It’s not a surprise that music plays a vital role in Hindu philosophy. In fact, sound is interwoven in almost every ritual. The idea of the sacred sound is, for example, incorporated into mantra chanting, and singing kīrtana, and devotional songs. The greatest philosopher of Sanātana Dharma, Jagad Guru Ādi Śaṃkara also gave importance to the sacred sound. He composed a very popular devotional poem named ‘Bhaja Govindam’, where he connects the spiritual path of knowledge, jǹāna with the path of devotion, bhakti, that is primarily expressed through chanting and singing. The repeating phrase of his well-known composition is:
“Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam Govindam Bhaja Mūdhamate
Samprāpte Sannihite Kāle Nahi Nahi Rakshati Dukṛñkaraṇe”
“Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, oh foolish one!
Rules of Grammar profit nothing once the hour of death draws nigh”
If we interpret Ādi Śaṃkara’s words and relate it to our modern society we learn that even though we have the capability to accomplish extraordinary achievements and possess all knowledge of this world, it is through devotion or bhakti, that we can achieve a blissful state of mind and even salvation. Published in OMRISE Online Magazine Issue 4, October 2020.