Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead ,had mercifully appeared at Yogpeeth (in Mayapur, West Bengal, India) about 500 years ago (in the year 1486 AD), to bless us with the most wonderful, deep and ecstatic pastimes of Gaura lila. The identity of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be verified in a number of Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Garuda Purana, Nrsimha Purana, Padma purana, Bhavishya Purana, Narada Purana etc. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the most munificent incarnation of the Supreme. Lord Gaurahari freely gives what no other incarnation of the Supreme Lord has ever given before – the ecstatic pure love of God. He does not consider one’s qualifications or background or pedigree before bestowing this supreme gift upon them, receiving which one achieves the ultimate perfection of his human life. This ecstatic love of God eludes the great demigods like Brahma, Shiva and Indra. Even Lakshmi devi, the wife of Lord Narayana, hankers to receive it. A yogi cannot achieve it , even after performing severe austerities for thousands of years. A Jnani cannot smell it even after analysing the whole of the vedic scriptures. This ecstatic love of God is extremely rare but it can be easily achieved by the causeless mercy of Lord Gauranga. That is why lord Chaitanya is known to be the essence of all the other incarnations of the Supreme – ‘Avatara sar Gaura avatara’. Although being the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself and having broadcasted the congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna in all four directions, he did not pen any transcendental literatures Himself, but rather empowered his associates like Sri Rupa and Sanatan Goswamis to compose various literatures on devotion. It was through them that he expounded the science of bhakti (devotional service) and glorified Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The only work that is known to have been penned by him is the famous eight verses of Shikshashtakam. Sri Shikshashtakam carries the essence of the entire process of devotional science (Bhakti) from the very basics up to the highest goal of Krishna Prema (unconditional selfless devotional service unto Krishna). It can be stated without uncertainty that whoever deeply studies these instructions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, follows them, and imbibes them to their heart, has indeed been blessed with a higher understanding of the path of Bhakti. These glorious shlokas are as follows :
anandambhdhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate shri-krishna-sankirtanam
All glories to Sri Krishna Sankirtana (congregational chanting of Lord Krishna’s holy names), which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of material existence. That sankirtana movement is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all transcendental knowledge. It expands the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always zealous.
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalaha
etadrishi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragahah
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benedictions to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names, you have invested all Your transcendental potencies and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You through Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have any attachment towards them.
Verse 3 :
trinad api sunicena
taror api sahishnuna
kirtaniyah sada harihi
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, considering oneself lower than a straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, being devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect unto others. In such a state of mind, one can chant the holy name of the Supreme Lord continually.
Verse 4 :
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
O, almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate material wealth, nor do I want beautiful women, nor do I desire any followers. All I want, life after life, is unmotivated devotional service unto You.
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krishna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into this horrible ocean of birth and death. Please bestow your mercy and rescue me from this ocean of nescience and place me as a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.
Verse 6 :
vadanam gadgada-ruddhaya gira
pulakair nichitam vapuh kada
tava nama-grahane bhavishyati
O my Lord, when will my eyes be beautified with tears of love gliding down as I chant Your holy name? When will my voice falter, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end in transcendental ecstasy as I chant Your holy name?
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
O, Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering even a moment to be a great millennium. Tears flow from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I perceive the entire world as void in Your absence.
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparaha
I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He roughly handles me by His embrace or breaks my heart by not being visible to me. He is a debauchee, after all, and He is completely free to do anything He wishes, but still, He alone, and no one else, shall be the worshipable Lord of My heart.