Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1535) is the most recent incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. He appeared 500 years ago in Navadvip, West-Bengal and started His worldwide Sankirtan mission of propagating the chanting of the holy name of the Lord (the process of self-realization for this age - to meditate upon the sound of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare). He left us only eight verses, called Siksastakam, in which His mission and precepts are revealed.
from "Teachings of Lord Chaitanya" Original version 1968
Glory to the Sri Krishna Samkirtan which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together. Thus the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death, is extinguished. This Samkirtan movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction Moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge, it increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it helps to have a taste of the full nectar for which we are always anxious.
O my Lord! Your Holy Name alone can render all benediction upon the living beings, and therefore You have hundreds and millions of Names, like Krishna, Govinda, etc. In these transcendental Names You have invested all Your transcendental energies, and there is no hard and fast rule for chanting these Holy Names. O my Lord! You have so kindly made approach to You easy by Your Holy Names, but, unfortunate as I am, I have no attraction for Them.
One can chant the Holy Name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street, more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name of the Lord constantly.
O almighty Lord! I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor I have any desire to enjoy beautiful women; neither do I want any number of followers of mine. What I want only is that I may have Your causeless devotional service in my life—birth after birth.
O Son of Maharaj Nanda, I am Your eternal servitor, and although I am so, somehow or other I have fallen in the ocean of birth and death. Please, therefore, pick me up from this ocean of death, and fix me as one of the atoms of Your Lotus Feet.
O my Lord! when shall my eyes be decorated with tears of love, flowing constantly while I chant Your Holy Name? When will my words be choked up when uttering the Holy Name? And when will all the holes of hair on my body have eruptions by the recitation of Your Name?
O Govinda! Feeling Your separation I am considering a moment twelve years or more, and tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain. I am feeling all vacant in the world, in the absence of You.
I do not know anyone except Krishna as my Lord, and He shall always remain as such, even if He handles me roughly by His embrace; or He may make me broken-hearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, but He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.
Commentary by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu recommended: ceto-darpana-marjanam. Marjanam means "cleanse," and darpanam means "mirror." The heart is a mirror. It is like a camera. Just as a camera takes all kinds of pictures of days and nights, so also our heart takes pictures and keeps them in an unconscious state [Subconsciousness]. Psychologists know this. The heart takes so many pictures, and therefore it becomes covered. We do not know when it has begun, but it is a fact that because there is material contact, our real identity is covered. Therefore ceto-darpana-marjanam: one has to cleanse his heart. (SP: Science of Selfrealization)
And when the heart is cleansed, then a person becomes eligible for being freed from the clutches of maya, or the materialistic way of life. He understands that he is not this body-that he's a spirit soul, and that his business is therefore different from merely material concerns. He thinks, "Now I am engaged only in seeking these bodily comforts of life. These are not at all essential, because my body will change. Today, since I am in an American body, I think I have so many duties as an American man. Tomorrow I may be in an American dog body, and immediately my duty would change. So I can understand that these bodily concerns are not my real business. My real business is how to elevate myself-as a spirit soul-to the spiritual world, back to home, back to Godhead."
When the mind is completely washed of all material contamination, the pure consciousness acts. The sound vibration from the spiritual sky can automatically cleanse all material contaminations, as confirmed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: ceto-darpanam-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. We need only take the advice of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and chant the Hare Krishna mantra to cleanse the mind of all material contamination, and this may be considered the summary of this difficult verse. As soon as the whole material contamination is washed away by this process of chanting, all desires and reactions to material activities become immediately vanquished, and real life, peaceful existence, begins. In this age of Kali it is very difficult to adopt the yogic process mentioned in this verse.
Unless one is very expert in such yoga, the best course is to adopt the ways and means of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri-Krishna-sankirtanam. Thus one can gloriously become freed from all material contamination by the simple process of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Just as life in this material world has its beginning in material sound, similarly a spiritual life has its beginning in this spiritual sound vibration. (SB 4.23.17 pp)
In His Siksastaka, Lord Chaitanya
describes the progressive benefits of chanting Hare Krishna. First, ceto-darpana-marjanam
[Cc. Antya 20.12]. The beginning is cleansing the heart, because we are impure
on account of dirty things within our heart, accumulated lifetime after lifetime
in the animalistic way of life. So everything-advancement of spiritual life, culture,
tapasya-is meant to cleanse the heart. And in this process of chanting the maha-mantra,
the first installment of benefit is the cleansing of the heart. Ceto-darpana-marjanam.
In this way the person who chants
Hare Krishna purifies his consciousness. Then his materialistic activity is stopped.
He knows, "This is simply a waste of time. I must act spiritually."
That is knowledge, which comes from cleansing the heart (ceto-darpana-marjanam
[Cc. Antya 20.12]). The illusion of wrongly working on the basis of the bodily
concept of life is overcome simply by the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
This is the first installment of benefit from chanting. (SP: Civilization and
Om Tat Sat