Vanity thought #179. Sanmodana Bhashyam Verse 5. Sturdy boat.

It’s been a while since my last thought on Siksashtaka and its explanation in Sanmodana Bhashyam, I’m afraid I can’t wait any longer for fear of forgetting what I wanted to say and skipping onto the next verse.

A few months ago I played with an alternative explanation to Siksashataka verses, according to which verse 5 belongs to the second group – chanting on a spiritual platform.

I better reproduce the same table again:

Hare Krishna param vijayate Set the goal
Hare Krishna durdaiva Set the starting point
Krishna Krishna trinad api sunichena Set the mood
Hare Hare bhaktir ahaituki Reach the goal
Hare Rama sthita-dhuli-sadrisham Set the goal
Hare Rama kada Set the starting point
Rama Rama Govinda virahena me Set the mood
Hare Hare mat-prana-nathas Reach the goal

This table is based on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Sri Bhajana Rahasya where he links each pair of name in Hare Krishna mantra with each verse in Siksashtaka. As my own speculation goes, when we get to the second group of names in the mantra we also observe a shift from chanting on the material platform to purely spiritual level.

I know it’s awkward to claim that any of Siksashtaka verses have anything to do with material platform at all but consider this – the first verse outlines the benefits of sankirtana for a conditioned soul, beginning with extinguishing the fire of bhava.

The second verse is about unfortunate lack of taste for the Holy Names – clearly a material condition.

The third is about proper chanting in the material world, too – lower than grass, more patient than a tree. Surely this attitude should continue in the spiritual world, too, but it’s obviously advise for the conditioned souls striving for success in sankirtana first and foremost.

The fourth verse is about rejecting various material pursuits. It’s kind of transition – no more material interests, getting ready for purely spiritual goals but the verse still concerns itself with material subject matter.

Now comes the fifth – “I’m your fallen servant, please make me a speck of dust at your lotus feet”. Kinkaram, afaik, means an errand boy, someone waiting by the side for orders, ever ready and alert and always eager to please.

This call to Nanda-tanuja, son of maharaja Nanda, is a request for an undeniably spiritual position. It’s not about positioning yourself relevant to material interests anymore, as in the fourth verse, it’s taking your eyes off them completely and concerning yourself exclusively with your spiritual nature – a big, decisive step forward.

From now on there will be no mention of any material markers in Siksashtaka, no talking about wealth or suffering or respect or patience, not in a positive nor in a negative way. We are in the purely spiritual realm now, though, obviously, still chanting in the material world.

So, let’s see what our acharyas had to say about this verse.

Curiously, both Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati talk about drowning in the terrible ocean of material existence. That kind of goes against my interpretation but there’s no disagreement here – they both cite request for placement at the Lord’s lotus feet as the only goal and the only means of survival.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura starts his comment with a question whether it’s proper to discuss material miseries and gives an extended version of the shloka as an answer, except it doesn’t, at least in this translation – it doesn’t answer the question “to talk or not to talk?”

What it says, though, is sufficient enough on its own. We are drowning and we have nothing to hold on to. Waves of lust and greed and gales of bad association are tossing us here and there and making our lives truly miserable. Sometimes we see some weeds floating by, and those are karma, jnana, yoga, austerities etc but weeds can’t save us, we need a sturdy boat of the Lord’s Holy Name, it’s our only salvation.

He also says that we get this invincible boat from our guru – good point – if the Holy Name is a vessel to get us across the ocean, the guru is the one who gives it to us.

Now we pray to the Holy Name that it picks up from our miserable condition and places us in the shelter of His lotus feet, where we belong.

I found a very useful practical application for this approach. Every time my mind goes away thinking about politics or gadgets or sex I ask myself – are they the proper vessels to put my trust into? I surely have plenty of suffering from greed, lust, vanity, pride etc etc but is thinking about politics is going to improve my lot? Sometimes it seems that developing a Krishna Conscious way of solving political problems is a useful activity, but is this the sturdy boat I should be taking shelter of?

No matter how noble it might appear to be – improving the lot of the fellow citizens and possibly introducing them to Krishna, let’s not lose focus here – I’m drowning myself, my shelter is the Holy Name, I like politics because it makes me feel myself clever and potentially important, it’s not my service to save anybody, not now, not at the time when I’m supposed to be chanting.

Thinking of new gadgets is also very absorbing. There’s no excuse, no linkage to Krishna in anyway, but fantasizing about owning them and playing with them makes me feel good and forget all other problems, but is it really the boat I was looking for? I’m killing myself if I behave as if it’s so.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati starts his comments with establishing jiva’s swarupa as an eternal servant of Lord Krishna, that’s what Siksashtaka verse actually say – it’s about forming a spiritual identity. Like I said – no more negativism of “I don’t want this and I don’t want that”, finally Lord Chaitanya has given us some positive idea to concentrate on.

Still, raising up our spiritual consciousness doesn’t happen in one verse, it’s a process and it takes seemingly forever, so Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati aslo talks about drowning in the ocean of material existence and he talks about anarthas in our hearts. We might know our ultimate goal but it’s still obfuscated by impurities.

Once we fully realize the sambandha jnana, or “knowledge of the relationships between God, His multifarious energies, and the spirit souls” we become eligible for devotional service and pure chanting. From that moment on we should become jata-rati – born of taste for Krishna.

This promise, however, comes with a big warning – it is “unconscionable that anyone deceitfully and prematurely present himself as a jata-rati.”

The way the condition to become this jata-rati is presented in this comment is that we should really know our position. Simply parroting the words “I’m a servant” is not enough – when we really know our position we should be acting it out every moment of our lives, effortlessly and naturally.

I guess it’s okay to force myself to shut my mouth every now and then because that what Krishna’s servant would do but not until this humility comes from the heart I can’t even think of qualifying as jata-rati, that would be deceitful and unconscionable, whatever that means.

Good news – it’s a process, it doesn’t happen in one day, and for every step forward there are two steps backward, and being overwhelmed with material desires seems to be expected at this stage, so I’m not falling very far behind.

One more thing – the difference between jata-rati and ajata-rati is in the quality of chanting. This is mysterious. How does it manifest in real life?

I think it’s a food for thought on another day.

One comment on “Vanity thought #179. Sanmodana Bhashyam Verse 5. Sturdy boat.

  1. Pingback: Vanity thought #205. When – Sanmodana Bhashyam 6. « back2krishna

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