Siksastakam Verses 1 and 2 – A Prelude to Gita Nagari Retreat 2008

(A powerpoint presentation)

Welcome to Gita Nagari!

The Theme for this weekend is Siksastakam verse 3. This is an introduction and an attempt to prepare us for receiving Siksastakam Verse 3.

Siksastakam Verse 3 -> very very important. It is so important that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said in one verse of Chaitanya Charitamrta: This verse should be strung on the thread of the holy name and worn like an ornament. This will enable one to chant the Holy name with real taste, and thus receive the gift of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The whole of Spiritual World can be entered.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself. sri-krsna-caitanya sarira dhari (CC Madhya 6.254). Lord Krishna descended in the form of His own devotee, in the mood of His beloved Radha.

Although Lord Caitanya was widely renowned as a scholar in His youth, He left only eight verses. The Siksastakam verses are the seed from which 100s and 1000s of verses (which are found in the instructions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s followers) find their origin. These verses clearly reveal His mission — the reason for which He came, the instructions how to receive it, how to become more effective in reaching the stage of love of God in this life. And it is meant for all of us, not certain class of people, in the unfortunate age of Kali.

Siksastakam Verse 1 -> All glories to Sankirtan

ceto darpana marjanam

Chanting cleanses the dirt accumulated for years from the mirror of our heart.

marjana = cleanses. Spiritual Master is pleased when he sees the devotees cleansing the temple – same as cleansing the heart. Most effective form of cleansing is achieved through the chanting of the Holy name.

Bhagavad Gita describes how dust covering mirror, smoke covering fire and womb covering embryo are examples of different coverings of the soul. These are gross and subtle contaminations due to a bodily conception of life. One becomes relieved of the contamination if one is elevated to the spiritual conception of life, when one realizes one’s real identity. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu identified: Our real identity is that we are the eternal servants of the Supreme.

E.g. Brahma Vimoha Lila: Brahma was thinking of himself in a material way. What is the limit of the power of Krishna compared to mine? His consciousness was covered. By Krishna’s mercy, that covering of the consciousness was cleansed.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, chanting of the Holy name is the most feasible means of salvation, by which one can be freed from all undesirable habits.

By congregational chanting, one can destroy the sinful condition of the heart.

E.g. Mrgari, the hunter. Saved by Narada Muni. Transformed from a vicious cruel person into a soft-hearted pure devotee. Instruction he received from Narada Muni: Chant the Holy name of the Lord and be happy. Heart can be cleansed directly.

bhava mahä-davagni nirvapanam

Bhava = material existence; likened to a raging forest fire. Chanting of the Holy name extinguishes the blazing fire of material existence. Srila Prabhupada -> buckets of water cannot extinguish the blazing fire. Nor the fire brigades can extinguish. But a torrential downpour of water by nature’s arrangement can extinguish. Similarly, chanting -> extinguishes the blazing fire.

E.g. a capable swimmer in the midst of the ocean cannot save himself. But if mercy of the Lord is extended, he can be saved.

Very complicated struggle in material existence. By material means, the struggle becomes even more complicated. It’s not going to be extinguished by material means. Nor by walking away from it (out of frustration).

E.g. This was realized by Ajamila. Nothing he could do to save himself. Yamadutas came to severely punish him. By chanting of the Holy name, he was saved.

sreya kairava candrika vitaranam

Expands the white lotus of good fortune. At night, as the sun sets, the lotus closes. In the morning it opens up again. Dark age of Kali -> lotus of good fortune is closed. It opens with the rays of the brilliant benediction (shining) moon in the form of chanting the holy name.

Chanting is the waxing moon that distributes its cooling moonlight. It spreads the rays of the benediction moon in the dark age of kali.

There is absence of good fortune. In fact, ill-fortune all around. Srimad Bhagavatam -> In the age of kali, the atmosphere is surcharged with opposition. Very difficult to move in the spiritual direction. Made possible by the chanting of the holy name.

vidya vadhu jivanam

Life and soul of transcendental knowledge.

Or, wife of all education.

Or, life of all transcendental knowledge.

Or, a young bride chaste in devotion to transcendental knowledge. In other words, transcendental knowledge is awakened within the heart just by the process of chanting.

Srila Prabhupada -> suffering is due to ignorance. Prayers of Devahuti to Krishna who just appeared in prison house -> “Oh, how glorious are they whose tongues are chanting Your holy name! Even if born in the families of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Persons who chant the holy name of Your Lordship must have executed all kinds of austerities and fire sacrifices and achieved all the good manners of the Āryans. To be chanting the holy name of Your Lordship, they must have bathed at holy places of pilgrimage, studied the Vedas and fulfilled everything required.” (SB 3.33.7)

This verse was quoted by one brahmana, a faithful devotee of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: Kali das.

E.g. Kali das’s vow -> take the remnants of prasädam from the devotees in all of Bengal. A lot of homes to visit for him! Kali das visited the home of Jharu thakur, whose occupation is bhangi (street sweeper). This learned aristocratic brahmana (Kali das) came to Jharu thakur’s house. Kali das asked him to take the mango and expressed his desire to have the prasädam. Jharu Thakur: “You are an elevated brahmana. How could you ask this question? You will be dismissed by your fellow brahmanas.” Kali das quoted the above verse.

E.g. Ratnakar transforming into Valmiki by the chanting the holy name ‘Rama’.

E.g. Prakasananda Saraswati and his Mayavadi followers. All the Mayavadi scholars laughed and ridiculed Chaitanya Mahaprabhu although He was a very very learned sannyasi, because He was chanting and dancing with ordinary persons, and not studying Vedanta. They criticized Him. After hearing Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explain the Vaisnava philosophy, all of them became transformed.

Chanting -> transcendental knowledge potentially awakens naturally within the heart.

anandambudhi vardhanam

Ocean of ananda (happiness) increases just from the chanting of the holy name.

prati padam purna amrta asvadanam

Every step, the holy name enables to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

Another translation that Srila Prabhupada gives: Chanting of the holy name expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life.

It is the nature of love that ever-increasingly makes one happy. Selfish happiness of sense gratification or mandane achievement is very short-lived. The ever-expanding nectar we are hankering for is our loving connection and selfless loving service to Krishna. Chanting helps us enter into that realm.

sarvatma snapanam

snapanam = bathing; Chanting purifies all souls, regardless of age, color, nationality, and even species.

E.g. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was able to engage even wild tigers, deers, monkeys.. chanting together in great ecstasy.

Brhad-visnu-sahasranäma-stotra: “I chant the holy name of Lord Rama and thus enjoy this beautiful sound.” (CC Madhya 9.32)

E.g. Advaita Acarya calling Krishna’s name very loudly requesting the Lord to descend.. Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, all became purified.

Therefore, param vijayate sri Krsna sankirtanam. Let there be all victory to the chanting of the Holy name of Krishna!

These are 7 glories described by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur in his Bhajana näma rahasya gives us instructions on how to enter deeply into chanting. Siksastakam is a form of meditation for entering into the holy name. Not that mind should be on Siksastakam, but if you are very familiar with these instructions of Lord Chaitanya, they will enhance the quality of your chanting. Srila Prabhupada -> if you are told to love somebody, and you know who that somebody is, it becomes possible to love. The more you know, the chance of loving them becomes better especially when they are very loveable. E.g. In most temple, after mangala ärati and tulasi ärati, reciting Siksastakam is a practice for entering more deeply into the glories of the holy name.

Siksastakam  Verse 2

Out of deep humility, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is lamenting, tasting these verses and sharing with us the taste… Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami -> by hearing the meaning of this verse, one can forget all happiness and lamentation.

namnam akari bahudha

Your holy name alone can render all benedictions to all living beings. You have hundreds of millions of names.

My Lord, there is all good fortune for the living entity. Therefore you have many names by which You expand Yourself. In this material world, there is misfortune, difficult struggle. In this difficult place, there is good fortune -> the holy name of the lord. If one looks for shelter in the Holy name, one experience shelter even in most difficult situation.

E.g. Gajendra. Offered a lotus to the Lord even in difficulty. Pain of different types: physical and emotional pain, interpersonal pain, etc. But there is good fortune for one who takes shelter of the holy name.

nija sarva sakti

You have invested all your transcendental energy.

Srila Prabhupada -> In this Universe, there is one planet that gives energy to all other planets. That’s the sun. If the sun were to extinguish, life is gone. That sun is just a spark of Krishna’s splendor. If in each and every name, He has invested all His transcendental potency. How powerful the holy name is!! KRSNA!!!

E.g. The monkeys were writing ‘Rama’ on the stones and tossing them into the ocean. By the power of the holy name, the stones floated.

When you call Krishna’s name, associates of Krishna come. When Draupadi called out ‘hey Krishna, hey Govinda’, Krishna described, “This call for Me had put Me in her debt! This debt is increasing in my heart.” This shows how Krishna feels continuously indebted. How powerful is the Holy name!

How does Krishna feel when one chants with such faith! By chanting the holy name, one can realize the form, the qualities of the Lord and gets entrance into His pastimes.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu -> experiencing the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. He can give us access to these pastimes.

E.g. Raghunath Dasa Goswami was chanting the holy name in such absorption that Krishna came and protected him at Radha Kund.

tatra arpita niyamitah

Vedic rituals -> rules and regulations and proper times for conducting them are very important. Set up the yajna pit in certain directions. Chanting -> very merciful. Direct access to Krishna is possible without hard and fast rules. Possible for anyone. E.g. for deity worship, some standard and rules are mentioned. By the combination of chanting the holy name, it is made successful. Even when you are sleeping! Has anybody got dreams of chanting? If you are chanting all day, guess what you did in the night? Chanting! And, woke up tired! (laughter)

eta drsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi

Out of kindness, you have made it easy to approach you by the chanting of the holy name.

durdaivam idrsam ihajani na anuragah

But, I am so unfortunate. I have more attraction for the ‘bulletin board’ than the holy name. (laughter)

No time for chanting, although you bestow unlimited mercy.

Srila Prabhupada -> I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting.. therefore I don’t develop attachment for chanting. Remain in the material existence, although so much mercy Krishna extends, no rules no regulations, and yet we have no attraction. Simply due to offenses!

Siksastakam Verse 3 -> Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s response to this lamentation – An expression of humility.

Antya Lila Chap 6: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is expanding on Siksastakam Verse 3.

Explaining it to Raghunath Dasa Goswami. When He explains this to Raghunath Dasa Goswami, He is giving the essence of Siksastakam Verse 3.

Raghunath Dasa Goswami never directly spoke to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu because of humility. Speak through Swaroop Damodar. Raghunath Dasa Goswami to Swaroop Damodar -> I am a madman. I don’t know why I left my family life. Can you ask Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who I am and what is my duty?

First you give me instructions from Your transcendental mouth.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (smiling) -> I have already appointed Swaroop Damodar as your instructor. You may learn from him what your duty is and how to discharge it? I don’t know as much as he. Nevertheless, if you want to with faith and love, you may ascertain from the following words: (CC Antya 6.236-238)

“Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Krishna, and within your mind render service to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavan. I have briefly given you My instructions. Now you will get all details about them from Svarüpa Dämodara.”

Then Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami quotes Siksastakam Verse 3.

The goal is to always chant the Holy name of the Lord, to qualify, there are attendant qualities: Humility and Tolerance.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur describes the qualities as follows -> Humility, free from envy and compassion for others without any sense of how one may become benefitted/appreciated by others, by that activities of compassion, in the mood of always wanting to give all respects to others. Srila Prabhupada -> We have many expectations.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur -> prarabdha karma are those activities we have done in the past for which we are now receiving the fruit. Sow a seed -> fruit comes later. We are experiencing that. A devotee does not place much value in the fruits of the past material activities. That is bewilderment for the mind. The value goes to the soul. Come to the platform of the soul. See and experience from the platform of the soul.

When we experience that the world of phantasmagoria does not capture us anymore. We don’t have taste because we are making offenses. We are investing in the duality of delusion, finding unhappiness ultimately. The so-called happiness is unhappiness because it takes our attention away from real happiness.

Siksastakam Verse 3 -> Invites us to chant the holy name with real purity, unlocks the door into the treasure of the Holy name; to deeply meditate on the glory of chanting; to examine the key, wiggle the key a little to see if the door opens.

Q/A (The questions were not so audible)

1.     Say “yes” to Krishna program. Material consciousness -> soul is covered. What we are seeing is energy manifesting in the form of duality. Nothing more than it. Material happiness -> tinkering with the configuration of the material energy. Trying to adjust a shadow.. Not the object. The ‘shadow is moving’ because the object is moving. If a shadow makes a nice configuration, it makes us happy.. But that is not real happiness. Just a shadow. Humility (Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur describes) is the sense of how we think of ourselves. Not as a shadow but finding happiness in who we are.. Shadow cast by the object ­– the good and bad activities and our association with material nature, keeping our attention away from the real happiness. Real humility is on a spiritual platform, not finding happiness in shadow. Chanting -> aspiring for that position of real humility. Spiritually awakened condition. Has that potency. Purpose is not to change the configuration of prarabdha karma, but to connect to Krishna from the heart. Krishna is manifesting as His holy name.

2.     Is cleansing of the Heart or the mind considered same? Srila Prabhupada sometimes uses the terms heart and mind interchangeably. Reason: Mind is located in the heart, not in the cerebral cortex. Mind is not a muscle either. Mind is one of the 6 senses or 11 senses. A Subtle sense.. Based on information from the senses, the mind gives direction to the working senses. Mind -> a central switch board operator. Receiving and sending signals.. mind carrying conceptions -> dirty.. Capital/center of sensory activity -> mind. Thinking, feeling and willing are the functions of the mind. Some persons take dictations from the mind. They follow the mind and they get lost. Instead, one should do activities from the heart (the soul), or in relationship with Krishna.. In that sense, mind and heart are different.

3.      Flickering happiness. Chapala sukha: a sensation of happiness only; on the sense platform not the soul platform. On the soul platform, separation from Krishna is painful/distressful.. Forgetfulness of Krishna overwrites all programs in the material world. Srila Prabhupada -> Glitter gold. Valueless. a little glitter attracts the people although it does not have any value at all. Seek the real value coming from the soul platform. Soul platform is reached -> other things are insignificant.

4.     Curb the mind -> like taming a wild animal.. First, starve.. weak and wasted.. feed only a little bit.. then starve again… wasted.. after some time becomes docile. Then you can even stick your head inside its mouth because it is weak (laughter). Mind -> like a tiger ready to devour.. Two ways to curb: (1) neglect the mind. (2) beat the mind.

5.     No taste in chanting at every step? Opportunity is there for all of those things.. na anuraga.. there is a reason.. not getting the taste which we are all hankering. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu -> one of the antidotes is Siksastakam Verse 3. What’s going to inspire us to apply Siksastakam Verse 3 is understanding the glories of the chanting. We all are experiencing something.. All of our lives have drastically changed just from chanting.. But the taste for which we are hankering is not there.. We go through hills and valleys in our chanting.. It is shadow of the real thing. Durdaivam. unfortunately. Keep your receiver on to learn how to go beyond that, how to chant the holy name more effectively.