The Precepts of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
The Holy Name of Krsna
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam
"The holy name of Krsna cleanses the mirror of the heart and extinguishes the fire of misery in the forest of birth and death.
As the evening lotus blooms in the moon's cooling rays, the heart begins to blossom in the nectar of the name.
And at last the soul awakens to its real inner treasure —a life of love with Krsna.
Again and again tasting nectar, the soul dives and surfaces in the ever-increasing ocean of ecstatic joy.
All phases of the self of which we may conceive are fully satisfied and purified, and at last conquered by the all-auspicious influence of the holy name of Krsna."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the pioneer of Sri Krsna sankirtana. He said, "I have come to inaugurate the chanting of the holy name of Krsna, and that name will reach every nook and corner of the universe (prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama}."
What is the meaning of sankirtana? Samyak means "full" and kirtana means "chanting." Together, these two words form the word sankirtana which generally means "congregational chanting of the holy name of Krsna." But samyak means full not only in quantity but also in quality. Full quantity means extensive in number: congregational. Full quality means complete praise. Complete praise can only mean the glorification of Krsna, and not any other gods.
So sankirtana means complete kirtana, a song in praise of the complete whole, the Absolute Truth; anything else is only a partial representation and therefore defective to a certain extent. Therefore, Krsna should be praised. His glories should be chanted, for He is everything. He is the master, the dispenser of both good and bad, the Absolute Controller of everything. Everything is due to Him. The fulfillment of all life is reached in Him alone. Just as a horse may have reins to check his movements, but if let loose will run freely, praise which is unchecked by any mundane purpose will run straight towards the Supreme Cause, Krsna.
The word sri means Laksmidevi: Krsna's potency. This means that in sankirtana, Krsna is worshiped along with His potency, for Krsna's potency is included within Him.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that sri krsna sankirtana should thrive throughout the world; it should be victorious without any hindrance (param vijayate sri-krsna san-kirtanam). It should be a spontaneous, unchecked, and natural flow. It should be exclusive, independent, and without reservation. And this praise of Krsna should be congregationally chanted—that vibration is beneficial for the whole world. Only by surrender and pure devotion can we take to sri krsna sankirtana.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna
Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Cleansing the Mirror of the Mind
What are the different stages through which we will pass while chanting the holy name of Krsna? The first stage is that it cleanses the mirror of the mind. If the mirror of the mental system is covered with dust, we cannot see things clearly, and scriptural advice cannot be properly reflected there. What are the different kinds of dust covering the mirror of the mind? Our infinite, fleeting, and organized desires are considered dust, and our hearts and minds are covered with layers and layers of this dust. Therefore we cannot see things properly; they cannot properly reflect in our mind because it is covered with the infinite ordinary desires of this mundane world (bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kami—sakali 'asanta).
So the first effect of sri krsna sankirtana is the cleansing of the mind. The Vedic social system (varnasrama-dharma) has been formed for this purpose. If we discharge our social duties perfectly, without any attraction for the consequences, we achieve purification of our consciousness—but the first installment of nama-sankirtana gives us the end result of varnasrama-dharma: purification of the heart and mind. Then we can understand Vedic advice properly.
The next effect of chanting the holy name is that it extinguishes the fire of material existence in the forest of repeated birth and death. We are forced to come into creation and again die. The mundane wave catches the soul which mingles with that vibration in different stages. That is stopped by the second effect of sri krsna sankirtana, and we become liberated.
With the first stride, the intelligence is purified. With the second stride, the holy name effects liberation from the great conflagration of threefold miseries. The threefold miseries are adhydtmika: miseries within the body and mind, such as disease and mental anxiety; adhi-bhautika: miseries from our neighbors: man, beasts, insects, and so many other living beings; and adhidaivika: natural catastrophes like famine, flood, and earthquake. We have to suffer from these three kinds of miseries which burn in our heart like fire. But everything is extinguished forever by the second stride of nama-sankirtana which gives us relief.
The Supreme Goal of Life
The next stage is sreyah kairava candrikavitaranam: the holy name bestows upon us the supreme goal of life. After doing away with these two negative engagements, our positive engagement begins and ultimately takes us to reality, to the real truth, which is eternal, auspicious, and beautiful. It takes us to that auspiciousness which is above this world of difficulty, and in a general way we achieve the supreme goal, the highest auspiciousness, the greatest good from chanting the holy name of Krsna. If we analyze this scrutinizingly, we find that in this stage, the holy name takes us to an intimate personal relationship with Krsna which includes neutrality, servitude, friendship, and filial affection (santa, dasya, sakhya, and vatsalya rasa). Sreyah covers the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, for it is by His grace that we may be allowed to worship Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana (nitaiyer karuna habe braje radha krsna pabe).
The next stage is vidya-vadhu-jivanam. The holy name prepares us for the wholesale surrender to Krsna that is found in conjugal love (madhurya rasa) where the devotees surrender themselves infinitely at the disposal of Krsna.
The next stage is anandambudhi-vardhanam. When we come to the proper level while chanting the name of Krsna, we find the transcendental ocean that is above all sorts of experience. The name comes to assert Himself over us according to the degree of our surrender, and when our surrender is complete, we feel a new type of ecstatic joy; we experience an infinite ocean of joy which is not static, but always dynamic. There we find new life and a new type of blissfulness. It never becomes stale or static, but at every moment gives us a taste of the infinite ocean of ecstasy.
The last effect is that our entire existence is purified. This kind of enjoyment does not pollute—it purifies. Enjoyment means exploitation. Mundane enjoyment creates a reaction and pollution attacks the enjoyer, but here, because Krsna is the aggressor, the result is purification. All enjoyment that comes from the center, from the autocratic desire of Krsna, purifies us completely.
In this verse, the words sarvatma-snapanam mean that all different phases of the self which may be conceived are fully satisfied and purified at once by chanting the holy name of Krsna. And there is another meaning of sarvatma-snapanam. If we praise Krsna congregationally, we will be purified according to our capacity. Both the singer and the audience as well as anyone who comes in connection with the transcendental sound will be purified. Snapanam means "purifying." That vibration purifies everyone and everything that comes in touch with it.
So Mahaprabhu says, "Go on with sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name of Krsna." Of course, sankirtana must be genuine, so association with saints is necessary. It is not an empirical attempt. We are attempting to have a connection with the higher, unconditioned realm which can descend to help us here. We must have that connection with higher reality, for that is all-important. The holy name of Krsna is not mere physical sound; it is not lip-deep only, but it has a greater and higher aspect (nama aksara bahiraya bate tabu name kabhu naya). It is all spiritual. We are in the marginal plane of existence, so some higher connection is necessary in order that the wave will descend from that higher realm and come to us and spread its influence outside as well.
Wherever it goes, the sankirtana of the holy name of Krsna will produce these sevenfold results. This is the purport of Mahaprabhu's first verse. The first effect is that the holy name cleanses the soul which is attacked by the dirt of desires from the mundane world. By the second effect it gives mukti, liberation, perfect independence from material forces. The third effect brings real fortune: the opening of the soul's treasure. The innate resources of the soul are gradually awakened by the holy name of Krsna. Here, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu includes the other forms of relationship with the Personal Absolute.
In describing the next step. He takes the mood of conjugal devotion, where one is absolutely disposed for Krsna's enjoyment, unconditionally surrendering everything for His maximum pleasure.
"I Need Millions of Mouths!"
The next effect is the tasting of His ecstatic association. In Vrndavana, the realm of Krsna, one who can chant the name of Krsna properly will express himself with a pecu-liar sort of ego:
tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
cetah-prangana-sanginivijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi
"When the holy name of Krsna appears on the lips of a devotee, it begins madly dancing. Then the name takes over and handles him as if the person to whom the lips belong loses all control over his lips, and the devotee says, 'With one mouth, how much can I gather the ecstasy of the holy name? I need millions of mouths to taste its unlimited sweetness. I'll never feel any satisfaction by chanting with only one mouth.'"
When the sound "Krsna" enters the ear, he feels that transcendental sound awaken in his heart. "What are two ears?" he thinks. "This is the greatest injustice of the creator—I need millions of ears! Then, if I could hear the sweet name of Krsna, my heart might be a little satisfied. I want millions and millions of ears to hear the sweet name of Krsna." This is the temperament of a devotee when his attention is drawn towards the holy name. Then he faints; he loses himself, merging in an ocean of ecstasy and joy. And in great disappointment he says, "I failed to understand the quality and quantity of the substance of Krsna's name. I am perplexed. What sort of honey sweetness does this name contain?" In this way, the chanter of the name wonders.
Krsna's Mystic Flute-song
This has been taught to us by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who said, "Properly chant the holy name, the sound representation of absolute sweetness." That sweetness is also to be found in the flute-song of the Lord. The sound of Krsna's flute has the great mystic power of capturing and pleasing everyone and everything. Upon hearing the sound of Krsna's flute, the Yamuna's current is paralyzed. The sweet sound of Krsna's flute attracts the trees, the birds, and the beasts. Everything is astounded by contacting the sweet vibration from Krsna's flute.
Sound vibration can work miracles; sound has the highest capturing potency. Sound can make or mar. It can do anything; it has such intrinsic capacity. It comes from the subtlemost plane, beyond the ether. That universal sound is absolute sweetness and goodness. How much power is there—how it can capture us! Like a blade of grass, we may be played by the current of that sweet sound in such a way that we cannot even trace out our own personality. We may lose ourselves there, but we do not die; the soul is eternal. Diving, up and down, we are played by the current of the sweet sound. We are less qualified than a straw, a blade of grass, and the Krsna sound is so big and so sweet that it can play us in any way it likes. We cannot begin to conceive how much power is in the name, the sound which is identical with absolute goodness and sweetness.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, "Don't neglect the sound which is one and the same with Krsna." Absolute sweetness and goodness—everything is there within the holy name. And the holy name is representing itself to us in a very cheap way: nothing is required to purchase it—no money, no physical energy. All these things are unnecessary. What is required? Sincerity.
One who simply takes this divine sound sincerely will be so enriched that no one will be able to conceive of so much goodness and development. And anyone may have it very cheaply, but one must chant sincerely with his whole heart. Of course, wholehearted sincerity presupposes going to a proper agent, a saint, and getting the holy name from him.
Sri krsna sankirtana is praised by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the inaugurator of the sankirtana movement who came as Radha-Govinda combined. His advice is most valuable and necessary to tell us that with a sincere spirit we must come to join this sri krsna sankirtana, the most purifying transcendental sound, which effects liberation, gives all fulfillment, and grants us such a positive attainment that we lose ourselves in the ocean of joy and inconceivable sweetness.
This is Sriman Mahaprabhu's grace, and He proclaims, "Let sri krsna sankirtana be expanded into this mortal world, that it may benefit everyone infinitely, for this is the highest and greatest benefit for the whole world. It is all-comprehensive. It releases us from all sorts of troubles, establishing us in the highest position of attainment."
And in this present degraded age of Kali, only nama-sankirtana can help us. Of course, nama-sankirtana is beneficial in all ages, but it is especially recommended in Kali-yuga, because in this age all other attempts will be opposed by many forces. Nama-sankirtana cannot be opposed by the troubles and waves of this material world, so one must adopt it. If we exclusively give ourselves to this, we will gain the highest fulfillment of life. There is no necessity of any other campaign, for they are all defective and partial. But the most universal, captivating, and beneficial thing is nama-sankirtana, which takes us to the highest goal. That alone can satisfy everyone.
All souls that are now disconnected from Krsna may be helped in this way. No other movement is necessary. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu tells us, "Exclusively devote yourself to this. It is all-embracing and all-fulfilling. And you can achieve it with the least trouble and least energy. Let it flourish in this Kali-yuga—let it flourish for the welfare of the whole universe, to reestablish all souls in their normal position."
In the last verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam the conclusion of the book is given as follows:
nama sankirtanam yasya
sarva papa pranasanam
tam namami harim param
Papa means all anomalies, all undesirable things: sin. Material enjoyment and liberation are also included as anomalies, sinful activities. Why is liberation considered sinful? Because it is an abnormal condition; our natural function is to serve Krsna, but we do not do that in salvation. Mere salvation does not include service to Krsna, so that is an abnormal position and therefore it is also a sin. To ignore our natural duty and stand aloof cannot but be sinful.
The Spiritual Gift of Vyasa
The concluding verse of the Srimad-Bhagavatam says, "Krsna's holy name can relieve us from all undesirable sinfulness, all filthy characteristics, and all miseries. Let us all bow down to Him." Uttering this verse, the Srimad-Bhagavatam stops; that great treatise becomes silent. The last word in the Bhagavatam is nama-sankirtana. The Bha-gavatam has given such great importance to chanting of the holy name of Krsna, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu developed it from there. The last publication of the compiler of Vedic literatures, Srila Vyasadeva, took theism to that stage, and gave it to the public announcing, "Chant the name of Krsna! Do this; nothing more is necessary. Take this!" This is the very conclusion of Srimad-Bhag-avatam, the greatest spiritual gift of Vyasadeva: "Chant the holy name of Krsna and begin your life in this dark age with the most broad and wide theistic conception."
Nectar of the Nectarine
We may consider ourselves fortunate that we have come to the verge of this most generous and useful thought, that we have come close enough to touch it, to accept it, and float ourselves in its waves according to our capacity. After passing through so many conceptions and the charm of different prospects, we have left them all behind and have come to the shore of the ocean of ndma-sankirtana. Now we may throw our bodies in this ocean and begin to swim in the waves of nama-sankirtana, the nectar of the nectarine, by the grace of our guru and the mercy of the Vaisnavas.
It is their property, and we are their slaves. We have such audacity to throw our body into this ocean of ndma-sankirtana and swim in that nectarine ocean! Swimming in Radha-kunda, the highest conception of spiritual attainment, can also be found in the highest form of ndma-sankirtana. This verse represents the positive side of the unlimited ocean of sri krsna sankirtana. The next verse explains the negative possibilities.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given his Sanskrit commentary on the Siksastakam, as well as his Bengali translation, and his is a most original presentation. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada has also given his commentary on the Siksastakam. They should be carefully studied in order to understand these points more completely. In these talks, however, I am simply coming out with whatever I feel in my heart. Whatever comes to my mind on these verses, I am expressing, and that is the outcome of what I have collected from Srila Bhaktisid-dhanta Saraswati Thakura, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and all the predecessor aeon/as. By their grace that is gathered in my storehouse, and I am trying to give the gist of these things.
The Krsna Conception Conquers All
By accepting the path of devotion, a wholesale transformation of our internal system begins, and gradually our charm for the outside world vanishes. There is a war within, and when the Krsna conception enters into the heart of a devotee, all other thoughts and ideas gradually have to retire. This is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.8.5):
dhunoti samalam krsnah
salilasya yatha sarat
When the autumn season appears, the mud within the water vanishes. In the same way, when the Krsna conception enters into one's heart, all other conceptions and aspirations will gradually have to retire, leaving Krsna in possession of everything. When a real drop of Krsna consciousness enters the heart, all opposing forces must leave and Krsna will conquer and take possession of the whole.
That is the nature of Krsna consciousness: nothing can stand in competition with it, not even so-called devotion for the demigods or faith in creeds like Christianity, Islam, and others. All other conceptions of theism have to retire, leaving the field to the Krsna conception. No aggressors can stand in the tight with Krsna consciousness, the absolute, sweet beauty.
Beauty, sweetness, and charm can capture and defeat power. We are really aspiring after beauty and sweetness, mercy, affection, divine love (prema). Self-dissipation—to compensate others with one's own energy and generosity—ultimately conquers everyone. It is more rewarding to give than to take. Divine love means die to live: not to live for yourself, but to live for others. The most generous form of life—self-forgetfulness to the extreme—is found in Krsna consciousness.
Krsna consciousness is so beautiful that one who develops it loses his own identification and existence also. He becomes totally self-forgetful. Such a charm is there. Who will stand to tight against Krsna? Everyone who comes to fight against Him is disarmed. If in any way Krsna enters the heart, there can be no other consequence but that He takes possession of everything. Such a benevolent, generous, and sweet person is Krsna: reality the beautiful.