Śikṣāṣṭakam Lecture 1 – Radhadesh 2011.

Śikṣāṣṭakam Lecture 1 – Radhadesh 2011.


Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

Śikṣāṣṭakam Lectures Radhadesh Retreat Day 2 Given By His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami – Radhadesh, Belgium on 2 August 2011.

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare. Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.

So today we are having class on Śikṣāṣṭakam. Mahārāja will be speaking for one hour which will be followed by prasādam. So you know his compassion. Let’s welcome him with three loud Haribols.

Devotees: Haribol Haribol Haribol.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu SwamiMaharaja ki jaya

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa, I was just remembering that yesterday I forgot about the introduction aspect of our program. Does everybody know everybody else here? Okay should we I don’t know how long will it take but maybe we will just go through that. Like we start from here; you just give your name and where you are from; Just you start; stand up. Ravi what? [silence]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa. My name is Bhakti Charu Swami [laughter]. Devotees: Haribol [clapping and rejoicing]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And I don’t have any place where I belong to [laughter]. Devotees: [laughter].

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So we will discuss about ŚikṣāṣṭakamSikastakam has eight verses. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave these eight verses, only these eight verses in a written form. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave the most sublime and most elevated spiritual wisdom but in written form He gave only these eight verses. He was the greatest scholar of all times. He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But even if we look at Him from mundane the perspective then we can see that Caitanya Mahāprabhu was an exceptionally brilliant personality.

When Mahāprabhu was fourteen years old He defeated the greatest scholar of India, Keśava Kāśmīrī. That also without getting into any debate or duet with him; He didn’t get into any kind of scholarly battle. Generally the fight- just as kṣatriyas fight with swords and weapons, the brāhmaṇas fight with each other – if at all we can call it a fight – with their intellect. Like this way they prove their wisdom over others. How many of you know how Caitanya Mahāprabhu defeated Keśava Kāśmīrī? How many of you want to know how Caitanya Mahāprabhu defeated Keśava Kāśmīrī?

Okay so I will briefly try to relate that story just to establish Mahāprabhu’s unusual brilliance. Keśava Kāśmīrī, from the name itself we can see he was from Kashmir. Kashmir is in the northern most part of India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, valley, beautiful and there was a very exalted brāhmaṇa, brahminical culture. Many, many brāhmaṇas used to live there in Kashmir. So Keśava Kāśmīrī was one such brāhmaṇa in Kashmir. His original name was Keśava Bhattad. But because he was from Kashmir he was known as Keśava Kāśmīrī. So Keśava Kāśmīrī was such a brilliant scholar that he wanted to prove his scholarship by defeating all other scholars, all over India. So he started his journey from Kashmir and as he was travelling. He was defeating the scholars and this way he travelled through entire India, from North-India to West-India to South-India to Central-India. Then he came to East-India, Bengal. He defeated all the scholars of noticeable scholarships and renowned individuals at different places. Only the last place of scholarship that is left was Navadvīpa. Actually there were pockets; there were areas which were known for scholarships. So he was going from one place to another. Like Benaras is a known place for scholarship; Mathurā, Vṛndāvana is a known place for scholarship. So in this way Keśava Kāśmīrī travelled to all these places, all the way from South-India. South-India is also very renowned for scholarship. West-India, Maharashtra was also renowned for scholarship, Pandarapura and such places. Now the only place that is left to be conquered is Navadvīpa and when the residents or scholars of Navadvīpa got to know that Keśava Kāśmīrī is coming to challenge them, in order to save their face and reputation, they all ran away from Navadvīpa. So when Keśava Kāśmīrī came to Navadvīpa, no one was there to challenge him or to have an encounter with him. He heard that there is one great scholar. His name is Nimāi Pandit. Do you know who Nimāi Pandit is? So Nimāi Pandit is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu but when Keśava Kāśmīrī heard that he was just a young boy, just fourteen, fifteen years old. Then he felt what’s the point in getting into an argument with a fourteen year old boy. He was waiting for the big scholars to combat. So one day Keśava Kāśmīrī was walking by the Ganges and he saw one beautiful looking young boy. He was teaching a group of young students. He was teaching grammar. Grammar is the very basics of Sanskrit language. When you start to study Sanskrit, the first aspect you deal with is grammar vyākaraṇa. So he just out of curiosity he asked him, “So what are you teaching. What’s your name?” He said that, “My name is Nimāi Mishra.” He said, “Oh! So You are the Nimāi Pandit.” So Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied: “Out of affection people call me Pandit which means scholar. People consider, just out of their affection they consider me to be a scholar but actually I am just a, you can see, just a young boy teaching grammar to these group of students.” Keśava Kāśmīrī said, “Okay I am very happy to meet you. I heard about your scholarship. So come let’s have an encounter.” Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “You are such an exalted scholar. I don’t want to get into an argument with you, fight with you, intellectual duet with you but rather I will take advantage of meeting you, such an exalted scholar.” So Keśava Kāśmīrī said, “So tell me what you want to hear from me.” And Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “See the river Ganges is flowing here. So just say something in describing the glory of the Ganges.” Then Keśava Kāśmīrī in continuity composed 100 verses with the same speed of the Ganges, flow of the Ganges and with the rhythm of the Ganges flow, he actually composed these hundred verses and recited them. Everyone was awe struck. Can you imagine writing poetry is one thing, but describing poetry in this way with a continuous flow, what kind of scholarship, what kind of wisdom! So everyone was awe struck. So Keśava Kāśmīrī naturally felt proud. So he asked Caitanya Mahāprabhu, “So how did you like it?” Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “Fine! Fine! It was very nice except for a few mistakes here and there.” [Laughter] Keśava Kāśmīrī was absolutely upset with Him. He said, “No one ever points any mistake in my composition. My composition is flawless.” And so he started to chastise Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He said, “How dare You find faults in my composition? What do you know about poetry? What do you know about rhetoric? You are simply a young lad teaching grammar. Anyway what mistake did you find in my composition?” Caitanya Mahāprabhu recited just one verse from that, the 64th verse and in one verse he pointed out five mistakes, I am sorry, seven mistakes, just in one śloka. Keśava Kāśmīrī was completely dumb founded. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu pointed out those seven mistakes. You see, Sanskrit poetry or rhetoric maintains certain laws and Mahāprabhu pointed out those mistakes according to those law. For example, one mistake was that: he considered Gaṅgā: he was describing Gaṅgā coming from the head of Lord Śiva. Gaṅgā, you remember, Lord Śiva actually held the Gaṅgā’s flow when Gaṅgā came from the upper planetary system to the earth planet, to the material nature actually. Lord Śiva held Gaṅgā on his head. So that way Gaṅgā can be considered that she is coming from the head of Lord Śiva. Now while describing Lord Śiva he said Bhavānī Bhartu. Bhavānī Bhartā means ‘the husband of Bhavānī’. Who is Bhavānī? Bhavānī is Mahāmāyā, Durgā. Lord Śiva is the husband of Durgā. Now the word Bhavānī means ‘the wife of Bhava’, ‘wife of Bhava’. Bhava is the name of Lord Śiva. So the composition comes like the husband of Bhavānī means ‘the (wife of Bhava)’s husband. In simple words Lord Śiva is described here as Śiva’s wife’s husband. It sounds [laughter] as if she has another husband. Śiva’s wife’s huband. Śiva’s wife is Bhavānī and Bhartā means husband, Śiva’s wife’s husband. Then there are Sanskrit composition mistakes virūḍhamatibhagna-krama etc. and before doing that Caitanya Mahāprabhu showed so many qualities in that composition and then he pointed out so many defects. So this is how without even challenging without even getting into a duet, Caitanya Mahāprabhu defeated Keśava Kāśmīrī. Keśava Kāśmīrī was completely devastated because Keśava Kāśmīrī actually had the benediction from Sarasvatī, that: Sarasvatī would always remain on his tongue. That means whatever he would say would be a manifestation of Sarasavati’s mercy. So Keśava Kāśmīrī went back and began to cry that, “You have to embarrass me in this way, like, accepting defeat from a young boy.” Then Sarasvatī appeared to him. She said, “Keśava, your learning, your wisdom, your scholarship has achieved its perfection today because the Personality who defeated you today is even my Master, Kṛṣṇa Himself.

So this is how Caitanya Mahāprabhu defeated Keśava Kāśmīrī and established Himself as the greatest scholar. But Mahāprabhu Himself wrote only eight verses and I will quickly go through that.We have only four days and to cover eight verses. Today of course we started a little late. So today we will cover only the first verse. And then from tomorrow we will try to do more than one verse each day. I will just… How many of you know this verse already? Yes. So please make it a point to memorize these verses. Isn’t it important? The four, I am sorry, eight written verses by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the only thing Mahāprabhu left in written form. So now that you have it, we can understand how important these eight verses must be. What do these eight verses do? These eight verses actually describe the characteristics of the Holy Name and the effect of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. What is the mahāmantra? What is the benefit of chanting the mahāmantra? What is the effect of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra? What happens when you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra that has been described in these eight verses.

The first verse is like the introduction to the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. What does Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra do? What Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is? First verse is describing what does the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra do? When we chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra what happens? Isn’t it interesting to know? So chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra has seven effects. The first effect is: When you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, the mirror of your mind is cleansed, mirror of mind or your consciousness. Your consciousness becomes purified. Why mind has been specifically mentioned here, cetaḥCetaḥ can mean mind; like cetaḥ can mean also consciousness. Like cetana, those who know Sanskrit or Hindi what is the word for consciousness? Cetana, cetana. So this cetana or the mind- why mind? Because in the material nature through this- in our material condition, our consciousness is flowing through the mind, our consciousness is projected through the mind, through the senses into this material nature. When we perceive something with our senses, we have five senses, all our sense perception are limited to these five senses but does the reception takes places only through the senses? No, through the mind. Like for example: there is a light here in front of your eyes, the light is lit but until I say the light is red did you see it? Although your eyes are open and the light is very much there, the light is actually coming into the room from this light source but were we aware of it? Why not? Because your mind was not connected to it, but now that you have been aware of it, you look at it, your mind is tuned into it, you are registering it. So registration of our sense perception takes place through our mind. Therefore according to the Vedic understanding, mind is the internal sense. We have five external senses: eyes, nose ears, skin and tongue and we have one internal sense. That internal sense is mind. So our consciousness is flowing through the mind. All our perceptions are taking place through the mind. It is something like a mirror. In a mirror you see the reflection. Your consciousness is there but the consciousness is- if the consciousness is tuned into, the right understanding will not be there. So your mind is there as a mirror. If you want to see- can you see your face? Can you see your face? But in order to see the face you need a mirror. Similarly your consciousness is there but in order to register your consciousness you need your mind. To recognize yourself- now what is happening? Are we seeing ourselves through our consciousness or we are seeing… What are we seeing? We are seeing the distorted concept of ourselves which is known as the false ego. Now if the mirror is dirty, will you be able to see your face? If there are layers of dust will you be able to see the face in the mirror? Therefore what is needed? To cleanse, to clean the mirror. When the mirror is clean all you do is: just wipe out the dust. When you wipe out the dust then what happens? The mirror becomes clean then we can see our face. Similarly we are not able to see our real selves, why? Because our mind is dirty. So what does the Holy Name do? What does the Holy Name do when we chant the Holy Name, when we take shelter of the Holy Name? The first thing it does is: it cleanses the mirror of our mind and as a result of that we get to see ourselves. So, cetodarpaṇamārjanam. That is the first effect. Then what is the next effect of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantraBhava mahā  dāvāgni nirvapanam- it extinguishes the forest fire of material existence. Material nature- our existence in the material nature has been compared to be in the middle of the forest fire. How will you feel if you are in the middle of the forest fire? You will be burned. Will that be a very pleasing experience? So similarly our existence in the material nature is like being in the forest fire. We are burning, we are constantly burning, we are suffering so much in the material nature but due to the illusory energy of the Lord, Māyā we are thinking that, “Oh! This suffering is so wonderful.” This is the illusion. Illusion means to see something, consider something to be in a way that it is not. An illusion, like in the desert the hot sand appears to be like that, mirage. It’s actually hot sand but what impression are you getting? That is what. Is it water? No it is something else. It is diametrically opposed to water. But we are thinking that. So similarly due to our illusion we are thinking that suffering is enjoyment that is our conditioned material nature. So when you chant the Holy Name of the Lord, bhavamahadavagni-nirvāpaṇam, this dangerous ocean of material existence which is like a huge forest fire is extinguished,  nirvāpaṇamNirvāpaṇam means ‘to extinguish’. You chant the Holy Name your suffering condition will be removed, it will go. Śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ, it radiates a beautiful moon beam like happiness which brings all auspiciousness to us. The saṅkīrtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. The example here is śreyaḥ. Śreyaḥ means ‘auspiciousness’. Kairavacandrikā, ‘a beautiful moon beam’. How is the moon beam? Very soothing, white moon beam, it’s very soothing. Now your suffering condition is relieved and the soothing effect is experienced, śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ. And vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, the saṅkīrtana-yajña, the congregational chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is the epitome of all wisdom. Wisdom leads us to certain conclusion. Now what is the ultimate conclusion of all wisdom? In step by step we can go: like the ultimate conclusion of all wisdom is to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Isn’t that the ultimate conclusion of all wisdom? Like, wisdom leads us to accept God is there. And if God is there then what is our relationship with him? What should we do to Him? To surrender to Him. When we surrender to Him then what should we do? To serve Him. What is the best way to serve the Lord in this age? Through congregational chanting. So what is the ultimate conclusion of all wisdom? Saṅkīrtana. So vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam, this chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is the ultimate, is the life of all transcendental knowledge. Ananda-ambudhi-vardhanam, it increases the ocean of transcendental bliss. It is not only getting some bliss, some joy, some happiness. In the material nature we are trying to get some happiness. We are prepared to sacrifice anything for a little pleasure. Don’t we? When we are in a suffering condition, then we are prepared to sacrifice everything to get relieved from the suffering condition. When we want something pleasing to our senses then we are prepared to sacrifice anything for that pleasure. Like you consider how many battles have been fought in this world?

How many people gave up their lives just to get one object of their love, one woman of exceptional beauty? The western history is filled with such episodes or such historical anecdotes. How many of you read ‘The Ilias’’? Its Homer’s epic which is commonly known as ‘The Helen of Troy’. What happened? The entire Greece got devastated because one person, one prince, Paris, he fell in love with a beautiful woman, the princess, the Queen of [Unclear]. She was actually married. She was the queen of Agamemnon and the battle was fought and millions of people gave up their lives. Similarly the battle of Mahābhārata: the whole thing actually was Draupadī the most celebrated beauty of that time. Duryodhana just wanted to have her and there were other aspects also but the ultimate thing was that. It was all because of Draupadī. Draupadī was insulted in the public assembly and as a result of that, there eventually was battle. Padminī, the wife of the king of Rajasthan, Prthviraja Chauhan, Mohammad Gori attacked Prthviraja’s kingdom, his capital seventeen times and he was defeated but he came again and again and again, all because of this beauty. He wanted to have Padminī. At last he defeated treacherously, he defeated Prthviraj Chauhan and killed him and when the news reached. Actually they knew that his eyes were on Padminī, the most beautiful woman and he just… When the news reached that the king was defeated and killed, all the women, not only Padminī but all the women of the fortress gave up their lives. They lit a huge fire and they all entered into the fire and gave up their lives. Not one person became Satī, the whole city practically all the women of the city gave up their lives because they wouldn’t allow this intruder to have them. So we can see that how this illusory energy actually works. And why one is attracted to a woman? Because of some momentary pleasure. But what this Holy Name is going to offer us? It is to be submerged in an ocean of pleasure, ānandaambudhi which is vardhanam, which is increasing. And the seventh effect is pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ and then this Holy Name will enable us to drink the complete nectar that is the sixth effect, pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ. In one hand it will drown us in an ocean of ecstasy, not a drop of ecstasy but it will provide us with an ocean of ecstasy and that ocean will continuously keep on increasing, unlimited ecstasy that’s what the Holy Name does. Ananda-ambudhi-vardanam pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ. And as a result of that it increases the ocean of transcendental bliss and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are already anxious. And the seventh aspect which hasn’t been concluded here. The seventh aspect is sarvātmā– snapanaṁSnapanaṁ means ‘to bathe’. Sarvaātmā, all the individuals, all the living beings will become completely bathed and cleansed as a result of chanting the Holy Name. So this is the benefit of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra which Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu described through His Śikṣāṣṭakam, the first verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam. So I haven’t been properly able to discuss it in the class today but you have the book and you have the translation, so please read it and try to understand. If you have any question you can ask. So I will read the verse again, the translation, verse and the translation. So you all can recite after me. Guru Mahārāja recites the verse and devotees repeat.

ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaḿ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaḿ
śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaḿ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaḿ prati-padaṁ́ pūrṇāmṛtās vādanaḿ
sarvātma-snapanaḿ paraḿ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-sańkīrtanam

Guru Mahārāja reads the translation and devotees repeat.
Translation: Glory to the śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This saṅkīrtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Saṅkīrtana ki jaya. paraḿ vijayate śrī-sańkīrtana ki jaya. Does anybody have any question? I will just take a few questions. Yes. Yeah. Devotee: [inaudible]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Vadhū means friend, Bandhu.

Devotee: Bandhu? His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Vadhū yeah. vadhū means friend. So it is actually that this knowledge is our dearmost friend. What does the friend do? Friend is the life and soul. So it is the life and soul of all benedictions, I mean all knowledge, all wisdom. So maybe I will stop now. I won’t take any questions. Because it seems some cookies have come and which means we have to offer you these cookies. So please come forward and take the cookies and get ready for breakfast.


Audio-link : click here

Transcription : Anonymous Helper.
Editing: Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa