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Reflections on Sacred Teachings: Sri Siksastaka (Volume-I)

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Item Code: BAG085
Author: B.T. Swami
Publisher: Hari Nama Press
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 9781885414137
Pages: 180
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 230 gm
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Book Description
About the Author

Bhakti Tirtha Swami was born John E. Favors in a pious, God- fearing family. As a child evangelist, he appeared regularly on television, and as a young man, he was a leader in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s civil rights movement. At Princeton University, he became president of the student council and also served as chairman of the Third World Coalition. Although his main degree is in psychology. he has received accolades in many other fields, including politics, African studies, and international law.

Bhakti Tirtha Swami's books are used as reference texts in universities and leadership organizations throughout the world. Many of his books have been printed in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Macedonian, Croatian, Russian, Hebrew, Slovenian, Balinese, and Italian.

His Holiness has served as assistant coordinator for penal reform programs in the State of New Jersey, Office of the Public Defender, and as a director of several drug abuse clinics in the United States. In addition, he has been a special consultant for Educational Testing Services in the U.S.A. and has managed campaigns for politicians. Bhakti Tirtha Swami gained international recognition as a representative of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, particularly for his outstanding work with scholars in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Bhakti Tirtha Swami directly oversaw projects in the United States (particularly Washington D.C., Potomac, Maryland, Detroit, Pennsylvania, West Virginia), West Africa, South Africa, Switzerland, France, Croatia, and Bosnia. He also served as the director of the American Federation of Vaisnava Colleges and Schools.

In the United States, Bhakti Tirtha Swami was the founder and director of the Institute for Applied Spiritual Technology, director of the International Committee for Urban Spiritual Development, and one of the international coordinators of the Seventh Pan African Congress. Reflecting his wide range of interests, he was also a member of the Institute for Noetic Sciences, the Center for Defense Information, the United Nations Association for America, the National Peace Institute Foundation, the World Future Society, and the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders.

A specialist in international relations and conflict resolution, Bhakti Tirtha Swami constantly traveled around the world and had become a spiritual consultant to many high-ranking members of the United Nations, to various celebrities, and to several chiefs, kings. and high court justices. In 1990, His Holiness was coronated as a high chief in Warri, Nigeria in recognition for his outstanding work in Africa and the world. In recent years, he met several times with then-President Nelson Mandela of South Africa to share visions and strategies for world peace.

In addition to encouraging self-sufficiency through the development of schools, clinics, farm projects, and cottage industries, Bhakti Tirtha Swami conducted seminars and workshops on principle-centered leadership, spiritual development, interpersonal relationships, stress and time management, and other pertinent topics. He was also widely acknowledged as a viable participant in the resolution of global conflict.


The spiritual journey is simultaneously very simple and complex. It is frightening and dangerous but at the same time extremely exciting and adventurous. We may often feel that we are traveling alone, but in fact the opposite is true. Krishna is with us at every moment as Paramatma, situated in each person's heart. He also descends in His most personal and magnanimous form as Lord Caitanya, where He experiences the bhava of His eternal consort and hladini-sakti potency, Srimati Radharani. In this manifestation of Lord Caitanya, He presents Himself as a devotee for our benefit. It is not only Krishna that comes in so many lilas for the benefit of His devotees and to annihilate and expose the miscreants; many of His eternal associates frequent the material world to assist the Lord with His awesome missions. Our great acaryas are such associates. I have relied on the commentaries of two of our acaryas, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura for inspiration for my reflections on the Siksastaka prayers.

For self-purification and as a service to the Vaisnava community, I have chosen to offer a brief commentary on the eight Siksastaka prayers by Lord Caitanya. These prayers are extremely important in the life of the Vaisnava, and their mysteries continue to unfold as devotees reflect on them more and more. I originally presented the material in this book as a course for devotees at the Gita Nagari farm community in rural Pennsylvania during a Vaisnava Institute gathering. I hope this small offering will help and encourage the readers to make a more in-depth study of these great works for themselves.

The Siksastaka prayers are brief, but present eternal profound truths. They present information on states of consciousness from sambandha through prayojana, and discuss obstacles to be avoided. as well as achievements to be attained.

By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya, even a lowly fool like myself can read such an extraordinary text and have the audacity to share a few ideas with others. I hope that you as readers will benefit from reflecting on these great verses as much or more than I have myself.


The Siksastaka, as explained in this book, are a rare and confidential series of eight brief prayers-though they are short, these verses are able to change your life, taking you from the most fundamental level of spiritual realization to the most exalted. I am deeply enlivened that His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami, a dear friend and superlative Vaisnava, has chosen to comment on these most important of theistic texts. He is eminently qualified to do so-years of practice and a heart filled with devotion have given him invaluable insights. But, more, he has a spirit that acts as a key, a key that he often uses to unlock the mysteries of Caitanya Vaisnavism, the esoteric essence of all religious truth. As the Swami says in this book, he has delved into these prayers "as a service to the Vaisnava community."

"These prayers," he continues, "contain volumes of mysteries, secrets and knowledge. Just as the chanting of the holy name. contains all knowledge, the spiritual world, and rasa-tattva [the truth of spiritual relationship], these eight prayers contain everything."

It is an interesting manifestation of serendipity that I am called upon to write this foreword at this time: Back to Godhead, the magazine of the Hare Krishna movement, recently decided to print my five-part lecture series on these very same Siksastaka Prayers (beginning with the March/April 2002 issue). But this, you see, is Bhakti Tirtha Swami! He is clearly a mystic, and such fortuitous occurrences are not uncommon in his presence. This is why it is so special that we receive a commentary on these most special prayers from him: he is a most special person.

He lives these prayers in his day-to-day life. Just as Sri Caitanya, the author of the Siksastaka Prayers, entered into their mood so He could express them with clarity and vision, so, too, does Bhakti Tirtha Swami accentuate the need to enter into these prayers on a personal level: "In the mood of a bhakta or devotee," he says, "Lord Caitanya taught how to fully surrender and how to acquire Bhagavan through the process of bhakti, or pure devotion. He showed that bhakti develops from bhakti and cannot be controlled or regulated by anything other than bhakti. This devotional service far surpasses processes such as jnana or empiric philosophy, tapasya or austerity, and yajna or sacrifice." Bhakti Tirtha Swami thus establishes the need to walk in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, and, like the Lord, he describes bhakti as the highest path.

"This Siksastaka states the conclusion of Krishna consciousness," Bhakti Tirtha Swami tells us, "and offers the culmination of all the Vedas; therefore, it is the necklace that all Vaisnavas should wear. A necklace worn around the neck practically touches the heart. These verses are essential for us and should be kept close to our hearts. They should not be viewed as optional or as an extracurricular aspect of our spiritual life."

Though the Siksastaka Prayers represent the spiritual sciences at their most complex, Bhakti Tirtha Swami explains them in an almost simple way, in a way that allows the reader to enter in. In other words, he makes it accessible: "Each sloka [verse] distinctly progresses from the most basic levels of consciousness to the ultimate expressions of love of Godhead. The first sloka emphasizes the process of congregational chanting. Number two discusses our ineptitude to take up chanting the holy name. Three provides a specific procedure for chanting the maha-mantra. The fourth sloka focuses on the elimination of all unfavorable desires.


The Siksastaka contains two very common words, siksa Xand astaka. Siksa is instruction of instructor and astaka is eight. Therefore, Siksastaka means the eight instructions. Out of His causeless mercy, Krishna appeared as the sum total of all knowledge known by the Vedas and gave this knowledge in an intimate and personal way. He arranged to have many agents come before Him, with Him, and after Him such as Srila Prabhupada and the six gosvamis who wrote volumes of literature. Lord Caitanya did not write even one book or pamphlet, but left us only these eight prayers. Srila Prabhupada discusses this interesting fact in his different books and lectures:

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed His disciples to write books on the science of Krishna, a task which those who follow Him have continued to carry out down to the present day. The elaborations and expositions on the philosophy taught by Lord Caitanya are in fact most voluminous, exacting and consistent due to the system of disciplic succession. Although Lord Caitanya was widely renowned as a scholar in His youth, He left only eight verses, called Siksastaka. These eight verses clearly reveal His mission and precepts.

These prayers contain volumes of mysteries, secrets and knowledge. Just as the chanting of the holy name contains all knowledge, the spiritual world, and rasa-tattva, these eight prayers contain everything. We have accepted Krishna consciousness because we want to surrender and give up all anarthas or unnecessary impediments. We want to be natural and allow ourselves to understand our original svarupa or our eternal identities. We have accepted the understanding that something exists far beyond what we have experienced consciously in this lifetime and in other lifetimes. We do not want to just enjoy the sakti, or the energy of the Lord; rather, we want to associate with the saktiman, or the energetic. Due to our distance from such association in these material worlds, in martyaloka, the Lord even comes Himself at different times to demonstrate the exact process to follow.

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