MADHU BINDAVAH

HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, AND SANKIRTAN

Commentary on verse 3 of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s Śikṣāṣṭakam.

By Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur

Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam Verse Three

तृणादपि सुनीचेन तरोरिव सहिष्णुना ।
अमानिना मानदेन कीर्त्तनीयः सदा हरिः ॥३॥

tṛṇād api sunīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ [3]

tṛṇāt–than grass; api–more; sunīchena–with humility; taroḥ–of tree; iva–like; sahiṣṇunā–with tolerance; amāninā–with pridelessness; mānadena–with respectfulness; kīrtanīyaḥ–should be chanted; sadā–always; hariḥ–‘Hari’.

hariḥ–The Name of Hari kīrtanīyaḥ–should be chanted sadā–always sunīchena–with humility api–more so tṛṇāt–than a blade of grass, sahiṣṇunā–with tolerance iva–like taroḥ–a tree, amāninā–with pridelessness, [and] mānadena–with respectfulness.

The Lord’s Name is to be chanted always with more humility than a blade of grass, tolerance like that of a tree, respect for everyone, and without desire for respect from anyone.

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The following is an English translation of Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur’s Bengali Vivṛti commentary on the third verse Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu’s Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam.

At the request of Western devotees in the 1980s, Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj discoursed extensively in English on Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam, and as he concluded his discussion of the first verse, he commented (as recorded in The Golden Volcano of Divine Love): “Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur has given his Sanskrit commentary on the Śikṣāṣṭakam, as well as his Bengali translation, and his is a most original presentation. Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur Prabhupād has also given his commentary on the Śikṣāṣṭakam. They should be carefully studied in order to understand these points more completely.”

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Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam Vivṛti 3

By Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur

Because the jīva is by nature a servant of Kṛṣṇa, continuous Hari-kīrtan is the jīva’s natural function (dharma) while residing here in this world and in their own abode [the spiritual world].

There is no personal attainment (svārtha-siddhi) or service to others (paropakāra) comparable to Hari-kīrtan amidst any other means or end.Through kīrtan, there is both selflessness and the attainment of all good fortune for oneself.

The proposition of the verse tṛṇād api sunīchena is to explain how to chant the Divine Name without making offences to the Name (Nāmāparādha) or chanting a semblance of the Name (Nāmābhās).

Those whose mentality is not intent upon Kṛṣṇa and who are maddened by enjoyment of the mundane can never realise their own lowliness. Enjoyers have no realisation of their natural lowliness and no natural tolerance. They are never able to give up mundane ego and mundane prestige. Enjoyers of the mundane are never willing to give prestige to other materialists, and they are envious, but Vaiṣṇavas who find joy in service to the Name (Nām-bhajanānandī Vaiṣṇavas) are humbler than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, indifferent towards their own prestige, and eager to offer prestige to others. In this world, only they are qualified and able to constantly chant Hari’s Name.

The prestige indicative of honour that the pure Vaiṣṇavas offer to their respective Āchāryas and Śrī Gurudevas and to other Vaiṣṇavas is produced by their natural propensity to offer honour, and all the cordiality, respect, affection, and so forth that they express towards their followers to inspire them in service is simply expressive of such pure devotees’ natural pridelessness (amānitā). Pure devotees do not consider such honorary prestige to be material prestige, and, by tolerating the insinuations of the foolish, they reveal their tolerant nature.

Pure devotees engaged in chanting the Name consider themselves to be situated in a position beneath even the grass that is trampled over by the feet of all living beings in the material world. Pure devotees never consider themselves to be Vaiṣṇavas or Gurus; they consider themselves disciples of the world and lower than everyone else. Knowing every atom and every minute conscious jīva to be an abode of Kṛṣṇa, they do not consider anything to be inferior to themselves.

Those who chant the Name are not seekers of anything from anyone in this world. If others are inimical to them, they are never vengeful. Rather, they pray for the welfare of their aggressors. Those who perform kīrtan never abandon the process they received from Śrī Gurudev and never with the desire to preach a new conception create a jingle of imaginary names instead of chanting the mahāmantra of Śrī Hari’s Names. When a Vaiṣṇava, following Śrī Gurudev, writes a book and performs kīrtan to spread the glories and kīrtan of the Divine Name, their humility is not compromised. Deceitful expressions and gestures of meekness, however, made on account of the absence of sincerity out of the deceitful motive of misleading the public are not indications of humility.

While chanting Kṛṣṇa’s Name, great devotees (mahābhāgavatas) see the world as intent upon the service of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees instead of seeing moving and inert material forms as being meant for enjoyment. They do not, out of a predisposition to enjoy, consider the world to be meant for their own enjoyment. They do not become creators of mantras, give up the chanting of the mahāmantra they received from Śrī Guru, or engage themselves in propagating new conceptions. Considering oneself a Guru of Vaiṣṇavas is an impediment to humility. The truth is that Hari’s Name cannot be chanted through the mouth of those who desire the position of a Vaiṣṇava or Guru if they do not listen to the statements of Śrī Gaurasundar in the Śikṣāṣṭaka and are forgetful of the true self out of greed for wealth and prestige for the sake of sense gratification. By such kīrtan [by the so-called kīrtan performed by such persons], even faithful disciples will not attain the eligibility to hear Hari’s Name.

Bhagavan Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was the most influential proponent of the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 20th century. As a vehement spiritual revolutionary, he denounced all conventional religious dogmas, broke through society’s false notions of spirituality, and compelled all to appreciate the true path of divine love. For more information on Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, please visit his biography page.
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