It’s been over a year since my last post on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakurs’s commentary on Siksashtaka, Sri Sanmodana Bhashyam. After such a long break there’s no point in trying to “follow” myself as I hardly remember my frame of mind in those days, yet it would be nice to finally finish reflections of Siksashtaka so here it goes.
The reason I stopped then is simple – I was waiting for some realizations pertaining to that verse and, unsurprisingly, I haven’t got any. Not to this day, not in any foreseeable future. The seventh verse deals with the subject matter way above my pay grade in this life and probably a few of the next ones, too.
Unlike previous Siksashataka verses there’s absolutely nothing to personally relate to here. Verse two, “durdaivam”, is a simple statement of fact. Verse three, “trinad api sunichena” should always be in our minds, the mood of the verse four, “na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam” should also occasionally appear in our prayers, as is the mood of the verse five, about being saved from the ocean of material existence. Verse six, “nayanam galad ashru dharaya…” is trickier as it deals with transcendental symptoms that can’t be imitated but its root lies in the word “kada” – when, seen that way it becomes much easier to relate to this verse: “When will I finally experience any kind of emotion towards chanting of the Holy Name?”
Verse seven offers nothing. We have no idea what experience of separation from Govinda feels like, we will never have any idea what it might feel like until we actually meet Him face to face. We can’t speculate about separation from someone we have never met.
Looking at Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s comment in Sanmodadana Bhashyam we can’t relate to anything he says there about various mixtures and progressions of rasa either.
There’s a possible way we can relate to separation from the Lord but I think it’s totally inappropriate here. I’m talking about feelings of losing our devotional mood and mistaking them for separation from Krishna Himself. It’s true, we often feel ourselves separated from the Lord if we honestly look at our situation here, but this separation is due to our failures, due to our own desire to enjoy separately from Him in this material world.
Our separation is caused by Lord’s external energy, maya, who we take shelter of due to our lack of devotion, it has nothing to do with the Lord disappearing from our vision, “govinda virahena me”, as described in the seventh verse.
Our feeling of separation is related to the second verse, no taste to chanting of the Holy Name, and in this condition the idea that the Lord would abandon us is unthinkable. In materially conditioned state of consciousness the Lord’s ever-present mercy is our only hope, the only constant in our lives. Everything else comes and goes, including our own rare desire to become Lord’s servants, everything here is impermanent but we can’t imagine that Krishna would one day disappear, too. We rely on His promises in Bhagavad Gita that His devotee would never perish and that the Lord would personally take care of all our sins and needs, we are too immature to think of Siksashtaka here.
On that subject – Jesus’ reported “Why have you forsaken me” question also can’t be considered on the level necessary to appreciate the seventh verse of Siksashtaka as it seems to arise in his mind only at the ninth hour of crucifixion.
This is an important point to keep in mind – our feelings of separation depend on the circumstances provided by the material nature, on our perceptions of ourselves as material bodies put in certain conditions. Lord Chaitanya’s feelings of separation from Govinda were completely transcendental to the happenings of this world.
We might cry to the Lord and experience separation from him when we are cold or sick or hungry or when we suffer in any kind of way. Pure devotee’s separation from Govinda might afflict him when externally he is very very comfortable, well fed and and rested, or when he appears to be eating or sitting or sleeping.
We don’t see such things during our lives because meeting such devotees is extremely rare. Practically, I think it’s better to miss such feelings in those on that level of devotion than to ascribe these feelings to those who are not qualified at all. Simple innocent ignorance is better than developing sahajiya tendencies as ignorance can be easily dispelled by the Lord but sahajiya attitudes will pollute our hearts forever.
Personally, when I chant Siksashtaka I just repeat this seventh verse as it is, simply because it’s there, without trying to imagine how I could relate to it. It means nothing to me and I think it’s better to keep it that way until it actually does.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and wait for “param vijayate sri Krishna sankirtantam” first. Separation would come after that victory.