Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looks Can Be Deceiving

[Damodara tied with rope]“O Lord Damodara, I first of all offer my obeisances to the brilliantly effulgent rope which binds Your belly. I then offer my obeisances to Your belly, which is the abode of the entire universe. I humbly bow down to Your most beloved Shrimati Radharani, and I offer all obeisances to You, the Supreme Lord, who displays unlimited pastimes.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 8)

namas te ‘stu dāmne sphurad-dīpti-dhāmne
tvadīyodarāyātha viśvasya dhāmne
namo rādhikāyai tvadīya-priyāyai
namo ‘nanta-līlāya devāya tubhyam

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The scientists can’t understand the infinitely complex universe. So many nuances there are that books can be written based solely on how and when things were discovered. Never mind that those discoveries were always there to begin with, that some intelligent being placed them there. These things are so complex that to fathom a person being responsible for them is too much. Yet that vast complexity is nothing for the origin of all, as it can all fit inside of His tiny belly.

Come again? Are you not referencing mythology?

While the bewildered scientist can’t make heads or tails out of the greatness of the universe, the fiends from Mathura were tricked by a much simpler image. A small child baffled them again and again. Under the orders of the fearful Kamsa, these nefarious characters each went to Gokula with one goal in mind: kill Krishna. Krishna was the small child under the protection of the foster parents, Nanda Maharaja and Queen Yashoda.

[Krishna stealing butter]A prophecy said that Kamsa would meet his death at the hands of the eighth child of his sister Devaki. Krishna was that child, but otherwise He was not a threat to anyone. The only people who really had to worry were the neighbors in Gokula. Krishna would regularly break into their homes and run off with the loot of their sweet butter. Though they feigned outrage, secretly they were delighted.

The fiends arrived under direct orders; they were not to be distracted. Kamsa thought a baby was a threat, so to them that meant Krishna had to be taken out. Should have been a piece of cake, no? A child who was feeding off breast milk and stealing butter surely couldn’t be expected to fight anyone? There was no way He could overcome a whirlwind, a witch with a trick up her sleeve, or a demon masquerading as a farm animal.

They were indeed deceived by Krishna’s looks. He easily thwarted their attacks. He took their lives as well. One punch from His tiny little fist was enough. One suck on the witch’s breast was enough to kill her. One hurl of the fake farm animal was enough to kill it. Indeed, as Satyavrata Muni notes, in Krishna’s tiny little belly can fit the entire universe. Mother Yashoda saw the vision of the universal form within Krishna’s mouth.

“When the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna was so ordered by His mother, He immediately opened His mouth just like an ordinary boy. Then mother Yashoda saw within that mouth the complete opulence of creation. She saw the entire outer space in all directions, mountains, islands, oceans, seas, planets, air, fire, moon and stars.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 8)

[Krishna looking into Yashoda's mouth]That belly is the abode of the entire universe. A rope was once used to tie Krishna by the belly to a mortar. Mother Yashoda did this, with some help from her son. This earned the boy a new name: Damodara. Due to His nature God is always underestimated. Who in the world can fathom the complete whole? Think of everything that exists and put it into a single image. That is but one way to understand God’s greatness.

That same child who killed Putana and Trinavarta got bound to a mortar by Yashoda. How was that possible? Just as His greatness is underestimated, so is Krishna’s affection for His devotees. There is no limit to what He is willing to do for them. The laws of nature do not affect Him. The laws He sets down Himself to govern man’s behavior do not apply to Him. It is sinful to take another’s property, but Damodara happily runs away with butter churned by others. It is not good to break something valuable in the home, yet Damodara does it and gets praised for it.

His kindness is such that He allows Yashoda to bind Him. The sweetness of the Supreme Lord is so strong that whatever associates with Him becomes beautiful. Thus Satyavrata Muni pays obeisance to the rope that tied Krishna by the belly to the mortar. That rope looks beautiful around Damodara, for it shows that He can be caught by only one thing: devotion. The residents in Gokula excel in that devotion, and they are led by Shrimati Radharani, Krishna’s eternal consort.

[Damodara with Yashoda]To understand the infinitely complex universe is not required to make life successful. To become greater than the greatest is not necessary, either. Simply appreciate Damodara, who shines the spotlight of glory on Yashoda and her devotion. Simply try to understand how that belly is the abode of the entire universe, and how remembering the incident that gave birth to the name Damodara brings relief from the miseries of a material existence.

In Closing:

Impossible to grasp, but not without hope,

With attention pay obeisance to that rope.


Through which Krishna to mortar bound,

After Yashoda the broken butter pot found.


No limit to the affection giving,

For souls in devotion to Him living.


That rope from mother supreme love revealing,

Vision of Damodara to devotees so endearing.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Not Your Typical Route

[Sons of Kuvera]“O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera - Manigriva and Nalakuvara - were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 7)

kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha

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Mentality 1:

“I know, I know; I’m supposed to become God conscious. That is the aim of the human birth. I can eat nicely in any species. The banana to the monkey tastes as good as pizza to the human being. The bare ground for the dog is as comfortable as the memory foam mattress for the adult human. I’m supposed to go beyond the sense pleasures; there is more to life than enjoying in the typical way. But I’m not ready for all of that right now. Let me earn some money first. Then I will take up devotional service.”

Mentality 2:

“Listen, I’m never going to become a guru like you. I won’t be able to abandon everything at once; I have too many attachments right now. I like enjoying with my friends. I like watching movies and being sedentary in front of the television. Sometimes I like to travel and discover new things. I’m not ready for bhakti-yoga just yet. Let me enjoy a little more first.”

Mentality 3:

“I need some stability in my life. I need to get married. I can’t run around on my own anymore. I feel lonely. Let me meet a nice person, settle down, and then I’ll take to chanting the holy names. I promise to get my children involved, too. Don’t worry. It’s just that now is not a good time.”

The sober human being is not bewildered by the constant changes that occur to the body. Like going from boyhood to youth to adulthood and then to old age, the individual similarly passes into another body at death. This means that we shouldn’t freak out so much over living and dying. And since things change all the time, there’s a higher purpose to this life than worrying over this situation and that.

dehino 'smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Spirituality is that higher purpose. It is in spirituality that we learn of our true identity. Without tapping into the comprehensive and enlightening Vedic philosophy, we wouldn’t even know about the changing body. One is very fortunate to even come across this information. Taking the next step towards making the most of the human life is another issue altogether. That is very difficult, and by only perceiving those who are already engaged in life’s true mission, not everything is revealed.

[Radha-Krishna deities]What do we mean by this? Consider the person who is already engaged in chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They worship in the temple, speak on the philosophy of the science of self-realization, serve with enthusiasm, and avoid the four pillars of sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex.

Did they start out this way? Were they always so dedicated? From the result manifest before us we can’t really decipher their history. We don’t know what they were doing beforehand. In our foolishness, we think that they adopted this way of life without issue; that it came naturally to them. But in fact, they too likely held sentiments similar to those mentioned above. In the case of two brothers, the transformation took place in quite the atypical fashion: they were living as trees.

Prior to this, they had every enjoyment available. They were in the heavenly region, which features many beautiful women. These brothers enjoyed the pleasures of material life, which featured intoxication. They had not a care in the world. They seemingly had it all, but then through one slip up, they lost everything. By offending Narada Muni, they got cursed to take birth as trees.

Though they had no worries with respect to the availability of material amenities, they still didn’t take up devotional service. They weren’t missing anything, it seemed. All was well, but then everything got taken away from them. That is the way of material life, even when residing in the heavenly region. Just as the body of the individual constantly changes, so too do fortune and circumstances. This means that whatever road we think will successfully lead us to devotion may not be clear. That path may get blocked up. The plans can change suddenly. We think we’ll be peaceful living a certain way, but most likely we won’t.

It took living as trees for the brothers to receive the divine mercy. They got it when Shri Krishna dragged a mortar in between them. He was tied to that mortar by His mother, Yashoda, as punishment for having broken a pot of yogurt. Thus three people had a hand in liberating the two brothers. There was Narada Muni, a saintly character. He cursed them, though in fact he paved the way for their receiving the greatest blessing. There was Yashoda; she put Krishna in the right place.

Then, of course, there was Krishna Himself. By dragging the mortar in between the trees, He knocked them down. Upon falling, the brothers got released from the curse. More importantly, they developed prema-bhakti. They had love for Krishna, and they showed it by offering Him nice words of praise. They got to see His beautiful spiritual form of Damodara, which is not so easy to attain.

[Trees praying to Krishna]The path towards transcendence is not how we first plan it. The divine mercy can come at any time, and the worshipable Satyavrata Muni prays to have it in the same way that Nalakuvara and Manigriva got it. It’s odd if you think about it. Would you ever pray to take birth as a tree, left to stand naked in front of the world for so many years? Would you ask the man upstairs to take everything away from you? This is what happens sometimes on the path towards transcendence. Through the association of a saint, the divine mercy can come in unexpected ways. It can arrive right now, regardless of mindset, if one always remembers Damodara and how He fulfilled the prophecy of Narada Muni.

In Closing:

While standing as trees to them brought,

Divine mercy, not in the way that you thought.


Whether with you material miseries none,

Or having penny to your name not a one.


Advantage of bhakti right now take,

To your constitutional position awake.


Damodara and the mortar keep in mind,

And elusive jewel of bhakti-yoga find.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

When God Runs Into You

[Sons of Kuvera]“O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera - Manigriva and Nalakuvara - were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 7)

kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha

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It was a chance encounter. You were going about your business; nothing was out of the ordinary. You went to the post office to pick up your mail. You drove over to the gas station to fill up. Then on the way home you realized that you forgot to pick up milk and bread. Making a detour to the supermarket, you parked your car and headed towards the entrance.

That’s when things changed. You ran into an old colleague. You hadn’t seen this person for years. You got to talking and he mentioned that there is an opening at his new company that you would be perfect for. It would mean a substantial increase in pay, the location would be an improvement, and you would get to work with many people you already know. What good fortune, you think. Through luck you ran into this prior colleague and had everything in your life change.

The seemingly accidental encounter having the greatest impact is the meeting with the saint who follows bhakti-yoga. This is the opinion of shastra, or scripture, and it is confirmed through analysis of historical events, including the liberation of two brothers. It’s interesting to note that the encounter is not with God Himself. It is not that one accidentally runs into the Supreme Lord. The meeting with the saint is so powerful that they create circumstances where the Supreme Lord runs into you, like He did when He pulled the mortar in Yashoda’s courtyard in Gokula.

[Damodara with Yashoda]Why isn’t the good fortune related to running into God? Why doesn’t that chance encounter happen? For starters, if a person is not qualified, the meeting would have no value. Think of it like a small child finding a winning lottery ticket. They have no concept of money even, so how will they know that one piece of paper is so much more important than another? If a person is governed by duality, under the control of attraction and aversion, they won’t be able to understand God properly. They won’t know what it means to be transcendental. Their meeting with Him will yield little benefit.

The saint can provide the meaning. It is as simple as that; a single person can enlighten us on the most bewildering aspects of life. In ignorance, I demand to see God. I want Him to show Himself to me and then explain the meaning of chaos. “Why is there death? Why is there conflict? Why is there disease? Tell me!”

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye 'rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

The saint beams the light of transcendental knowledge. They explain that birth and death must occur for someone who is under karma. Karma is tied to desire. If someone desires to be master, they must go under the laws of action and reaction. There is stiff competition to be the master of all, which means that so many collisions in interest will occur. The attempt is futile, since only God can be the supreme. Therefore birth and death take place, recurring in cycles, until one changes their desire.

The meeting with a saint is so powerful that you don’t even need to get transcendental knowledge right away to be benefitted. Nalakuvara and Manigriva were enjoying materially in the heavenly realm when they had a chance encounter with Narada Muni. After showing him disrespect, the saint cursed them to take birth as trees in the material world in the holy place of Gokula.

So these two brothers, sons of demigods, went from living the good life to standing naked as trees for many years. How was this beneficial? How did Narada show mercy upon them? He said that the curse would be lifted when Shri Krishna ran into them. Though the punishment was long, the reward at the end was worth it.

In His beautiful form of Damodara, the Supreme Lord dragged a mortar in between the two trees, thus knocking them down. Liberated from the curse, the two brothers praised Krishna very nicely. They got liberation in the true sense of the word, having love for Krishna.

[Sons of Kuvera with Damodara]Satyavrata Muni prays for the same benediction. Indeed, in his humility he does not realize that he is creating the same opportunity for liberation for so many others. The fortunate souls get to hear his Damodarashtaka, which is prominently featured in the month of Kartika. By hearing these eight sacred verses, the same Damodara runs into them, giving them prema-bhakti as a result. The saints of the Vaishnava tradition thus continue to give blessings, liberating countless souls from the miserable ocean of material suffering.

In Closing:

Meeting with God not really the height,

To fail to recognize Him you might.


Better if the saint you can meet,

And respectfully them to greet.


Listening attentively to their words to say,

Make situation where Krishna to come your way.


The Supreme Lord into you will run,

Like with Damodara and Kuvera’s sons.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How Do You Want To See Him

[Sons of Kuvera]“O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera - Manigriva and Nalakuvara - were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 7)

kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha

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After someone passes away, the only connection we have to them is through memory. We can no longer speak to them. We can’t go to visit them. If they left recorded instructions then perhaps we can associate that way, but usually it is the interactions we had with them previously that keep them alive to us. Since death usually occurs through illness, we won’t want to remember them when they were towards the end. Rather, when they were full of life, when they were happiest, that is how we like to picture them.

Time makes it so that the individual always seems to be changing. There is never a fixed moment. The famous athlete who dies gets remembered for their playing days. The picture in the eyes of the adoring public is the person in uniform, in the prime of their ability. To others the same person is remembered as a dear parent or grandparent. Perhaps they were a good friend to someone else.

From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that it is the body only which changes. And that shift occurs at every second. When we say someone was our friend in childhood, it means that since we are not children anymore that relationship has changed. To draw on that relationship is to remember the person at a point in the timeline of life that is not recent. The individual stays fixed throughout; this is because the individual is spirit soul.

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro 'parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)

The Supreme Lord is different in nature. His body and soul are identical. In this sense time has no influence on Him. If you want to remember something that He did five thousand years ago, it can be made to happen again during the present time. Since His body does not change under the influence of time, He can do anything and everything. He never takes birth and He never dies. He is without a beginning, anadi, and endless, ananta.

Ponder this for a moment. He has done everything. The engineer of the celestials is known as Vishvakarma, whose name means “doing the work of the world.” Whenever something amazing needs to be built, the call goes out to Vishvakarma. Even when the Supreme Lord was present on this earth, Vishvakarma was called upon to take up important construction.

“In this greatly beautiful city of Dvaraka, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had many residential quarters. The great kings and princes of the world used to visit these palaces just to worship Him. The architectural plans were made personally by Vishvakarma, the engineer of the demigods, and in the construction of the palaces he exhibited all of his talents and ingenuity.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)

[Vishvakarma]But the real credit actually belongs to God. He gives the materials by which things can be built. He is the intelligence behind the labor of all living entities. He leisurely stays in the background as His material nature operates under the laws that He creates. Sometimes He personally does things as well. He lifts mountains and holds them up with His pinky finger on the typically non-dominant hand. He defeats 14,000 of the best fighters singlehandedly. He creates innumerable universes through exhaling and dissolves them through inhaling. He holds up all the planets in the universe, making it look as if they are floating on air.

All of this means that there are a lot of ways to remember God. You have your pick, actually. Whichever thing that He does that you most prefer, keep that in your mind. For Satyavrata Muni it is the time when God received the name Damodara. Already known as Krishna for being all-attractive, the son of Yashoda was once tied to a mortar as a form of punishment handed out by His adoring mother.

From the name Damodara we see that God can have a mother and a father. He can do naughty things. He can pretend to be afraid. He can agree to get punished. All of this makes Krishna extremely endearing. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does so many things, but to Satyavrata Muni it is His lila as Damodara which is most appealing.

[Damodara with Yashoda]Punished and tied to a mortar one second, knocking down two large trees the next - Damodara used the situation to liberate two sons of demigods. They had previously been cursed for failing to show proper etiquette in front of the venerable Narada Muni. The brothers not only got free from the curse of living as trees, but they got devotion to Krishna also. Known as prema-bhakti, this is a boon like no other. It is the one sought by Satyavrata Muni.

Krishna can give liberation through any means. He can give it while appearing majestically as Narayana. He can offer it through His unmanifest expansion of the Supersoul residing within the heart. He can offer it through sound as well, such as with the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. As an adorable child under the control of His devotee Yashoda, He can also offer the same liberation, granting entrance into the eternal occupation of devotional service.

In Closing:

For building complex and tall,

Upon Vishvakarma to call.


The work of the whole world can do,

But actually credit to go to You.


From whom the entire universe came,

To brothers known as Damodara the name.


Sons of Kuvera, liberation attained,

Prema-bhakti, life’s highest gain.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Curse Of A Lifetime

[Sons of Kuvera]“O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera - Manigriva and Nalakuvara - were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 7)

kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha

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Though every individual is unique and therefore different in their behavior consisting of actions and reactions, there is a unifying desire. All are searching for lasting peace and happiness. You can get a lasting existence, but it won’t necessarily be peaceful. Find yourself in a war torn nation all your life and you won’t experience much peace. And just because there is peace doesn’t mean happiness will accompany it. Find yourself in a quiet place with nothing to do and you might go crazy. Two brothers once found the elusive combination, but in an odd way: they first got cursed at a time when they were enjoying materially.

How do we know that everyone is searching for this combination of peace and happiness? There is the time factor to add into the equation. Not only does everyone desire peace and happiness, they’ve wanted it since time immemorial. The young child emerging from the womb looks for it as well as the person retired with many children and grandchildren. The person without much in life struggles for basic necessities, while the person with seemingly everything looks for something to do with their time.

dehino 'smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

[the changing body]Time has no influence on the individual’s existence; just their circumstances. At one moment the individual is a child and at another they are an adult. They have a different costume they wear, but they are still the same person. At the time of death, the circumstances change completely, with the cycle from birth to death renewing. Wherever the individual finds itself in the chain of change, it will look for the same thing.

It looks for peace in the mountain that takes some effort to hike. It looks for happiness in going out on the town and listening to live music. It seeks escape from the disturbing world through indulgence in intoxication. It looks for happiness in taking in new experiences from traveling to different places. Thus irrespective of one’s material situation, the same search continues.

Two brothers a very long time ago were enjoying material life to the fullest. Not surprisingly, that enjoyment included intoxication and association with women. Though they were sons to an important demigod of the Vedic tradition, one time they failed to show the proper etiquette when meeting a saintly person. As a result, they were cursed to take birth as trees.

Would you want to live as a tree? You have to tolerate every kind of weather. The gusting wind and the scorching heat mean the same thing for you. You can’t move anywhere. You can live for a long time, but you have no facility to do anything. You can’t change your circumstances; you have to wait for time to take care of that.

[trees]Fortunately for these brothers, through time they were destined to meet the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They weren’t just going to see Him; they were going to get liberated by Him. When the time came, they saw Him in Yashoda’s courtyard in Gokula. The Lord was in the form of a small child, known as Krishna because of His great attractiveness. In their interaction with Him, the brothers knew Him as Damodara, for He was tied to a mortar by His mother as punishment for breaking a pot of yogurt.

He used that mortar to knock down the two brothers who were trees. When they fell, their curse ended. They saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead and had tremendous love for Him. Immediately they started offering prayers, and Krishna was pleased. He granted them release from a curse that in fact turned out to be a blessing. Narada Muni’s curse allowed them to have devotion to Krishna, which they otherwise may never have found.

“If someone is able, by chance, to see a great saintly person like Narada face to face, who is always serene and merciful to everyone, then immediately that conditioned soul becomes liberated. This is exactly like being situated in the full light of the sun: there cannot be any visionary impediment. Therefore, O Nalakuvara and Manigriva, your lives have now become successful because you have developed ecstatic love for Me.” (Lord Krishna, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 10)

[Damodara]Satyavrata Muni prays to have the same kind of deliverance. He doesn’t simply want escape from the cycle of birth and death. He wants the eternal happiness that should accompany peace. He wants to have devotion to the same Damodara. By his prayer, he likens the travels through the various species as a curse, a punishment for having forgotten the eternal occupation of devotional service.

His attitude indicates that he already has that devotion, but in complete humility he thinks himself to be very low. Indeed, anyone who feels humble in the same way is a ripe candidate for getting the cherished blessing of devotion to God’s feet. That devotion brings happiness, peace, excitement, contentment, and something wonderful to do every single day. It is millions of times better than residence in a heavenly realm, where all the material comforts fail to bring the pleasure that the soul deserves to have.

[Nalakuvera and Manigriva]Kuvera’s two sons seemed to get the worst curse through Narada Muni. They went from material enjoyment to isolation and restriction. They went from moving about freely to having to stand still for so many years. Yet that curse brought the blessing of a lifetime in the form of prema-bhakti. The saints of the Vedic tradition bring this blessing to one and all through their empowered chanting and distribution of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. These names address the same Damodara; they are not different from Him. These names rescue the person listening with attention, whether high or low, moving or nonmoving.

In Closing:

Peace with happiness desire to receive,

At the same time not easy to achieve.


With everything need something to do,

Without much left hankering are you.


Brothers having all when Narada to them went,

By his curse to birth as trees in Vrindavana sent.


By mortar between them Damodara setting,

Brothers liberation of Krishna-prema getting.


Satyavrata wishing for same love his own,

To come to him by his humbleness alone.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Giving You My Happiness

[Damodara with Yashoda]“O Supreme Godhead, I offer my obeisances unto You. O Damodara! O Ananta! O Vishnu! O master! O my Lord, be pleased upon me. By showering Your glance of mercy upon me, deliver this poor ignorant fool who is immersed in an ocean of worldly sorrows, and become visible to my eyes.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 6)

namo deva dāmodarānanta viṣṇo
prasīda prabho duḥkha-jālābdhi-magnam
kṛpā-dṛṣṭi-vṛṣṭyāti-dīnaḿ batānu
gṛhāṇeṣa mām ajñam edhy akṣi-dṛśyaḥ

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Satyavrata Muni is swimming in an ocean of bliss. He cannot believe his good fortune of having someone to love for all of eternity. One aspect to that happiness is glorification; composing words of praise in honor of the person he loves the most. This one act accomplishes many other tasks; one of them is that it offers the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon another human being: happiness.

Let’s say that I found a new television series that I like. I came across it by accident, through channel surfing one night. I was sitting there on my laptop doing some work. I had the television on in the background, with a familiar program playing. I’m not sure when things changed, but suddenly I was drawn to the television. It was a different program; one I hadn’t seen before. Soon I put the laptop down so I could concentrate more.

[Everybody Loves Raymond episode]I liked the program so much that I scheduled to watch all episodes of it. Laughing so hard, thinking this was the best thing I’d ever seen, I shared my experience with others. This was a way to connect with them and also a chance to hopefully bring to them the same laughter. It’s good to laugh every now and then, and hopefully what I find funny others will as well.

The same sequence happens with pretty much anything in life. If I find a new restaurant I like, I can bring the same happiness to someone else by taking them to that restaurant. Even if my happiness relates to something bigger, like coming into a lot of money, there is the possibility of sharing the experience with someone. Though it is much more difficult to give someone a lot of money, it is still possible.

But what if the source of my happiness is not material? What if it is not something to be watched, eaten, or held in the hand? What if it is a lifestyle? What if it is a way of thinking? I want others to be happy; this is only natural. The problem is that I am not them and they are not me. This is obvious based on perception, and the same truth is found in the spiritual science.

avināśi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
vināśam avyayasyāsya
na kaścit kartum arhati

“That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.17)

The essence of identity is the spirit soul. The soul in this body is different from the soul in that body. Therefore the souls discussed here are known as individual, or jivatma. It’s an interesting thing to think about. I have no way of knowing how you perceive me. It’s just impossible. I’m living my life. I’m experiencing different things. I know who you are. I know what you look like, how you sound, and how you come across. Yet I can never be you; I have no way of truly knowing what you experience. That is because the individual soul is not all-pervading.

The Supersoul is different. Known as Paramatma, it is the same within all creatures. Not surprisingly, Paramatma is one way to understand God. He witnesses everything, regardless of location or time. He saw what happened in that remote cave in India five thousand, two hundred and thirty five days ago. He sees what I see right now, and He knows where I will be in one hundred years from now.

Connecting with Paramatma brings the bliss experienced by saintly people like Satyavrata Muni. Yet since he is not me and I am not him, how can I experience the same bliss? Especially considering that he lived on this earth so long ago, where can I go to question him on his secret? The power of the written word comes to our rescue. Describing experiences enables a person to share transcendental happiness with others.

[Damodara with Yashoda]Satyavrata Muni prays to be showered with the glances of Damodara, the darling child tied to a mortar in the courtyard of mother Yashoda. This is part of his devotion. He never thinks that he has caught God. Even mother Yashoda didn’t keep Damodara there for long; she tied Him simply to have Him settle down in front of her for a while. Damodara, the same Paramatma, allows this to happen. He knows the devotees have abandoned the world of ignorance for life by His side. He knows that they don’t want anything except devotion to Him.

That devotion is the muni’s secret. He feels so much happiness and the only way he can share it with others is to describe it. His descriptions are so wonderful that they stand the test of time. His Damodarashtaka gets sung to this day, which means that the secret to imperishable pleasure is available for anyone to find. Even if the power of description is not present in the devoted soul, the sound of the holy name carries the same ability to deliver. Through the sound of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the individual who is separate from other individuals can experience the topmost bliss of surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and show others how to get the same experience.

In Closing:

So happy now to be,

But others the same can see?


Experience of life my own,

Impossible for another to be known.


By descriptions this is done how,

Even future can learn from right now.


Satyavrata happiness from Krishna’s glances taking,

His Damodarashtaka the same joy for others making.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Keeping His Hands Full

[Krishna with fruit]“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna's hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)

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phala-vikrayiṇī tasya
phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ
phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca

Question: “I understand that bhakti-yoga is devotional service. They say that this person is a bhakta of this god or that god, but as you’ve since told me, I know that real bhakti can only be towards Vishnu or one of His non-different expansions, vishnu-tattva. Vishnu is the chief god, and He is the only one who sometimes denies requests. He looks out for the devotee’s interests. Bhakti-yoga is the culmination of all yoga practice, but how are you supposed to tell that you’re giving enough devotion? What is the indication that you’ve satisfied Vishnu sufficiently?”

There is one God. In a particular region, He goes by a particular name, and in another region the name is different. One group has their method of approaching Him and another group takes a different route. Still, there is only one Supreme Controller. In Sanskrit He is described as Vishnu, which means all-pervading. Vishnu is also a personality; He has a specific form. Based on several Vedic texts like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Brahma-samhita, we learn that Vishnu’s original form is Krishna. The personalities are identical, but the interaction is a little different with Krishna. When bhakti specifically goes to Him, there is a way to tell if He is satisfied.

[Lord Vishnu]Vishnu has four hands. He holds a club, a disc, a lotus flower, and a conch shell. The conch and the lotus are symbols of peace. The disc and the club are for punishment, but when God works the result is the same regardless of the instrument used. His punishing of the evil is as blissful to the devotee as His carrying a beautiful flower. Devotion to Vishnu is typically in shanta-rasa, or the mellow of neutrality. There is some awe and reverence involved. With awe there is some fear. The devotee loves God, but there is fear of His becoming angry at them. There is also concern over worshiping Him improperly.

Krishna has two hands. Not that He is limited; He can do anything with each body part. His two hands that are visible to us hold His flute that plays the most beautiful music we’ll ever hear. Devotion to Krishna can be in moods of affection that reach all the way up to conjugal love. That rasa is madhurya, or sweetness. If you have sweet affection for Krishna, He can reciprocate through something as basic as the smile on His face.

He also does not hold the flute in His hands all the time. Sometimes He puts the flute in His belt and playfully walks around. This allows Him to travel here and there and delight others in a variety of ways. He lives in the spiritual land of Vrindavana, and sometimes He comes to the Vrindavana located in this world.

One time in the earthly Vrindavana a fruit vendor came to Krishna’s home. At the time, the Lord was showing the form of a small child. He saw the fruit vendor and immediately went to get some grains. He knew that this was the method of exchange. He would give some grains and get some fruits back.

Unfortunately, most of the grains fell while Krishna was running. He only had a few left to give by the time He reached His destination. The vendor did not care. She had bhakti for Krishna. Her mood was not awe. She did not revere the young child. She was not afraid of Him. Rather, she was worried about turning Him away empty-handed. She took the few grains and gave Him a handful of fruits in return. Krishna then magically transformed the remaining fruits in her basket into jewels.

[Krishna with fruit from the vendor]Though she was ready to take a huge loss, she ended up profiting so much. She did not ask Krishna to change her fruits into jewels. She did not expect this of Him. If she lost out by giving Him so many fruits, it was okay by her. Her mood was to see Krishna happy; to bask in the sweetness of His smile. Through her attitude she teaches that the way to practice bhakti-yoga to Krishna is to always keep His hands full.

How can we do that if we can’t see Him right now? Isn’t it bad to burden Him in this way? Will Krishna be able to carry so many fruits? Doesn’t He already give us so much?

Indeed, we get way more than a few tiny grains from Krishna today. He gives us parents to care for us during childhood. He gives us schooling to help sharpen our intelligence. He gives us food, grains and milk to survive. He provides rain to allow the grains to grow. He passes down dharma, a system to govern behavior, to help us eventually reach the point of bhakti-yoga.

If we are really fortunate and if we are truly seeking His association, He sends someone our way to help us reach Him. That special person tells us that in this dark age of quarrel and hypocrisy we should keep Krishna occupied by always chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]The fruit vendor would not let Krishna leave empty-handed. In the same way, with all that He has already given us, we should not allow the darling child of mother Yashoda to leave our association without taking something. Let Him take His fill of the sounds of His names repeated regularly. Let Him feast on the offerings we make daily to His deity form which happily resides in our home. Let Him take pleasure in the discourses we have with others about His name, fame, pastimes, and form. Let Him never think that we forget Him. By following this line, just like the fruit vendor we’ll have a valuable possession turn into gold: our consciousness.

In Closing:

From bhakti-yoga purified to be,

But how results of our work to see?


How Krishna’s satisfaction to know,

So that enthusiasm in service will grow?


Path shown by fruit vendor in Vrindavana place,

On how to keep smile on Lord’s shining face.


Though grains in transit to her were lost,

Filling His lotus hands, not worrying over the cost.


Krishna having hands to stretch far and wide,

So with our offerings keep Him always occupied.