Meditating on the Damodarashtakam with Chaitanya Charan Das (Part 1 – Verses 1 to 4)

Meditating on the Damodarashtakam with Chaitanya Charan Das (Part 1 – Verses 1 to 4)

Chaitanya Charan Das, “The Spiritual Scientist,” is one in all ISKCON’s premiere academics and prolific authors. He graciously agreed to share his two-part reflections on the Damodarashtakam with ISKCON News to assist devotees enter this month of non secular auspiciousness extra absolutely.

“Prayer is the common language by which the human coronary heart communes with the divine coronary heart. Poetry is a creative means to verbalize deep feelings. Singing is a well-liked technique to precise one’s feelings.

The integration of those three – prayers composed poetically and sung individually or collectively – is a strong and joyful option to channelize human feelings in direction of the divine. In the world’s nice theistic traditions are discovered many examples of gorgeous prayer-songs. Such prayers are often composed by saints who verbalize their love and eager for the Lord.

In the bhakti custom, the singing of poetic prayers is a vital non secular follow. One such prayer-song is the Damodarashtakam, discovered within the Padma Purana. The tune consists by the good sage Satyavrata Muni. In the Vaishnava bhakti custom, in the course of the sacred month of Kartik (October-November), this tune is sung each day, typically in each morning and night. Singing the Damodarashtakam and providing a lamp to Lord Damodara is a cherished type of devotional service that draws hundreds the world over to come back to Krishna temples.

The tune’s title is a mixture of two phrases: Damodara (a reputation of Krishna) and ashtaka (a composition with eight elements). This title reveals each the tune’s theme and literary construction. It is concerning the Lord, whose stomach (udara) was sure with a rope (dama) and who’s subsequently celebrated as Damodara. In literary construction, the tune belongs to the style of ashtakas. As the bhakti custom considers the quantity eight auspicious, many bhakti prayers are composed as songs of eight stanzas.

Damodarashtakam is basically a meditation on a Krishna pastime described within the bhakti texts, particularly the Srimad Bhagavatam. The tune integrates narration and exposition in a seamless poetic movement.

Verse 1: The uncatchable is caught

The tune’s first verse begins with the identical mode of expression with which the tune ends: the providing of obeisance. The object of obeisance is predictably the Supreme, however he’s referred to with a major identify: the controller (isvara). This pastime facilities on the theme of how the supreme controller turns into managed and nonetheless stays in management. It depicts a type of God that may appear to the devotionally uninformed diminutive and un-godlike. God is often conceived and revered because the supreme ruler of all of existence. The bhakti custom acknowledges this divine majesty, however focuses on a much more personable manifestation of God – as a loving and loveable cowherd who in his childhood play appears to be like an atypical youngster. Lest hearers be misled by appearances, the tune begins with an assertion of the protagonist’s divinity by figuring out him because the controller. Further underscoring his transcendence, the tune declares that his kind is made from eternity-knowledge-bliss (sac-cit-ananda vigraha).

The verse conveys his magnificence by referring to one in all his ornaments: his effulgent earrings. Bhakti savants clarify that whereas we people put on ornaments to boost our magnificence, Krishna’s magnificence is full in itself, not needing any ornaments. When he wears ornaments, they don’t beautify him; he beautifies them. Thus, he’s celebrated because the decoration of all ornaments (bhusana-bhusanangam Srimad Bhagavatam 3.2.12).

Among Krishna’s numerous ornaments, why are the earrings singled out for point out? The Vaishnava saint Santana Goswami explains in his illuminating commentary Dig-Darshini Tika that the earrings alone get to kiss Krishna. When he runs, the earrings transfer backwards and forwards, thus getting to the touch his cheeks.

After this philosophically pregnant introduction, the tune orients us in area by mentioning the world of the motion: the effulgent Gokula (gokule bhrajamanam).

Having launched us to the protagonist and the venue, the tune begins describing the motion. Krishna ran away in worry from his mom Yashoda, however was ultimately caught by her.

The backstory is that after when Krishna was sleeping, Yashoda was churning butter. Krishna wakened, went to her and began tugging her, conveying his starvation for her milk. She lovingly positioned him on her lap and began breastfeeding him. While Krishna was feasting on the milk, all of the sudden Yashoda smelt and seen that the milk on a close-by range was spilling over. She unexpectedly put apart Krishna and rushed to take the milk-pot off the range. Krishna turned indignant. His scenario was like that of an individual savoring a delicacy and all of the sudden discovering that it had been whisked away.

Hungry and offended, Krishna seemed round for some fast aid. He noticed the butter pots his mom had been churning. Breaking them, he ate the butter. His starvation was considerably mitigated, however his anger nonetheless remained. However, he additionally turned apprehensive about being punished for his naughtiness in breaking the pots. So, he fled to a different room the place butter-pots have been hung from the roof. Noticing {that a} grinding mortar was slightly below a pot, he climbed atop it, cracked open the pot and began consuming extra butter. The perfume and noise attracted a number of monkeys from the neighborhood. When they gestured, asking for the butter, Krishna gleefully shared it with them. While they have been thus having fun with the butter, all of the sudden the monkeys’ mouths dropped open in alarm. Krishna whirled round and noticed his mom creeping in on him. Panicking, he jumped off the mortar and fled.

In the in the meantime, Yashoda had returned to the churning room to discover a mess. Krishna’s absence and the path of his butter-marked footprints had been a giveaway of the mischief-maker’s id and escape route. Following the path, she had come to catch Krishna and self-discipline him.

The tune presumes familiarity with the pastime, so it eschews a linear narrative and consists of solely narrative sections related to its exposition.

Krishna ran right here and there to flee from Yashoda, however she managed to catch him as a result of she ran sooner than him. The Isopanisad (mantra 4) declares that the Supreme supersedes everybody in pace and may’t be approached even by the gods. Yet right here he is not only approached but additionally caught by Yashoda. What allows her to attain this astonishing feat shall be revealed within the subsequent verse.

Verse 2: Bound not by the rope’s size, however by the devotion’s depth

The second verse begins with an exercise extraordinary for the Supreme: crying. Crying is what we mortals do when bothered by the world’s many miseries. And crying is what generally impels us to go to the Lord for aid. The Bhagavatam (3.28.32) states that meditating on the Lord’s lovely smile can evaporate an ocean of tears. But right here, the one who relieves everybody’s tears is himself in tears. How is that to be understood?

The bhakti custom explains that such tears are categorically completely different from our tears. The feelings underlying them are non secular, not materials. The transcendental realm is just not devoid of feelings, however is permeated with pure non secular feelings. The Lord of that realm, Krishna, is the supreme relisher of feelings and is widely known as Rasaraja (the king of those that relish rasa, non secular emotion). We can also enter that realm by purifying our feelings and directing them in direction of him. In truth, bhakti is so interesting primarily as a result of it makes use of feelings as pathways to the divine.

This verse states that Krishna was weeping and rubbing his two eyes along with his two lotus palms. The Bhagavatam (1.8.31) elaborates this scene, stating that he had lowered his head fearing that his mom would punish him. The tune signifies that he additionally stole glances at her with terror-filled eyes (satanka-netram). Due to his earlier operating and current crying, his breath got here out in heaves. On his throat are seen three traces akin to these seen on a conch-shell – traces that turned seen when he seemed up at his mom. Three traces on the throat point out a pretty bodily structure that’s neither too fats nor too skinny, simply as a six-pack stomach is taken into account these days an indication of well being and handsomeness.

The verse then condenses the motion, mentioning solely that Krishna was tied. The Bhagavatam describes how Yashoda struggled to tie him. She simply couldn’t get the rope to go spherical his physique – it remained brief by a size equal to 2 fingers. She lengthened the wire by tying two ropes; nonetheless it remained two fingers brief. No matter what number of ropes she tied collectively, nonetheless the lengthened rope remained two fingers brief.

Through this mysterious unspannability, Krishna conveyed his infinitude. He was in a tiny kind that hardly prolonged throughout the mortar to which he was being tied; nonetheless by his supremely mystical energy he made it unimaginable for any rope to increase round him.

Bhakti commentators clarify that the hole of two fingers could be crammed, metaphorically talking, by human endeavor and divine grace. Our endeavor can neither change grace nor drive grace to manifest. But by endeavoring in a devotional temper, we are able to appeal to divine grace. Yashoda wished to tie Krishna not simply because his mischievousness had angered her but additionally as a result of she was lovingly involved that his mischievousness would mar his prospects. While struggling in useless to tie Krishna, her temper modified from anger to appreciation of her son’s wonderfulness. As her disposition turned more and more devotional, Krishna turned happy by the purity of her intention and the sincerity of her effort. So, he allowed himself to be tied. The tune conveys that she succeeded in tying him not due to the rope’s size, however due to her devotion’s depth (bhakti-baddham).

The final line of this stanza accommodates the primary of the three references to the title’s eponym, Damodara. The different two references come within the sixth and seventh texts.

The poetic refinement of this stanza is clear in its inserting essentially the most vital phrases in the beginning and on the finish (rudantam and bhakti-baddham).

Verse 3: When sweetness supersedes greatness, love conquers the beloved

From the third verse, the tune shifts from narration to exposition, dwelling on the importance of what has simply occurred. By such pastimes, Krishna inundates his devotees in a lake of bliss (ananda-kunda) and educates these attracted towards his majestic kind that he’s conquered solely by intimate devotion.

God is each nice and candy. Awareness of his greatness evokes submission, and consciousness of his sweetness evokes affection. Devotee-seekers want to pay attention to each options, for submission and affection symbiotically reinforce devotion. But for exalted devotees comparable to Yashoda, their consciousness of Krishna’s greatness is nearly totally eclipsed by their absorption in his sweetness. Yashoda is anxious not about how nice Krishna is, however about how drastically he is dependent upon her. If she doesn’t feed him, he’ll grow to be weak and will even die. If she doesn’t invoke auspiciousness for him by her prayers, evil could befall him. If she doesn’t self-discipline him, he’ll grow to be spoilt. Such intense love that’s oblivious to his greatness is supremely endearing to Krishna – it allows him to relish the total gamut of reciprocal relationships. When his devotees are too conscious of his greatness, that consciousness inhibits their expression of affection for him, thus limiting the vary of attainable loving reciprocations.

In this pastime, Krishna lets himself be tied, conveying that he’s conquered by pure love. Thus, he encourages all devotees to rise of their God consciousness in direction of the extent of unfettered love.

Meditating on Krishna’s loving nature, the poet Satyavrata Muni turns into overwhelmed by love and affords obeisance – not as soon as, however a whole lot of occasions.

Verse 4 – Love wishes nothing aside from the beloved
The tune now addresses a theme frequent to most prayers – an enchantment for benedictions. Satyavrata Muni acknowledges the Lord’s capability to present benedictions by addressing him with two pertinent names: varam-deva (the giver of benedictions) and varesha (the Lord of benedictions). But he follows that acknowledgment by instantly refusing the benediction of liberation.

To respect the magnitude of this refusal, we have to perceive the underlying worldview. People generally are materialistic and their materialism carries into their faith. So, after they method God, they pray for numerous materials issues. The Vedas encourage such pious materialism as a stepping-stone in direction of pure non secular love. The Vedic worldview is predicated on a tri-level cosmology with the earth occupying an intermediate stage between the higher heavenly realms and the decrease hellish realms. In the Vedic worldview, ascent to heavens is commonly thought-about the very best benediction. But Satyavrata Muni’s devotion is so exalted that the heavens aren’t even talked about – even for the sake of rejection. In this context, any reference to heavens could also be in comparison with the assertion, “Not even mistaken!” used to low cost a solution that’s up to now out of the ballpark as to be not price dignifying by being known as mistaken.

The Upanishads transcend the pious materialism of the Vedas to a world-rejecting transcendence. In the Upanishadic worldview, liberation is commonly thought-about the last word attainment. Satyavrata Muni’s rejection of liberation means that he aspires for one thing larger. Does he aspire for God’s private abode, Vaikuntha? No, for he additionally rejects the benediction larger than liberation, which Sanatana Goswami explains is the attainment of Vaikuntha. Then the sage refuses another benediction that could be thought-about worthwhile. All this negation is the buildup to the climactic expression of his cherished aspiration: fixed meditation on the Lord who has manifested within the type of a cowherd boy.

This aspiration is a riveting testimony to the purity of his love. In pure love, we want our beloved greater than the rest and switch away from something that turns us away from the beloved. Here meditation on this love-filled Damodara pastime has triggered such a rapture of devotional ecstasy within the sage that nothing else holds any enchantment. Thus, he wishes to without end meditate on this supremely relishable pastime. Reiterating his aspiration, he concludes by asking rhetorically: What different benediction is fascinating?

This put up was first printed on the Spiritual Scientist website. The Spiritual Scientist web site is a treasure trove of sources on Science, Philosophy, Spirituality, Religion, and Self-Help.

Visit Chaitanya Charan’s YouTube Channel, like, and subscribe. Enjoy his five-part video collection on the Damodarashtakam there. Don’t miss his new podcasts, “The Seeker’s Quest” and “Bhagavad Gita in a Year.”

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