Sri Chaitanya’s Prayer (Śikshāshtakam)

This beau­ti­ful trans­la­tion of Sri Chaitanya’s only record­ed out­put, the śikṣāṣṭakam (eight vers­es of instruc­tion) has been done by Swa­mi Prab­ha­vanan­da and Christo­pher Ish­er­wood.

Chant the name of the Lord and his glo­ry unceas­ing­ly
That the mir­ror of the heart may be wiped clean,
And quenched that mighty for­est fire, world­ly lust,
Rag­ing furi­ous­ly with­in.

O name, stream down in moon­light on the lotus heart,
Open­ing its cup to knowl­edge of thy­self.
O self, drown deep in the waves of his bliss,
Chant­i­ng his name con­tin­u­al­ly,
Tast­ing his nec­tar at every step, bathing in his name,
That bath for weary souls.

Var­i­ous are thy names, O Lord,
In each and every name thy pow­er resides.
No times are set, no rites are need­ful,
For chant­i­ng of thy name, so vast is thy mer­cy.
How huge then is my wretched­ness
Who find in this emp­ty life and heart,
No devo­tion to thy name.

O my mind, be hum­bler than a blade of grass;
Be patient and for­bear­ing like the tree;
Take no hon­or to thy­self, give hon­or to all;
Chant unceas­ing­ly the name of the Lord.

O Lord and Soul of the uni­verse,
Mine is no prayer for wealth or ret­inue,
The play­things of lust or the toys of fame.
As many times as I may be reborn,
Grant me, O Lord, a stead­fast love for thee.

A drown­ing man in this world’s fear­ful ocean
Is thy ser­vant, O Sweet One.
In thy mer­cy, con­sid­er him as dust beneath thy feet.

Ah, how I long for the day
When, in chant­i­ng Thy Name, the tears will spill down
From my eyes, and my throat will refuse to utter
Its prayers, chok­ing and stam­mer­ing with ecsta­sy,
When all the hairs of my body will stand on end with joy!

Ah, how I long for the day
When an instant’s sep­a­ra­tion from thee, O Govin­da,
Will be as a thou­sand years;
When my heart burns away with its desire,
And the world with­out thee is a heart­less void.

Pros­trate at thy feet let me be, in unwa­ver­ing devo­tion,
Nei­ther implor­ing the embrace of thine arms
Nor bewail­ing the with­draw­al of thy pres­ence
Though it tears my soul asun­der.
O Thou, who stealest the hearts of thy devo­tees,
Do with me what thou wilt—
For thou art my heart’s beloved, thou—and thou alone.

The Original Sanskrit

Hear the San­skrit vers­es chant­ed by Swa­mi Mahayo­ganan­da here.

॥शिक्षाष्टकम्॥

चेतोदर्पणमार्जनं भवमहादावाग्निनिर्वापणं
श्रेयःकैरवचन्द्रिकावितरणं विद्यावधूजीवनम्‌ ।
आनन्दाम्बुधिवर्धनं प्रतिपदं पूर्णामृतास्वादनं
सर्वात्मस्नपनं परं विजयते श्रीकृष्ण सङ्कीर्तनम्‌ ॥१॥

नाम्नामकारि बहुधा निजसर्वशक्तिस्तत्रार्पिता नियमितः स्मरणे न कालः।
एतादृशी तव कृपा भगवन् ममापि दुर्दैवमीदृशमिहाजनि नानुरागः॥ २॥

तृणादपि सुनीचेन तरोरपि सहिष्णुना।
अमानिना मानदेन कीर्तनीयः सदा हरिः॥ ३॥

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

अयि नन्दतनूज किङ्करं पतितं मां विषमे भवाम्बुधौ।
कृपया तव पादपङ्कजस्थितधूलीसदृशं विचिन्तय ॥५॥

नयनं गलदश्रुधारया वदनं गद्गदरुद्धया गिरा।
पुलकैर्निचितं वपुः कदा तव नामग्रहणे भविष्यति॥ ६॥

युगायितं निमेषेण चक्षुषा प्रावृषायितम्‌।
शून्यायितं जगत्‌ सर्वं गोविन्दविरहेण मे ॥७॥

आश्लिष्य वा पादरतां पिनष्टु मामदर्शनात् मर्महतां करोतु वा।
यथा तथा वा विदधातु लंपटो मत्प्राणनाथस्तु स एव नापरः॥ ८॥

||śikṣāṣṭakam||

ceto­darpaṇamār­janaṁ bhavamahādāvāgninirvā­paṇaṁ
śreyaḥkairava­can­drikāvi­taraṇaṁ vidyā­vad­hūjī­vanam |
ānandām­bud­hivard­hanaṁ prati­padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvā­danaṁ
sarvāt­mas­na­panaṁ paraṁ vijay­ate śrīkṛṣṇa saṅkīr­tanam ||1||

nām­nā­makāri bahud­hā nijasar­vaśak­tis­ta­trār­pitā niyami­taḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ |
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bha­ga­van mamāpi dur­daivamīdṛśami­hā­jani nānurā­gaḥ || 2||

tṛṇā­dapi sunī­ce­na taro­rapi sahiṣṇunā |
amān­inā mānade­na kīr­tanīyaḥ sadā har­iḥ || 3||

na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sun­darīṁ kav­itāṁ vā jagadīśa kāmaye |
mama jan­mani jan­manīś­vare bha­vatād bhak­ti­ra­haitukī tvayi ||4||

ayi nan­datanū­ja kiṅkaraṁ pati­taṁ māṁ viṣame bhavām­bud­hau |
kṛpayā tava pāda­paṅka­jasthi­tad­hūlīsadṛśaṁ vicin­taya ||5||

nayanaṁ gal­adaśrud­hārayā vadanaṁ gadgadarud­dhayā girā |
pulakair­nic­i­taṁ vapuḥ kadā tava nāma­gra­haṇe bhav­iṣy­ati || 6||

yugāy­i­taṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyi­tam |
śūnyāy­i­taṁ jagat sar­vaṁ govin­davi­ra­heṇa me ||7||

āśliṣya vā pādaratāṁ pinaṣṭu māmadarśanāt marma­hatāṁ karo­tu vā |
yathā tathā vā vidad­hā­tu laṁ­paṭo mat­prāṇanāthas­tu sa eva nāparaḥ || 8||