(‘the song of the mendicant’)

The Bhagavadgītā, the most widely studied scripture of Hinduism has in course of time given rise to a voluminous Gītā-literature. One of the minor gītās that forms part of another celebrated gītā, the Uddhavagītā (vide Bhāgavata 11.7-29) is the Bhikṣugītā (11.23)

In the country of Avantī, there lived a brāhmaṇa rolling in wealth but a miser to the core. His peevish and rude behaviour resulted in successfully driving away all his kith and kin. Wilful neglect of duties, both temporal and scriptural, made the gods angry with him and they withdrew their grace. So, he lost all his wealth and got vairāgya or spirit of renunciation which made him reflect on his past life and behaviour. He then took to the life of a bhikṣu or mendicant. Wherever he went he was reviled and even assaulted because of his past history. However, he stoically put up with everything taking it all as due to his own past karma. He then taught his own mind thus: ‘I gave so much trouble to this body in order to earn wealth and not for dharma (righteousness) or kāma (pleasure of the flesh). Wealth thus accumulated by the greedy and the miserly ones ruins all the good one may have. Wealth gives rise to many evils like theft, violence, lust, vanity, and enmity even amongst the loved ones. Those who waste this invaluable human birth in the pursuit of wealth ruin themselves. When death knocks at our doors, money can never rescue us; nor do people or objects of desire. God, the infinitely merciful one, has blessed me thus by deliberately taking away my wealth and possessions. I will now spend the rest of my life in tapas or austerity and be ever vigilant against all selfishness.

‘It is the mind—being under the influence of the three guṇas—that is responsible for our weal or woe. Control of this mind is the best of yogas. One who successfully accomplishes it is verily a god!’