by Patita Pavana das Adhikary
The following essay is a brief commentary on Verse Eight of the Supreme Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sikshastakam, translated by (and with obeisances unto) His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Who can define love? She who seeks the attention of her Lover must be surrendered -- and surrender is difficult. The true beloved hopes only to be nothing more than her Master’s selfless maidservant, ever content to do His bidding whether in separation or in union. Content to recite her Lover’s name as her only support, she busies herself in His service while always hoping that He will soon appear for her. Her wish is that when He arrives, He will escort her to His everlasting home where her service to Him born out of devotion will continue undisturbed. From this temporary world to the next abode, she steadies herself in her love.
Poets tell us that the metaphorical fruit tree of true love is nurtured slowly, but how many understand these words? This tree grows only from that soil which is made fertile by the waters of pure devotion produced by her call of her Lover’s sacred name. When the boughs of the tree of love hang heavy with ripened fruit, it is up to the Gardener to harvest that crop or let it fall to the ground, as per His wish, to nourish the soil for next year’s yield.
The beloved never questions how long she must wait before the Lover at His leisure fulfills her desires. Whether the maidservant must linger many lifetimes to behold His moon-like face, or whether He arrives in but a moment is His decision alone. She knows that some day near or far away He will arrive to take her to His own magnificent residence where her selfless expression of service will continue. Her faith grows with each act of devotion offered. The duration of time that she must remain behind is unimportant, for her role as His servant demands that the ways of the Lover be never questioned. Whether she waits for one second or for one million years, the beloved never asks of the Lover why or when. She keeps her mind absorbed only upon His lotus feet whether near or far away. Thoroughly focused upon her Master’s enjoyment and putting herself as last, the maidservant seeks only the means to fulfill that which Her Master desires of her for now and forever.
None knows the heart of the beloved but the Lover. Faithfully she carries out His orders, for in due course of time -- in this life or the next -- the Lover in His kindness will appear before her. In all the universal number of universes, He alone is the true Husband and Lord and for her there is none other but Him. As no other, the maidservant understands the meaning of patience and persistence. Undisturbed she executes her day to day tasks, while supporting the very feet of her true Husband alone in her heart and in her mind.
As she selflessly toils, she muses: “Nearsighted they may be, but let women who seek immediate fulfillment through the fleeting forms of temporary so-called ‘husbands’ remain enamored by the energy of this world if that is their choice. The worldly enjoyment they will discover in the company of those who are as conditioned as they themselves will only bind them to further miseries of this world. Let other women choose to accept the positions of servants of ordinary souls in the temporary dress of men, but I shall serve Krishna alone birth after birth.” The beloved never wearies while waiting for her True Love. She has offered her heart to Him alone, and only He shall take her hand at that moment chosen by Him. For this goal, a million lifetimes of service is the smallest of her sacrifices. Neither does she question the tasks He asks of her, but contents herself to wait for the moment when she can say, “Yes, yes, my Master, yes.”
Though the Lover may be detained by the affairs of the other darlings who have captured His heart, even if their numbers are as many as cannot be counted, the beloved feels herself always content in His service. Should the beloved be required to wait for the lifetime of Brahma, even so the maidservant shall feel herself neither neglected nor estranged. Rather, she will feel herself lucky to wait until she can offer herself only to Him Who understands her undying love. She continues to serve faithfully until such time as her own turn manifests. She feels grateful and content when even her rivals are engaged in fulfilling the pleasure of her Lord, for nothing but His unconditional joy and happiness sits paramount in the recess of her heart.
By her service attitude, the maidservant epitomizes the words of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who prayed as follows in His Sikshastakam, verse 8:
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah
”I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.”
Patita Pavana das Adhikary