Back of the Book
Sri krsna Caitanya is perhaps the best example the world has seen of devotional ecstasy in love of God. He was a towering figure of golden complexion from whose lotus eyes hot tears of spiritual rapture poured constantly - a golden mountain erupting in ecstasy, its lava consuming everything in its path. He melted hearts as he heralded the holy name of Sri Krsna, swooning, dancing, and distributing the method to his spiritual madness - Sri Krsna sankirtana.
The eight stanzas of Siksastakam detail the spiritual practice of Sri Krsna sankirtana and the steps it takes its practitioner through in pursuit of spiritual perfection the entire literary legacy of Sri Caitanya- an open letter of love of God that has the potential to drown humanity in an unprecedented flood of spiritual emotion.
About the Book
Every emotion has a color. The color of the highest love, madanakhya-mahabhava, is molten gold. This is the color of Radha's complexion, tapta-kancana-gaurangi radhe. As Vrndavanesvari, the Queen of Vrudavana, she rules over Vrndavana's Syamasundara, who has become Gaurasundara to taste her madanakhya-mahabhava. In Krsna's attempt to steal Radha's mahabhava, the color of his complexion has changed from black (syama) to golden (gaura). Both are most beautiful (sundara) when placed next to one another, as gold on a black backdrop shines that much more. Black within and gold without-antah krsnam bahir gaurain - this is Gaura Krsna, the thief of Kali-yuga, who confessed to his crime in the eight verses known as Sri Siksastakam.
About the Author
Writer, teacher and Hindu monastic, Swami B.V. Tripurari has become the contemporary voice of devotional Vedanta. A current Beliefnet columnist, Swami has written ten books and innumerable articles. He also publishes a popular electronic newsletter, Sanga. Swami lives at his monastery, Audarya, in the redwood forest of northern California with his students and miniature zebu cows.
The initial inspiration to write a commentary of Siksastakam came to me as I completed a series of talks on Sri Krsna Caitanya's eightfold teaching in the summer of 2004. The talks took place in the Finnish archipelago, where the days are so long during the summer monts that night never fully eclipses the sun. Amid abundant light, darkness cannot enter. As we basked in the light of both the sun and Sri Siksastakam, it was as if neither darkness nor ignorance had any influence.
On returning to California, those who attended the Siksastakam discourse encouraged me to write a commentary on Gauras eight verses. Initially I hesitated, but then I discovered that in the over five hundred years since the verses of Siksastakam were spoken, very little had been written on them. Although Sri Rupa's Padyavali includes Mahaprabhus verses along with others under general headings, he doesn't comment on them or even arrange them in any particular order. Sri Krsnadasa Kavirajas Sri Caitanya-caritamrta is the first to give the verses of Siksastakam an order and a historical setting: in the Kavirajas narrative Mahaprabhu speaks them to Raya Ramananda and Svarupa Damodara at the very end of his manifest lila. Krsnadasa Kaviraja also explains the also explains the verse ever so briefly. I was surprised to find that since the time of Sri Rupa and Krsnadasa Kaviraja, it was not until the appearance of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's Sri Sanmodana-bhasyam at the end of the nineteenth century that there was any further explanation of Siksastakam's significance.
After considering how little had been written on Siksastakam since the time of Mahaprabhu and the fact that it was in our lineage that the most significant commentary had appeared, I put my initial hesitation aside. Studying Bhaktivinoda Thakumar's commentary, I felt that out of his mercy he had left some service for his followers to take up in the form of elaborating on his illustrious Sri Sanmodana-bhasyam. As those familiar with the writing of Thakura Bhaktivinoda would expect, his work is very original. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's commentary is the parallel he has drawn between each of Gaura's verses and Sri Rupa's stages of bhakti that begin with initial faith (sraddha) and end with prema. He also ties the seven glories of Sri Krsna sankirtana, which are stated in the first verse of Siksastakam, to the seven subsequent verses, envisioning the subsequent verses as elaborations on those glories. These are remarkable insights.
After writing Sri Sanmodana-bhasyam, Thakura Bhaktivinoda also stressed the relationship between Siksastakam's eight verses and the stages of bhakti in his Bhajana-rahasya, a text that teaches one how to meditate on Siksastakam as one progress spiritually. By pointing out this relationship in both Sri Sanmodana-bhasyam and Bhajana-rahasya, Thakura Bhaktivinoda emphasizes the importance of knowing one's level of eligibility, something be equates with true beauty inasmuch as it is unbecoming to think oneself more qualified than one is. Because of this emphasis, Thakura Bhaktivinoda's elucidation on Siksastakam serves as a road map to the interior landscape, helping us to determine our goal and then chart our course with spiritual integrity.
The Thakura's commentary was followed by another commentary, Vivrtti, written by the heir to his spiritual legacy, Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Sarasvati Thakura's Vivrtti closely follows the lead of Thakura Bhaktivinod. The present commentary draws inspiration from Sarasvati Thakura's Vivrtti in excavating the mine of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's insight. It also guides the reader through Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami's brief explanation of Siksastakam.
This commentary has been written primarily for those familiar with Gaudiya Vaisnavism, while also seeking to inform all spiritually inclined persons of the fathomless depth of Sri Krsna Caitanya's contribution. No work is perfect, especially works that deal with spiritual perfection. May the learned devotees point out any faults for my benefit, and may they write more on Siksastakam themselves. I pray that all those who helped to bring this commentary to print may be blessed and that it inspires its readers to tread the path to prema.
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