The seekers of truth, with great hope, embark on the path of spiritual enlightenment. Their hearts fill with affection for guides and teachers, associates on the journey, and self-realized souls. Their aim becomes pure love of God, without even attraction for enjoying divine opulences. But the path has traps and tricksters. There is a thief who appears to be an eye-catching amorous partner, and a hungry tigress who lures with discussions of eternal light and peace. A jewel of love enables the seekers to recognize and avoid those, but will they succumb to the gang of robbers with strong ropes before they swim through the ocean of love and drink the radiant nectar that opens the door to perfection?
Many treatises on spiritual life seem to make everything seem so easy—a simple formula for instant success if one is just sincere enough. Other books cater to the hopeful who keep failing and want formulas of reassurance. Yet other authors speak to the disappointed to condemn spiritual realization as a myth, which cheaters propagate for personal gain. In contrast, Splendid Instructions to the Mind (Manah-shiksha) is at once both hopefully inspiring and blatantly honest. To read it well entails an authentic appraisal of the state of one’s heart and mind, an experience of recognition and acceptance that is at once sweet and sour, comforting and uncompromising. To read it well entails receiving many glowing gifts to triumph over our lower nature and reveal our true spiritual essence, so that all struggles and illusion become a distant dream.
Manah-shiksha helps us make sure our compass is set to the right direction, and our heart is attuned to the mood of the spiritual world. It allows us to recognize the increasingly subtle thieves and traps on the path, and employ counteracting measures, finally showing us how the fully illuminated and humble soul enters into loving perfection.
In the first volume, we learn about affection and attachment so we can gain genuine love of ourselves and others. Through respect and integrity, we escape the pitfalls of arrogance and deceit. These verses are a complete step-by-step guidebook on the inner, esoteric path of spontaneous love for God. Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami liberally used metaphor, poetry, and literary ornaments to unlock our full potential. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has instructed, “Shri Manah-shiksha has laid down a systematic procedure for one to enter into and become absorbed in the pastimes of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna; one should follow it without guile.”
Each verse in volume one has a corresponding meditative painting which can transport the reader to the spiritual realm. This handy book is perfect for contemplation and regular singing of the verses. Included are detailed descriptions of the paintings, drawing on a wide range of sacred writings.
In volume two, each of Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami’s verses is followed by commentary by Bhaktivinoda Thakura—both prose and song. This edition is the first time his song commentary has been published in English. The verses and Bhaktivinoda’s commentaries are richly illustrated with over a hundred drawings by various international artists.
Additionally, this second volume contains commentaries by contemporary senior practitioners of bhakti yoga from around the globe: Jayadvaita Swami, Sivarama Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Bhaktivijnana Goswami, and Urmila Devi Dasi. Their extensive commentaries delight and entertain while inspiring and clarifying. They easily enable the modern reader to put this classic book into practice in today’s world.
The author, Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami (1495-1586), was born in a family of great wealth and power, and much hope rested on him to take over the family business. But at the age of nineteen, he left his family and traveled to Jagannatha Puri to take shelter of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Raghunatha Dasa became Svarupa Damodara Gosvami’s assistant and received frequent personal association and instructions from Lord Caitanya. After the Lord left this world, Raghunatha Dasa went to Vrindavana and received instructions from Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami. He lived near Radha-kunda for the rest of his life. He worked to find and restore different places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes in the area and wrote and compiled many important books, including Stavavali, Shri Vilapa-kusumañjali, Dana-keli-cintamani, Mukta-carita, and Manah-shiksha.