The Seven Excellences of Nama

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

One week before his disappearance, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura imparted ten important instructions on devotional service. Regarding Kṛṣṇa’s holy name, he said, “The holy name with its noted seven excellences (mentioned in first Siksastaka prayer) should be cultivated by all. The holy name should never be neglected at any cost. Attraction to the holy name will award one all perfection.” (Art of Pure Devotion)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes the seven excellences in his purport to Siksastaka:

1.Ceto-darpana-marjanam–means that chanting harinama destroys all anarthas. For a conditioned soul the mirror of the heart or “consciousness” is covered with a thick layer of dust in the form of saṁskāras (impressions on the mind from acts done in previous lives) and anarthas (unwanted material desires which impede one’s progress in bhakti). Chanting Kṛṣṇa’s name removes the dust, and allows one to see the pure form of the soul and the beautiful transcendental form of Syamasundara.

2.Bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ–means that chanting removes all miseries and kleśas (adhyatmika, adhibhautika, adhidaivika); stages of sin (prarabdha, aprarabdha, kūṭa and bīja); and avidya (ignorance).

3.Śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ–means that all auspiciousness (subha) manifests in one’s life. As the white lotus (kairava) blossoms under the moonbeams (candrikā), the flower of good fortune opens in a heart illumined by the cooling rays of the holy name.

4.Vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam–means the supreme knowledge (vidya) is the mahabhava of Srimati Radhika, who is Kṛṣṇa’s topmost vadhu (consort or wife). The jivanam (life and soul) of Radhika is Kṛṣṇa alone. Kṛṣṇa’s name, therefore, which is non-different from Kṛṣṇa, is described as vidya-vadhu jivanam.

5.Ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ–means when the tiny jiva takes shelter of the lotus feet of Ananta Kṛṣṇa, he submerges in an ever-expanding (vardhanaṁ) boundless ocean of bliss (ānandāmbudhi).

6.Prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ–means by the mercy of Sri Kṛṣṇa’s internal potency (svarupa-sakti), the Lord’s bliss potency (hladini-sakti) enters the heart of the jiva to expand the ocean of kṛṣṇa-prema with unlimited waves of pleasure. At every step (prati-padam) the jiva fully relishes (pūrṇāmṛtā svādanaṁ) varieties of nectarean seva rasa: sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya.

7.Sarvātma-snapanaṁ–means that chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy names completely cleanses (snapanaṁ) the jiva of all selfish desires for personal enjoyment (sarvātma). Chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy names thoroughly bathes the living entity both internally and externally, making him clean and cool. In such a state of supreme purity, the jiva, now filled with spotless prema, becomes absorbed in giving bliss to Sri Kṛṣṇa.

8.Paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam–means the chanting of Sri Kṛṣṇa’s holy names (sri kṛṣṇa sankirtana) will be completely victorious, especially in revealing Radha-Govinda’s enchanting pastimes of love (prema vicitra-lila).

By delineating the seven excellences of harinama, the first sloka of Siksastaka increases one’s appreciation of the wonderful qualities of the holy name. This in turn helps one achieve firm faith in the holy name. For this reason, Thakura Bhaktivinoda links this verse to sraddha (faith), the initial stage of bhakti.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on ceto darpano marjanam

pīta-varaṇa kali-pāvana gorā
gāoyāi aichana bhāva-vibhorā

Lord Gaurāṅga, whose complexion is golden and who is the deliverer of the fallen souls of Kali-yuga, sings as follows, overwhelmed with spiritual ecstasy:

kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya citta bihārī

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It thoroughly cleanses the mirror of the heart. This chanting delights the soul.

kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya kleśa-nivṛtti

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It extinguishes the horrible forest fire of material existence. This chanting removes all material tribulations.

kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya bhakti-vilāsa

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It appears like the moon in the heart and distributes its cooling moonlight, thus causing the white lotus of good fortune to bloom. This chanting is the pastime of devotion.

viśuddha-vidyā-vadhū jīvana-rūpa
kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya siddha-svarūpa

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It is compared to a young bride, chaste and devoted to transcendental knowledge itself. This chanting is the highest perfection of life.

kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya plāvana-mūrti

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It is glorious, as it causes the ocean of ecstatic bliss to swell and overflow. This chanting is an inundation of love of Godhead.

pade pade pīyūṣa-svāda-pradātā
kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya prema-vidhātā

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It gives one a taste of fully satisfying nectar at every step. This chanting is the bestower of ecstatic love of God.

kṛṣṇa-kīrtana jaya prema-nidāna

All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa! It bathes the soul of Bhaktivinoda. This chanting is a storehouse of love of God.

nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ

My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as “Kṛṣṇa” and “Govinda” , by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “Because people vary in their desires, You have distributed various holy names by Your mercy. Regardless of time or place, one who chants the holy name, even while eating or sleeping, attains all perfection. You have invested Your full potencies in each individual holy name, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attachment for chanting Your holy names.” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.16-20)

Nija sarva saktih–Lord Caitanya says that Kṛṣṇa has invested all His potency (nija sarva saktih) in His names. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, however, clarifies this in his commentary on Siksastaka by saying we should understand that Kṛṣṇa has not put all His power in all His names. For example, in the name Brahman, Kṛṣṇa has invested the qualities of brahman but not all His powers. Similarly, the names Kurma, Matsya, Parasurama and Vamana are not endowed with all the potencies of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name. Only names like Kṛṣṇa, Hari, Govinda and Acyuta, which are principal names, contain all the potencies and perfect competence of Kṛṣṇa’s svarupa-sakti.

The second sloka of Siksastaka addresses the next three stages of bhakti: sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, anartha-nivrtti. Here the stress is on chanting without aparadhas. This is a most essential principle of bhajana-kriya, because only then the holy name will act to destroy anarthas and awaken attachment for chanting.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana on namnam akari bahudha

tuṅhu doyā-sāgara tārayite prāṇī
nām aneka tuwā śikhāoli āni’

O Lord, You are an ocean of mercy. You have brought Your innumerable holy names to this world and have taught the chanting of them to the fallen living beings just for their deliverance.

sakala śakati dei nāme tohārā
grahane rākholi nāhi kāla-vicārā

You invest all Your energies in Your own holy name, and for chanting Your holy name You have not established any rules such as consideration of time or place.

śrī-nāma-cintāmaṇi tohāri samānā

viśve bilāoli karunā-nidānā

Your divine holy name, being nondifferent from You, is like touchstone. You have distributed Your holy name throughout the entire creation, and that is the essence of Your kindness.

tuwā doyā aichana parama udārā
atiśoy manda nātha! bhāga hāmārā

Such is Your mercy, which is supremely magnanimous, O Lord, but I am extremely unfortunate.

nāhi janamalo nāme anurāga mora
bhakativinoda-citta duḥkhe vibhora

My attraction for the holy name has never come about; therefore the heart of Bhaktivinoda is overwhelmed with sadness.

tṛṇād api su-nīcena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā māna-dena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor but is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “These are the symptoms of one who chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra. Although he is very exalted, he thinks himself lower than the grass on the ground, and like a tree, he tolerates everything in two ways. When a tree is cut down, it does not protest, and even when drying up, it does not ask anyone for water. The tree delivers its fruits, flowers and whatever else it possesses to anyone and everyone. It tolerates scorching heat and torrents of rain, yet it still gives shelter to others.

“Although a Vaiṣṇava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and gives all respect to everyone, knowing everyone to be the resting place of Kṛṣṇa. If one chants the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa in this manner, he will certainly awaken his dormant love for Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.” (Caitanya caritamrita, Antya 20.21-26)

In this verse, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructs everyone to always chant the holy name of Hari, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. Does this mean that one should stop all other activities and just chant Hare Kṛṣṇa all day and night? Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives a very interesting explanation of Mahaprabhu’s instruction:

“Mahāprabhu’s order is simply this–that everyone should incessantly chant harināma (kirtaniya sada harih). The meaning of this command is not that people should always chant the holy name while completely desisting from all bodily activities, household duties, and dealings with others. By ceasing all actions of bodily maintenance, the body will be destroyed in a short while. In the context of this command, then, how should one engage in harināma?

“Since the Lord gave humanity the command to incessantly take the holy name, then the true meaning is that everyone, whether gṛhastha or sannyāsī, vānaprastha or brahmacārī, brāhmaṇa or kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, low-born or mleccha, should remain in their respective situations and chant harināma. Verily this is the only meaning. It is necessary to nicely remain in one’s own natural situation because that position facilitates the proper performance of one’s activities for bodily maintenance, and thus the body will not expire untimely. Bodily maintenance requires dealing with others. It is essential that all such actions be observed in a pure and undisturbed fashion. Then all of these things will be conducted very nicely.” (“Śrī-Śrī-Godruma-Candrer Ājñā”)

Sri Caitanya describes four requisite qualities for successful chanting (humility, tolerance, pridelessness, respect). Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that when the queen of bhakti appears in the heart, then saintly qualities manifest automatically like maidservants attending a queen.

“Humility and compassion are not separate qualities, but are included within bhakti. ‘I am a servant of Kṛṣṇa,’ ‘I am destitute,’ ‘I have nothing,’ ‘Kṛṣṇa is my all in all’, –the bhakti that is expressed in these attitudes is itself humility.

“The tenderness of the heart experienced towards Kṛṣṇa is known as bhakti. All other jivas are servants of Kṛṣṇa, and tenderness of the heart towards them is compassion (daya). Therefore, compassion is included within bhakti. Forgiveness (ksama) is the bhava situated between humility and compassion. ‘I am so wretched and insignificant myself, so how can I inflict punishment upon others?’ When this attitude combines with compassion, forgiveness appears automatically. Forgiveness is also included within bhakti.” (Jaiva Dharma ch. 8)

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives the following meditation to increase one’s humility:

“ ‘The earth, which is always visible to me, is the expansion of the lotus feet of my Lord, who is always to be meditated upon. All moving and nonmoving living beings have taken shelter of the earth and are thus sheltered at the lotus feet of my Lord. For this reason I should respect every living being and not envy anyone. In fact, all living entities constitute the Kaustubha gem on My Lord’s chest. Therefore I should never envy or deride any living entity.’ By practicing this meditation one can achieve success in life.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 12.11.25)

When all the unwanted desires are cleared from the heart, one then attains the stage of nistha (firm faith), wherein he serves Kṛṣṇa with steadiness. At this stage, one’s heart becomes radiant with the quality of humility and its symptoms enunciated in this sloka. Of all the thousands of slokas, this one is so important that Kṛṣṇa dasa Kaviraja says it should be hung around the neck for constant remembrance:

ūrdhva-bāhu kari’ kahoṅ, śuna, sarva-loka
nāma-sūtre gāṅthi’ para kaṇṭhe ei śloka

Raising my hands, I declare, “Everyone please hear me! String this verse [trnad api sunicena…] on the thread of the holy name and wear it on your neck for continuous remembrance.” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi 17.32)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on trnad api sunicena

śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtane jadi mānasa tohāra
parama jatane tāhi labho adhikāra

If your mind is always absorbed in chanting the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa with great care, then by that process of śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana you will attain transcendental qualification.

tṛnādhika hīna, dīna, akiñcana chāra
āpane mānobi sadā chāḍi’ ahaṅkāra

You should give up all false pride and always consider yourself to be worthless, destitute, lower and more humble than a blade of grass.

vṛkṣa-sama kṣamā-guna korobi sādhana
prati-hiṁsā tyaji’ anye korobi pālana

You should practice forgiveness like that of a tree, and giving up violence toward other living beings, you should protect and maintain them.

jīvana-nirvāhe āne udvega nā dibe
para-upakāre nija-sukha pāsaribe

In the course of passing your life, you should never give anxiety to others, but rather do good to them while forgetting about your own happiness.

hoile-o sarva-gune gunī mahāśoya
pratiṣṭhāśā chāḍi koro amani hṛdoya

When one has thus become a great soul, possessing all good qualities, one should abandon all desires for fame and honor and make one’s heart humble.

kṛṣṇa-adhiṣṭhāna sarva-jive jāni’ sadā
korobi sammāna sabe ādare sarvadā

Knowing that Lord Kṛṣṇa resides within all living creatures, one should with great respect consistently show honor to all beings.

dainya, doyā, anye māna, pratiṣṭhā-varjana
cāri gune gunī hoi’ koroha kīrtana

By possessing these four qualities–humility, mercifulness, respect toward others, and the renunciation of desires for prestige–one becomes virtuous. In such a state you may sing the glories of the Supreme Lord.

bhakativinoda kāṅdi’, bole prabhu-pāya
heno adhikāra kabe dibe he āmāya

Weeping, Bhaktivinoda submits his prayer at the lotus feet of the Lord: “O Lord, when will You give me the qualification for possessing attributes such as these?”

na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi

O Lord of the universe, I do not desire material wealth, materialistic followers, a beautiful wife or fruitive activities described in flowery language. All I want, life after life, is unmotivated devotional service to You.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, I do not want material wealth from You, nor do I want followers, a beautiful wife or the results of fruitive activities. I only pray that by Your causeless mercy You give Me pure devotional service to You, life after life.” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.29-30)

One who attains unshakeable faith in chanting rises to the stage of ruci, where he continually relishes the “taste” of Kṛṣṇa’s name. Fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he shuns all material sense enjoyment due to experiencing a higher taste in association of the Lord. At this stage, one’s taste or attraction for devotional practices (sravanam, kirtanam, arcanam) exceeds his attraction to any type of mundane engagement. The fourth sloka describes the symptoms of a person with nama-ruci: he does not care a fig for women, wealth, fame, followers or fruitive gain.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on na dhanam na janam na sundarim

prabhu tava pada-yuge mora nivedana
nāhi māgi deha-sukha, vidyā, dhana, jana

O Lord! This is my humble submission at Your lotus feet. I do not ask from You sensual pleasure, learning, wealth, or followers.

nāhi māgi swarga, āra mokṣa nāhi māgi
nā kori prārthanā kono vibhūtira lāgi’

I do not beg for residence on the celestial planets, nor do I wish liberation from this mundane existence. Nor do I pray for the attainment of any mystic powers.

nija-karma-guna-doṣe je je janma pāi
janme janme jeno tava nāma-guna gāi

Whatever birth I may obtain due to the faults of my previous worldly activities, I pray that I may sing the glories of Your holy name birth after birth.

ei mātra āśā mama tomāra caraṇe
ahoitukī bhakti hṛde jāge anukṣane

This is my only desire, O Lord, and I submit it at Your lotus feet: that unmotivated devotion to You may constantly awaken in my heart.

viṣaye je prīti ebe āchaye āmāra
sei-mata prīti hauk caraṇe tomāra

As much attachment as I now have for worldly affairs, I pray that a similar degree of attachment may develop for Your holy feet.

vipade sampade tāhā thākuk sama-bhāve
dine dine vṛddhi hauk nāmera prabhāve

I pray that my love for You may remain undisturbed both in misfortune and in prosperity, and that day after day it may increase by the power and influence of Your holy name.

paśu-pakṣi ho’ye thāki swarge vā niroye
tava bhakti rahu bhaktivinoda-hṛdoye

Be my life in heaven or in hell, be it as a bird or a beast, may devotion to You always remain within the heart of Bhaktivinoda.

ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja sthita-dhūlī-sadṛśaṁ vicintaya

O My Lord, O Kṛṣṇa, son of Mahārāja Nanda, I am Your eternal servant, but because of My own fruitive acts I have fallen into this horrible ocean of nescience. Now please be causelessly merciful to Me. Consider Me a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “I am Your eternal servant, but I forgot Your Lordship. Now I have fallen into the ocean of nescience and have been conditioned by the external energy. Be causelessly merciful to Me by giving Me a place with the particles of dust at Your lotus feet so that I may engage in the service of Your Lordship as Your eternal servant.” (Cc. Antya 20.32-34)

In his Siksastaka commentary, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that one who sincerely practices bhajana according to the instructions given in each sloka of Sri Caitanya’s Siksastaka will gradually rise to the stage of realizing his svarupa or siddha-deha (eternal spiritual form). The fifth sloka, ayi nanda tanuja kinkaram, describes the appearance of the siddha-deha. Though not seeing it clearly, a sadhaka, who has received the mercy of his guru, may partially realize his siddha-deha at this fifth stage. He will perceive, “This is my eternal spiritual form, my name and my eternal service.”

A tiny banyan seed contains the roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits of a new tree. Similarly, one’s svarupa contains all aspects of his eternal name, form, residence, mood, dress, complexion, personality, and his specific service to Kṛṣṇa. All these aspects of one’s original nature are within one’s svarupa as potential; but now they are covered by maya. When the covering is removed, the jiva’s svarupa appears along with his eternal name and service to Kṛṣṇa. At this stage everything becomes crystal clear. The sadhaka perceives all aspects of his eternal identity that are needed for Kṛṣṇa’s service. Even a slight realization of these attributes destroys all varieties of anarthas.

What is one’s siddha-deha? A devotee fixed in vraja madhurya-bhava, for example, may attain the spiritual body of a kinkari (ayi nanda tanuja kinkaram). In other words, she will eternally serve Srimati Radhika as one of Her palya-dasis (protected maidservants). In summary, this sloka describes the appearance of the svarupa of the jiva by which he can render eternal loving service to Kṛṣṇa.

At the stage of ruci, mentioned in the fourth sloka, one’s attachment is nourished by the different limbs of bhakti (sravanam, kirtanam and arcanam). As one advances in devotion, however, his attachment becomes directly focused on Kṛṣṇa, the most cherished person. Feeling truly downtrodden, one identifies fully as a maidservant, and anxiously cries for the mercy of his Lord and master, Sri Nandanandana. This is the stage of asakti or deep attachment described in the fifth sloka.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on ayi nanda tanuja kinkaram

anādi’ karama-phale, poḍi’ bhavārnava-jale,
toribāre nā dekhi upāya
e-viṣaya-halāhale, divā-niśi hiyā jwale,
mana kabhu sukha nāhi pāya

As a result of my selfish activities, which are without beginning, I have fallen into the ocean of material existence, and I see no means of deliverance from this great ocean of nescience. Day and night, my heart burns from the vicious poison of these worldly activities and due to this my mind never finds any real happiness.

āśā-pāśa-śata-śata, kleśa deya avirata,
pravṛtti-ūrmira tāhe khelā
kāma-krodha-ādi choya, bāṭapāḍe deya bhoya,
avasāna hoilo āsi’ belā

Bound by hundreds and hundreds of desires like nooses around my neck, they constantly trouble me. In this ocean of nescience play the waves of ever-increasing materialistic tendency. There are also many thieves and rogues, of whom six are prominent: lust, anger, envy, greed, illusion, and madness. They are causing me great fear, and in this way my life is coming to an end.

jñāna-karma-ṭhaga dui, more pratāḍīya loi,
avaśeṣe phele sindhu-jale
e heno samaye, bandhu, tumi kṛṣṇa kṛpā-sindhu,
kṛpā kori’ tolo more bale

The two highway robbers named intellectual knowledge and fruitive activity have cheated and misled me, and finally they have thrown me into the ocean of misery. At such a time as this, dear Kṛṣṇa, You are my only friend. You are an ocean of mercy. Please be kind and by Your strength uplift me from this condition of suffering.

patita-kiṅkore dhori’, pāda-padma-dhuli kori’,
deho bhaktivinoda āśroya
āmi tava nitya-dāsa, bhuliyā māyāra pāśa,
baddha ho’ye āchi doyāmoya

Grasping hold of this fallen servant, and fixing him as a particle of dust on your lotus feet, kindly give shelter to Bhaktivinoda. O most merciful Lord! I am actually Your eternal servant, but having forgotten this, I have become bound up in the snare of māyā.

nayanaṁ galad-aśru-dhārayā vadanaṁ gadgada-ruddhayā girā
pulakair nicitaṁ vapuḥ kadā tava nāma-grahaṇe bhaviṣyati

My dear Lord, when will My eyes be beautified by filling with tears that constantly glide down as I chant Your holy name? When will My voice falter and all the hairs on My body stand erect in transcendental happiness as I chant Your holy name?

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “Without love of Godhead, My life is useless. Therefore I pray that You accept Me as Your servant and give Me the salary of ecstatic love of God.” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.36)

When the sadhaka reaches the sixth stage depicted above, it means he has attained the platform of bhava. Now in the course of rendering devotional service, the heart becomes softened by various transcendental emotions (bhavas), which cause ecstatic bodily transformations known as sattvika-vibhavas. This verse describes three of the eight sattvika-vibhavas: tears, choked voice and erect bodily hairs.

At the bhava stage, one’s actual siddha-deha manifests naturally due to contacting Kṛṣṇa’s svarupa-sakti or suddha-sattva potency. With the appearance of the siddha-deha, one first learns his name, then his form, qualities, and associates. As one continues chanting, remembering and associating with elevated devotees, Kṛṣṇa’s name will appear as Kṛṣṇa Himself. One will perceive Kṛṣṇa’s divine form and his own as well. The transcendental qualities of Radha-Kṛṣṇa and Their associates, and our own qualities will manifest. Without any personal endeavor, Kṛṣṇa’s asta-kaliya lila will automatically appear and flow like a river in one’s purified heart. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that kṛṣṇa-prema will develop automatically if we systematically follow the steps outlined in the Siksastaka.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on nayanam galad asru dharaya

aparādha-phale mama, citta bhelo vajra-sama,
tuwā nāme nā labhe vikāra
hatāś hoiye, hari, tava nāma ucca kori’,
boro duḥkhe ḍāki bāra bāra

O Lord Hari, as a result of my offenses incurred in previous lifetimes, my heart has become hard as a thunderbolt, and feels no change upon chanting Your holy name. Now in utter hopelessness, O Lord Hari, I loudly sing Your name, and in great distress I call out to You again and again.

dīna doyāmoy karunā-nidhāna
bhāva-bindhu dei rākhoha parāna

O Lord who is compassionate towards the fallen souls! O origin of all mercy! Please give me a drop of divine ecstasy and thereby save my life!

kabe tuwā nāma-uccaraṇe mora
nayane jharabo dara dara lora

When will an incessant stream of tears flow dripping and dripping from my eyes at the articulation of Your holy name?

gad-gada-swara kanṭhe upajabo
mukhe bola ādha ādha bāhirābo

When will a faltering voice choked with emotion arise in my throat, and when will words garbled due to ecstasy come from my mouth?

pulake bharabo śarīra hāmāra
sweda-kampa-stambha habe bāra bāra

When will my body be filled with ecstatic rapture, and when will there be perspiration, trembling, and a stunned sensation again and again?

vivarna-śarīre hārāobuṅ jñāna
nāma-samāśraye dharobuṅ parāna

When, out of divine ecstasy, will all consciousness be lost in my pale and discolored body? And when will I hold onto my very life under the shelter of Your holy name?

milabo hāmāra kiye aiche dina
ro-owe bhaktivinoda mati hīna

This weeping Bhaktivinoda, who is devoid of all good intelligence, sobs, “O Lord, how will such a day ever be mine?”

yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam
śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ govinda-viraheṇa me

My Lord Govinda, because of separation from You, I consider even a moment a great millennium. Tears flow from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I see the entire world as void.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “In My agitation, a day never ends, for every moment seems like a millennium. Pouring incessant tears, My eyes are like clouds in the rainy season. The three worlds have become void because of separation from Govinda. I feel as if I were burning alive in a slow fire. Lord Kṛṣṇa has become indifferent to Me just to test My love, and My friends say, ‘Better to disregard Him.’ ” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.39-42)

Prema is defined as love for Kṛṣṇa, which is extremely concentrated; which completely melts and softens the heart; and is endowed with a deep sense of possessiveness (mamata) in relation to the Lord. At this stage of devotion, one worships Kṛṣṇa in the mood of separation (vipralambha-bhava). The Vraja-gopis and particularly Srimati Radhika savor the greatest ecstacies of love in separation. The seventh sloka depicts the intensity of Their feelings in vipralambha-bhava.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on yugayitam nimesena

gāite gāite nāma ki daśā hoilo
‘kṛṣṇa-nitya-dāsa mui’ hṛdoye sphurilo

What was my condition after repeatedly chanting the holy name? The realization that “I am the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa” spontaneously became manifest within my heart.

jānilām māyā-pāśe e jaḍa-jagate
govinda-virahe duḥkha pāi nānā-mate

I realized that I was ensnared in the noose of māyā’s illusion, being trapped within this dull mundane universe, and that I simply experience misery in various ways due to separation from Lord Govinda.

ār je saṁsāra mor nāhi lāge bhālo
kāhā jāi’ kṛṣṇa heri-e cintā viśālo

Furthermore, I realized that I do not like this worldly existence. “Where can I go to see Kṛṣṇa?” –this was my great anxiety.

kāṅdite kāṅdite mor āṅkhi-variśoya
varṣā-dhārā heno cakṣe hoilo udoya

Crying and crying, tears poured from my eyes, appearing just like torrents of rain in the monsoon season.

nimeṣe hoilo mora śata-yuga-sama
govinda-viraha āra sahite akṣama

Unable to bear separation from Lord Govinda any longer, for me the passing of a moment became like a hundred long ages.


śūnya dharā-tala, caudike dekhiye,
parāna udāsa hoya
ki kori, ki kori, sthira nāhi hoya,
jīvana nāhiko roya

As I look about in all directions, the surface of the earth appears to be void, and my very life-breath feels empty. What am I doing? What am I doing? I do not feel at all tranquil, and the life within my body is slipping away.

braja-bāsī-gaṇa, mora prāna rākho,
dekhāo śrī-rādhā-nāthe
bhakativinoda, minati māniyā,
laohe tāhāre sāthe

O residents of Vraja-dhāma! Please save my life and show me the Lord of Śrī Rādhā! O consider the prayers of this Bhaktivinoda and take him into His company!


śrī-kṛṣṇa-viraha ār sahite nā pāri
parān chāḍite ār din dui cāri

I am unable to further tolerate this separation from my Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and am ready to give up my life in two days or four.


gāite govinda-nāma, upajilo bhāva-grāma,
dekhilām jamunāra kūle
bṛṣabhānu-sutā-saṅge, śyāma-naṭa-bara raṅge,
bāṅśarī bājāya nīpa-mūle

Upon singing the holy name of Govinda, a host of ecstasies arose within me… and I saw Lord Syamasundara, the best of dancing actors, standing on the banks of the Yamuna in the company of the daughter of Mahārāja Vṛṣabhānu. He was playing His flute with great delight at the base of a kadamba tree.

dekhiyā yugala-dhana, asthira hoilo mana,
jñāna-hārā hoinu takhon
koto-kṣane nāhi jāni, jñāna-labha hoilo māni,
āra nāhi bhelo daraśan

Seeing the treasured Divine Couple of Vraja, my mind became unsteady and I lost consciousness. I do not know for how long I was unconscious, but when I awoke that vision of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa was no longer present.


sakhi go, kemate dharibo parān
nimeṣa hoilo yugera samān

O my dear girlfriend! How will I maintain my life? The passing of a mere moment has become like a vast age of time.


śrāvanera dhārā, āṅkhi-variṣoya,
śūnya bhelo dharā-tala
govinda-virahe, prāna nāhi rohe,
kemone vāñcibo bolo

Tears flow from my eyes like torrents of rain in the month of Śravana, and the face of the earth has become totally void. In separation from Govinda my life cannot go on… please tell how I will be able to live.

bhakativinoda, asthira hoiyā,
punaḥ nāmāśraya kori’
ḍāke rādhā-nātha, diyā daraśana,
prāna rākho, nāhe mari

Bhaktivinoda has become very restless and again takes shelter of the holy name, calling out, “O Lord of Rādhā! By bestowing Your audience, please save my life! By Your mercy alone I shall not perish!”

Before quoting the last verse of Sri Caitanya’s Siksastaka, Kṛṣṇa dasa Kaviraja gives the following introduction: “While Srimati Radharani was thinking in this way, the characteristics of natural love became manifest because of Her pure heart. The ecstatic symptoms of envy, great eagerness, humility, zeal and supplication all became manifest at once. In that mood, the mind of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī was agitated, and therefore She spoke a verse of advanced devotion to Her gopī friends. In the same spirit of ecstasy, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recited that verse (which follows), and as soon as He did so, He felt like Śrimati Radharani.” (Caitanya Caritamrita Antya 20.43-46)

āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām adarśanān marma-hatāṁ karotu vā
yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo mat-prāṇa-nāthas tu sa eva nāparaḥ

Let Kṛṣṇa tightly embrace this maidservant who has fallen at His lotus feet, or let Him trample Me or break My heart by never being visible to Me. He is a debauchee, after all, and can do whatever He likes, but He is still no one other than the worshipable Lord of My heart.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purport: “I am a maidservant at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. He is the embodiment of transcendental happiness and mellows. If He likes He can tightly embrace Me and make Me feel oneness with Him, or by not giving Me His audience, He may corrode My mind and body. Nevertheless, it is He who is the Lord of My life.

“My dear friend, just hear the decision of My mind. Kṛṣṇa is the Lord of My life in all conditions, whether He shows Me affection or kills Me by giving Me unhappiness. Sometimes Kṛṣṇa gives up the company of other gopis and becomes controlled, mind and body, by Me. Thus He manifests My good fortune and gives others distress by performing His loving affairs with Me. Or, since after all He is a very cunning, obstinate debauchee with a propensity to cheat, He takes to the company of other women. He then indulges in loving affairs with them in front of Me to give distress to My mind. Nevertheless, He is still the Lord of My life.

“I do not mind My personal distress. I only wish for the happiness of Kṛṣṇa, for His happiness is the goal of My life. However, if He feels great happiness in giving Me distress, that distress is the best of My happiness. If Kṛṣṇa, attracted by the beauty of some other woman, wants to enjoy with her but is unhappy because He cannot get her, I fall down at her feet, catch her hand and bring her to Kṛṣṇa to engage her for His happiness.

“When a beloved gopī shows symptoms of anger toward Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is very satisfied. Indeed, He is extremely pleased when chastised by such a gopī. She shows her pride suitably, and Kṛṣṇa enjoys that attitude. Then she gives up her pride with a little endeavor. Why does a woman continue to live who knows that Kṛṣṇa’s heart is unhappy but who still shows her deep anger toward Him? She is interested in her own happiness. I condemn such a woman to be struck on the head with a thunderbolt, for We simply want the happiness of Kṛṣṇa.

“If a gopī envious of Me satisfies Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa desires her, I shall not hesitate to go to her house and become her maidservant, for then My happiness will be awakened.

[Just like in the famous story wherein] “The wife of a brāhmaṇa suffering from leprosy manifested herself as the topmost of all chaste women by serving a prostitute to satisfy her husband. She thus stopped the movement of the sun, brought her dead husband back to life and satisfied the three principal demigods (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara).

“Kṛṣṇa is My life and soul. Kṛṣṇa is the treasure of My life. Indeed, Kṛṣṇa is the very life of My life. I therefore keep Him always in My heart and try to please Him by rendering service. That is My constant meditation. My happiness is in the service of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa’s happiness is in union with Me. For this reason, I give My body in charity to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who accepts Me as His loved one and calls Me His most beloved. It is then that I consider Myself His maidservant.

“Service to My lover is the home of happiness and is more sweet than direct union with Him. The goddess of fortune is evidence of this, for although she constantly lives on the heart of Nārāyaṇa, she wants to render service to His lotus feet. She therefore considers herself a maidservant and serves Him constantly.” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 47-60)

Srila Kṛṣṇa dasa Kaviraja concludes the discussion of Siksastaka: “These statements by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī show the symptoms of pure love for Kṛṣṇa tasted by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In that ecstatic love, His mind was unsteady. Transformations of transcendental love spread throughout His entire body, and He could not sustain His body and mind. The pure devotional service in Vṛndāvana (vraja viśuddha-prema) is like the golden particles in the river Jāmbū. In Vṛndāvana there is not a trace of personal sense gratification. It is to advertise such pure love in this material world that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has written the previous verse and explained its meaning.” (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.61-65)

The eighth verse describes the stage of prema-bhakti, wherein one fully realizes his eternal loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Firmly embracing the Lord within his heart, a devotee experiences sambhoga or full pleasure in direct association with Kṛṣṇa. The devotee is now completely dependent on Kṛṣṇa’s sweet will. Following the mood of Srimati Radhika conveyed in this sloka, the devotee prays to the Lord of his life with absolute submission.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bengali bhajana based on āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām

śunoha vacana mor bhāvete vibhora,
thākiye jakhon dekhā deya citta-cora

O my dear friends! Please hear my words. When the thief of my heart appears to me, I remain overwhelmed in pure ecstasy.

vicakṣana kori’, dekhite cāhile,
hoya āṅkhi-agocara
punaḥ nāhi dekhi’, kāṅdaye parāna,
duḥkhera nāhi thāke

When I scheme to see Him more closely, He suddenly becomes invisible. Thus losing sight of Him again, my soul weeps, and there is no limit to the unhappiness that I feel.

jagatera bandhu sei kabhu more loya sātha
jathā tathā rakhu more āmāra sei prāna-nātha

Sometimes that friend of the universe takes me as one of His associates; but however He chooses to treat me, He is still the Lord of my life.

darśana-ānanda-dāne, sukha deya mora prāne,
bole more pranaya-vacana
punaḥ adarśana diyā, dagdha kore mora hiyā,
prāne mora māre prāna-dhana

By bestowing His blissful audience, He gives happiness to my soul, and He speaks words of love to me. But again by His absence He burns my heart, and He who is the treasure of my life gives distress to my soul.

jāhe tā’r sukha hoya, sei sukha mama
nija sukhe-duḥkhe mora sarvadā-i sama

Whatever His happiness is, that is also my happiness. Therefore I do not care about my own happiness or distress–they are equal in all ways.

bhakativinoda, saṁyoge, viyoge,
tāhe jāne prāneśvara
tā’ra sukhe sukhī, sei prāna-nātha,
se kabhu nā hoya para

In meeting or in separation, Bhaktivinoda knows only Kṛṣṇa to be the Lord of his life and is made happy only by His happiness. He is the Lord of Bhaktivinoda’s soul, and He will never be looked upon with indifference.


yoga-pīṭhopari-sthita, aṣṭa-sakhī-suveṣṭita,
bṛndāraṇye kadamba-kānane
rādhā-saha vaṁśī-dhārī, viśva-jana-citta-hārī,
prāna mora tāṅhāra caraṇe

Situated upon the Yoga-pīṭha surrounded by the eight chief gopis in a kadamba tree grove within Vṛndāvana with His beloved Rādhā is the holder of the flute, the stealer of the hearts of all living beings in the universe–I lay down my life at Their lotus feet.

sakhī-ājñā-mata kori doṅhāra sevana
pālya-dāsī sadā bhāvi doṅhāra caraṇa

According to the directions of my superior sakhī, I render service to the Divine Couple. I always consider myself a dependent maidservant of the lotus feet of the Divine Couple.

kabhu kṛpā kori, mama hasta dhori’,
madhura vacana bole
tāmbūla loiyā, khāy dui jane,
mālā loya kutūhale

Sometimes, out of great mercy, my sakhī holds my hand and speaks sweet words to me. Taking the betel nuts I have prepared she offers them to those two persons and accepts flower garlands for Them in great delight.

adarśana hoya kakhon ki chale
nā dekhiyā doṅhe hiyā jwale

By some deception They periodically disappear from my sight. Not seeing the Divine Couple of Vraja, my heart burns in agony.

jekhāne sekhāne, thākuka du’jane,
āmi to’ caraṇa-dāsī
milane ānanda, virahe jātanā,
sakala samāna bāsi

Wherever those two may be I am certainly a humble maidservant of Their lotus feet. I consider the ecstasies of meeting Them and the agonies of separation from Them to be exactly the same.

rādhā-kṛṣṇa prāna mor jīvane maraṇe
more rākhi’ māri’ sukhe thākuka du’jane

In life or death, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are my life and soul. May They always be happy, whether They choose to protect me or kill me.

bhakativinoda, āna nāhi jāne,
poḍi’ nija-sakhī-pāya
rādhikāra gaṇe, thākiyā satata,
yugala-caraṇa cāya

“This Bhaktivinoda knows nothing beyond this. Falling down at the lotus feet of the sakhī whom he serves and always remaining among the associates of Śrī Rādhikā, he prays for the lotus feet of the Divine Couple of Vraja.” (Bengali Siksastaka bhajanas from Gītāvalī by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

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