Sankara and the Authorship Issue (Bhaja govindam, Mohamudgara)

Ashok Aklujkar ashok.aklujkar at UBC.CA
Sun Apr 6 16:28:32 UTC 2008

Christophe Vielle and Peter Wyzlic have already given very useful
bibliographic information. The former has also pointed out how we have an
essentially single composition known with two names.

The composition is also spoken of as Dvaada;sa-pa;njarikaa and

It is preserved in a popular tradition as well as scholarly tradition. I
have seen pamphlet editions as well as inclusion in such publicatiions as
the multi-volume ;Saa:nkara-granthaavalii. Cassettes carrying its renditions
by outstanding singers such as M. S. Subbalakshmi and M. Balamuralikrishna
are still sold in India.

Several of its verses can be used to strengthen the students' knowledge of
Indian scripts. Students beginning their study of Sanskrit benefit much by
reading and hearing it (especially in the renderings of Subbalakshmi and
others) after they have learned the basics of Devanagari (or other
Brahmi-derived scripts).

It is inaccurate to characterize the composition, even in its Bhaja Govindam
version, as devotional. It is not a praise of or invocation to any
particular god. The word stotra applied to it does not fit in the strong or
literal sense of the word and may even be based on shaky manuscript evidence
(earlier or more reliable mss may simply have Moha-mudgara.h,
Dvaada;sa-pa;njarikaa or Carpa.ta-pa;njarikaa). The message throughout is
that of (a) impermanence of all things and (b) the need for detachment and
renunciation (a forcefully and beautifully delivered message). For the
Advaitin, Govinda is simply a prop for brahman (although ;Sa:nkara could
have written at least some of the moving devotional hymns ascribed to gods
such as Govinda).

ashok aklujkar

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