The Method of Becoming Trnād-api
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Considering oneself to be even lower and more worthless than insignificant grass that has been trampled beneath everyone’s feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being free from pride and offering respect to everyone according to their respective positions, one should continually chant the holy name of Śrī Hari.
When will this humble mood of tṛṇād-api-sunīcena come? It will come when the Vraja-devīs fill one’s heart with inspiration to serve constantly in newer and newer ways. “How can I learn this service? How can I become expert in pleasing the Vraja-devīs? When will they instruct and accept me?” When a sādhaka thinks like this, he laments and prays sincerely. The mood of tṛṇād-api-sunīcena comes when one is continuously absorbed in deep prayer. One who is devoid of this prayerful mood is not able to become tṛṇād-api-sunīcena, no matter how much he tries. Until a person has this mood, his humility is only an external display.
When Kṛṣṇa plays His flute, the gopīs immediately want to leave their homes and run to meet with Him. Sometimes they get stopped by their mothers or sisters-in-law, who lock the door and brandish sticks. The gopīs who are thus trapped feel so sad and lowly that they leave their bodies and enter into another gopī body manifested by svarūpa-śakti. Then when they see their husbands and in-laws in the house, they feel as if they have absolutely no connection to them. This can only happen because they had the mood of tṛṇād-api-sunīcena. They were tolerant in the sense that instead of forgetting Kṛṣṇa when their meeting became impossible, their love for Him only increased. Real love only grows in the presence of obstacles. This love can never be lost.
One who has this tṛṇād-api-sunīcena mood will never lose his service, or his love and devotion. He will have patience, tolerance, and humility. One who does not feel himself tṛṇād-api sunīca cannot protect his bhajana and guru-sevā. He will lose the ability to chant his mantras as well as his respect and love for the Vraja-devīs. When one has a genuine tṛṇād-api-sunīcena mood, he will swim in blissful rasa. Then taror-api sahiṣṇunā—one can easily be tolerant in any situation. Then amāni nā mānadena—one will be respectful to everyone and devoid of the desire to be respected himself. Finally, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ—one’s chanting of the holy name of the Lord will become continuous and unbreakable. One’s desire to drink transcendental rasa will increase more and more, and he will do so much service, but simultaneously feel that he does nothing.
The Gosvāmīs used to pray, “He rādhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-sūno kutaḥ—O Rādhe, O Lalitā, O Vraja-devīs, O son of Nanda Mahārāja, where are you?” They moved about Vraja-maṇḍala praying like this in a mood of complete humility.
yat-kiṅkarīṣu bahuśaḥ khalu kāku-vāṇī
nityaṁ parasya puruṣasya śikhaṇḍa-mauleḥ
tasyāḥ kadā rasa-nidher vṛṣabhānu-jāyās
Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhiḥ 8
O daughter of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja, O ocean of rasa! The Supreme Bhagavān, the source of all avatāras, who wears a peacock feather in His hair, falls at the feet of Your maidservants and propitiates them with many humble and grief-stricken words to be allowed entrance into Your kuñja where You engage in playful, amorous pastimes. If only I could become one stick in the broom used by Your sakhīs to sweep Your delightful kuñja, I would consider my life a success.
This prayer of Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda is an example of real humility.
Once, Śyāmānanda Prabhu, accompanied by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, inquired from Jīva Gosvāmī, “You have given me śikṣā, but how can I practically follow these instructions? Theory can be known by anyone but if one does not follow practically, no realizations or feelings will come to him. Prabhu, please instruct me how to follow your instructions practically.”
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī answered, “O Śyāmānanda, in the early brāhma-muhūrta hours, sweep the pathways of Vṛndāvana and the banks of the Yāmuna. Also, do not disturb any living entities, especially those engaged in bhajana.”
By observing Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s instructions, Śyāmānanda Prabhu received Rādhārānī’s direct darśana and mercy. Thus, by acting under the direction of Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and developing a service tendency, one can truly be: tṛṇād-api-sunīcena. The power of svarūpa-śakti will come to him. However, if one distances himself from the Vraja-devīs and Vraja-bhumī, then he will lose the tṛṇād-api-sunīcena mood and will never have spiritual realization. Vraja-bhāva will stay for away from him.
Śrīla Gurudeva taught us practically and by his own example. Mahāprabhu’s movement is the parakīyā line, not the svakīyā line, and it is not for the attainment of dharma, artha, kāma, or mokṣa. In order to understand this tattva, we must enter realization of the siddha-bhūmi and parakīyā-bhāva. Mahāprabhu spoke these eight verses of the Śikṣāṣṭakam to help us achieve that realization and engagement.
Mahāprabhu taught us: kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ—we are advised to continuously perform kīrtana of Śrī Hari. Mahāprabhu thus glorifies kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, not māyā-kīrtana or the kīrtana of mundane personalities. Mahāprabhu instructed the devotees:
grāmya-kathā na śunibe grāmya-vārtā na kahibe
bhala na khāibe ara bhāla na paribe
amani mānada haña kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 6.236-7
Do not hear nor engage in worldly, village talks. Do not eat very luxurious foods, nor should you dress finely. Do not expect prestige, but offer all respect unto others. In this way, always chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vraja.
We know that it is impossible to be truly happy in this world, yet we still look to others to serve and help us. Only Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Guru can really help somebody. For this reason, Mahāprabhu instructed us not to hear or speak grāmya-kathā. It is not helpful for us. Only kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ is helpful. Māyā-kīrtana is going on everywhere, but we should try to engage only in kṛṣṇa-kīrtana.