The third verse of Śikṣāṣṭaka describes the qualification for nāma-saṅkīrtana and the process for chanting the holy name:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Thinking 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 prideless and offering respect to everyone according to their respective positions, one should continuously chant the holy name of Śrī Hari.
ye rūpe laile nāma prema upajaya
tāra lakṣaṇa-śloka śuna, svarūpa-rāmarāya
uttama haṣā āpanāke māne tṛṇādhama
dui prakāre sahiṣṇutā kare vṛkṣa sama
vṛkṣa yena kāṭileha kichu nā bolaya
śukāiṣā maileha kāre pānī nā māgaya
yei ye māgaye, tāre deya āpana dhana
gharma-vṛṣṭi sahe, ānera karaye rakṣaṇa
uttama haṣā vaiṣṇava ha’be nirabhimāna
jīve sammāna dibe jāni ‘kṛṣṇa’-adhiṣṭhāna
Four symptoms are observed in sādhakas who chant the holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa free from all offences: (1) natural humility born of complete detachment from sense objects, (2) pure compassion devoid of envy, (3) purity of heart and freedom from false ego, and (4) an attitude of respect towards everyone according to their position.
Taror api sahiṣṇunā refers to the tolerance of a tree. A tree is so tolerant that it does not forget to show kindness by offering its cool shade and sweet fruits even to the person who comes to cut it down. Since Kṛṣṇa’s devotees are even more merciful than a tree, they show kindness to all, both friend and enemy. This is compassion completely free from envy. Although such devotees are topmost in the kingdom of bhakti, they remain free from pride. They know that Kṛṣṇa resides in the hearts of all living entities, and therefore give all living entities appropriate respect. Such persons are truly eligible to perform śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma-kīrtana, and only performers of śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma-kīrtana attain kṛṣṇa-prema.
The features of surrender (śaraṇāgati) are given in the Vaiṣṇava-tantra (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (11.676)):
goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
The six types of surrender are: (1) to accept that which is favourable to kṛṣṇa-bhakti; (2) to reject that which is unfavourable; (3) to have the strong faith “Bhagavān will protect me”; (4) to have dependence, thinking “Bhagavān will take care of me”; (5) to be fully self-surrendered (ātma-samarpaṇa); and (6) to be humble.
bhakti-anukūla yāhā tāhāi svīkāra
bhakti-pratikūla saba kari parihāra
kṛṣṇa vai rakṣā-kartā āra keha nāi
kṛṣṇa se pālana more karibena bhāi
āmi āmāra yata kichu kṛṣṇe nivedana
niṣkapaṭa dainye kari jīvana-yāpana
The symptom of śaraṇāgati in one-pointed devotees is that they perpetually engage in service to their Prabhu and accept whatever He arranges. Such devotees accept whatever punishment is given by Bhagavān as His mercy. They know that every action takes place only due to the desire of Kṛṣṇa; therefore they unite their desire with Kṛṣṇa’s and thus remain peaceful. A devotee does not think that Kṛṣṇa has sent him to this world to suffer miseries, but that he chose the miseries of the world by misusing his independence. The symptom of śaraṇāgati is that one gives up the false conception of being the doer and takes shelter of guru and Vaiṣṇavas. The intrinsic characteristic (svarūpa-lakṣaṇa) of surrender is acceptance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as one’s maintainer (goptṛtve varaṇam). The remaining five symptoms are the marginal characteristics (taṭastha-lakṣaṇa) of śaraṇāgati.
Firm faith that “Śrī Kṛṣṇa will always maintain me” is the meaning of goptṛtve varaṇam. In Bhagavad-gītā Śrī Kṛṣṇa says: “teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham – for those who are always absorbed in thoughts of Me, and who worship Me by every means and with one-pointed devotion, I Myself preserve what they have and carry what they lack.” He also says, “My devotees will never be destroyed.”
In the second and third verses of his Upadeśāmṛta, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has explained two of the marginal characteristics of śaraṇāgati: to accept what is favourable for bhakti (ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ) and to give up what is unfavourable (prātikūlyasya varjanam). These two verses were explained in detail in the second chapter of this book.
One must first give up the false identification with this material body (deha-abhimāna). The Mukunda-mālā (37) states:
idaṁ śarīraṁ śata-sandhi-jarjaraṁ
pataty avaśyaṁ pariṇāma-peśalam
kim auṣadhaṁ pṛcchasi mūḍha durmate
nirāmayaṁ kṛṣṇa-rasāyanaṁ piba
This frail body, which is made of five elements and connected by hundreds of joints, is certain to decline. Consequently, the body will be burnt to ashes or will become food for worms and transformed into excrement. O foolish and wicked mind, you have decorated such a disgusting body with a senseless attachment. The elixir of śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma is the only powerful medicine to cure this disease of material existence. You should constantly drink it by incessantly chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy name.
śata sandhi-jara-jara, tava ei kalevara,
patana haibe eka-dina
bhasma, kṛmi, viṣṭhā ha’be, sakalera ghṛṇya tabe,
ihāte mamatā arvācīna
ore mana, śuna mora e satya-vacana,
e rogera mahauṣadhi, kṛṣṇa-nāma niravadhi,
One should endeavour to serve Govinda and not painstakingly try to protect this short-lived temporary body. No matter how much one tries to protect this body, which is made of five elements, its destruction is inevitable. Therefore this Text says, “O wicked mind, give up performing aṣṭāṅga-yoga, physical exercises and so forth to keep this body fit, and only drink the nectar of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name. Only this nectar can liberate you from the cycle of birth and death. By the mercy of nāma you will attain the eternal abode of Kṛṣṇa and a transcendental body suitable for rendering service there. Then you will be engaged in your nitya-sevā.”
One should be tolerant like a tree and compassionate to all jīvas. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.9.12) Śrī Brahmā says:
ārādhitaḥ sura-gaṇair hṛdi baddha-kāmaiḥ
nānā-janeṣv avahitaḥ suhṛd antar-ātmā
O Bhagavān, You are situated in the hearts of all living entities as the supremely benevolent Supersoul. Because of Your compassionate nature, You always remain pleasing to everyone, but You cannot be attained by the non-devotees.
bahu upacārārpaṇe, pūji’ kāmī deva-gaṇe,
prasannatā nā la’bhe tomāra
sarva-bhūte dayā kari’, bhaje akhilātmā hari,
tāre kṛpā tomāra apāra
Śrī Brahmā is praying at the lotus feet of Bhagavān, “O Bhagavān, You are situated as the Supersoul in all living entities. You are everyone’s friend and, despite being unattainable for the non-devotees, You are always merciful to everyone. The demigods worship You so that You will be pleased and fulfil their various material desires. Due to Your merciful nature, You grant their wishes, for You have said in Bhagavad-gītā (4.11): ‘ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham – as all surrender unto Me and worship Me, I reciprocate accordingly.’ However, You always give special mercy to Your devotees. Although Your mercy is distributed everywhere, You have special affection for Your devotees. This is not a mixture of contradictory qualities.”
According to Bhagavad-gītā (9.29):
samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
I am equal to all living beings and am neither inimical nor partial to anyone. But as those who serve Me with devotion are attached to Me, so I too am bound by affection for them.
The glory of the virtue of giving respect to devotees is described in the Mukunda-mālā (35):
śṛṇvan sato bhagavato guṇa-kīrtanāni
dehe na yasya pulakodgama-roma-rājiḥ
notpadyate nayanayor vimalāmbu-mālā
dhik tasya jīvitam aho puruṣādhamasya
If upon hearing the kīrtana of Hari’s name, form, qualities and pastimes from the mouths of guru and Vaiṣṇavas, one’s bodily hairs do not stand erect in ecstasy, his heart does not melt, and tears do not flow from his eyes, alas! the life of such a wretched person is condemned.
sādhu-mukhe yei jana, kṛṣṇa-nāma-guṇa-gaṇa,
śuniyā nā haila pulakita
nayane vimala jala, nā vahila anargala,
se vā kena rahila jīvita
Sādhakas performing bhajana condemn their lives and repent in this way: “Alas! Even though I have heard hari-kathā from the mouths of saintly persons, my hard heart does not melt. This is the result of my offences. The heart of one who just once hears the glories of Kṛṣṇa’s name melts immediately. But my heart has not realised this truth, and thus my life is condemned.”
There is a story in this regard. There was a person who would come to hear hari-kathā in an assembly of sādhus. Upon hearing the hari-kathā, everyone present would be saturated with bliss, but the heart of this man bore no change. He became very remorseful about this. The next day, while hearing hari-kathā, he rubbed red chilli powder in his eyes, which then poured forth a shower of tears. The Vaiṣṇava giving the hari-kathā noticed this. When the narrations were finished, he called him over and praised him by saying, “The scriptures say those senses that refuse to perform kṛṣṇa-bhajana should be punished, and today you have put this into practice. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says, ‘It is useless to keep those senses that are not engaged in the service of Bhagavān.’” When the man heard this, a stream of real tears flowed from his eyes.