ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam
It is the purifier of the mirror of the heart, the extinguisher of the great fire of the material world, which diffuses moon-rays to the white lotus of auspiciousness for the jīva. It is the very life of transcendental knowledge which is like a submissive wife. It increases the ocean of bliss, which enables one to relish full nectar at every step, and cools all aspects of one’s inherent nature (svarūpa) – may that śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana be especially victorious.
(That Commentary Which Gives Bliss to the Devotees)
pañca-tattvānvitaṁ nityaṁ praṇipatya mahāprabhum
nāmnā sammodanaṁ śikṣāṣṭaka-bhāṣyaṁ praṇīyate
“Offering obeisance unto Mahāprabhu, who is eternally associated with the Pañca-Tattva, I begin this commentary on the Śikṣāṣṭaka known as Sammodana (‘the commentary that gives pleasure to the devotees’).”
bhagavān brahma kārtsnyena trir anvīkṣya manīṣayā
tad adhyavasyat kūṭa-stho ratir ātman yato bhavet
(With determination, Brahmā carefully examined the entire Vedas three times, and ascertained through his intellect the method which produces attachment for the Supreme Ātmā.– Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.2.34)
By this conclusive statement, it is clear that only bhakti can award one the highest goal of life (paramārtha) and not other processes such as karma, jñāna etc. Pure bhakti is not attainable without śraddhā which possesses the understanding of the explanations of śāstra, or complete with longing for Bhagavān’s mādhurya pastimes. Even if that kind of śraddhā manifests, without the association of devotees, hari-kathā, which is distinguished by śravaṇa and kīrtana, will not arise.
satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
(Through the company of devotees, discussions concerning My heroic pastimes become like medicine to the heart and ears. – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.25.25)
Due to the influence of the association of devotees, there will be kīrtana of Bhagavān’s name, form, qualities and pastimes. The glories of all these are the first to be explained in Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s teachings. Due to śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana being the very nature of all auspiciousness, the word param (supreme) in the fourth line specifically indicates kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana at the time of bhajana-kriyā, which arises after śraddhā and sat-saṅga. It is not hari-saṅkīrtana which is found in pratibimba-bhaktyābhāsa (a reflectional semblance of bhakti).
In this aṣṭaka, which are words spoken by Him in disguise (as a devotee), He explains that it is the duty of the jīva to reflect upon sambandha (one’s eternal relationship with the Supreme), abhidheya (the method of achieving it) and prayojana (the attainment of the goal). In this commentary, a deliberation on these tattvas will be briefly discussed.
Śrīmat Kṛṣṇa Caitanyacandra, whose feet are served by pure Vaiṣṇavas, exclaims, śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanaṁ vijayate (‘may śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana be all victorious’). How is kṛṣṇa-kīrtana all victorious in a physical world which has been created by the māyā-śakti? Please listen. Ekam evādvitīyam (‘prior to the creation there was only One who is without a second’) – by this declaration of the śruti, the oneness of the Supreme Truth (parama-tattva) is established. Neha nānāsti kiñcana (‘apart from Him, there was nothing’) – this statement of the śruṭi suggests that He is nirviśeṣa (without qualities). Sarvaṁ khalv-idaṁ brahma (‘indeed, everything in Brahman’) – this quote from the Vedas indicates that He is always saviśeṣa (possessing qualities). In the case of the simultaneous presence of saviśeṣa and nirviśeṣa, saviśeṣa is acknowledged. Thus, it is stronger. There is no perception of something which is nirviśeṣa.
Śrīmad Jīva, our tattvācārya, says:
ekam eva tat parama-tattvaṃ svābhāvikācintya-śaktyā sarvadaiva svarūpa-tad-rūpa-vaibhava-jīva-pradhāna-rūpeṇa caturdhāvatiṣṭhate sūryāntarmaṇḍalastha-teja iva maṇḍala tad-bahir-gataraśmi-tat-prattichavi-rūpeṇa.
(The one Supreme Truth, through His acintya-śakti, is eternally situated in four forms, namely His svarūpa [original form], His tad-rupa-vaibhava [direct expansions], the jīva [the living entity] and pradhāna [material nature] – just like the sun, which possesses internal heat, creates external rays as its reflection. – Bhagvavat-sandarbha 16)
Here it should be said that Bhagavān is the Supreme Truth. He is the possessor of potencies (śaktimān). Śakti-śaktimator abhedaḥ (‘there is no difference between the potency and the potent’) – this is according to the Brahma-sūtra. However – parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śruyate (The Lord’s potencies are diverse. – Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8). Thus, by this statement from the Vedas, it is understood that by His acintya–śakti, that which is impossible becomes possible. Therefore, eternal difference is unavoidable and it cannot eradicated by the logic of Kevalādvaitavāda (māyāvāda philosophy).
His parā-śakti (superior potency) is manifest in three different forms – antaraṅga (internal potency), taṭasthā (marginal potency) and bahiraṅga (external potency). By the antaraṅga, or svarūpa-śakti, in its complete inherent nature, that Supreme Reality eternally manifests in the form of Bhagavān who is the refuge of all auspicious qualities. For the performance of His līlā, that Supreme Reality along with the favourable svarūpa-śakti is situated in the form of His inherent majesty (svarūpa-vaibhava) in Vaikuṇṭha etc. Once again, as the taṭastha-śakti, He is present in the form of the individual jīvātmās who are spiritual by nature and are like the atomic rays of the sun. By the bahiraṅga-śakti, known as māyā, which is compared to the various colours found in the reflection of the sun’s rays, He is perceived as the majesty of the bahiraṅga-śakti in the form of pradhāna (inert matter). In this way, the jīva, matter and Vaikuṇṭha are understood to be inconceivably different and non-different from the svarūpa of Bhagavān.
Because the jīva takes full refuge in the Lord, he is said to be ekadaśatva (a portion of the Supreme). However, he is averse (to the Lord) because he lacks knowledge. He is covered by māyā, just as a ray of sunlight is eclipsed by a shadow. As he is in the position of being a potency, the jīva can assist in Bhagavān’s līlā. Due to his inherent nature as the marginal potency, his subjugation by māyā occurs. The jīvas who fall under the influence of māyā suffer in saṁsara, the repeated cycle of birth and death. Through their relationship with the svarūpa-śakti, māyā vanishes and they become situated in their specific svarūpa. When those jīvas that are continuously bewildered by māyā and are experiencing misery in saṁsāra believe in the explanations of the śāstra through the association of sādhus, or a hankering for Bhagavān’s sweetness arises in them, then the qualification for bhakti manifests within them. This is the primary function of the pleasure-giving potency (hlādinī) of the svārūpa-śakti. When śraddhā arises due to the potency of the association of devotees in the form of taking refuge in the feet of Śrī Guru, then hearing about philosophical truth ensues. When kīrtana occurs after hearing, then the strength of the jīva’s inherent nature is perceived in the process of defeating māyā. This is the process through which hari-kīrtana becomes victorious in this world.
In the phrase ceto-darpaṇa-marjanam (‘that which cleanses the mirror of the heart’) etc., seven kinds of results pertaining to the jīva are seen from this kind of kṛṣṇa-kīrtana. I will discuss these separately. Through ceto-darpaṇa-marjanam, the reality of the intrinsic nature of the jīva (svarūpa-tattva) has been revealed. Therefore, Śrī Jīva has written:
jīvākhya-samaṣṭi-śakti-viśiṣṭasya parama-tattvasya khalv aṁśa eko jīvaḥ. sa ca tejo-maṇḍalasya bahiś-cara-raśmi-paramāṇur iva parama-cid-eka-rasasya tasya bahiś-cara-cit-paramāṇuḥ.
(An individual jīva is an expansion of that Supreme Reality who possesses the potency which consists of the sum total of all jīvas. The jīva is a single finite particle of consciousness who is external to the Supreme consciousness, just as a sun ray is external to the sun globe.– Prīti-sandarbha 5)
The respected commentator of the Vedānta-sūtra has also said:
vibhu-caitanyam īśvaraḥ. aṇu-caitanyaṁ tu jīvaḥ. nitya-jñānādi-guṇakatvam asmad-arthatvaṁ cobhayatra. jñānasya jñātṛtvaṁ prakāśasya raveḥ prakāśakatvavad aviruddham. tatreśvaraḥ svatantraḥ svarūpa-śaktimān. praveśa-niyamanābhyāṁ jagad vidadhat. bhakti-vyaṅga eka-rasaḥ prayacchati cit-sukhaṁ svarūpam. jīvātmānas tv anekāvasthā bahavaḥ. pareśa-vaimukhyāt teṣāṁ bandhas tat-sānmukhyāt tu tat-svarūpa-tad-guṇa-varaṇa-rūpa-dvividha-bandha-vinivṛttis tat-svarūpādi-sākṣāt-kṛtiḥ.
(Īśvara is infinite consciousness. The jīva is finite consciousness. They both have eternal attributes such as knowledge etc. and they have a sense of ‘I’. They are knowers of knowledge, just as the light of the sun reveals its own form. Thus it is not contradictory. That Īśvara is independent and is the possessor of the svarūpa-śakti. By material nature (prakṛti) etc. He enters and regulates the universe. Through the manifestation of bhakti, He awards HIs blissful spiritual form and nature (to the devotees). There are many jīvas in various conditions. When they are antagonistic towards the Supreme Lord, they are bound. When they are favourable to Him, they give up the two kinds of subjugation which cover their intrinsic nature and qualities, and directly perceive their svarūpa etc. – Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s Govinda-bhāṣya 1.1.1)
From this, the jīva’s finiteness (anutva), inherent spiritual nature (cit-svarūpatva), pure ego (śuddhāhaṅkāra), and pure form (śuddha-deha) are known. Due to his antagonism towards the Supreme Lord and his absorption in the bahiraṅga-śakti, his pure ego and pure consciousness become contaminated by the impure defects of ignorance. Although the jīva has an inherently pure spiritual nature and consciousness, he is covered by māyā in the form of contaminating faults born of ignorance. Thus it is not possible for any effect to occur on the cit-darpaṇa (mirror of the heart). Due to this, the perception of his true nature does not arise. However, when bhakti, the primary function of the hlādinī-śakti, manifests, then after the hearing process (śravaṇa), śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana appears and all contamination arising from ignorance is removed. Then the jīva manifests his pure consciousness along with his pure ahaṅkāra and gradually perceives the five tattvas – the Supreme Lord, the jīva, material nature, time and karma – within the mirror of his heart.
When the mirror of the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpaṇa-marjana), he perceives the true reality concerning his svarūpa, and sees his svadharma (intrinsic occupation). His svadharma is servitude to Bhagavān. When this tendency arises, his inclination towards saṁsāra is transformed into the propensity to serve Kṛṣṇa.
Bhava (the material world) refers to the jīva’s birth in this physical realm. It is a great forest-fire (mahā-dāvāgni) which must be extinguished, and without śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, it is not possible.
Does śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana cease upon achieving knowledge of ones svadharma? Not at all! Hari-kīrtana is the eternal dharma to be achieved – thus the phrase śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇam (‘that which diffuses the moonlight making the white lotus of supreme fortune blossom’) has been used for the purpose of stating that it is a part of svarūpa-gata-dharma (realising one’s intrinsic spiritual form and nature). Preya (immediate good) is the illusory enjoyment of the jīvas who are bewildered by māyā, which leads to irrepressible saṁsāra. When they become disgusted with māyā and engage in service to Śrī Kṛṣna, this is sreya (ultimate good). Their śreya is like a kairava, a lotus, which is blooms due to the diffusion of the light of the moon. Bhaktya sañjātayā bhaktyā (bhakti produces bhakti) – according to this principle, pure bhakti appears in a person endowed with śraddhā through bhaktyābhāsa (a semblance of bhakti) by hearing, chanting etc. Here, the example of the moon is used because it produces nectar.
In response to an opponent who asks, “When will one who engages in pure bhakti achieve their intrinsic identity and nature?” Śrī Gauracandra says, vidyā-vadhu-jīvanam (‘the Holy Name is the very life of transcendental knowledge which is like a subservient wife’). In reality, the potency of Bhagavān is one. It has two functions – vidyā (knowledge) and avidyā (ignorance). Vidyā is known as the yogamāyā svarūpa–śakti. Avidyā is the creator of matter who eclipses the jīva’s svarūpa and spiritual qualities. When pure bhakti arises at the time of sādhana while engaged in hearing, chanting etc., then Bhakti Devī, who eliminates all other desires apart from that which is spiritual, dispels one’s avidyā. With the weapon of knowledge, she cuts asunder the two bodies that the jīva identifies with, namely the gross and subtle bodies. She manifests the pure spiritual form of the svarūpa-gata jīva, even awarding the form of a gopīkā if he is qualified to relish mādhura-rasa. Therefore, it is proven that śrī-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana is, like a wife, the very life of transcendental knowledge (vidyā-vadhu-jīvana). It is observed that the śvarūpa–śakti is the wife (vadhu) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and this is described in His līlā-vilāsa, of playful pastimes.
After the gross and subtle bodies are eliminated, the jīva’s finite nature becomes purified. An opponent may say, “Then his happiness must also become insignificant due to the finite nature of his svarūpa.” Śri Śacīnandana teaches, ānandambudhi-vardhanam (‘it increases the ocean of bliss’). In this condition, śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana increases the jīva’s inherent bliss unlimitedly through the primary function of the hlādinī-śakti. The jīva who achieves his pure svarūpa, attains boundless bliss.
In such a state, he experiences spiritual pleasure at every moment – prati-padam, and by anurāga (divine attachment) he attains pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ (‘the relishing of complete nectar’). Because the thirst for Bhagavān’s eternally youthful form cannot be satiated, one’s enjoyment of rasa is always eternally fresh.
“Because endeavours for sense-enjoyment are opposed to pure prema, how can one achieve pure bliss in that state?” Considering this, that Crest-Jewel of sannyāsīs has added the phrase sarvātma-snapanam (‘it bathes the entire ātmā’). In that state, since Kṛṣṇa’s bliss is pure, the jīva, having forsaken any selfish desires to enjoy, bathes in the complete bliss of the pastimes of the Divine Couple, in his inherent position as a maidservant of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, the hlādinī-śakti who is fully possesses mahā–bhāva. Here, the two words sarvātma-snapanam is understood to mean that one is fully purified from the defect of desiring the liberation of merging into Brahman, and the faults of enjoying selfish desires.
May that śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana, which possesses seven qualities and is replete with prema for the splendorous pastimes of the Divine Couple, whose forms are sac-cid-ānanda, be victorious over all.