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

॥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||

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