The Siksastaka (Devanagari: शिक्षाष्टकं ; IAST Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam) is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu prayer of eight verses composed in the Sanskrit language. They are believed to be the only verses left personally written by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with the majority of his philosophy being codified by his primary disciples, known as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan. The Siksastaka is quoted within the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami's biography of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, written in Bengali. The name of the prayer comes from the Sanskrit words Śikṣā, meaning 'instruction', and aṣṭaka, meaning 'consisting of eight parts', i.e., stanzas. The teachings contained within the eight verses are believed to contain the essence of all teachings on Bhakti yoga within the Gaudiya tradition.
The first eight verses of the following are the complete text of the Siksastaka, as written in Sanskrit by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and as translated by Srila Prabhupada. They are found in Krishnadasa Kaviraja's Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita (Antya-līlā, сhapter 20, verses 12, 16, 21, 29, 32, 36, 39 and 47). The final verse is a Bengali quotation from Sri Caitanya Charitamrita, Antya-līlā 20.65 - it is not part of the actual Siksastaka, but is often appended to the end when it is recited, describing the result of reciting the Siksastaka faithfully.
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaḿ prati-padaḿ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaḿ
sarvātma-snapanaḿ paraḿ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-sańkīrtanam
Glory to the Sri Krishna sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana 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.
nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgah
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā harih
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
na dhanaḿ na janaḿ na sundarīḿ
kavitāḿ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth.
ayi nanda-tanūja kińkaraḿ
patitaḿ māḿ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-pańkaja-
O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krishna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms of Your lotus feet.
vadanaḿ gadgada-ruddhayā girā
pulakair nicitaḿ vapuḥ kadā
tava nāma-grahaṇe bhaviṣyati
O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs on my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?
śūnyāyitaḿ jagat sarvaḿ
O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāḿ pinaṣṭu mām
adarśanān marma-hatāḿ karotu vā
yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo
mat-prāṇa-nāthas tu sa eva nāparah
I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly in His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.
prabhura ‘śikṣāṣṭaka’-śloka yei paḍe, śune
kṛṣṇe prema-bhakti tāra bāḍe dine-dine
If anyone recites or hears these eight verses of instruction by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, their ecstatic love and devotion for Krsna increases day by day.
Within his Siksastaka, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stresses the importance of singing (bhajan) and chanting (japa) the Names of God. This is the primary feature of Gaudiya Vaishnava spiritual practice (sadhana). This is particularly evident in the first three verses of the Siksastaka.
The starting verse of Siksastaka states a number of reasons why sankirtana (congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, which in Gaudiya Vaishnavism especially refers to Hare Krishna) should be emphasized in spiritual practice.
"The first reason is because it cleanses the heart of all the dust that’s been there for many years. This refers to an internal cleansing process. If we neglect to clean a room, soon dust will appear on the furniture and under the bed. But the dirt that the chanting of Hare Krishna cleans is the dirt of material desires within the heart. Whenever we desire something and forget the pleasure of Krishna , the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that is a “dirty” desire. Otherwise, nothing is innately good or bad. But if we desire anything other than pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that is inauspicious."
- Satsvarupa, Dasa Goswami (2005). "Gaura Purnima - Sri Siksastakam - Reflections". www.iskcon.com. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- Gaudiya.com "Sri Chaitanya is not known to have written anything but a series of verses known as the Siksastaka, the eight verses of instruction. He requested a select few among his followers, who later came to be known as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, to systematically present in their writings the theology of bhakti he had taught."
- CC-Al 6.239 "One who thinks himself lower than grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor but is always prepared to give respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord."
- Sikshashtaka: Lord Chaitanya's Mission (vedabase.net)
- Shikshashtakam / शिक्षाष्टकं in English and Devanagari
- "Sri Siksastakam". www.iskcon.com.