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Song Name: Namamisvaram Saccidananda Rupam (Sri Damodarastakam)

Purport Author: Visnujana Swami




The specific attributes of the Absolute Truth of the Lord, tattva-visesa, are addressed first. Satyavrata Muni begins with the offering of obeisances (namami) as an auspicious invocation, mangalacarana. He invokes the mercy of Lord Damodara to empower him to offer this prayer by the word isvara, the supreme controller. It also indicates that the Supreme Lord alone is worthy of the highest praise. It further implies the specific nature of devotional service, bhakti. The Lord manifests Himself in a form that embodies eternal existence, knowledge, and bliss. Thus, His supreme sovereignty is established.


The attribute of His enchanting beauty, rupa visesa, is described next. As He runs from Mother Yasoda, His earrings begin to swing back and forth lasat-kundalam. The earrings naturally sport upon His cheeks as He plays in the courtyard of Mother Yasoda. All the ornaments that adorn the Lord have become super-excellent by contact with His divine body, yet these earrings have attained superiority overall by the great fortune of constantly kissing His divine cheeks while swinging. They are glistening (lasanti) due to being enriched with the effulgence from the Lord's complexion.


Uddhava describes Krishna's beauty as so supremely enchanting that His transcendental body is the ornament of all ornaments.


Only in Gokula does Krishna display His most splendid pastimes that surpass all other manifestations of His excellence (gokule bhrajamanam) The word, gokule, indicates the place where cows and cowherds reside. The attributes of His family, parivara-visesa, thus further portray His unique excellence.


The last two lines of the verse describe the lila-visesa, the attributes of His excellent pastime as the butter thief. In fear of Mother Yasoda (yasoda-bhiya) He quickly runs away dhavamanam) from the mortar (ulukalat). Then, she also runs very swiftly (atyantato drutya).


"Krishna, at that time, was sitting on an upside-down wooden mortar for grinding spices and was distributing milk preparations, such as yogurt and butter, to the monkeys as He liked. Because of having stolen, He was looking all around with great anxiety, suspecting that He might be chastised by His mother. Mother Yasoda, upon seeing Him, very cautiously approached Him from behind. When Lord Sri Krishna saw His mother, stick in hand, He very quickly got down from the top of the mortar and began to flee as if very much afraid. Although yogis try to capture Him as Paramatma by meditation, desiring to enter into the effulgence of the Lord with great austerities and penance, they fail to reach Him. But Mother Yasoda, thinking that same Personality of Godhead Krishna, to be her son, began following Krishna to catch Him.


The word, paramrstam, meaning caught from behind, also intimates the supreme love that Sri Krishna has for Yasoda. Therefore, gopya lovingly denotes Mother Yasoda and implies the great fortune of the cowherd caste that the Supreme Lord prefers to mingle amongst them.


Quoting from the Vaisinava-tisani of Sanatana Goswami, Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur explains that the pastime of baby Krishna's breaking the pot of yogurt and being bound by Mother Yasoda took place on the Dipavali Day, or Dipa-malika. In India, this festival is celebrated in the month of Kartik with fireworks and lights.


"Among all the cows of Nanda Maharaja, several of mother Yasoda's cows ate only grasses so flavorful that the grasses would automatically flavor the milk. Mother Yasoda wanted to collect the milk from these cows, make it into yogurt, and churn it into butter personally since she thought that this child Krishna was going to the houses of neighborhood gopas and gopis to steal butter because He did not like the milk and yogurt ordinarily prepared."


These eight specific cows are called padmagandha, and their milk is fragrant as the lotus flower. just as swans live only on lotus stalks, so these cows eat only special grass. Mother Yasoda took particular care of these cows and used their milk to make special sweets for Krishna. She hopes that he will lose interest in the butter and yogurt from the houses of other gopis. In this way she makes an attempt to rectify his stealing habit.




The second verse continues describing the lila-visesa. He is crying (rudantam) because He sees the stick in Mother Yasoda's hand. Perceiving that she may strike Him, He appears fearful, hoping her natural empathy may save Him from punishment. Due to fear, tears are forming in His eyes, so He rubs his eyes with his lotus-like hands in the normal manner of children to wipe away the tears that are beginning to flow.


Then (satanka-netram) His fearful eyes reveal how much He is dreading punishment. It also indicates His glancing here and there in great fear, trying to avoid being punished. The confidential pastime is revealed in this way. Therefore, due to his continual sobbing He is trembling, (muhuh svasa-kampa) and thus, (sthita-graiva) the pearl necklaces and earrings that adorn Him are also shaking.


The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is feared by everyone, has become fearful of Mother Yasoda. In this way, Mother Yasoda now becomes greater than God, more powerful than Krishna. The Mayavadi philosophers want to become one with God, but in Vaishnava philosophy the devotee becomes more than Krishna, and Krishna accepts this. He elevates His devotee beyond His own position, just as Arjuna became the hero at Kurukshetra and Krishna was simply his chariot driver. Actually, Krishna was the hero, but He gave the credit to His devotee, because He takes pleasure in seeing His devotee in a greater position than Himself.


"When Mother Yasoda was trying to bind the offending child, she saw that the rope was short by the measurement of two fingers. Thus she brought another rope to join it. This new rope was also short by two fingers, and when another rope was joined to it, it was still two fingers short. As many ropes as she joined, all of them failed; their shortness could not be overcome."


The reason for the failure of the rope to bind Him is bhakti-baddham. He can be bound only with devotion. No other power can bind Him. The significance of the two fingers is also very important. The first finger represents the devotee's sincere endeavor of love and unflinching determination to attain Krishna and thereby please Him. The second finger represents Krishna's supreme mercy by which He agrees to be bound by His devotee's pure love.


So He is bound with a rope around the belly (damodaram) and tied to a wooden grinding mortar. This reveals the Lord's excellent quality of coming under the control of His devotee's pure love (bhakti-baddham). He responds to bhakti in two ways. From Mother Yasoda's point of view, He is conquered and bound by her loving parental devotion, vatsalya. From His own point of view, He willingly allows her to bind Him, although no rope can ever bind Him.


"Because of Mother Yasoda's hard labor, her whole body became covered with perspiration, and the flowers and comb were falling from her hair. When child Krishna saw His mother thus fatigued, He became merciful to her and agreed to be bound. O Maharaja Pariksit, this entire universe, with its great exalted demigods like Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra, is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yet the Supreme Lord has one transcendental attribute: He comes under the control of His devotees. This was now exhibited by Krishna in this pastime."




The attributes of His excellent qualities, guna-visesa, are described in this verse. The first word, iti, indicates this Damodara lila, or all of His childhood pastimes like the Damodara lila. Next, sva-lilabhih denotes His own transcendental pastimes by which (sva-ghosam) all the residents of Gokula become immersed in pools of ecstatic mellows (ananda-kunde nimajjantam). The word sva connotes svasya, His own glory, or svanam, the glories of the residents of Gokula, which are displayed by these pastimes (akyapayantam). Moreover, sva-ghosam may refer to child Krishna, since He is also a resident of Gokula.


Then a warning to those who cultivate knowledge of His majesty and opulence (tadiyesita-jnesu). He only reveals Himself to the pure devotees (bhaktair jitatvam), being conquered by their love. Again, this is proclaimed for all to know (akhyapayantam).


"To pure devotees throughout the world who could understand His activities, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, exhibited how much He can be subdued by His devotees, His servants. In this way He increased the pleasure of the Vrajavasis by His childhood activities." Srimad Bhagavatam 10.11.9.


Only by pure love and devotion (prematah) can the Lord be known as He is. So let us offer obeisances (vande) unto Him (tam) hundreds and hundreds of times (satavrtti). A further meaning can be gained from the above Bhagavatam verse, that obeisances are offered hundreds of times to the process of devotional service, bhakti, which subdues the object of our love, Sri Krishna.




Both verses four and five describe the poet's innermost desires, beginning with, varam, boons. No benedictions of any kind are requested even here in Vrindavan (lila) from He who can bestow any boon (varesad). Satyavrata Muni does not seek liberation (moksa na), nor does he desire the highest conception of liberation (moksa-avadhim), which is eternal life in Vaikuntha. Neither is he interested in any other benediction (na ca anyam), referring to the nine processes of devotional service, beginning with sravanam kirtanam, and the benefits they bestow. If others desire these, or even if Krishna wants to bestow these upon him, he has no attraction for them.


The three benedictions referred to - moksa (liberation), moksavadhim (eternal life in Vaikuntha), and anyam (any other boon) - reflect an ascending order of superiority. Eternal life in Vaikuntha is clearly superior to impersonal liberation. The position of other boons, such as the nine processes of devotional service, are described in Srimad Bhagavatam.


"O Lord, we pray that You let us be born in any hellish condition of life, just as long as our hearts and minds are always engaged in the service of Your lotus feet, our words are made beautiful [by speaking of Your activities] just as Tulasi leaves are beautified when offered unto Your lotus feet, and as long as our ears are always filled with the chanting of Your transcendental qualities." Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.49.


By these words spoken by the four Kumaras, we can understand that the nine processes of devotion can be perfected even in hell. So in any condition of life, one can experience the perfection that is available in the eternal abode, Vaikuntha, through bhakti-yoga.


Is there anything that the poet does desire? The answer is iha, (here in Vrindavan), idam te vapur natha gopala-balam (may Your form as a cowherd boy, O Lord) sada me manasy avirastam (always remain manifest in my mind). Since Krishna is also the Supersoul in the heart, antaryami, one may see His divine beauty within as clearly as one sees externally with the eyes.


Finally all boons of any kind are dismissed as having no value at all (kim anyaih). The reason is that since Krishna is the quintessence of all existence, knowledge, and bliss (sac-cid-ananda-rupam), attaining Him, therefore, brings all perfection. Conversely, if one does not attain Krishna, then all other benedictions are simply a source of lamentation, since they are of lesser value. One can be fully satisfied only by beholding Krishna's divine form as a young cowherd boy. Therefore, all other benedictions are useless (kim anyaih). This is the mood of Satyavrata Muni.




The poet demonstrates in this verse that longing for the association of the Lord in the heart is the best means to achieve Him. The longing to see the beautiful lotus face of the Lord, which is supremely enchanting, is stated first (idam te mukhambhojam). The indescribably sweet face of Sri Krishna resembles a lotus flower in full bloom. Simply by seeing His face, which is the treasure house of supreme bliss, all anxiety and distress disappear. Therefore, may that lotus face (mukhambhojam) manifest within the mind even just once (manasy avirastam), or again and again (muhuh), or constantly (sada). The concept of sada is carried over from the previous verse to give its definitive conclusion in this verse. All three meanings are intended.


That lotus face is always surrounded (vrtam) by curling hair (kuntalaih) which is a very dark blue color (atyanta-nilair). It is tinged with a reddish hue (raktaih) and is shining (snigdha). The curly locks encircling Krishna's face bounce as He moves here and there, just as a lotus flower is surrounded by hovering honey bees. This is the meaning suggested by vrtan. His lotus face is kissed again and again by Mother Yasoda (gopya). The word muhuh (again and again), defines the supremely fortunate gopi (gopya) who repeatedly kisses that divine lotus face (muhus cumbitam).


Furthermore, Krishna's lotus face is adorned with crimson red lips like the bimba fruit (bimba-raktadharam). That form is so completely enchanting and satisfying that millions of other attainments (laksa-labhaih) are simply useless (alam). They have no value. This is the meaning of the verse.




Feelings of love arise from the purity and potency of longing, and then is only satisfied to behold the beauty of Sri Krishna directly (saksat darsana). The supreme method (param-sadhana) to attain this goal is chanting the Holy Name (sri-nama-sankirtana). Satyavrata Muni begins this verse chanting the Holy Names. In his ecstasy, feelings of awe and reverence are abandoned by the elimination of the word tubhyam (unto You). This creates the mood of being in the personal presence of the Lord.


The name deva indicates, he divya-rupa, O Lord of divine beauty! This beauty is the cause for desiring personal darsana. The address damodara specifically refers to His glorious quality of coming under the sway of the devotee's pure love for Him (bhakta-vatsala), even up to the point of allowing Himself to be bound. How is one able to see Him unless qualified by bhakti, pure devotional service? He who is unlimited with no end (ananta) indicates the Lord who is inconceivable, infallible, beginningless, and who has unlimited forms for sporting in divine pastimes. Because He is inconceivable, He can only become visible to our eyes by His power, not by our own power. Moreover, the name visnu connotes He who is all pervading. Thus there can be no difficulty for Him to appear before our eyes.


In the last line of the verse, isa refers to the supreme controller who is completely independent. The poet prays, "Please accept this prayer, O independent Lord, (grhanesa) for nothing can cause You to act. You may accept my entreaty or not by Your own sweet will. Still I will continue to hope."


The word prasida indicates the mercy of prabhu, the supreme master. The devotee hopes that Sri Krishna is pleased with him and will benedict him with His mercy. Why? Because he is drowning in an ocean of misery (duhkha-jalabdhi-magnam). Specifically, duhkha denotes the pain of repeated birth and death, or the agony of being separated from the Lord's presence. The illusion (jala) of the material world is like the vast, bottomless ocean (abdhi) in which we are drowning (magnam). This is the cause of our condition of extreme distress (ati-dinam). Another meaning is, due to being bereft of sadhu-sanga, the association of saintly devotees, we experience distress. Moreover, we are extremely distressed not being able to see You, my Lord.


The problem is compounded because of being ignorant about what to do (ajnam). Therefore, please bestow Your merciful glance like a shower of nectar (krpa-drsti-vrstya), thereby uplifting and enthusing us with life (anugrhana). Thereupon, please become visible before our eyes (edhy aksi drsyah). This is the significance of the prayer.




This verse reveals deep truths about prema-visesa, pure ecstatic love for Krishna. Beginning with kuveratmajau, the two sons of Kuvera are introduced. They were able to obtain the direct vision of the Lord. But isn't prema-bhakti the only means for seeing the Lord face to face? And having once seen the Lord, doesn't the agony of separation set in upon losing that vision? This is the feature of prema-bhakti that brings the Lord under the sway of the pure devotee's love.


How did the two reprobates get such mercy? The answer is that by the quality of Sri Krishna's love, bhakta-vatsala, the impossible becomes possible. To honor the word of His pure devotee Narada Muni, who gave the benediction that they would see the Lord face to face, the Lord actually delivers these two brothers. Did they ever do anything to deserve this? No. It is simply causeless mercy!


"Although these two young men are the sons of the very rich Kuvera and I have nothing to do with them, Devarsi Narada is My very dear and affectionate devotee, and therefore because He wanted Me to come face to face with them, I must do so for their deliverance." Srimad Bhagavatam 10.10.25.


The purport is that Krishna is bound by the love of Sri Narada. This is His quality of bhakta-vatsala. Therefore He utilizes the wooden grinding mortar to pull down the two trees that are actually the two brothers. By the mercy of the pure devotee, Narada Muni, they received the mercy of the Lord. Similarly, by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, we can receive the same benediction.


By baddha-murtyaiva, we understand that the Lord has agreed to be bound with rope and tied to the wooden mortar. But even though He is tied up, He liberates Manigriva and Nalakuvara. The word mocitau indicates they are liberated from samsara, repeated birth and death, not only from Sri Narada's curse. Furthermore, the two boys are then given bhaktibhajau, the benediction of prema-bhakti. They are now counted amongst the pure devotees known as bhakti-bhajam, those who can never give up the shelter of devotional service.


With the statement tatha prema-bhaktim svakam me prayaccha, Satyavrata Muni requests, "Please benedict me also with prema-bhakti in the same way". The word svakam denotes the exclusive shelter of Krishna's own lotus feet or His own beautiful form, the exclusive object of meditation. "I have no desire for personal liberation," (na mokse graho me 'sti damodareha).


Even though the Lord may offer liberation (moksa), the answer is no (na). Other than this (iha), referring to prema-bhakti, I am not eager (grahah) for anything else. The mood is that if one can obtain prema-bhakti, then why care for the insignificance of liberation from material life? Another meaning of lila indicates Vrindavan, where prema-bhakti is predominant, and where Sri Krishna is always present.




At the conclusion of the prayer, obeisances are offered (namas te) to the Lord's unique binding, His bodily limbs, His associates, and to the Lord Himself, in order to arouse the mood of bhakti. Even the rope that binds His belly (damne) receives worship. That rope is the abode of, or source of, effulgence (sphurad dipti-dhamne), and the poet here suggests that the rope is also the source of the all-pervading brahman effulgence.


Then, obeisances are offered to the Lord's belly, which is bound by this wondrous rope (tvadiyodarayatha). What is that belly like? It is the abode or support of all the infinite universes in the creation (visvasya), including all the moving and non-moving living entities dwelling therein. A gigantic lotus flower that sustains the fourteen worlds sprouts from that belly and is the abode of Lord Brahma.


Child Krishna displayed His universal form to Mother Yasoda when he opened His mouth to show that he wasn't eating dirt; so this is another indication. Therefore, when Mother Yasoda bound His belly with rope, she bound the entire universe. Actually, Krishna allowed her to bring the entire creation under her control, although it is not possible to bind the omnipotent Lord. Therefore Vaishnava acharyas accept this pastime as the most sublime expression of vatsalya-rasa just as the rasa-lila pastime is the supreme expression of madhurya-rasa. By Krishna's acceptance to be bound, we can understand that this pastime is inconceivable to mundane logic and reason. This is the mood here.


Obeisances are also offered to His beloved Srimati Radharani, namo radhikayai. By Sri Radha's mercy, one is able to fully attain Sri Krishna. Being foremost amongst the gopis, obeisances are offered unto Her specifically. It is further implied that obeisances are being offered to all the gopis, headed by Sri Radha. The word, radhika, refers to the one who is perfectly engaged in Sri Krishna's devotional service.


Therefore Satyavrata Muni says, "I offer obeisances unto Your beloved (tvadiya priyayai). She is Your eternally beloved, nitya-priya, regardless of rendering devotional service to You." The word tvadiya further elucidates that Sri Radha is dear not only to Krishna but to all Krishna's devotees. The understanding is that Sri Krishna is also the nitya-priya of Sri Radha. Thus, the super-excellence of Radharani's love is proclaimed. The poet avows, "Whoever is beloved by You is worshipable for the entire universe!"


The conclusion of the prayer alludes to the supreme transcendental pastime, rasa-lila, as well as all other unlimited pastimes of the Lord. Since these topics are highly confidential, they are not mentioned directly. There is only a hint of other unlimited pastimes, ananta-lilaya. In addition, ananta-lilaya indicates that obeisances are offered to all the pastimes within the divine realm of Gokula Vrindavan. By the word devaya, the divine transcendental Lord Sri Krishna is indicated. The inference is that by Sri Damodara's inconceivable divine qualities all the pastimes of the Lord are also transcendental. Therefore, namo 'nanta-lilaya devaya tubhyam, "I prostrate myself unto You who are engaged in unlimited transcendental pastimes." This is the mood expressed by Satyavrata Muni.


UPDATED: April 1, 2009