Shikshashtakam 1 Overview and flow of the ashtakam
Workshop at Krishna Institute, Alachua, USA
Transcription of Lecture
I will start with an overview of the Shikshashtakam, after which we will move on towards the verse by verse analysis. So, a quick overview – I am going to refer primarily to the Sanskrit verses, and Bhaktivinod Thakur has written a commentary which also we will be referring to, and the Siksastakam actually comes in the anta lila of the Caitanya Caritamrita. So, we will look at that context also to understand the mood of the Siksastakam.
So, lets begin by reciting the first text.
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritaswadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam
param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam –
Let there be supreme victory to the Shri Krishna Sankirtanam.
So, let’s begin with an overview of the Siksastakam first. So, there are eight verses, that is a ashtaka.
So, this comes at the anta of the antya lila of the Caitanya Caritamrita. The Caitanya Caritamrita has 17 chapters in the first adi khanda. In Madhya lila there are 25 chapters, and in the anta lila there are 20 chapters. This is the 20th Chapter. The last chapter of the last section of the Caitanya Caritamrita, and it is interesting – Caitanya Caritamrita is in biographical format. So, there is a linear narrative that moves on from the 13th Chapter of the adi lila. The first 12 chapters are giving the philosophical context of this book, and from 13th chapter onwards things move on linearly starting from the birth of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu – from his appearance things move onwards. While this is happening, whenever there is any philosophical discussion, at that time Krishna Das Kaviaraj Goswami puts up like a pause button, and then he expands that section. So, that’s how it’s more of a book of theology in the format of a biography. So, it has a linear narrative of a biography, but the focus is not so much on narration of the lila. It is more on exposition of the discussions which happen during the course of the lila, and Caitanya Bhagavat, Caitanya Mangal – their biographies have more focus on narration of the lila itself. Here also there is no doubt there is narration of the lila, but that is not the focus of the Caitanya Caritamrita, and in the format of a biography it goes on till nearly the end of Caitanya Mahaprabhus life, but his departure is not described.
In fact the book ends with Caitanya Mahaprabhu lost in ecstasy, and actually that is very symbolic because the Caitanya Caritamrita’s purpose is to inspire us also to become similarly lost in ecstasy, to become similarly absorbed in remembrance of Krishna, and in that sense the Lord lives on through his ecstatic instruction.
So, the Shiksha-asthakam. If you look at the Caitanya Caritamrita these 8 texts are not spoken linearly by the Lord. At least they don’t come linearly in the narrative of the antya lila. There is one verse, and then Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami speaks a few verses about that verse, and then the next verse comes, and then again he speaks a few verses about that verses, and then it moves on. So, the acharya describes that actually Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke these different verse, and they are all put together by the later acharyas as one composite unit, and he spoke it as he went deeper and deeper into ecstasy, and thus the siksashtakam also has an evolution of thoughts within it.
Now if you look at the Sikshastakam, it is more – it is called siksha – that is instruction. Asthakam is 8. So, 8 instructions. At the same time if you look at the mood of the whole antalila of the Caitanya Caritamrita, it is not the mood of preaching. The Lord does his preaching primarily when he travelling, which comes in the Madhya lila. He goes in the south India tour, he goes in the North India tour. When he is in Puri, he is largely in the mood of relishing. He is relishing the remembrance of Krishna, and thus the whole anta lila is primarily filled with interactions between Lord Caitanya and his devotees. If we look at the anta lila, there are practically no interactions with non-devotees in that. Caitanya Mahaprabhuu is now actually going out and preaching to the mlechhas or the mayavadis, or anyone else like that. Even when sometimes somebody comes in – say Raghunath Bhatta Goswami comes with a person who is like a devotee, but who is actually internally having a mayavadi mentality –
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not interacting much with him per se. It is just by his neglect and his focus with devotees that some instructions come. So, the mood of the Caitanya Caritamrita Anta Lila is not so much of preaching to anyone, when Caitanya Mahaprabhu actually is not much of there in Caitanya Caritamrita – he is hardly ever giving any instructions to anyone directly. He is largely relishing the remembrance of Krishna, and the devotees with him are also relishing the remembrance, and in that mood if we see Caitanya Maharabhu speak the Siksastakam – actually there is no audience to whom he is speaking this. Say, Bhagavad-gita is spoken to an audience. If you look at Christianity there is the sermon of the mount – that is spoken by an audience. The Bhagavatam is also spoken by speaker to an audience. So, in contrast Siksastakam is actually – it is called as the Siksha- instruction, and it is 8 verses of instructions, but they are more in the mood of instruction to oneself. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu is more of – he is in the mood of reflection, and in that reflection he is speaking. So, he is speaking to himself and through that he is speaking to us also.
Now within the Sikshastakam there are broadly two distinct we could say moods. So, actually the Siksastakam is not so much like a instruction as the Bhagavad-gita, or the Bhagavatam. It is more like instructions which comes in the Vaisnava songs.
In the Vaisnava songs, there is instructions, but primarily the songs are composed by the Vaisnava poets in their own absorption. As they are absorbed – so in their own absorption they are singing the songs and they are – if we see bhaja hu re mana sri nandana, it is again – this song is not the Vaisnava poet singing to anyone else. He is speaking to his own mind. Preaching to his own mind. So, the Sikshastakam has this mood of inner contemplation, or it is instruction given by oneself to oneself.
Caitanya Maharprabhu is instructing himself, and of course he is instructing all of us through it. Now why this instructions are going on. Within that – some of them are prayers to the Lord. All of them are not prayers. As we go through the verse, we will see which of them are prayers, which of them are more of declarations – declarations of the glory of the holy name. So, that means, if you consider to be soul to be here, the mind is here, Krishna is here. So, some of the verses of the Siksastakam are like the soul speaking to the mind. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is speaking to himself, and in some cases he is turning towards the Lord, and he is begging to the Lord, “Please. ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
So, there he is directly addressing the Lord, and overall it is the mood of inner reflection and that’s why the title we had for this seminar is – “Relishing Siksastakam.” or relishing – because normally we don’t think of pastimes to be relished. Normally we don’t think of instructions to be relished. We think of instruction to be applied, and quite often applying instructions is purifying but it may not be very pleasant. But the whole mood of Caitanya Caritamrita and the anta lila is of relishing, and when Caitanya Mahaprbhu is reciting the 8 verses, he is also absorbed in the remembrance of Krishna, and thus he is relishing.
So, we will also trying to get some understanding of these verses by which we can also little bit learn to relish absorption in Krishna. Now if you look at these 8 verses, Caitanya Mahaprbhu himself presented this three level analysis of things – sambandha, abidheya and prayojana. Now there are various ways of explaining these three things. I use a simple example. Say, somebody is going along in a car, and they see a very brand new model of some other car – of some other car. “Hey it is a very nice car.” When they see that they desire, “I want to have this car.” So, at that time the sambandha is established. Sambandha means with whom I want to develop the relationship. So, that means here I want to develop the relationship with the car, I want to become the owner of the car. The sambandha is when we understand the object with which I have to develop a relationship. Then abidheya is the process for developing that relationship. “Ok If I want this car, how am I going to get it?” I have to either have the money or I will have to take a loan, I will have to arrange for the finance. The whole process by which I can develop that relationship with the car – so, that is the process of abidheya.
In India I saw an advertisement for a car. It was showing a young man driving a car and there is a young girl looking with adoring eyes at him, and behind that is another young man looking – glaring at him. So, the advertisement was – “Buy this car and enjoy the envy in your neighbours eyes. So, that is such a low standard of enjoyment, that rather than – it’s not even you enjoy this car. They are saying that, “If somebody else sees you in this car and they become envious, you enjoy that.” So, that enjoyment of envy is the prayojana in this case. So, prayojana is the fruit. Sambandha is the object with which we develop the relationship. So, Caitanya Mahprabhu said, “Sambanda – Krishna, Abidheya – bhakti, Prema – Prayojana” So, in spiritual life you have to develop a relationship with Krishna – samandha. So, it is said that the relationship that will satisfy me in the most in my life, that is the relationship with Krishna, and then once I decide this sambandha, then there is abhidheya. What is the process for developing that relationship? So, that process is the process of bhakti, and when I practice the process of bhakti what is the result that I will get? That is the prayojana, and that is actually prema. When we practice the process of bhakti, we will develop ecstatic love for Krishna, and that itself is very fulfilling.
So, now when we talk about developing the sambandha – now in some cases the car looks very attractive. Just the first sight itself we get attracted – “I want to have the car”, but sometimes if say we are going to purchase a house, and we go and look at the house – the first time – “Ok, it looks good, but it is not attractive.” There may be some real state agent – they come and tell us, “Just see this, what view you have from here, just see what amenities are there etc. Now as we hear more about it, then we may develop a desire for this. “This is a good house, this is the house that I want to have.” So, sambandha means that when we understand the value, the importance, the glory of the object with which we want to develop a relationship, then that also helps to develop the relationship.” So, in that sense if you look at the sikshastakam – So, I will talk about how the first 5 verses together talk about sambandha. So, with respect to Krishna, sambandha means not just understanding Krishna’s glory. It also means understanding our position in the relationship with Krishna. The first five verses are talking about sambandha, and the whole siksastakam is in the mood of either instructing oneself or praying to the Lord. In that sense all the eight verses are the abhideya. So, just by reciting these verses we are contemplating on the Lord, and by contemplating on him we are connecting with him. So, that is abhideya.
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau
bhaktiś cen nava-lakṣaṇā
kriyeta bhagavaty addhā
tan manye ’dhītam uttamam
So, Prahlad Maharaj while replying to Hiranyakasipu – when Hiranyakasipu asked, “What is the best thing that you learned in school?” So, he gives the list of these nine activities, and then says iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau. So, actually sravanam, kirtanam, sravanam – these activities we are always are doing. Just recently the ..19.26… olympics got over. So, everybody at that time was doing sravanam, kirtanam, smanam with Olympic plyayers. Who is winning, who is losing, how may countries have won many medals? So, if we see, throughout our life we are always doing hearing, speaking or remembering with someone or the other, but when it is done for Visnu – iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau. When these activities are done for Visnu then – bhaktiś cen nava-lakṣaṇā, they are the nine characteristics of bhakti, and nava lakshana – symptoms or characteristics – and what is the result of this? kriyeta bhagavaty addhā. That by this our attraction to the Lord increases, and tan manye ’dhītam uttamam. This I consider to be the best education.
So, what Prahlad Maharaj is saying is – that the best knowledge is understanding that by doing this activities we can develop our love for Krishna. That is the best knowledge. So, when we recite the siksastakam, we are doing sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam at the very least, and this itself is abhideya. All the eight verses are abhideya, and prayojana is prema. It is spiritual emotion that we experience in relationship with Krishna, and that description of spiritual emotion through absorption in Krishna comes is text 6, 7, 8. So, 6,7,8 – the last three verses they talk about the prayajona, the absorption in the remembrance of Krishna, and the intense emotions that one experiences in the remembrance of Krishna. So, this is one way of looking at the Siksastakam. Another way is – now if you consider in terms of bhakti. So, within bhakti – in the bhakti rasamrita sindhu it is described that there are three broad stages of bhakti. There is sadhana bhakti, there is bhava bhakti, there is prema bhakti.
So, now vaidi and Raganuga – both together are considered to be parts of sadhana bhakti, and then there is bhava bhakti, and then there is prema bhakti. So, vaidhi bhakti means where the primary impetus is rules for doing something, and Raganuga is when there is attraction. So, we will see as the Siksasthakam moves onwards – the emotions that are described over there, they are more in the – first in the mode of instructing oneself, and then spontaneous attraction towards the Lord is awakened, and then in Bhava – the intermediate stage between sadhana bhakti, bhava bhakti and prema bhakti. So, bhava is the intermediate stage between sadhana and prema. So, that emotion is described in the 7th text, and the 8th verse actually describes the mood of Srimati Radharani.
Caitanya Maharabhu is actually Krishna in the mood of Radharani, and this 8th verse describes that mood. It is not just prema, but it is the summit of prema. It is not just love, it is actually selfless love. Not just selfless love, it is the summit of selfless love that is demonstrated in this last verse of the Siksastakam. Now if we look at the overall way the Sikshastakam flows, it is also representative that, it starts with the holy name – Sri Krishan Sankirtanam, nam namakari bahudha. So, initially it starts with the holy name, and it ends with Krishna.
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram, the 5th verse is that, talking about Krishna, and the last verse is that “Krishna, whether you trample me or you embrace me, you are my Lord.” – That means what is being described over here is – from the holy name Krishna is revealed. Initially the focus is on the holy name, the glory of the holy name, and eventually there is love for Krishna.
So, Bhakti Vinod Thakur explains in Bhajan Rahasya that at one level Krishna and his holy name are non-different, and that non-difference will be elaborately discussed in a second text, but initially we recite the holy name, and at that time the holy name to us seems primarily the sound of the holy name, but as we hear more and more, then from that holy name Krishna manifests. Just like – to give a simple example – this is somewhat mundane example, but it illustrates the point. Now suppose we know someone. Say I know Kadamba Kanan Prabhu. So, now when I use the name Kadamaba Kanan Prabhu, at that time the name is not just a name for me. Because I know him, so soon as I use the name I think about the person, but say one year ago when I came first time I didn’t know him much. So, then when I said, “Kadamba Kanana Prabhu.” – Ok, it was just a name for me at that time. That means that more we come to know a person, the more the name reminds us of that person. So, in this case – now there are two things in this case. When we talk about knowing the person, there is just – I can just get to know about a person by getting more factual information. Say, if say there is some person living in some tribe in Africa. They don’t even know who Obama is. Say, if somebody says, “Obama” they may say, “What is Obama?” They may think of it as some fruit or something like that. They may not even know that it as a name of a person. Now if they come to know about that person – Ok, that is the President of America and his name is Obama, then when we say Obama – Ok, this refers to this person, but this – even if we come to know about a particular person, that is knowledge, and then the name – if there is some knowledge also, we can associate the name with that person? But this association is different from – say if a mother loves her child, and she calls out the name of her child. At that time it is not just knowledge. It is not just she knows, “My child is this high, she has this complexion, this weight” No, there is affection over there. So, when there is affection, the utterance of the name naturally triggers memories. So, that means first of all when we just utter someone’s name – So, if then at that time if we don’t know anything about that person, then it is just utterance of that name, but when we know something about the person, the name reminds us of that person and then our thoughts go towards that person.
So, first is just the name without any knowledge of the person. Second is name with knowledge of the person, and third is name with not just knowledge but with affection for the person. So, now when we chant the holy names, at one level even if someone doesn’t know anything about Krishna, still the holy name can provide some spiritual experience. We go on Harinam, and people who don’t know anything about Krishna, they can also start chanting, and they also feel some experience. So, that is one level the transcendental potency of Krishna’s holy name. At the same time, the more we come to know about Krishna, the more our thoughts can go towards Krishna when we chant the holy names, and further as our overall attraction to Krishna increases, our bhakti for Krishna increases, then the name triggers not just knowledge in terms of information about Krishna – recollects that information, the name actually triggers memories of Krishna which are invested with emotions, and thus we become absorbed in Krishna.
So, now if you look at Caitanya Mahaprabhu – he starts with the glory of the holy name in the Siksastakam, but he ends with absorption in Krishna – the person, and in that sense the Siksastakam’s flow itself reveals the non-difference of the holy name and Krishna. That means the meditation on the holy name naturally blossoms into meditation of Krishna. It starts with meditation of the glory of the holy name, and it ends with ecstatic absorption in Krishna. In this way the Siksastakam demonstrates through the consciousness that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is …29.05… in this verses, through that it demonstrates the namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis, that how Krishna and his holy name are non-different.
Question and Answer:
Q:1 – If the later pastime of Caitanya Mahaprabhu are meant primarily for relishing as in the case of – as it is described in the Caitanya Caritramrita Antya Lila, then how does it actually benefit or what is the purpose of this pastimes? Say Caitanya Mahaprabhu jumps into the ocean and then a fisherman rescues him, and he delivers the fisherman –
CCP: Yes, when I said that it is not meant for preaching or deliverance, that doesn’t mean that it cannot be used for preaching, but preaching is a incidental result. When Caitnya Mahaprabhu goes on South India tour, and when he goes to North India tour, he is actually going out and meeting people who do not know anything about the holy name, and he is giving them the holy name, but when he is in the antya lila, he is primarily simply relishing, and while he is relishing, also people get benefited. Actually when Caitanya Mahaprabhu dance in Sankirtan’s specially at the time of ratha yatra, it is to see that millions and millions of people would come and by seeing the intense spiritual emotion that Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited at that time, so many people would get transformed.
So, in a sense that Caitanya Mahaparbhu was preaching even through his actions at that time, but his thrust, his focus was not on preaching. See, Caitanya Mahaprabhu – right in the beginning, in the first few chapters of Caitanya Caritamrita adi lila itself it is described that, there is the internal reasons for his appearance, and there are the external reasons. So, the external reason is to give the holy name to the conditioned souls. There are many reasons, but the primary reason you could say is – and the internal reason is to relish the love that Srimati Radharani had for Krishna. So, in a broad sense we could say, Caitanya Mahaprabhu fulfils the external purpose in the Madhya lila, when he going around and preaching. It is not so clearly fragmented, because even in the Madhya Lila he is instructing Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami in very elevated moods of ecstasy.
So, but broadly speaking his mood is travelling. He is meeting with the impersonalists – Prakasananda Saraswati and others like that. So, his mood, his fulfilling the external mission, the external reason for his appearance in the Madhya lila, and in the anta lila he is fulfilling the internal purpose. He is focussing primarily on relishing, and actually if we look from there- from the perspectives of the contents of the anta lila, it is mostly – what he is doing is – having six fold exchanges with his devotees. Rupa Goswami comes, Sanatan Goswami – if we look at the chapter titles of the anta lila also –Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s second meeting with Rupa Goswami, Caitanya Mahaprabhu meeting Sanatan Goswami, Caitanya Maharpbhu’s meeting with Pradymna Mishra, his – so, it is basically meeting, and Srila Prabhupada writes in the Nectar of Instruction that the Krishna consciousness movement is nourished by the six-fold exchanges between devotees. So, actually Caitanya Mahaprabh himself demonstrates those six-fold exchanges.
So, certainly whatever the Lord does benefit everyone, and now regarding the specific pastimes of the fisherman – Caitanya Mahaprabhu in his ecstasy of remembering Krishna just runs – wherever he sees the sight of Krishna, he runs over there, and if he sees Krishna apparently on the top of ocean, he doesn’t even see the ocean. He just jumps into the ocean thinking Krishna is there, and then when his body hits the cold water he falls unconscious, and the fisherman when see this he is shocked, “What is this?” He first thinks, “Oh I caught a very big fish and he is very happy, but then he comes out and sees, “Ay” and he is not able to recognize also. He knows Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and he says, “This is person is so different.”
When we talk about the transformation – there are three different kinds of transformations Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is through, when we come to the last text of the sikshastakam, but the point is, he is not even able to recognize. Later on when Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his associates come –they recognize, “This is the Lord” because they have seen him being transformed in ecstasy and then they tell him, and then he is stunned. So, yes the fisherman is blessed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purpose is not to bless him. His purpose is simply to relish absorption in Krishna, and of course this is also an important lesson for all of us. Because yes, we also have to preach but we also have to relish Krishna bhakti, and Caitanya Mahaprbhu demonstrates that. So, the preaching that he demonstrates in the Madhya lila, the relishing he himself he demonstrates in antya lila.
Q: Could Caitanya Mahaprabhu would have relished himself in the spiritual world?
CCP: Yes, he could have. That way we can say, even Krishna could have performed rasa lila in the spiritual world alone, and nobody would have misunderstood his rasa lila also in this world. But then Krishna also demonstrates the highest spiritual ecstasy in this world so that people can get attracted.
So, similarly with respect to the Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes also – so, rasa lila is basically Krishna with his devotees. They are interacting. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is primarily coming in the mood of a devotee relishing Krishna in separation from Krishna. That is the mood of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So, that mood also he demonstrates. That mood also he demonstrates that how we can relish absorption in Krishna ourselves, and that is also for the instruction for all of us, that there are times in our life when we will be preaching, and there are times when we have to focus on our own bhajan, on our own absorption in Krishna.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu demonstrates both.
Q: In the material world when a person goes, nothing of them remains. Only their name exists as a record. They have got nothing to do with that particular record. They have gone somewhere else. Now we understand that Krishna is omnipotent. So, Krishna and his names are non-different, but what about the acharya’s. If we remember their names, if we remember their pastimes – So, are they also non-different. Exactly how does it work?
CCP: Yea, actually there are levels of connectedness. That means only Krishna is omnipotent. Only Krishna is God. Only Krishna is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. So, that means Krishna and his holy name are non-different. We will discuss about that in the next verse more. Now when it comes to the acharyas, they are not ordinary souls. They are souls in the sense that – in the absolute sense they are like – they are also atmas, but they are completely at a different level in terms of their consciousness, in terms of their connectedness with Krishna, and therefore by Krishna’s grace they are given certain special powers.
So, now there is – so, there are degrees of connectedness.
So, at one level say Prabhupada’s picture is non-different from Prabhupada. We bow down to the picture, we bow down to the deity. At the same time Prabhupada did not expect or mandate that we do the same kind of bhoga offerings with all the elaborate worship, the exactly all the same way we do for the deities. Yes there can be higher and higher and higher standards of Prabhupada worship also, but Prabhupada did not mandate it that exactly. So, the primary idea over here is – that the acharya’s are given potency by Krishna by which they can manifest themselves to those who approach, to those who appeal to them. So, those who are taking shelter of them, the acharyas themselves are not inherently or intrinsically omnipresent, but by Krishna’s potency they can manifest themselves.
So, when we recite an acharya’s name, when we remember their pastimes, when we worship them infront of their picture – Why? Because of Krishna’s potency, because Krishna has engaged them, used them because of their exalted surrender as his instruments. So, Krishna gives them not exactly the omnipotency – but the potency. They have substantially larger potency that what other jivas have, by which they can also guide and bless us. So, this is Krishna’s special mercy on the great souls.
So, now there was that incident when one devotee asked Srila Prabhupada that, “Actually Prabhupada, Krishna’s devotees are more dear to Krishna than himself. Then instead of chanting Krishna’s name, can we chant the name of the pure devotee? So, instead of Hare Krishna, can we do the japa of Prabhupada, Prabhupada. Prabhupada said, “Don’t speculate.” So, that means there are two extremes – one is that we say that , “Ok, the acharyas are not God. So they are just like jivas.” That is wrong. That is – and it is said in a Visnu Purana verse that it is naraki buddhi. When we consider the acharya to be like a gurushu nara matir. When we consider guru to be just like an ordinary human being. That is a hellish mentality, but the other extreme is to consider the acharya in every way equal to God, and we think that I will worship only the acharya and not worship the God at all. That is also not correct.
So, the acharya is at a position much higher than other jiva’s, not at the position of Krishna, and the acharyas are given that position and potency of that position by Krishna, because of their connectedness with Krishna. So, definitely remembering the pastimes of the acharyas, remembering their names and praying to them, all that has potency, has enormous potency. At the same time usually when we remember the acharyas, when we remember them for their connectedness with Krishna- so, we just sing the Mangala Arati in the mornning or in the Guru puja in the later morning. The whole prayers are – how those great acharyas are devoted to Krishna. So, we don’t see the acaryas separately. We see them in their connection with Krishna, and it is their connection with Krishna that gives their names, their pictures, their pastimes have special potency.
Q: Srila Prabhupada says, the importance of guru is that these two potency shakti has to emanate from the heart of guru to disciple…
CCP: Actually the role of the guru with respect to the samvit and the hladini shakti’s – there is a very striking verse in the Caitanya Caritamrita. See we have this – there is the sandhini, samvit and hladini. These three saktis are there. Samvit, sandhini and hladini. These three saktis are there. Samvit & sandhini is what provides facilities. Samvit gives the knowledge of how to use the facilities, and hladini is what provides the result, when we use the facilities as per the right knowledge. Now in one sense the facilities are present in this material world also. “Ok, I want to glorify Krishna. So, I have a tongue. You want to build a temple of Krishna. Yes, there is space. There are building materials. The resources are there in this world also, but what happens? Sandhini, in the sense of resources is there, but what we lack is samvit. We don’t know. Now what we do with the resources of this world? And we think that I will use the resources for my enjoyment, for my own personal enjoyment, and then I will use the resources for my own enjoyment, then instead of hladini that same shakti of Krishna – one form of her is Radharani, the other form is Durga devi, and then instead of hladini shakti manifesting, Durga Devi manfest – and she manifests with the Trishul, and that trishul gives us the trivida tapa – the adhyatmika, the adibhautika, the adidaivika.
So, what is the primary think lacking in the material world is samvita, the knowledge. So, there are resources in this world, but what are we to do with these resources? That we don’t know, and when we say that we don’t know, that means actually we get to know from the world which is a wrong understanding of what to do with the resources, and that causes misery.
So, the spiritual master is the person who takes the responsibility on behalf of Krishna to share the knowledge of what to do with the resources of the world, and in that sense the samvit potency manifests through the spiritual master, and then when we use that knowledge for serving Krishna, then our service goes up through the spiritual master to Krishna, and then Krishna’s mercy comes down, and that mercy comes down as the happiness that we experience in bhakti. That is hladini. So, in that sense the guru gives us the knowledge, that is samvit, and then the guru accepts the service and then again guru gives the ecstasy, the bliss. So, in that sense the spiritual master manifests the knowledge and the bliss of bhakti for us, and that is how the spiritual master is not like any other soul. The spiritual master is a very special soul who connects us with Krishna.
Q: Is prematurely meditating on Krishna’s pastimes while chanting – is that also a form of inattention?
CCP: Actually there are what we could say degrees of inattention also, we could say. So, in the path of yoga – I will be talking about yoga when we talk about the first verse more. So, it is said that there is meditation and there are aids for meditation. So, for example the yogi – the primary thing in yoga is to meditate on dhyana vat tad gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginoh – The primary purpose of yoga is to meditate of Visnu in the heart, but there can be various aids for that. So, for example sitting in a yogic asana, sitting on a secluded place in a forest, learning to regulate one’s breath, sitting on Kushagra, sitting on deer skin, all these are aids for that meditation on the supreme, and in that they have also various kinds of meditation. So, now we could see that we are chanting there is the point of concentration – we just focus on one point, that is the sound of the holy name, and as we become purified, as we develop a deeper relationship with Krishna – just from the sound of the holy name, the remembrance of Krishna will awaken, and we will become absorbed in thoughts of Krishna.
Now quite often that doesn’t happen for us. So, when that doesn’t happen, focussing on the mind, focussing on the mind on one point – it becomes so difficult that the – it’s like the tongue is doing one chanting and the mind is doing another meditating. They become like – it’s like almost if you have – there is one T.V on which one program is going on, but if we have say a two screen T.V, or you have two T.V’s. So, in one program is going on here, and another program is going on over here. So, say the mother has put the child for watching some education T.V, some program, but the education T.V channel is on over there, but there is another T.V which is on, and some sports match is going on over there. So, the mother is thinking that the child is study his educational T.V program. The child is actually watching the sports match. So, like that what happens with us is that it is one thing that is happening at the level of the tongue. The Hare Krishna Mahamatra is going on. It is like one channel, but the mind has recorded another channel only just thinking about, “Maybe I have to do this thing, I have to do that thing, I have to earn this, I have to go here, I have to do that.” So, the two become – it’s almost like on two separate tracks on which we are going. The tongue is going on one track, the mind is going on another track. So, now it is – because it is very difficult for us to focus the mind on one point of concentration – or sometimes it is advised that around that point of concentration we can have one circle of concentration.
Circle of concentration means, have something related with the holy name which can bring our consciousness back to the holy name. So for example, there is the keeping the Hare Krishna Mahamantra in a written form, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna- the letters we keep. That can – if our mind starts going here and there I see the letters of the Hare Krishna mahamatra, that can bring our consciousness back, “Oh, I am not chanting. This is the same thing that I am chanting.” So, if the mind cannot stay on the sound of the holy name, let it stay on something related with the holy name.
So, the letters of the Hare Krishna mahamatra can be one – something which comprises the circle of concentration. Similarly, there can be the picture of the deities. This is the Lord whom I m praying to. So, whichever image of the deities we can – which we feel very strongly connected with emotionally, we can have that, or we can have the photo of our spiritual master, the picture of Srila Prabhupada, or we may have some verse glorifying the holy name – a siksastakam verse or some other glory of the glory of the holy name. Now in this case, for some of us, say remembering a particular pastime of Krishna in which how Krishna helps his devotees, say how Draupadi called out to Krishna and Krishna came. Remembering that pastime may comprise the circle of concentration which helps us to come and focus on the point, and when we focus on the point, we are at least somehow thinking about Krishna. It is not that they are going all over the universe thinking about everything else. So, in this case we have to find out what is anukul for our bhakti.
So, sometimes we look at the deities, and we see, “Oh! Krishna is wearing a white dhoti, and my dhoti has got a spot here. I have to wash it. Aey, yesterday I washed my dhoti. Where did I keep it? Oh I put it for drying. Oh, yesterday it rained. Oh God!” and then the mind just runs over there. So, we have to see if we put something for assisting us in focussing on the sound of the holy name whether – so, whether that is helping us in remembrance of Krishna or not that is something we have to check for ourselves. So, if certain pastimes of Krishna do trigger some spiritual emotions within us, and they enable us – they assist us in focussing on the holy name that is good – now what is definitely not recommended is the meditation on Krishna’s esoteric pastimes. Krishna’s intimate pastimes with the gopis – that kind of meditation is premature, and most of us it may be sahajiac. So, that is definitely premature and undesirable, but if the remembrance of Krishna’s pastimes can help us to focus on Krishna, can help our – the mind is wandering here and there, then we can get the mind back to the Krishna’s holy name by remembering the pastime, that is fine, but it is not that we go out of our way just to think of some pastime of Krishna. Our primary effort is to try to focus on the sound of the holy name, but if we can’t focus on the sound of the holy name, then instead of letting the mind go anywhere and everywhere if we can think of some pastimes of Krishna which reminds us of how merciful Krishna is, how sweet Krishna is, and that inspires us, “Oh, I should call out Krishna. Krishna is coming, let me hear his holy name. So, that can get us back to Krishna’s – sound of Krishna’s holy name, get us back to Krishna’s holy name. Then that is anukulyesha sankalpa, and that can be accepted.
Q: There is a tension between our studying exalted texts, and our experiencing what is described over there. So, how can we move from – how is the relationship between them?
CCP: In bhakti studying is also in the mood of service. So, in that sense study is not something separate from bhakti. Study is also bhakti. So, at one level in the bhakti rasamrita sindhu, jnana and vairagya are not included as one 64 items of the bhakti, but then hearing the bhagawatam is one of the five potent forms of devotional service. So, hearing bhagavat katha, that is also at one level – we are using our intelligence to understand, to appreciate. So, in that sense the knowledge aspect or learning aspect is integrated within bhakti. When we see the same mood in the end of the Bhagavad-gita also, when Krishna says in 18.70 –
adhyeṣyate ca ya imaṁ
dharmyaṁ saṁvādam āvayoḥ
iṣṭaḥ syām iti me matiḥ
He says that those who study the sacred conversation of ours, they are worshipping with their intelligence. So, that means that when we study the sacred books, if we do them in a mood of service, not in the mood of intellectual conquest – now I studied this, now I have understood this, now I memorized this, and now I am a master of this. Not in the mood but this is actually a way by which I can serve Krishna.
So, when I did my bhakti sastri for the first time, I was studying Bhagavad-gita through Purna Chandra Maharaj, and I used to ask him a lot of questions. So, almost after every class I will have 7-8 questions for him. So, initially he tolerated my questions, or entertained me. He said, Caitanya Caran is ananta Prashna sagar, he is a ocean of unlimited questions. But then one day when I asked too many questions, he said, “Since you an engineer, you have to understand that the supreme personality of Godhead is not an engineering object to be analysed.” Then after that we had around – I think 9 chapters he taught once, and after that again he came and taught 9 chapters. So, then next time after about one year when he came back again, then I met him; I told him, “Prabhu, I am sorry, I troubled you with a lot of questions. This time I won’t trouble you.” He said, “I know you won’t trouble me.” I said, “What do you mean prabhuji.” I said that, one year of chanting Hare Krishna would have softened your heart. So, you will not question me so much.
So, the point I am making is that there is – we do have our intelligence and we use our intelligence to analyse, to understand as much as we can, but analysis should not be the only mode in which we approach shastra. That can be one mode, and for those who are intellectually oriented that is an important mode in which we approach shastra, but if that becomes the only mode then it becomes a problem. So, we approach shastra in a mood of service, and so this is a verse which was spoken by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So, let me recite, let me memorize all that is possible. Let me repeat again and again, and we can have some classes on it, we can have some commentaries on it, then we hear it more and more, and that means that even the intellectual approach can be part of service, and if it is service, then even through the study itself we can get the realizations, we can get some experience, but broadly – so, this is one way of looking at it is – knowledge is itself, it’s not knowledge but it is also a limb of bhakti, and that is taking us closer to Krishna, and in another sense we could say, knowledge provides us the map, and then after having the map I have to walk along the path that is shown in the map. Only then I will get to the destination.
So, in that sense study of shastra itself is not the way, it shows us the way and we have to go along the way, and going along that way means internalizing the mood of service, not just by studying shastras but throughout our whole life. The more we cultivate that relationship of service with Krishna, the more Krishna reveals himself – ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathiva bhajamyaham -as all people surrender to me, I reward accordingly. So, the more we have that mood of service in relationship with Krishna, the more sastra will reveal itself. Dadami buddhi yogam tam yena mam upayanti te.
So, now revelation is not something which is in our hands. Revelation is something which comes from Krishna. Now even this – actually it can be of two levels. Sometimes, some realizations just come at one moment. It’s like a flash of insight that comes. “I never thought of it like this. I never understood it like this.” We may be studying something, and sometimes we may not only be studying – just going through life and we suddenly remember something and we get insight. So, sometime some insight, some realization may come like a lightning bolt – suddenly they come from somewhere, but other times the realizations can be gradual. Gradual means, every morning if we wake up and we come out, if it is dawn, if it is dark, it’s twilight, and ourselves we are chanting, chanting, and suddenly we notice that, “Ay, it’s morning, the sun has risen.” Now the sun has been rising constantly. It’s been constantly rising. The sun rise itself is a gradual process, but our realization that the sun has risen that is a sudden realization. We are just going around and we doing chanting, walking, “The sun has risen.” So, like that realizations or experiences of sastra – it can also be like this. Now everyday we are chanting, everyday we are practicing bhakti, the sun of Krishna is rising, rising, rising. So, the rising is happening gradually, but at one particular point we realize it, “Oh, yes this is how it is.”So, experiencing Krishna it can either happen this way – suddenly it is like a lightning which – from the darkness suddenly comes light, or it can be a process that is daily happening, moment by moment happening, but we realize it suddenly. But either way that process of realization or revelation that is not in our control. What is in our control is our application, our absorption. So, now if we see scriptural study also as a part of absorbing ourselves in service to Krishna, then we do that and through it gradually the experience will come. So, the tension in that sense is healthy, because when we read and we realize – “I will talk about this tension when I talk a little bit about Ai nanda tanuja kinkaram. I hope that we are at a very low level, and whatever we are talking about is at a high level”, but the tension is not necessarily a bad thing. When it becomes bad is, if I pretend to be on that when I am not on that level, and then I act superior. Either I think that I am very advanced or I portray to others that I am very advanced, and then that creates not just a mismatch between what I am and what I am showing myself, but actually that creates a mismatch further between us and others, and that hurts vaisnava relationship, and that can lead to aparadhs, and that create problems, but in a sense that distance between where we are and where we aspire to be, that distance is itself the spur for further motion. So, in that sense it is not unhealthy tension. It is a positive tension which helps us to move onwards. Sastra itself is not the way, it shows us the way, and we have to go along the way, and going along that way means internalising the mood of service. Not just studying sastra, but throughout or whole life. The more we cultivate that relationship of service with Krishna, the more Krishna reveals himself – ye yatha mam prapadyate, tams tathaiva bajamyaham, as all people surrender to me I reward accordingly.
So, the more we have that mood of service in relationship with Krishna, the more shastra will reveal himself. Dadami buddhi yogam tam, yena mam upainty te. So, now revelation is not something which is in our hand. Revelation is something which comes from Krishna. Now even this – actually this can of two levels. Sometimes some realizations just come at one moment. It’ like a flash of insight that comes. It says, “Oh I never thought of it like this. I never understood like this.” We may study something, and sometimes we may not just be studying, we are just going through life and we suddenly remember something and we get insight. So, sometimes some insight, some realizations may come like a lightning bolt. Suddenly they come from somewhere, but other times the realizations can be gradual. Gradual means – every morning if we wake up and we come out – if it is dawn, if it is dark – it’s twilight and ourselves we are chanting, chanting and suddenly we notice that, “Hey it’s morning, the sun has risen.”
Now the sun has been rising constantly. It has been constantly rising. The sun rise itself is a gradual process, but our realization that the sun has risen, that is a sudden realization. We are just going around, and we are doing our chanting, walking, and hey, the sun has risen. So, like that realizations or experience of sastras it can also be like that. Now every day we are chanting, every day we are practicing bhakti, the sun of Krishna is rising, rising, rising. So, the rising is happening gradually, but at one particular point we realize it, “Oh yes this sun it is.” So, experiencing Krishna, it can either happen this way, suddenly it’s like lightning which from darkness, suddenly comes light, or it can be a process that is daily happening, moment by moment happening but we realize it suddenly, but either way that process of realization or revelation, that is not in our control. What is in our control is our application, our absorption. So, now if we see scriptural study also as a part of absorbing ourselves in service to Krishna, then we do that and through that gradually experience will come.
So, the tension in that sense is healthy because when we read and we realize – I will talk about this tension when I talk a little bit about, ai nanda tanuja kinkaram, how we are at a very low level and what we are talking about is at a very high level, but the tension is not necessarily a bad thing. When it becomes bad is if I pretend to be on that level when I am not on that level, and then I act superior. Either I think that I am very advanced or I portray to others that I am very advanced, and then that creates not just a mismatch between what I am, and what I am showing myself, but actually that creates a mismatch between us and others, and then that hurts vaishnava relationships and that can lead to aparadhs. Then that can create problems, but in a sense that distance between where we are, and where we aspire to be – that distance is itself the spur for further motion. So, in that sense it is not unhealthy tension. It is a positive tension which helps us to move onward.
Thank you very much.
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