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Preface to the first Hindi edition
Not only in Shri Gaudiya Vaishnava literature, but in the Shruti, Smriti, Puranas, and in the entirety of Indian literature, Shri Shikshashtaka, issued from the mouth of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, shines as a supremely radiant transcendental jewel. It is a source of boundless happiness to me that today, by the inspiration and causeless mercy of my most revered Shri Shri Gurudeva, Nitya Lila Pravishta Om Vishnupada Ashtottara Shata Shri Shrimad Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, this Shri Shikshashtaka is presented to the reading audience for the first time in the Hindi language.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation who delivers the fallen conditioned souls in the age of Kali (Kali Yuga Pavanavatari), is directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna. Vrajendra Nandana Shri Krishna, overwhelmed with an intense desire to relish a particular sentiment, assumed the bodily lustre and temperament of Shrimati Radhika, the embodiment of His Hladini potency, and bestowed upon the entire world the gift of Krishna nama and Krishna prema. By His deep scholarship, matchless renunciation, humility, supremely radiant spotless character, and His pre-eminent transcendental devotional sentiment, He astounded renowned pandits and scholars. In addition, He very easily attracted ordinary religionists and enraptured devotees to the religion of unadulterated love (Vishuddha prema).
Due to the distinctive and magnanimous characteristics, not only of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, but of His followers as well, from Shri Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda, and the six Gosvamis up to present day acaryas and devotees, the waves of devotional service to the Supreme Lord have spread to every town and village of the world. Everywhere, the sound of Hari nama sankirtana is resounding, accompanied by mridanga and karatals.
It is truly a source of great honour and happiness for us that today extensive literature of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas and propagation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism has spread in many major languages of the world. Nevertheless, it is a matter of great astonishment that, in spite of being unlimitedly qualified, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not personally write any books like acaryas who propounded other opinions. Instead, He inspired His followers to write books. Only eight verses are famous as having been composed by Him. Some other verses are said to have been composed by Him, but up till now this has not been substantiated.
This Shikshashtaka is the essence of all the Vedas. Although its Sanskrit language is quite simple, its import is so profound that even if one studies it throughout his life, his study will not come to an end. Each time one reads and deliberates on this subject, newer and newer meanings come to light. Therefore, it remains eternally fresh. This Shri Shikshashtaka is a necklace for all Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
Shri Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the eternal associate of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the modern age and author of many sacred texts expounding the glories of bhakti, has again initiated the flow of the Bhagirathi (Ganges) of devotional service, inundating the entire world in the flood of Krishna prema. He has written a heart-rending commentary to these eight verses, filled with many important philosophical conclusions.
This commentary is famous by the name of `Shri Sanmodana Bhashya.' Without a careful study of this commentary, the hidden truths of the original verses is not only difficult, but impossible. Beholding, with the help of this captivating commentary, the paramount emotion of full blown ujjvala prema rasa (Shringara rasa) within the heart of the prema avatara Shri Shacinandana Gaura Hari, which is hidden in these verses, one is sure to be astonished at every step. Furthermore, one's heart is deeply overwhelmed with transcendental pleasure, and unprecedented faith and devotional sentiment develop toward Shri Krishna nama.
The greatness of this subject is unlimited. It is itself highly important. Moreover, the commentator has illuminated this subject in summary yet in a very significant manner. Therefore, to write more is like holding a lamp to illuminate the sun.
The truths of sambandha, abhidheya (sadhana), and prayojana (sadhya) are very nicely included in Shri Shikshashtaka. Although instructions regarding abhidheya tattva are inherent within all eight verses, the first five verses deal with sadhana bhakti, verses six and seven deal with bhava bhakti, and verses seven and eight describe prema bhakti.
In the seventh and eighth verses, in particular, is found a pre-eminent example of Shrimati Radhika's deep emotional anguish due to love in separation (vipralambha prema vaicittya), instigated by Her own adhirudha mahabhava. (Prema vaicittya refers to a state in which even in the beloved's presence, the lover, out of intense love, fails to perceive the presence of the beloved and is thus aggrieved with feelings of separation).
Jagad Guru Nityalila Pravishta Om Vishnupada Shri Shrimad Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, in the year 442 Gaurabda (1929), edited and published Shri Shikshashtaka in the Bengali language within a book entitled `Sadhana Patha', with the Sanmodana Bhashya and songs composed by Shri Shrimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and a short commentary of his own known simply as'Vivriti' (commentary). However, its non-availability in Hindi literature was acutely felt by me. It was the desire of my most revered Shri Shri Gurudeva that these Bengali bhakti literatures of unparalleled benefit be published in the Hindi language as well. He kindly inspired me to fulfil this purpose.
Lastly, I am especially obliged to the present day head and acarya of the Shri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, my fellow religious student, Parivrajakacarya Shri Shrimad Bhakti Vedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. He is a very influential acarya, deeply immersed in spiritual knowledge. Moreover, he is an object of great affection of our Shri Gurudeva. At this time, he himself is engaged in preparing and editing Gaudiya Bhakti literature in the Bengali language. This edition of our society (in Hindi language) is being published by his special enthusiasm and inspiration. May he kindly deliver this precious Shikshashtaka into the lotus hands of our most revered Shri Gurudeva and thus fulfil his inner heart's desire. This is our fervent prayer at his respectful feet.
Special thanks are owing to Tridandi Svami Shri Bhaktivedanta Urdhvamanthi Maharaja, and blessings upon our beloved Shriman Shubhananda, for their help especially in the translation of the Sanskrit portions of this book.
The honourable service rendered by Tridandi Svami Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Padmanabha Maharaja, Shri Om Prakasha (Vrajavasi) M.A., L.L.B., our beloved Shriman Shyamasundara (Vrajavasi) B.S.C., B.A., Shriman Nandanadana Brahmacari, Shriman Navina Krishna Brahmacari, Shri Sandipani (Vrajavasi), and others, in the production of the manuscript, proof-reading, and various other tasks associated with this book, are highly commendable. May the merciful blessings of the lotus feet of Shri Gurudeva be upon them.
In the publication of this book, the deeply faithful and beloved Shri Yuta Sudhamshu Shekhar Caudhuri has served Shri Shacinandana Gaura Hari by providing economic assistance. May Shri Shri Guru and Gauranga Deva bestow abundant blessings upon him. This is our prayer at his feet.
I have complete faith that this book will certainly be respectfully received by faithful practicing devotees (sadhakas) possessed of yearning for bhakti and by learned circles as well. By studying this book, such persons may enter into the spotless prema dharma made prevalent by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This is our desire.
Being aggrieved at the distress of others, may Shri Shacinandana Gaura Hari and our most revered Shri Gurudeva, who is the direct embodiment of the Lord's mercy, be pleased and bestow upon us the privilege of serving their inner heart's desire—this is our sole anguished prayer at their lotus feet. Now enough has been said.
On the occasion of the appearance
day of Shri Gauranga,
Dola Purnima (Holi)
1905 by the Indian calendar
(17th March, 1984)
An aspirant for a particle of mercy
of Shri Guru and Vaishnavas,
Tridandi Bhikshu-Shri Bhaktivedanta
Shri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha