Shikshashtakam

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The Shikshashtakam (IAST: Śikṣāṣṭakam) is a 16th-century Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu prayer of eight verses composed in the Sanskrit language. They are the only verses left personally written by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 – 1534)[1] with the majority of his philosophy being codified by his primary disciples, known as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan.[2] The Shikshashtakam is quoted within the Chaitanya Charitamrita,[3] 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.

Text[edit]

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

The first eight verses of the following are the complete text of the Shikshashtakam, as written in Sanskrit by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They are found in Krishnadasa Kaviraja's Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita (Antya-līlā, chapter 20, verses 12, 16, 21, 29, 32, 36, 39 and 47).[4] The final verse is a Bengali quotation from Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya-līlā 20.65 - it is not part of the actual Shikshashtakam, but is often appended to the end when it is recited, describing the result of reciting the Shikshashtakam faithfully.[5][6]

Verse 1[edit]

ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaḿ

śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaḿ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam

ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaḿ prati-padaḿ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaḿ

sarvātma-snapanaḿ paraḿ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-sańkīrtanam

चेतो-दर्पण-मार्जनं भव-महा-दावाग्नि-निर्वापणं

श्रेयः-कैरव-चन्द्रिका-वितरणं विद्या-वधू-जीवनम्

आनन्दाम्बुधि-वर्धनं प्रति-पदं पूर्णामृतास्वादनं

सर्वात्म-स्नपनं परं विजयते श्री-कृष्ण-सण्कीर्तनम्

Synonyms[edit]

cetaḥ — mind/heart/consciousness; darpana — mirror; mārjanam — cleansing; bhava - of material existence; mahā-dāva-agni — great forest fire; nirvāpaṇam — extinguishing; śreyaḥ — excellence, auspiciousness, good fortune; kairava — lotus; candrikā — moonshine; vitaraṇam — spreading; vidyā — knowledge; vadhū — spouse; jīvanam — life; ānanda - of bliss; ambudhi — the ocean; vardhanam — increasing; prati-padam — at each step; pūrṇa-amṛta — full nectar; āsvādanam — taste giving; sarva - all; ātma - self/soul; snapanam — bathing; param — supreme; vijayate — let be victorious; śrī-kṛṣṇa-sańkīrtanam — for the congregational chanting of the names of shri krishna [7]

Translation[edit]

Literal:

Cleansing the mirror of the heart, mind, and consciousness (citta), extinguishing the great forest fire of material existence, spreading the moonshine of the lotus of good fortune, the life of the spouse of all knowledge, increasing the ocean of bliss, giving a taste of full nectar (amrita) at each step, bathing all souls, let there be all victory for the congregational hearing and chanting of the Holy Names of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

Verse 2[edit]

nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis

tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ

etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi

durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ

Synonyms[edit]

nāmnām — of (divine) names; akāri — manifested; bahudhā — many / various kinds; nija-sarva-śaktiḥ — own full shakti/potency; tatra — therein; arpitā — bestowed; niyamitaḥ — regulated; smaraṇe — in remembrance; na — not; kālaḥ — (according to) time; etādṛśī — as such / so much; tava — thy; kṛpā — grace, compassion, mercy; bhagavan — O Lord / Supreme Person; mama — mine; api — also/although; durdaivam — misfortune; īdṛśam — such; iha — here; ajani — born; na — no; anurāgaḥ — interest. [8]

Translation[edit]

Literal: In your (divine) names manifested various kinds of full potencies (shaktis) therein bestowed, with no rules according to time for remembering them, O Lord, you are so merciful, but it is my misfortune here that i have no anuraga (interest) in those names.

Verse 3[edit]

tṛṇād api sunīcena

taror api sahiṣṇunā

amāninā mānadena

kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

Synonyms[edit]

tṛṇāt — than straw; api - also, even; su-nīcena — by being lower; taroḥ — than tree; iva — as, like; sahiṣṇunā — by tolerance; amāninā — devoid honour, without pride; māna-dena — giving honour/respect; kīrtanīyaḥ — to be chanted, or, kirtaniyah, one who does kirtana, one who sings praises of the gods; sadā — ever / always; hariḥ — hari (one name of krishna)

Translation[edit]

Literal:

By considering (self) lower than straw, more tolerant than a tree, giving honour to those devoid honour, always do kirtana of hari.

Verse 4[edit]

na dhanaḿ na janaḿ na sundarīḿ

kavitāḿ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye

mama janmani janmanīśvare

bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi

Synonyms[edit]

na — no; dhanam — wealth; na — no; janam — follower; na — no; sundarīm — beauty, or beautiful woman [9]; kavitām — poetry, ornate style, also refers to karma-kanda section of the Vedas which describe fruitive activities in flowery language; vā — or; jagat-īśa — jagadisha, universe-master, Lord of the Universe; kāmaye — i desire; mama — My; janmani — births; janmani — births; īśvare — unto ishvara, unto best of ishās; bhavatāt — let be; bhaktiḥ — devotion; ahaitukī — unmotived, with no motives; tvayi — unto thee

Translation[edit]

Literal:

No wealth, no followers, no beauty or poetic praise desire I; in birth after birth let there be devotion unmotived unto thee o ishvara.

Alternatively:

O Lord of the Universe, I do not desire wealth, followers, beautiful women, nor the flowery language of the vedas; let me have only causeless devotion to you, birth after birth.

Verse 5[edit]

ayi nanda-tanūja kińkaraḿ

patitaḿ māḿ viṣame bhavāmbudhau

kṛpayā tava pāda-pańkaja-

sthita-dhūlī-sadṛśaḿ vicintaya

Synonyms[edit]

ayi — O (vocative); nanda-tanuja — born of nanda's body, son of nanda (Kṛṣṇa); kińkaram — servitor; patitam — fallen; mām — Me; viṣame — in venom; bhava-ambudhau — in ocean of material existence; kṛpayā — by kripa, by grace, by mercy; tava — your; pāda-pańkaja — lotus feet; sthita — situated; dhūlī-sadṛśam — as particle of dust; vicintaya — consider. [10]

Translation[edit]

Literal:

o son of nanda, servitor me fallen in venom of ocean of material existence, by your mercy (kripa) consider me as particle of dust at your lotus-feet.

Verse 6[edit]

nayanaḿ galad-aśru-dhārayā

vadanaḿ gadgada-ruddhayā girā

pulakair nicitaḿ vapuḥ kadā

tava nāma-grahaṇe bhaviṣyati

Synonyms[edit]

nayanam — eyes; galat-aśru-dhārayā — flowing tear streams; vadanam — voice, mouth; gadgada — faltering; ruddhayā — choked; girā — words; pulakaiḥ — with (erection of hair due to) ecstasy; nicitam — covered; vapuḥ — apparition/body; kadā — when; tava — Your; nāma-grahaṇe — in chanting of name; bhaviṣyati — shall be.

Translation[edit]

Literal:

With eyes flowing tear-streams, voice faltering, words choked, with ecstatic feelings in body, when shall i be able to chant thy (divine) name?

Verse 7[edit]

yugāyitaḿ nimeṣeṇa

cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam

śūnyāyitaḿ jagat sarvaḿ

govinda-viraheṇa me

Synonyms[edit]

yugāyitam — yuga comparable (yuga is specific time period of 432000 years in kali yuga, also sometimes translated as "age", "epoch", "millennium", a long period of time); nimeṣeṇa — by moment; cakṣuṣā — by eyes; prāvṛṣāyitam — showering ; śūnyāyitam — comparable to void/emptiness; jagat — world; sarvam — all; govinda — Govinda, Kṛṣṇa; viraheṇa — in separation; me — me.

Translation[edit]

Literal:

moment comparable to yuga, eyes showering tears, empty appears whole world to me in separation of govinda

Verse 8[edit]

āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāḿ pinaṣṭu mām

adarśanān marma-hatāḿ karotu vā

yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo

mat-prāṇa-nāthas tu sa eva nāparaḥ

Synonyms[edit]

āśliṣya — by embracing; vā — or; pāda-ratām — feet-enraptured; pinaṣṭu — let trample; mām — Me; adarśanāt — by non-darshana, by not granting vision; marma-hatām — literally softly-struck, broken-hearted; karotu — let make; vā — or; yathā — as ; tathā — thus; vā — or; vidadhātu — let (do) as destined; lampaṭaḥ — flirtily, or a lustful person, debauchee; mat-prāṇa-nāthaḥ — master of my life; tu — but; saḥ — He; eva — verily; na — not; aparaḥ — other.

Translation[edit]

Literal:

by embracing with enraptment or trampling with feet, or breaking my heart by not granting vision, or flirting here and there as destined, master of my life is he, verily no other.

Extra verse 9[edit]

This verse was added to the 8 verses written by Chaitanya.

prabhura ‘śikṣāṣṭaka’-śloka yei paḍe, śune

kṛṣṇe prema-bhakti tāra bāḍe dine-dine

Synonyms[edit]

prabhura — of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu; śikṣā-aṣṭaka — of the eight instructions; śloka — the verses; yei — anyone who; paḍe — recites; śune — or hears; kṛṣṇe — unto Lord Kṛṣṇa; prema-bhakti — ecstatic love and devotion; tāra — his; bāḍe — increases; dine-dine — day after day. [11]

Translation[edit]

If anyone recites or hears these eight verses of instruction by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, their ecstatic love and devotion (prema-bhakti) for Kṛṣṇa increases day by day. [12]

Significance[edit]

These eight verses are concise but profound. Brief commentary of first verse presented herein. krishna nama-sankirtana 1. cleanses our chitta which is compared to a mirror, 2. extinguishes this great forest-fire of material existence 3. like lotus of excellence spreads cooling moonlight 4. gives knowledge of life which is compared to a spouse who helps us flourish 5. increases our bliss-intellect 6. at each step gives taste of complete amrita (nectar) 7 is all atma-attractive / attracts atma fully 8. (hence) parallel victorious sri krishna's sankirtana.

even one verse of chaitanya mahaprabhu shows brilliance of composition plus content by showing beginning of sadhana to complete absorption in love


Within his Shikshashtakam, 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 Shikshashtakam.

The starting verse of Shikshashtakam 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Satsvarupa, Dasa Goswami (2005). "Gaura Purnima - Sri Siksastakam - Reflections". www.iskcon.com. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  2. ^ 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."
  3. ^ 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."
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2010-05-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/antya/20/12/
  8. ^ https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/antya/20/16/
  9. ^ http://spokensanskrit.org/index.php?tran_input=sundarI&direct=se&script=ia&link=yes&mode=3
  10. ^ https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/antya/20/32/
  11. ^ https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/antya/20/65/
  12. ^ https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/antya/20/65/

External links[edit]