Tread Manah-siksa many years ago with various learned commentaries,
but it struck me only recently how essential this book is. At that time,
Thad removed myself a little bit from my normal busy preaching pace,
doing extensive studies into our philosophy and into the question of
how to present Krsna consciousness to a post-modern audience. I
asked myself, "Do we have in our tradition a guidebook to bhakti in its
different stages, a book which will bring a person from the beginning
As I was asking and looking around, essentially to find a book which
would save me the tremendous work of writing something myself,
I again and again came upon Manah-siksd. Then Ravindra-svarupa
Prabhu told me that Manah-siksa is the guidebook which takes us to
full Krsna consciousness.
But I was still a little doubtful whether or not this is really the book,
the guidebook to Krsna consciousness, until I received a letter by our
Srimati Devi Dasi. Srimati presented to me a statement from Bhaktivinoda
Thakura in Jaiva-dharma where he says that Manah-siksd is the
paddhati for Gaudiya Vaisnavism. When we call something a paddhati,
it means a step-by-step guide to progress; pada (foot), and hati (progress).
So Bhaktivinoda Thakura says in his commentary to ManahSiksd,
called bhajana-darpana, or the mirror of bhajana*, that when a
living entity has understood that it is his prime duty in life to develop
his Krsna consciousness, when he has awakened his faith in this
understanding, then he will ask how to do it. Manah-siksa will answer
this question. If we, the readers and I, have this question, and have
awakened some faith that we should develop our Krsna consciousness,
then we are qualified to hear the secrets of this guidebook.
When I was a young boy there was a rumor amongst my friends
that you could learn to make gold by an alchemical process. I remember
the moment I heard about it. I said to my friends, "Teach me all
about it. How can I make gold?" Then we went into the cellar. My
friend Lawrence brought all sorts of things with him, and we little
boys were there in the cellar trying to make gold, but it didn’t work.
What we were doing only exploded in our face, and we couldn't go to
school for two weeks. In general, I remember that from childhood on
I was extremely curious to get any guidebook for getting something
valuable. When I stumbled upon this Manah-siksd, 1 thought, "See,
Sacinandana Swami, you have now found what you were looking for
as a child. You have really found something to get the highest value." I
practice according to these guidelines.
Once, I was finishing a month’s time in a kind of private alchemical
laboratory where I tried to do something with this Manah-siksa, and
I found miracles developing just by instructing my mind with these
verses. Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami promises after the eleven verses,
"Becoming a follower of Sri Rapa and his companions, one who with
a sweet voice loudly recites these eleven supreme verses, which give
instructions to the mind, and strives to understand all of their meanings
completely, obtains the incomparable jewel of worshiping Sri Sri
Radha-Krsna in the forests of Gokula."
Now, at the very outset, I will be extremely blunt. As we follow
Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, you will see some open wounds in your
heart and mind, into which the words of Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami
will go. It will not be easy. You will have to be very honest, because
he presents a deep psychological analysis of the obstacles we face on
our path, and it will be embarrassing. However, I can encourage you,
because at the end of going through Manah-siksa, you will have love
of Godhead in your heart.
Manah-siksdé means "instructions to the mind." He is using a tech-
nique of Vaisnava writers to address all of their readers by addressing
their own minds. In the Nectar of Instruction Srila Prabhupada describes
Krsna consciousness as a culture of the mind. This means we
should gradually train our minds so that throughout the twenty-four
hours of the day we can’t think of anything other than Krsna. Now,
we know it is very difficult to train the stubborn mind to always think
of Krsna twenty-four hours a day. Arjuna, the celebrated hero of the
Bhagavad-gita, has expressed himself very candidly on this point. He
says, "The mind is so restless, so turbulent, so obstinate, so strong, O
Krsna, that I think it is more difficult to control it than to control the
wind. Don’t ask for too much, Krsna, when you tell me I should control
my mind. How will I control a raging storm?" But Krsna is a good
teacher. He answers the arguments of his disciple, and he defeats them
step by step. In the end, he encourages Arjuna to start a sadhana, a
practice of mind control, when he says, "It is undoubtedly very difficult
to curb the restless mind, but it is possible with suitable practice and
by detachment." So Manah-siksa does exactly these two things which
Krsna talks about in the Gita. It tells us a suitable practice we can do
every day, and it also helps us to detach ourselves from material things.
To get the greatest benefit from this book, we need to keep in mind
that there are two very powerful forces in this world. The first is kama
(lust). Kama means not just the desire of man and woman to meet each
other for sensual stimulation, but it means all desires separate from
giving pleasure to Krsna. The other force is prema (love), which is not
self-centered or pleasure-seeking but is the desire to give pleasure or
love to Krsna.
I think all sadhakas (spiritual aspirants) have to deal with kama.
The Rg Veda says, "Kama is the basis of this world." And this desire for
enjoyment, as Krsna tells us, becomes many-branched (bahu-sakha hyanantaé ca).
Kama is concentrated on many sense objects for selfish enjoyment.
Prema is concentrating only on Krsna. To some extent, these
two forces sometimes struggle. There’s a voice in our heart which tells
us, "Follow the scriptures, chant Hare Krsna, concentrate on Krsna,’
and so on, and there’s the other voice that says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
yeah, how theoretical, how impractical.’
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