Out of His great kindness, Caitanya Mahāprabhu arranged a program to benefit the jīvas of Kali-yuga. He gave the highest śikṣā, teaching, in His Śikṣāstakam. There are five types of gurus: dīkṣā-guru, śikṣā-guru, caitya-guru, bhajana-guru, and vartma-pradarśaka-guru. Amongst these five gurus, the śikṣā and dīkṣā–gurus are the most important. Mahāprabhu is the best śikṣā-guru, because He helps the jīvas make a relationship with the Vraja-devīs, Vraja-bhūmi, and the Vrajavāsīs. He does not cheat anybody. Whoever has taken birth in this Kali-yuga and has come to the Gauḍīya-sampradāya is very fortunate. We can be happy and proud to be in this sampradāya.
There are many incarnations of Kṛṣṇa who teach Veda, Vedānta, śāstra, and the Upaniṣads. They are all genuine and the processes they teach are genuine, but even after following them, some sādhakas cannot cross material existence even after millions of lives of practice. The Kali-yuga jīvas have no ability for strong austerity. They are very small. They are full of misunderstandings and their lives are very short. This age is full of darkness. Whatever the jīvas do causes them great suffering. To show the jīvas the process of how to get delivered and to enter Vraja, Mahāprabhu gave this Śikṣāstakam. Through this Śikṣāstakam He connects us to svarūpa-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, who then helps us make a relationship with our soul and the Supreme Soul. By Her help, the jīvas understand the difference between favorable and unfavorable association. She is svarūpa-śakti, the embodiment of all transcendental power. Once the sādhaka follows Mahāprabhu and starts kṛṣṇa-kīrtana in the association of the bhaktas, Her power immediately comes and helps us.
The Śikṣāstakam teaches us the importance of following the prema-dharma by chanting harināma. The Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra contains Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s blessings and power. By chanting the mahāmantra, one becomes able to find a bona fide guru and advance in bhakti. Our spiritual birth, or dīkṣā, begins when we start to engage in harināma-saṅkīrtana. General people have no idea of the glories of the mahāmantra, nor do they have any desire to chant. But by the mercy of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, they can hear kīrtana and the process of purification begins. They will feel blissful because this harināma contains Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s love and service tendency to Kṛṣṇa. Everything is present in this nāma. Śrī Guru first gives us the mahāmantra and by chanting continuously, our heart will be cleansed. How? Who cleans the heart? Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Therefore śastra states:
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādī 17.21
In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way to achieve deliverance than chanting harernāma, harernāma, harernāma.
What is this harernama? Hare is Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. When we chant the mahāmantra, we are praying for Her mercy. Without Her mercy, we cannot make any relation or connection with Kṛṣṇa. Without Her mercy, we can never cleanse our heart of the anarthas that have plagued us since so many millions of lives. By Her mercy, our heart will be purified, and become a place for all the bhaktas and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. She will make the heart a protected area where saṅkīrtana-rasa is continuously flowing and where unfavorable association cannot enter, as in Śrīvasa-aṅgana, those who were not qualified could not enter. And by engaging in this harināma continuously, we will in turn be able to purify others by our chanting. In this way, groups of devotees will form by the power of chanting harināma. This is the process of ceto–darpana–mārjanam. In this way, Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to give Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s own power and potency.
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
Vidagdha Mādhava, Verse 1
May that Lord, who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacīdevī, be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what has not been given in a very long time—mañjarī-bhāva, the service of Śrīmatī Rādhikā as Her confidential maidservant.
When Mahāprabhu appeared, He arranged a good society to help the jīvas cleanse their hearts and enter service in the unnata-ujjvala-rasa. By Mahāprabhu’s desire, many groups of devotees have developed in this world. Wherever a devotee begins kīrtana, a group will naturally form there in due course. By Mahāprabhu’s desire, Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura began the Gauḍīya-maṭha. Each temple is like a branch office of Vraja-bhūmi. And everywhere, in all his temples, he began the saṅkīrtana movement, by engaging devotees together in nāma-kīrtana. Gauri is a name of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, and those who follow Her are called ‘Gauḍīya’.
Prabhupāda called his devotees Gauḍīyas and they stayed in the Gauḍīya-maṭha. For those who reside in the maṭha, the process of ceto–darpana-mārjanam is very easy. But this process is executed only by nāma–kīrtana. In the maṭha, there is sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, hari-katha, and mahā-prasāda, and whatever one does is in the group of the Gauḍīyas and therefore empowered by Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura also called this the Gauḍīya hospital, because it is a place where the material diseases of the conditioned souls are diagnosed and the patients get treated and cured of all diseases. The Gauḍīya-maṭha is constantly purifying the hearts of its residents until their lives and souls solely belong to Kṛṣṇa. This is vidyā–vadhū-jīvanam. Then parā-vidyā–svarūpīni Rādhā Ṭhākurānī will be our everything and we will not have to pray to anybody else.