“O Lord, Your lotus face, which is encircled by locks of soft black hair tinged with red, is kissed again and again by mother Yashoda, and Your lips are reddish like the bimba fruit. May this beautiful vision of Your lotus face be ever manifest in my heart. Thousands and thousands of other benedictions are of no use to me.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 5)
idaḿ te mukhāmbhojam atyanta-nīlair
vṛtaḿ kuntalaiḥ snigdha-raktaiś ca gopyā
muhuś cumbitaḿ bimba-raktādharaḿ me
manasy āvirāstām alaḿ lakṣa-lābhaiḥ
There are so many things to be afraid of in this world. Since death is guaranteed for everyone who appears here, one way to describe this land is mrityu-loka, which means “the planet of death.” Though death is guaranteed, no one knows for sure when it will happen for them. You can be in the safest situation and still meet a tragic end through some accident. Therefore there is every reason to constantly fear. Damodara, who is the creator of this and every other planet, can grant many boons, including fearlessness.
One person is afraid to drive. Just the thought of sitting behind the wheel makes them nervous. They don’t know how they will be able to operate the vehicle. What if they’re on the highway and they get so nervous that they can’t continue? What are they going to do? They would rather not learn how to drive.
Another person is afraid to fly. They can’t bear the thought of being trapped inside of a tube that’s miraculously floating in the air for so long. Not wanting to feel claustrophobic and tortured by time simultaneously, they would rather find any other way to travel. The mere thought of the airplane scares them.
Another person is afraid of failure. They don’t know how they will handle not succeeding at something. In their years in school, they avoid the dreaded by completing their assignments right away. They don’t wait until the last minute, because what if some emergency at that time gets in the way of their work? Not able to cope with the potential lack of success, they work very hard to make sure they succeed.
In this way there are so many things to fear. Strangely enough, even those who thoroughly believe in God have fear. They worry about offending Him. They know that He hands out strict punishment. In fact, He can hand out the worst punishment if He should become angry. In the Vedic tradition, there are many examples of this. One time He bifurcated an evil king using only His nails. Another time He shot many arrows that penetrated the chest of a valiant warrior who had terrorized the world.
This punishment has another side to it, though. The nails were used to kill the king named Hiranyakashipu; that is for sure. Yet that king was killed for a specific reason. He had been torturing his five year old son named Prahlada. The king whose body was filled with arrows had stolen a princess and mentally tortured her for no reason. Therefore the punishment gave protection at the same time. In these instances while the evil had reason to fear, the devoted were granted fearlessness.
The same fearlessness leads mother Yashoda to kiss the cheeks of Damodara again and again. She does not know that He is capable of punishing the entire world. She does not understand that He creates this and every other land and that His opulence of strength is beyond measure. She does not worry about offending Him. He is under her care as her darling child. He plays in Vrindavana and lives in her house. Therefore He must listen to her. If He doesn’t, she will bind Him to a mortar.
The person who glorifies this pastime between Damodara and Yashoda is also fearless. They do not worry about the many boons that God can grant. Not afraid of rebirth, they seek Damodara’s association instead. We can liken it to meeting someone who could easily give us a winning lottery ticket. He could give us ticket after ticket, in fact. Would we ever turn this person down? Would we ask to have their association instead?
Only the fearless person would ask this of Damodara. Their fearlessness comes from knowing that the person’s ability to protect is unmatched. He creates circumstances for the past, present and future. Though apparently everything happens through karma, or action and reaction, Damodara is the person who makes karma. He subverts its influence whenever He desires and He grants His devotees the same ability. It is for this reason that He advises Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita to abandon all varieties of religion and simply surrender unto Him.
sarva-dharmān parityajyamām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vrajaahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyomokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
Those who follow this advice lose all fear. With confidence they swim in the ocean of transcendental nectar that is bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. They always chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They glorify God as Damodara, and they appreciate the fearless mother who kisses Him again and again.
One person afraid to drive,
Another wonders how in plane to survive.
Of failure also there’s fear,
Rooted in knowing death can be near.
Damodara, though by rope He’s bound,
Entire universe in His belly is found.
When pleased to grant anything cherished,
With fearlessness devotees His company relish.