Not only in Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava literature, but in the Sruti, Smrti, Puranas and the entirety of Indian literature, Sri Siksastaka, issued from the divine mouth of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, shines as a supremely radiant, transcendental jewel. It is a source of boundless happiness to me that today, by the inspiration and causeless mercy of my most revered spiritual master, nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, this Sri Siksastaka is presented to the reading audience in the Hindi language.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation who delivers the fallen conditioned souls in the age of Kali, is directly the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Himself. Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna, overwhelmed with an intense desire to relish a particular sentiment, assumed the heartfelt ecstatic mood and bodily complexion of Srimati Radhika, the embodiment of His own pleasure potency (hladini-sakti), and bestowed upon the entire world the gifts of His holy name and divine love for Him. By His deep scholarship, matchless renunciation, humility, supremely radiant spotless character and pre-eminent transcendental devotional sentiment, He not only astounded renowned scholars, but also very easily attracted ordinary religionists and elevated devotees to the religion of unalloyed spiritual love.
Due to the distinctive and magnanimous characteristics, not only of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but of His followers as well, from Sri Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda and the Six Gosvamis up to present day acaryas and devotees, the waves of devotion unto the Supreme Lord (bhagavad-bhakti) have spread to every town and village of the world. Every-where, the sound of the congregational chanting of Krsna's holy names (harinama-sankirtana) is resounding, accompanied by mrdanga and karatalas.
It is truly a source of great honour and happiness for us that today the extensive Gaudiya Vaisnava literatures are appearing in many other major languages and Gaudiya Vaisnavism is being propagated around the world. Nevertheless, it is a matter of great astonishment that, in spite of being unlimitedly qualified, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not personally write any books like spiritual teachers who propounded other opinions. Instead, He inspired His followers to write books. Only eight verses are famous as His own composition. Some other verses have been attributed to Him, but up till now this has not been substantiated.
This Sikastaka is the very essence of all the Vedas. Although its Sanskrit language is quite simple, its import is so profound that even if one studies it throughout his life, his study will not come to an end. Each time one reads and deliberates on this subject, newer and newer meanings come to light. Therefore it remains eternally fresh. This Sri Siksastaka is a veritable necklace for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the eternal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the modern age and author of many sacred texts expounding the glories of bhakti, has again initiated the flow of the mighty Ganges-like river of bhakti, inundating the entire world in the flood of love of God (krsna-prema). He has written a soul-stirring commentary to these eight verses, filled with many important philosophical conclusions. This commentary is famous by the name of Sri Sanmodana-bhasya, the commentary that brings delight to the devotees. To understand the hidden truths of the original verses without careful study of this commentary is not only difficult, but impossible. Concealed in these verses is the paramount ecstatic sentiment (bhava) of the full-blown, spiritually radiant mellow of amorous love (ujjvala-prema-rasa, or srngararasa) situated within the heart of the incarnation of divine love, Sri Sacinandana Gaurahari. Beholding this incomparable bhava with the help of this captivating commentary, one is sure to be astonished at every step. Furthermore, one's heart becomes deeply overwhelmed with transcendental pleasure, and unprecedented faith and devotional sentiment develop towards Sri Krsna's holy name.
This subject is most important and its greatness is unlimited. Moreover, the commentator has illuminated this subject in summary yet in a very significant manner. Therefore to write more is like holding a lamp to illuminate the sun. The truths of sambandha (knowledge relevant to the development of one's relationship with the Lord), abhidheya (the process of devotional life) and prayojana (the ultimate goal of one's devotion) are very nicely included in Sri Siksastaka. Although instructions regarding abhidheya are inherent within all eight verses, Verses One through Five deal with devotion in the stage of practice (sadhana-bhakti), Verses Six and Seven deal with devotion on the level of ecstatic emotion (bhava- bhakti), and Verses Seven and Eight describe devotion performed on the platform of divine love (prema-bhakti).
In Verses Seven and Eight, in particular, is found a preeminent example of Srimati Radhika's deep emotional anguish due to love in separation (vipralambha-prema-vaicittya), instigated by Her own adhirudha-mahabhava. Prema-vaicittya refers to a state in which even in the beloved's presence, the lover, out of intense love, fails to perceive the presence of the beloved and is thus aggrieved with feelings of separation.
Jagad-guru nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, in the year 1929, edited and published Sri Siksastaka in the Bengali language within a book entitled Sadhana-patha. It included the Sanmodana-bhasya and songs composed by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and a short commentary of his own known simply as Vivrti (commentary). However, its non-availability in Hindi was acutely felt by me. It was the desire of my most revered spiritual master that these Bengali devotional literatures of unparalleled benefit be published in Hindi. He kindly inspired me to fulfil this purpose.
Lastly, I am especially obliged to the present day head and acarya of the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, parivrajakacarya Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja. He is a very influential acarya, deeply immersed in spiritual knowledge. Moreover, he is an object of great affection of our spiritual master. At this time, he himself is engaged in preparing and editing Gaudiya devotional literature in the Bengali language. This edition is being published by his special enthusiasm and inspiration. May he kindly deliver this precious Siksastaka into the lotus hands of our revered sri gurudeva and thus fulfil his innermost desire. This is our fervent prayer at his respected feet.
I have complete faith that this book will be respectfully received by faithful sadhakas possessed of yearning for bhakti and by learned circles as well. By studying this book, such persons may enter into the spotless religion of divine love (prema-dharma) propagated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This is our desire.
Being aggrieved at the distress of others, may Sri Sacinandana Gaurahari and our most revered spiritual master, who is the direct embodiment of the Lord's mercy, be pleased and bestow upon us eligibility to serve their inner heart's desire - this is our sale heartfelt prayer at their lotus feet.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, adorned with the inner sentiment and bodily splendour of Srimati Radhika, appeared in this world in order to taste the ecstatic moods of Her love for Sri Krsna. Simultaneously, He distributed the holy name of Krsna profusely for the deliverance of the fallen conditioned souls of the age of Kali. But which holy name did He distribute?
The chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra already existed prior to the appearance of Mahaprabhu. The principles of Vaisnavism were established and spread all over India by renowned preceptors such as Sri Ramanujacarya, Sri Madhvacarya, Sri Nimbaditya, Sri Visnu Svami and others. But prior to the advent of Sri Gauranga, the practices of bhakti and even the chanting of the maha-mantra were directed towards the attainment of Vaikuntha.
The holy name can deliver to the performer whatever he may desire. But unless one is infused with the highest aspiration, its full potential will not be realised. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's unique contribution was that He revealed the confidential loving moods of Srimati Radhika and thus inspired the living entities to aspire for the highest attainment - the spontaneous loving service of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana. This is indicated in the following verses from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 4.15-16):
Sri Krsna's desire to appear was born from two principal causes: He wanted to taste the sweet essence of the liquid mellows of divine love (prema-rasa), and He wanted to propagate bhakti in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction (raga-marga). Thus He is known as rasika-sekhara, the topmost relisher of transcendental mellows, and as parama-karuna, the most merciful of all.
The chanting of the holy name must be accompanied by sambandha-jnana, knowledge relevant to the development of one's relationship with the Lord. In the eight verses known as Sri Siksastaka, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has expressed the essence of His teachings. If we chant according to the method outlined in these verses, we are assured of attaining that most precious and confidential gift which Sri Gauranga came to distribute.
The teachings of Sri Gaurasundara, which appear in condensed form in the Siksastaka, have been expanded upon elaborately in the writings of His followers like Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanataria Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Sri Narottama Thakura, SrI Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and others.
It was the intention of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His confidential associates that His present-day followers should have access to all these literatures in order to firmly implant in their hearts the desire to follow in the footsteps of Sri Krsna's eternal associates in Vraja. These books enunciate the exact method by which this goal may be attained.
With this in mind, our exalted Srila Gurudeva, om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, has inspired the presentation of this edition of Sri Siksastaka in the English language. By studying its contents carefully, one can easily gain access to the wealth of literature left by the Gosvamis. The deep and confidential mysteries of Sri Siksastaka have been revealed in this volume through the commentaries of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada. Without their insights, we would have no access to the truths that are contained in these verses. Yet even in revealing these secrets, they have inserted in select places still other secrets to be discovered by those who have acquired the eyes to see. The insights of Srila Narayana Maharaja have been invaluable in bringing out all the subtleties of meaning in these commentaries. The result is an astonishingly clear presentation of very deep and esoteric truths. Srila Gurudeva has illuminated selected points of this book with his own comments. These give us a perception of topics that would otherwise have to remain beyond our vision. They have been identified in the book simply as "Comment". The end of such comments are indicated by a lotus flower symbol, at which point the text returns to the translation of the commentaries.
In his commentary, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura often quotes Hari-bhakti-vilasa and Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. In some places we have added the comments of Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Jiva Gosvami on those verses to clarify certain philosophical points. The commentary on Verse Seven has been greatly enlarged from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's original edition by adding verses and commentary from Ujjvala-nilamani and Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. The Thakura's commentary on Verse Seven is drawn from Srila Jiva Gosvami's Priti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 84), which describes the development of priti from rati to mahabhava. The verses and commentary that have been added significantly help the reader to understand each of the stages in this development.
In his ongoing presentation of Vaisnava literature in the English language, Srila Gurudeva is quick to mention that he is merely following in the footsteps of his dear friend and instructing spiritual master, nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. By publishing Teachings of Lord Caitanya and the entire Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in English, Srila Prabhupada served as the great pioneer who broadcast the glories of Sriman Mahaprabhu around the entire world. For this immense act of munificence the living entities of this world will remain forever in his debt.
This is the third English edition of Sri Siksastaka, translated directly from Srila Gurudeva's Hindi edition. Although the basic translation is the same as the first two editions, the language has been improved in some places to make the subject matter easier to understand. We have also endeavoured to minimise the use of Sanskrit terminology, thereby making the book accessible to a broader audience. Additionally, the typography has been brought up to professional standards. Grateful acknowledgment is extended to Lavanga-lata dast for copy-editing this edition, to Santi dasi and Giridhari dasa for proofreading the final manuscript, to Sripada Bhaktivedanta Bhagavata Maharaja, Atula-krsna dasa and Ananta-krsna dasa for checking the Sanskrit, to Krsna-prema dasa for designing the new cover and to Subala-sakha dasa for providing the new photograph of Srila Gurudeva. On behalf of the many devotees serving in Gaudiya Vedanta Publications, we pray that Srila Gurudeva will be pleased with this humble attempt.
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