suffer falling prey to diseases,
Knowing full well that this lusty path will bring only the gory end,
Men still do not desist from lust.


अर्थमनर्थं भावय नित्यं 
नास्तिततः सुखलेशः सत्यम् । 
पुत्रादपि धनभाजां भीतिः 
सर्वत्रैषा विहिता रीतिः ॥ २९॥

29. Wealth never guarentees joy or common good,
Mark this, this is universal truth,
A rich man’s son will be more greedy,
This is the truth about wealth, note it.


प्राणायामं प्रत्याहारं 
नित्यानित्य विवेकविचारम् । 
कुर्ववधानं महदवधानम् ॥ ३०॥

30. Control and conserve your energy through meditation,
Realize the difference between real and illusion,
Chant the name of God for the peace of mind
Perform these deeds for fruitful life.


संसारादचिराद्भव मुक्तः । 
द्रक्ष्यसि निजहृदयस्थं देवम् ॥ ३१॥

31. Lay at the feet of your Guru(teacher),
May you be free from repeated cycles of birth and death
May you learn to control the organs and their senses
To be one with God who dwells in you.



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