Who am I? | Bhaja Govindam 6th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)

Yaavatpavano nivasati dehe, taavatprucchati kushalam gehe
Gatavati vaayau deha paaye, bhaarya bibhati tasmin kaaye || 6 ||

Meaning: As long as one is breathing (alive), his family enquires about his welfare. Once the vital air leaves the body, even one’s own wife will be scared of the body.

Another beautiful verse by Shankara that carries a subtle question in it. Who am I?

The death of a family member hits the family very hard. But as soon as the life is gone from the body, what do the family members address the person as? Till then he must have been a father to someone, a son to someone else, a husband, a brother, etc. But, the very same people who looked at him with respect, what do they address the person as? The Body. ‘When are we cremating the body?’ ‘When are we taking the body from here?’ A relative till some time back has become The Body. Why? Because, life is gone. The Individual no longer exists.

How much ever love the dead person’s children and wife must have loved him, the moment he is dead, will they want to keep the body preserved forever? Would anybody say, “I’m so attached to him that I want to preserve this body and keep looking at it every now and then”? When life is gone, it’s over.

So, who is it that lived in that body for many years? Who was living in that body who was a father, a brother, a husband, a friend? Who was it? Who are we residing in our bodies? How many of us have ever thought of this question? Not knowing, who we really are, we live a whole life. We never even thought of it in our entire life and one day suddenly we are dead without realizing who we are. Think!

We have been living such a life since years and we see people living life like this around us. Hence, it never occurs to us to enquire about ‘Who we are?’. But a person who has lost his memory in an accident, he doesn’t know who he was, what was his name, where did he come from, who are his relatives, what was his past; in such a person we can seek the thirst of enquiring about himself, finding out who he really is. He cannot sleep or eat or live like a normal person until he finds out who he really is. Why does he do that? Because, for him, nothing else in this world would make sense if he doesn’t find out who he is.

We all are no different from that person, except the fact that for us, the world makes sense even if we don’t realize who we are!

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One thought on “Who am I? | Bhaja Govindam 6th stanza

  1. “ask yourself the first thing in the morning – ‘who am i’……” swami Asheshanandaji, Acharya, Chinmaya Mission Palghat, Kerala, said on Srimad Bhagavata Saptaham at Kandvli.

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