Inherent Meaning of Shikshashtaka Verses

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Inherent Meaning of Shikshashtaka Verses (eight lessons)
written by Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

The various stages that the spiritual aspirant attains by naam japa and keertan, have been described in eight verses by Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. These are known as sutra (prologues) in the spiritual practice of love and devotion. Quoted below are those from the book Shree Chaitanya Charitamrita (Bengali):

Verse No 1.

Chetordarpanamarjanang bhavamahadabagni nirbapanang,
Shreyah kairaba chandrikabitranang vidyabadhujivanam
Anandambudhi vardhanam pratipadam poornamritaswadanam
Sarvatmasnapanam param vijayate Shreekrishna samkeertanam.

In order to clean the mirror of the mind, to extinguish the all enveloping fire of worldly life, just as the lotus blooms in the moonlight, similarly in order to follow the best spiritual path—the heart’s beloved of a bride, who is the very image of knowledge—is naamsamkeertan (this means that naam samkeertan is the very soul of Shree Krishna Bhakti).

Hail to Shree Krishna keertan which is the deliverer of mind’s absolute satisfaction, that enlarges the ocean of bliss and gives us the taste of divine nectar at every step and which is also absolutely pleasing.

Central meaning
It is said in this verse that the ultimate spiritual practice is Shree Krishna keertan. Obstacles of all types are destroyed by this. This samkeertan delivers welfare in everyway. This improves love for Shreekrishna. Samkeertan purifies the mind and helps flourish devotional spiritual practice. Attachment and desire for worldly life are destroyed. In delivering a taste of love, samkeertan leads one to Shree Krishna and the aspirant gets immersed in joy in the service of God. Therefore the sadhak must always be immersed in remembering naam and singing keertans.

Verse No. 2

Nanmamakari bahudha nija sarvashakti
Statrarpita niyamitah smarane na kaloh
Etadrishi taba kripa bhagavanmamapi
Durdaivamidrisha miha janinanuragah.

God, for the welfare of the living beings has preached His various names impregnated with unlimited power. There is no specific time to remember these names. I am so unfortunate that inspite of His grace I have not developed any love for it.

Central meaning
Naam sadhan (spiritual practice) is very easily available. Various names of God have been preached according to people’s taste and by the grace of the Almighty. Naam japa and keertan can be done at any place or time during eating, lying down or moving. God’s grace is such that if one remembers His name in any manner, one attains complete success. God has planted all His power in all His different names. That is why it is said that naam (the name) naami (the one whose name it is) and naamdata (giver of the name, Sadguru) are one and the same. Mahaprabhu has said that inspite of so much grace of God, he could not develop devotion to His name.

Verse No. 3

Trinadapi sunichena taroriba sahishnuna
Amanina manadena keertaniya sada Hari

The sadhak who considers himself smaller than grass and is more tolerant than a tree and without expecting honour would give respect to others, is one who alone is entitled to perform naamsamkeertan all the time.

Central meaning
To excel, the sadhak has to consider himself smaller than grass and be as tolerant as tree. A tree does not protest inspite of being cut down, does not beg water while drying up and dying. A tree bears with severe heat and rain and gives shade and its fruits to others. In the same way a vaishnava also has to be ever tolerant, benevolent and reliant on God. In spite of being superior in wealth, honour, intellect and having other qualities, he will never boast of all these things. He will show respect and prostrate to everybody thinking that God dwells in all. A sadhak will practice naam samkeertan with such thoughts in his mind all the time. Ordinarily some people may be doing naamjapa, but not much of its effect is seen. Shree Bijoy Krishna Goswami has said, “If naam japa and keertan of God is continued while maintaining such practices, then the effect of keertan can be felt immediately”.

Verse No. 4

Na dhanam na janam na sundarim Kavitam ba Jagadisha Kamaye
Mama janmani janmanishware bhavatad bhaktirahituki twayee

Oh Jagannathji ! I do not want wealth, manpower, pretty women or poetic faculty. My only prayer to you is that I may have causeless devotion to your lotus feet birth after birth.

Central meaning
What should the sadhak pray for? This verse answers this question. Leaving out all other desires and longings the sadhak should always pray to God for causeless devotion which means pure unflinching love without any expectation.

Verse No. 5

Oyii nandatanujam kinkaram patitam maam bishame bhambudhou
Kripoya taba padapankaja sthitadhuli sadrisham bichintaya

Oh Krishna, I am lying in the horrific ocean of earthly life. Kindly accept me as the dust of your lotus feet.

Central meaning
What the real identity of the sadhak should be is given in this verse. Oh Krishna! inspite of being your wholetime servant I am lying in this devastating earthly ocean as the result of my work. Oh lord! as the dust of the feet remains with your feet and not elsewhere, similarly give me your shelter in the same manner.

Verse No. 6

Nayanam galadshru dharoya badanam gadagadoya gira
Pulakoirnichitang bapuh kada taba namagrahane bhavishyati.

Oh Lord when shall I have such a day when tears will roll down my cheek, my voice will get choked with emotion and the whole body will be thrilled with joy on taking your name.

Central meaning
The verse displays the external signs that the loving devotee shows on taking Lord’s name. Oh Krishna, when shall my body have all the pious abnormalities such as shivering and tears rolling down from my eyes, on chanting your name? On attaining loving devotion, such signs are seen on the devotee’s body. Human existence is miserable in the absence of loving devotion. That is why the devotee prays, – “Oh Lord make me your servant and give me the wealth of love as remuneration.”

Verse No. 7

Yugayitam nimeshena chakshusha prabrishayitam
Shoonyaitam jagat sarvam Govindabirahena me

Even a moment of separation from Govindaji appears to be a yuga (12 years) to me. Tears roll out of my eyes like rainwater. The world appears to be empty to me then.

Central meaning
This verse describes the mental state of God’s lover. Due to anxiety following separation from Shree Krishna, even a short period of time appears to be as long as a yuga. Tears roll out of the eyes like rainwater. The whole world seems to be meaningless due to separation from Shree Krishna. Just as life does not end fast when one falls in the slow fire of the husk, so also is the condition of my life. Everything in the world appears to be meaningless when one develops love for God.

Verse No. 8.

Ashleshyam ba padaratam pinashtu maam
Adarshananmarmahatam karotu ba
Yatha tatha ba bidadhatu lampato
Mat prananathastu sa eva naparah

I am the maidservant of Shree Krishna. Irrespective of whether he absorbs me with close embrace or inflicts mental sufferings on me by not appearing before me or maintains the company of other women, still He alone is the lord of my soul, none else.

Central meaning
This verse describes the mental state of the Gopis or the feelings of Shree Krishna’s devotees who have been given shelter at His lotus feet. The Gopi has expressed the absolute truth of feeling by saying – “Whether Shree Krishna has affection for me or hurts me by staying invisible or moves about in the company of other Gopis, still He alone is the soul of my life, none else”. The devotee should have such feelings towards the tutelary deity. That is why the love of the Gopis is said to be devoid of any desire. The spiritual aspirant cannot have such a high mental attitude towards the Lord without achieving absolute desirelessness.
Normally it is seen that people retain faith in the Lord when desires are fulfilled, the real devotee considers God to be the deliverer of well being irrespective of the fulfilment of desires. Such a devotee maintains his faith and devotion in all circumstances.