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with commentary by SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI
ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-mahadavagni-nirvapanam sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam
cetah - of the heart; darpana - the mirror; marjanam - cleansing; bhava - of material existence; maha-davagni - the blazing forest fire; nirvapanam - extinguishing; sreyah - of good fortune; kairava - the white lotus; candrika - the moonshine; vitaranam - spreading; vidya - of all education; vadhu - wife; jivanam - the life; ananda - bliss; ambudhi - the ocean; vardhanam - increasing; prati-padam - at every step; purna-amrta - of the full nectar; asvadanam - giving taste; sarva - for everyone; atma-snapanam - bathing of the self; param - transcendental; vijayate - let there be victory; srikrsna-sankirtanam - for the congregational chanting of the holy name of Krsna.
"Let there be victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step."
Sri Sanmodana Bhasyam =====================
by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
I begin this Sanmodana Bhasyam commentary on the eight Siksastaka verses written by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by offering my humble obeisance at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya and His eternal associates in the Sri Pancatattva, namely Nityananda Avadhuta, Advaita Prabhu, Gadadhara Pandita and Srivasa Thakura.
The path of perfection ----------------------
The path of devotional service is the highest perfection of life, and it is sought after in all the Vedic literatures. Applying his superior intelligence to repeated research of the Vedas, Lord Brahma ascertained that the best method of self-realization is the awakening of one's loving attachment to Lord Hari, who dwells within everyone's heart.
Faith, eagerness, deep understanding and the association of pure devotees are required. Brahma's philosophical conclusion unequivocally establishes the supremacy of devotional service over fruitive activities, speculative knowledge, or any other process. However, pure devotional love of God is unattainable without great faith and intense eagerness to relish the nectarean pastimes of the Supreme Lord and without deep understanding of the confidential truths of the scriptures. And even when profound faith has arisen, it is impossible without the association of saintly persons to discuss the transcendental topics of the Supreme Lord. Sadhusangha is integral to the hearing and chanting process of devotional service.
Thus the Lord Himself has declared, "It is only in the association of My pure devotees that discussions about My transcendental glory become spiritually potent and arouse loving devotional mellows within the inner core of one's heart."
The Lord's holy name, form, qualities and activities are particularly glorified in such company. In Lord Caitanya's teachings He first discusses these glories. In the fourth line, for example, the word param indicates that chanting Krsna's all-purifying holy name is the very highest benediction. This follows the establishment of proper faith and association with saintly devotees. Thus the process of devotional service begins.
The chanting of the holy name is not sentimentalism ---------------------------------------------------
This chanting is never to be confused with sentimental and pseudo-devotional chanting, however. In these Siksastaka verses Sri Caitanya explains in His own words the principles of sambandha (our eternal relationship with God), abhidheya (the means by which we can revive that relationship), and prayojana (the ultimate goal of that relationship for every living being). This commentary then will briefly examine each of these philosophical principles. As Lord Caitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is lovingly served by all pure Vaisnava devotees, says: "Let the congregational chanting of the holy name be especially glorified."
Therefore, please hear just how the chanting of the holy name is victorious in the mundane world, which is a creation of the external energy of the Lord.
The philosophical background: simultaneous oneness and difference -----------------------------------------------------------------
Scripture certainly evinces the absolute oneness of the Supreme Truth. "Only the one non-dual substance existed before creation", we read. And in another place, "Other than the one non-dual Brahman no varigatedness exist." In these statements, the all-pervading impersonal aspect of the Absolute Truth is established.
Simultaneously, the statement, "Everything is Brahman" emphasizes the personal and differentiated principle of the eternal and supreme Absolute Truth. Though differentiated personalism and undifferentaied impersonalism coexist in the Absolute Truth, it is the personal feature that is actually perceivable; impersonalism is not. Therefore, the personal feature of the Absolute Truth predominates.
Our spiritual master in the matter of scriptural conclusions, Srila Jiva Goswami, has therefore declared that the One Absolute Truth eternally exists in four features: as His original transcendental form, as His everexpanding all-pervasive potency, as the living entities, and as the sum total of all matter. This is analogous to the features of the sun planet: the sun god himself, Surya; the powerful sunglobe; the sunshine; and the reflections of the sun's rays on other surfaces.
The point here is that God alone is the Supreme Absolute Truth, saktiman; He is the only source of all potencies or energies. The Brahma-sutra does argue the essential oneness of the Energetic Source (saktiman) and Energy (sakti), yet the Vedas conclude, "That Supreme Absolute Truth manifests Himself in a variety of forms. His potencies are multifarious." This proves that there exists an essential and eternal difference between the Energetic and His Energy, and that the inconceivable Absolute Truth acts in ways that are paradoxical and contradictory. The monistic school of Kevaladvaitavada cannot successfully oppose with arguments this scriptural principle of simultaneous oneness and difference.
Three categories of manifestation ---------------------------------
The Absolute Potent Supreme Truth manifests Himself in three categories: as His internal potency, as His marginal potency, and as His external potency. Through the agency of His internal spiritual potency He displays the infinite transcendental realm, and He exists there eternally as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the proprietor of all His energetic expansions. That He may perform various personal pastimes, His internal potency exhibits the spiritual Vaikuntha planets within the transcendental realm. The marginal potency is made up of the eternal living entities (jiva souls) who are like rays or infinitesimal sparks of the sun. They are part and parcel of the Absolute Truth, non-different from Him in quality and different in quantity. The external energy (maya) is but the reflection of the eternal spiritual realm. Maya establishes the hierarchy of various material conditions that the souls in her power become subject to.
The liberated and conditioned states ------------------------------------
In each of their own ways, therefore, maya (the material energy), the living entities (the marginal spiritual energy) and Vaikuntha (transcendence) are different and non-different from the Supreme Lord. As long as the jiva takes full shelter of the Supreme Lord, he remains a resident of Vaikuntha; but when his innate spiritual knowledge of the Lord is covered by forgetfulness, he is placed outside the transcendental realm.
The jiva is compared to a ray of the sun, and when under the cloud of maya he becomes conditioned to an unconstitutional and hence unnatural type of existence. The jiva was created to support and participate in the Supreme Lord's transcendental pastimes, but due to his marginal nature he can fall under maya's spell to suffer the pangs of repeated birth and death. If, however, the jiva awakens to his original self, the dark mists of ignorance are dissipated and the long suffering of repeated birth and death at last comes to an end. Then he regains his true spiritual identity.
When the jiva meets a saintly person, he gradually acquires an eager taste for knowledge of scripture and attraction to the Supreme Lord Himself; when situated in his original constitutional position, the awakened soul is eligible to enter into a conjugal loving exchange with the Lord. One gets the chance to associate with real saintly persons and take shelter of a bonafide spiritual master by sincerity and faith; only in this way can he hear the true import of the revealed scriptures.
After submissively hearing, one can chant the holy name; and gradually the real self, the respiritualized jiva, overcomes the illusory energy as his original nature becomes prominent. Such is the sublime effect of chanting the Lord's holy name. Chanting alone cleanses the heart - ceto-darpana-marjanam - and eventually brings out seven types of perfections in the spirit soul.
The phrase ceto-darpana-marjanam indicates the original transcendental nature of the living entity. Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that the living entity is a part and parcel of the Supreme Absolute Energetic Truth; He is the aggregate of all jivas. Like rays of the sun, the jivas are of the same spiritual nature as the Supreme; but they are infinitesimal in size.
Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana has similarly analyzed Godhead as the infinite Supreme Lord, with the jiva being His infinitesimal part. All transcendental qualities are eternally present in perfect fullness in the Supreme Lord. His pure ego is manifest as both absolute knowledge and knower. The jiva is also in possession of transcendental knowledge and pure ego, but to a partial degree. By logic, qualities of the sun like heat and light present must also be present in the sun's rays.
Of the two, it is the Supreme Godhead who is fully independent. He possesses and embodies all transcendental qualities. He is the origin of everything, and He enters into material nature and as its controller He alone creates and maintains the material world. As the reservoir of all spiritual bliss, He relishes His own spiritual self and distributes the nectar of pure love of Godhead by the means of His pure devotional service. Indeed, He forces all living entities to taste that sweet nectar.
Innumerable living entities move through varied stages of existence; some become eternally conditioned, some become eternally liberated. When the jiva rejects the Supreme Lord, he is eternally ensnared by matter; but if he again aspires for the shelter of the Lord, the curtain of maya that separates the jiva from his own transcendental identity and qualities is forever removed; he is and immediately restored to his original pure self. Cleansing the mirror of the mind reveals five truths
Therefore, it is clear that the jiva is infinitesimal. Though he is of a transcendental nature having pure ego, pure consciousness and pure form, if he turns away from God and contemplates material energy, his pure nature becomes contaminated by nescience.
In this way, the soul's consciousness is like a mirror: just as it is impossible to see one's face in a dusty mirror, it is similarly impossible to see the real self in the mirror of consciousness when it is covered by the dust of ignorance. But if one begins to render loving devotional service (particularly hearing and chanting the holy names and pastimes of Sri Krsna) under the influence of the Lord's hladini pleasure potency, the material contamination of nescience is completely eradicated.
Then jiva's pure consciousness, which is a function of his pure ego, manifests itself. He sees reflected on the mirror of his pure ego the five principles of the Supreme Lord, the jiva, prakriti (nature), kala (time), and karma (action), with absolute clarity. He sees the reflection of his original identity without any distortion, and this helps him to know his inherent nature as an eternal servant of the Lord. When one becomes truly expert in serving the Lord, the propensity to enjoy material life is converted into a loving devotional mood of service.
Chanting is the soul's svadharma --------------------------------
The word bhava indicates the jiva's forcible subjection to repeated births in this world. Bhava is a continuous cycle of birth and death called mahadavagni (blazing fire), a raging conflagration that cannot be extinguished by any means other than the congregational chanting of Krsna's holy name.
A question may arise at this point: when one is at last enlightened about his svadharma or eternal function as a liberated soul, does he then cease chanting Krsna's holy name? The answer is no; the stoppage of chanting never occurs, because chanting God's name is verily the soul's sva-dharma. The phrase sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitarana confirms this by specifically conveying the sense of the eternal activity of the spirit soul in his original spiritual condition.
The greatest benefit --------------------
Jivas who are enslaved by maya prefer to enjoy material life, and this desire perpetuates their bondage to the cycle of birth and death. This is the root cause of the threefold miseries. But when the spirit soul becomes disgusted with material enjoyment and re-dedicates his time and energy to Lord Krsna's loving service, he reaps the greatest benefit. This benefit is compared to the cluster of pristine white lotuses, for just as the moon's soothing rays cause the white lotuses to blossom, the rasa-laden rays of the chanting of the holy name stirs the enfolded petals of the lotus of the jiva's good fortune, causing it to open.
As it is said, "devotion gives birth to devotion": the sincere and faithful devotee must therefore follow the principles of elementary bhakti by regularly hearing and chanting the holy name until the first light of pure devotion begins to dawn in the heart. The closed lotus flower touched by the moon's rays awakens in full bloom, and similarly, when the congregational chanting of the holy name spreads the rays of bhava (the essence of hladini) and impregnates the soul's heart, rati (conjugal love for Sri Krsna) then lights up his consciousness, bestowing the highest benediction. This is what is meant by the "rays of the benediction moon."
The holy name reveals the soul's eternal relationship with Krsna ----------------------------------------------------------------
When does a person, having attained this level of pure devotion, acquire his pure spiritual identity? Lord Caitanya answers this question by saying, vidya-vadhu-jivanam, "the life of all transcendental knowledge." The Supreme Lord's sakti has two aspects, vidya (knowledge) and avidya (ignorance). Yogamaya, the svarupasakti, is the Lord's internal spiritual potency. This potency is called vidya, whereas mahamaya, His external energy, is avidya; it is the latter that creates the material universe and covers the soul's svarupa.
When, by his sincerely following the process of hearing and chanting, the first rays of pure devotion finally appear on the horizon of the sadhaka's heart, then the Bhaktidevi, the eradicatress of all unwanted material desires detrimental to the Lord's service, eclipses the avidya potency. By suffusing the soul with spiritual knowledge, Bhaktidevi destroys both the gross and subtle coverings of the soul. Simultaneously, the jiva's original spiritual form becomes manifest so that he acquires the form of a gopi, for example, if his pure devotional propensities are steeped in the conjugal mood. Thus it stands proven that Krsna's holy name is the life and the soul of all transcendental knowledge (vidya-vadhu-jivanam.) Svarupasakti is therefore often said to be Krsna's wife.
When the gross and subtle material bodies of the jiva are completely destroyed, the infinitesimal soul regains his original pristine purity. Although the jiva is anu or minutely small, his capacity for spiritual happiness is not minute. To remove any doubt about this fact, Lord Caitanya adds, anandambudhi-vardhana, "It is an ever increasing ocean of bliss."
The Holy Name of the Lord, through the hladini potency, endlessly expands the natural bliss inherent in the soul; thus his happiness increases by leaps and bounds, fixing the soul eternally in one of the spiritual mellows (of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhurya). When thus established in his eternal spiritual mellow, he continues to relish the limitless nectar at every step of the exchange of loving emotions in his transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Lord Krsna's enchanting beauty, His divine qualities, and His sublime pastimes are eternal and everfresh in ecstacy. Inebriated with divine prema, the pure jiva continuously drinks that ecstatic nectar, yet still the Lord's captivating beauty is forever new.
Pure love is never selfish --------------------------
Now, one final question may arise: isn't the pursuit of happiness selfmotivated and hence contrary to the principles of pure spiritual love? If so, how can jiva's happiness be called unalloyed and transcendental? As the answer, Lord Caitanya uses the expression sarvatma-snapanam: the bliss of Krsna consciousness is completely pure, being wholly free of any desire for self-satisfaction. Specifically, this means that in the natural course of pure devotional service the devotee attains the form of a maid-servant of Srimati Radharani, who embodies the zenith of mahabhava, or divine ecstasy. In Her service the devotee participates in conjugal pastimes with the Lord and experiences unlimited bliss.
This sublime mood of service is therefore untainted by even the slightest tinge of lust or self-indulgent craving. Sarvatma-snapanam also confirms that in this state of perfect bliss neither the contamination of sayujya-mukti (becoming one with the Lord's impersonal aspect) nor the impurity of self-gratification can divert the devotee from his fixed position in pure Krsna consciousness.
May the chanting of the holy name of Krsna be ever victorious, for it is adorned with seven transcendental qualities; it is the form of eternality, knowledge, and the highest bliss, steeped in the wonderful and variegated amorous pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.
Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.11,13,14:
"Simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna one can be freed from all undesirable habits. This is the means of awakening all good fortune and initiating the flow of waves of love for Krsna.
"By performing congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra one can destroy the sinful condition of material existence, purify the unclean heart and awaken all varieties of devotional service.
"The result of chanting is that one awakens his love for Krsna and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of Krsna and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love."
Commentary by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati ---------------------------------------------
There are innumerable engagements in the execution of devotional service, and Srimad Bhagavatam and Hari-bhakti-vilasa have described many of them. Broadly, sixty-four limbs of devotional service are considered as the main engagements of bhakti.
Vaidhibhakti (devotional service according to rules and regulations) and raganugabhakti (spontaneous devotional service) are the two methods of executing these sixty four principle engagements. In Srimad Bhagavatam Prahlada Maharaja glorifies pure and spontaneous devotional service as the best method; Lord Gaurasundara has identified the best engagement by saying, "The congregational chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna is the most perfect form of devotional service."
The Absolute Truth defined --------------------------
Those who know the transcendental Absolute Truth have defined the Supreme non-dual Substance as Brahman when it is preliminarily realized as eternity; when realized as eternity and knowledge, it is defined as Paramatma; when its transcendental nature of full knowledge, eternity and bliss is realized with all potencies, that Supreme Absolute Truth is known as Bhagavan.
That Supreme Personality of Godhead (Bhagavan) is called Vasudeva when He manifests His supreme opulence; when His opulence gives way to His loving conjugal mood, He is known as Krsna. As Narayana, He particularly reciprocates with His devotees in the rasas of santa and dasya; Lord Krsna is the worshipable object of all five rasas.
Lord Krsna's vaibhavaprakasa expansion is Lord Balarama, who rules Vaikuntha in His eternal catur-vyuha forms.
Japa, kirtana and samkirtana ----------------------------
The chanting of mantras that is properly supposed to take place in the mind is called japa; by japa the chanter receives his desired perfection. Audible chanting in which the lips move is called kirtana; it is more effective than japa and avails the greatest benefit to the hearer. Samkirtana means total or perfect kirtana; all other devotional activities become unnecessary if one does samkirtana.
Samkirtana can never be partial or imperfect glorification of Lord Krsna's holy name, because partial or imperfect chanting of Krsna's name is unable to cause a wonderful transformation in the living entities. Partial or imperfect kirtana should not be accepted as samkirtana, as people would then doubt the potency of kirtana.
Let samkirtana, the total and perfect chanting of Krsna's holy name, be victorious. The experience of something mundane can only be incomplete, but the transcendental plane is never touched by material nature. Therefore, by the discussion of transcendental subject matter - Krsna, the supreme subject - one experiences all supra-mundane perfection. Amongst these perfections are seven that are especially invoked by chanting Lord Krsna's holy name, as explained in this verse by Lord Caitanya.
Samkirtana cleanses the heart -----------------------------
The chanting of Lord Krsna's holy name acts as a purifying agent upon the mirror of the living entities' contaminated hearts. The heart of the conditioned soul is completely covered over by three impurities: the desire to lord over matter, the godless attitude of being the sole enjoyer and/or renouncer of the fruits of one's actions, and atheism. These three treacherous contaminations form a sheath that covers the mirror of consciousness, causing one to reject His true nature as a jiva.
Krsna's holy name alone frees the consciousness of these impurities. By constantly chanting and thus taking complete shelter of the holy name, the jiva gradually perceives the reflection of his original form as the servant of Lord Krsna in the mirror of his consciousness.
Samkirtana extinguishes the fire of material existence ------------------------------------------------------
This material existence appears to be pleasurable and sweet, but in reality it is like a fire in the depths of a forest; such a fire can reduce the entire
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