Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu

ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ
śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam

Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, 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 Kṛṣṇa 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 Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “By performing congregational chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa 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 Kṛṣṇa and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of Kṛṣṇa and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love.” (Caitanya Caritamrita. Antya 20. 12-14)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Sruti-kirti Prabhu, a disciple and former personal servant of Srila Prabhupada, recounts Prabhupada’s practical instructions regarding chanting rounds.

“It was easy to understand that Śrīla Prabhupāda enjoyed chanting japa. He always stressed the importance of chanting our 16 rounds. He once told me that as a householder, he used a simple process for completing 16 rounds that we could apply.

‘When I was a householder,’ Srila Prabhupada said, ‘I would chant four rounds before each meal and four rounds before retiring in the evening. In this way 16 rounds could be chanted without difficulty.’ He laughed and said, ‘If you don’t take prasadam before chanting your four rounds then you will be sure to get them chanted.’

“In New Dwaraka he told me, ‘In the evening, if I get tired, I walk and chant. If you are tired, then walk and chant like I do. Sometimes, if I am tired, I pace back and forth in the room. Simply, in one room you can do everything. If you are tired, you can stand up and chant, like I do.’

“It was common to see Śrīla Prabhupāda walk in his quarters or sit in his rocking chair while he chanted rounds. In the evening he sometimes chanted rounds while I massaged him in bed. Many times devotees went into Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room with a problem they were hoping would be solved with some particular arrangement. His solution was always the same. ‘Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, chant your 16 rounds.’ He developed the phrase, ‘Just do it!’ long before Nike.” (Srila Prabhupada Uvaca 63)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Lord Gauranga Himself and all realized souls in the Gaudiya line such as Namacarya Thakura Haridasa and the six Gosvamis set the example of chanting a fixed number of rounds daily. In Sad-gosvamy astakam, Srinivasa Acarya glorifies the sadhana of the six Gosvamis: saṅkhyā-pūrvaka-nāma-gāna, “chanting the names by counting the number.”

“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in a loud voice, the holy name dancing on His tongue as He counts the number of recitations with His effulgent hand.” (Prāthamā Caitanyaṣṭaka)

“Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, His own holy names which bring auspiciousness to the world, Lord Gaurāṅga’s hand trembles with love as He touches the knotted string about His waist to count the number of names.” (Sri Caitanya-candramrta)

“On a knotted string Lord Caitanya counts a fixed number of His own holy names (names of Kṛṣṇa).” (Cb. Madhya 5.1)

“Lord Caitanya blessed them saying, ‘May you attain devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Do not waste time with gossip; just chant Kṛṣṇa’s holy name and qualities.’ Then Gaurāṅga personally instructed the people, āpane sabāre prabhu kore upadeśe, kṛṣṇa-nāma mahā-mantra śunaho hariṣe, ‘Be pleased to hear the mahā-mantra from Me:

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.’

“The Lord continued: prabhu bole, kahilān ei mahā-mantra, ihā japa’ giyā sabe koriyā nirbandha, ‘Continue chanting japa of this mahā-mantra a prescribed number of times.’

“ ‘One can achieve all perfection by this chanting. There is no rule in this chanting other than that it should be continued at every moment.’ ” (Cb. Madhya 23.74-84)

In Caitanya Bhagavata 2.23.74, Lord Gaura said:

kahilam ei maha-mantra kha japa giya sabe kariya
nirbandha kha hoite sarva siddhi hoibe sabara

“Everyone should chant the holy name of the Lord with fixed determination by rigidly keeping the scheduled count (nirbandha) of the holy name. This will award one all perfections.” Some translators say that nirbandha means sixty-four rounds.

The practice of chanting a fixed number of rounds is so powerful that it qualifies one to receive the Lord in his home. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu proclaimed,

‘lakṣeśvara’ bali kāre? prati-dina lakṣa-nāma ye grahaṇa kare
se janera nāma āmi bali ‘lakṣeśvara’ tathā bhikṣā āmāra,

nā yāi anya ghara

Do you know who is a lakṣeśvara? He is someone who chants one lakṣa, or one hundred thousand holy names everyday. I call such a person a lakṣeśvara. That person may offer Me a meal. I will not enter any other house. (Cb. Antya 9.121-2)

Many devotees do not have the taste or time to chant 100,000 holy names daily. Srila Prabhupada mercifully simplified the process by requesting his followers to chant a minimum of sixteen rounds per day. One must always pray to Radha-Govinda for a taste in chanting. When taste arises one will continuously chant the holy name with great relish. Srila Prabhupada comments on nama-ruci:

“What is nāma-gāne sadā ruciḥ? He is never tired of chanting, or singing or dancing. Sadā means always; ruci means taste. “Oh, very nice. Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare, Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma…” This is taste. To awaken this taste takes time. To become like Rūpa Gosvāmī–when he was chanting he was thinking, “I have got only one tongue and two ears. What I shall chant?” He was thinking, “If I could get millions of tongues and trillions of ears, then I could relish something by chanting and hearing.”

“So we should not imitate, but at least we must be very careful to complete sixteen rounds, the minimum. Nāma-gāne sadā ruciḥ. We have to increase our taste for singing and chanting.” (SPT 29/4/73)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This series of posts presents the facts (tattva) regarding the identity, moods (gopi-bhava), intimacy and sevas of Srimati Radharani’s beautiful, talented handmaidens known as manjaris, kinkaris, or dasis. Many wonderful lilas are also presented to highlight the manjaris intimate sevas to Srimati Radhika and Her beloved Krishna.

The information here comes from the commentaries of Advaitavamsa Acharya 108 Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami and 108 Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja on “Vilapa Kusumanjali” and “Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi” translated by Sri Advaita Dasji.

 

Manjaris Pride in Radha

Krishna is coveted by innumerable Vrajasundaris, yet He Himself yearns only for Sri Radhika! Day and night He murmurs: “Vrishabhanu Nandini!” without saying anything else. Although hundreds of thousands of gopis speak sweet words to Shyam, He does not listen to them even in dreams!

Krishna can only pronounce the first syllable of Radha’s name, “Ra”, but out of ecstasy Krishna cannot pronounce the other one, “Dha”. Krishna’s eyes carry streams of tears. That jewel of men rolls on the ground of Vraja. Who can describe Krishna’s distress?

Although Vrajendra-nandana is the very form of full bliss and the ocean of all rasa, even He is maddened by Radha’s sweetness. Krishna is the limit of ecstasy, yet even Krishna is mad to meet Srimati Radharani!

Shyam does not love anyone as much as Radha. Different gopis only serve to create variety in Krishna’s loving pastimes with Kishori, but Sri Krishna is totally subdued by Sri Radha alone. This is a very relishable situation for Radha’s maidservants. The manjaris are proud of Radharani’s pride in being Krishna’s topmost gopi.

 

Bhajan Gives New Life

Manjari bhava sadhakas should read, think, and talk about Sri Rupa and Tulasi Manjari’s expertise in Radha’s seva. By doing this one will lose all desires to do anything else.

By thinking of the forms, qualities, and feelings of Radha Govinda Yugal, and mentally serving in Their intimate pastimes the heart will become beautiful, pure, and blissful. Maya will disappear for such a dedicated sadhaka. Manjari svarupa bhajana makes a new life for a devotee. If one is not experiencing changes in the heart and mind, however, it means one’s bhajan is lifeless.

The full series of “Radharani’s manjaris tattva & lilas” can be found here.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This series of posts presents the facts (tattva) regarding the identity, moods (gopi-bhava), intimacy and sevas of Srimati Radharani’s beautiful, talented handmaidens known as manjaris, kinkaris, or dasis.

Many wonderful lilas are also presented to highlight the manjaris intimate sevas to Srimati Radhika and Her beloved Krishna.

The information here comes from the commentaries of Advaitavamsa Acharya 108 Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami and 108 Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja on “Vilapa Kusumanjali” and “Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi” translated by Sri Advaita Dasji.

Manjari’s Expert Fanning Seva

After Radhe-Shyam’s sumptuous love dalliance, beautiful Shyam’s crown, pearl necklace, and flower garland have all broken and fallen off. So Swamini says, “Sundara! Just look at Your condition! Wait, let Me decorate You! I have spoiled Your looks so now I will make You look nice again! Just sit down for a while!” 

Then Radha says, “Rupa! Come here! We are going to pick some flowers!”

Swamini takes Rupa into the gardens and picks flowers of Her choice. Returning to the kunja, Radha and Sri Rupa Manjari start decorating Prananatha with ornaments made of flowers. Tulasi stands on one side of the kunja floating in oceans of bliss observing Ishvari’s expertise in service.

She thinks: “Swamini! Only through You such services are possible!” Meanwhile, because of Swamini’s touch Shyam’s body becomes adorned with ecstatic bodily symptoms such as sweatdrops, that obstruct Swamini’s service. Swamini gives a hint to Tulasi to stand by Shyam’s side and fan Him. Because of Tulasi’s fanning Nagara’s sweatdrops dry up.

Then Tulasi fans with such humorous expertise that the breeze causes Swamini’s clothes and blouse to loosen. Shyam becomes agitated from seeing Radhika’s beautiful, half-covered limbs. Then Krishna fondles Radha and obstructs Her seva  of dressing Krishna. Tulasi softly giggles but continues fanning.

Swamini rebukes Tulasi with a glance that says, “How naughty you are! How can I decorate My Nagara when you fan Him like that? Fan Shyam nicely, so that He will sit still!”

After receiving Swamini’s sublime chastisement Tulasi blissfully finds a new way to fan Krishna. Now she starts fanning in such a way that Radha’s bodily fragrance enters Shyam’s nose to destroy His patience once again. Blessed is this maidservant! Blessed is her service!

Manasi Seva Only in Svarupa

In material consciousness nobody can approach Radha-Krishna. To actually relish serving in Radha-Krishna’s madhurya-lilas one must visualize and enter into one’s individual siddha-deha (svarupavesha).  A sadhaka should always identify oneself thus: “I am Radha’s kinkari!”

No one can delight Radha-Shyam as much as a kinkari because she arranges Their meetings which fill Lila Yugal with bliss. Radha-Krishna are so pleased with the kinkari that they give even Themselves to her!

Narottama Dasa Thakur says: vrajapura vanitara, carana ashraya sara, koro mana ekanta koriya, “O mind! Take exclusive shelter of the gopis of Vraja. That is essential.”

Sri Jiva Goswamipada says (Krishna Sandarbha 501): “May the indescribable sweetness of the combined forms of Radha Govinda arise in my heart in such a way that I will not see anything else.” Accepting and embodying the great words of the acharyas leads to a steady wakefulness of one’s svarupa.

Prayer For Radha Seva

“O sakhi Sri Rupa Manjari! Without your grace Radha’s kunja-seva cannot be attained! Please always give me the shade of your lotus feet! In an enchanting cottage in a kunja on the beautiful bank of Radha Kunda you and my mistress Radha lovingly and diligently decorate Her heart’s lover Vrajendra Kumara with different floral ornaments to make Krishna look very beautiful. When will my life become fruitful by seeing this sweet, intimate pastime?” (Sri Rasika-Candra dasa)

Sri Radha’s manjaris ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

The full series of “Radharani’s manjaris tattva & lilas” can be found here.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

This series of posts presents the facts (tattva) regarding the identity, moods (gopi-bhava), intimacy and sevas of Srimati Radharani’s beautiful, talented handmaidens known as manjaris, kinkaris, or dasis.

Many wonderful lilas are also presented to highlight the manjaris intimate sevas to Srimati Radhika and Her beloved Krishna.

The information here comes from the commentaries of Advaitavamsa Acharya 108 Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami and 108 Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja on “Vilapa Kusumanjali” and “Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi” translated by Sri Advaita Dasji.

Need Separation in Bhajan

Swamini goes on abhisara holding Sri Rupa Manjari’s hand. Waves of divine lust manifest in each of Radha’s limbs. Priyaji’s passionate love for Priyatama is like a wave seen in Radha’s glances, gait and words. Sriji’s passionate desires to meet Shyam, however are only for Shyam’s pleasure!

Radha anxiously asks Sri Rupa, “How long will it take before I can see Madhava again? Tell Me Rupa, how far is it still? Aha! How eagerly Madhava must be waiting for Me!”

There is delight in separation, although it brings suffering. Such delight cannot be found in this world. Unless feelings of separation appear, one will not develop a strong desire to attain Radha-Krishna. Therefore, a raganuga sadhaka must first experience love-in-separation.

Unless one feels eagerness to see Radha-Krishna, born from a sense of want, one will never experience anything. A sincere sadhaka should feel ashamed when comparing the intensity of one’s bhajan with the bhajan of Sri Raghunatha Das Goswamipada.

How Shyam Serves Swamini

Together with Tulasi and Rupa manjaris, Radha arrives at the gate of the kunja. They see that Sri Hari has personally decorated the kunj beforehand and is eagerly waiting inside for Radha. Hari made a flower asana for Radha with flowers moistened with His tears of love. The kunja is adorned by Hari’s form, qualities, and craftsmanship. It appears Krishna has decorated the entire kunja with His pure love for His Priyaji, thinking: “Here I will sit with My beloved!”

This is the expertise of prema seva, the mutual service of love. Swamini is amazed when She enters the kunja with Rupa and Tulasi. The kunja delights Cupid, and it is decorated by the very hands of the transcendental youthful Cupid of Vrindavan!

Swamini asks: “Shyam! Who has decorated this kunja?”

Hari: “Who knows? Can You tell!”

Srimati: “You have done it, nobody else can decorate like this! You have done all this work, knowing that I would come! I should have been here to help You!”

Today Radha is very munificent. It is Swamini’s Hari, who steals Radha’s heart with His loving expertise. Two teardrops trickle from Radhika’s eyes. With tender affection Shyam helps Sriji onto Her asana.

How much love Hari has in His heart as He sits at Radha’s soft lotus feet. Try to feel and visualize how beautiful Shyam looks sitting at Swamini’s feet. Krishna clutches Kishori’s feet to His chest and says, “O Radha! How did You come all the way here with these tender feet? The ground of Vraja is so hard!”

Krishna repeatedly looks at Swamini’s lotus feet that are greyed by dust. Tulasi understands the mood and brings a golden water pitcher and a golden bowl. Tulasi pours the water while Shyam washes Swamini’s feet and dries them off with His yellow dhoti. Tears trickle from Shyam’s eyes.

Radha lifts Krishna up and sits Him next to Her. How beautiful Shyam looks with loving tears for Radha in His eyes!

Holding Hari’s cheek on Hers, Swamini asks Shyam, “Why do you love Me so much? I cannot do anything for You! I have so many shortcomings! How many qualified girls are there not always waiting for You? How You could leave them all for an unfortunate girl like Me?”

Overwhelmed by hearing this, Shyam simply stares at Swamini’s gorgeous face. Krishna is completely unaware of what a rare and priceless treasure He has received!

Without the mercy of acharyas like Sri Raghunatha Das Goswamipada no one can experience pastimes like this during smarana. By their grace such sweet, charming pastimes will appear in the heart of a sincere sadhaka. The mind must be absorbed in this subject. Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

The full series of “Radharani’s manjaris tattva & lilas” can be found here.