Commentary on verse 4 of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s Śikṣāṣṭakam.

By Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur

Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam Verse Four

न धनं न जनं न सुन्दरीं
कवितां वा जगदीश कामये ।
मम जन्मनि जन्मनीश्वरे
भवताद्भक्तिरहैतुकी त्वयि ॥४॥

na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ
kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi [4]

na–not; dhanam–wealth; na–not; janam–companion; na–not; sundarīm–beautiful; kavitām–poetry; –or; jagat–universe; īśa–Lord; kāmaye–I desire; mama–my; janmani–in birth; janmani–in birth; īśvare–in Lord; bhavatāt–may be; bhaktiḥ–devotion; ahaitukī–unconditional; tvayi–to You.

kāmaye–I desire na–neither dhanam–wealth, na–nor janam–companions, na vā–nor sundarīm–beautiful kavitām–poetry, īśa–O Lord jagad–of the universe! janmani–Birth janmani–after birth, īśvare–O Lord, mama bhavatāt–let me have ahaitukī–unconditional bhaktiḥ–devotion tvayi–to You. [4]

I do not desire wealth, companions, or beautiful poetry, O Lord of the universe! Birth after birth, O Lord, let me have unconditional bhakti to You.


The following is an English translation of Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur’s Bengali Vivṛti commentary on the first 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.”


Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam Vivṛti 4

By Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur

“O Lord of the universe, I do not desire wealth, companions, or ‘beautiful poetry (sundarīṁ kavitāṁ)’. You are My object of worship birth after birth. Please let me have unconditional bhakti to You.”

The phrase sundarīṁ kavitāṁ refers to the piety (dharma) described in the Vedas, the word dhana refers to artha (wealth), and the world jana refers to wife, sons, and other objects of desire (kāma). “But it is not that I only have no desire for enjoyment in the form of piety, wealth, and enjoyment (dharma, artha, and kāma); I also am not a seeker of non-rebirth in the form of liberation (mukti) from the repetition of birth. I do not engage in service to You because of the chaturvarga (these four aims of life) or out of motivation for any other selfish desire. I am eager to serve [You] simply for the sake of Your service.”

In this regard, the statements of Kulaśekhar are worthy of discussion:

nāsthā dharme na vasu-nichaye naiva kāmopabhoge
yad yad bhavyaṁ bhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam
etat prārthyaṁ mama bahu-mataṁ janma-janmāntare ’pi
tvat-pādāmbhoruha-yuga-gatā niśchalā bhaktir astu
(Mukunda-mālā-stotram: 5)

[“I have no regard for piety (dharma), riches (artha), or partaking of enjoyment (kāma). Let what is to be be, O Lord, according to my previous deeds (karma). My greatly cherished object of prayer is this: birth after birth let me have unwavering bhakti to Your two lotus feet.”]

nāhaṁ vande tava charaṇayor dvandvam advandva-hetoḥ
kumbhīpākaṁ gurum api hare nārakaṁ nāpanetum
ramyā-rāmā-mṛdu-tanu-latā nandane nāpi rantuṁ
bhāve bhāve hṛdaya-bhavane bhāvayeyaṁ bhavantam
(Mukunda-mālā-stotram: 4)

[“I do not pray at Your two lotus feet to be freed from duality (to attain mukti), to evade the fearsome hell of boiling oil (Kumbhīpāka), or to enjoy beautiful women with supple, creeper-like bodies in a pleasure garden (or in the Nandana Kānana of Indra in Svarga). O Hari! Birth after birth, please let me adore You in the Temple of my heart.”]

Those who desire piety and follow the Vedas are worshippers of Sūrya, those who desire wealth are worshippers of Gaṇeśa, those who desire enjoyment are worshippers of Śakti [Durgā, Kālī, et. al], those who desire liberation are worshippers of Śiva, and those who are motivated, that is, desirous, worshippers of Viṣṇu are tainted devotees. These five forms of worship (pañchopāsanā) are all based on desire, and in their non-desirous state, they become worship of the immaterial (nirguṇa) Brahma. Only through unconditional bhakti is there pure worship of Viṣṇu.