Mother Yaśodā Binding Lord Kṛṣṇa

…Mother Yaśodā chased Him to all corners, trying to capture the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is never approached even by the meditations of great yogīs. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, who is never caught by the yogīs and speculators, was playing just like a little child for a great devotee like mother Yaśodā. Mother Yaśodā, however, could not easily catch the fast-running child because of her thin waist and heavy body. Still she tried to follow Him as fast as possible. Her hair loosened, and the flower in her hair fell to the ground. Although she was tired, she somehow reached her naughty child and captured Him. When He was caught, Kṛṣṇa was almost on the point of crying. He smeared His hands over His eyes, which were anointed with black eye cosmetics. The child saw His mother’s face while she stood over Him, and His eyes became restless from fear. Mother Yaśodā could understand that Kṛṣṇa was unnecessarily afraid, and for His benefit she wanted to allay His fears.

Kṛṣṇa, The Supreme Personality of Godhead 1970 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Vol. 1, Chapter 9

Mother Yaśodā Binding Lord Kṛṣṇa

Once upon a time, seeing that her maidservant was engaged in different household duties, mother Yaśodā personally took charge of churning butter. And while she churned butter, she sang the childhood pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and enjoyed thinking of her son.


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Eight

O Lord, the entire universe was created by Lord Brahma, who was born from Your abdomen, which was bound with a rope by Mother Yasoda. To this rope I offer my humble obeisances.

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

namaḥ–obeisances; te–to You; astu–may there be; dāmne–unto the rope around Your waist; sphurat–splendrous; dīpti-dhāmne–unto the effulgent abode; tvadīya-udarāya–unto Your belly; atha–thus; viśvasya–of the entire universe; dhāmne–unto the shelter; namaḥ–obeisances; rādhikāyai–unto Rādhikā; tvadīya priyāyai–unto Your Beloved; namaḥ– obeisances; ananta-līlāya–unto Your limitless sportive pastimes; devāya– unto Your transcendental nature; tubhyam–unto You.

8) O Lord, the entire universe was created by Lord Brahma, who was born from Your abdomen, which was bound with a rope by Mother Yasoda. To this rope I offer my humble obeisances. I offer my obeisances to Your most beloved Srimati Radharani, and to Your unlimited pastimes.

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.


Devotional Service Surpasses All Liberation

Nārada then said, "Yes, you shall become trees, arjuna trees, and you will stand at the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāj. But Kṛṣṇa Himself will appear in time as the foster son of Nanda, and He will deliver you."

The story behind the two sons of Kuvera, Manigriva, and Nalakuvera, is they were puffed up on account of the opulence of their father, and so once on a heavenly planet they were enjoying themselves in a lake with some naked damsels of heaven. At that time the great saint Nārada Muni was passing on the road and was sorry to see the behavior of the sons of Kuvera. Seeing Nārada passing by, the damsels of heaven covered their bodies with cloth, but the two sons, being drunkards, did not have this decency. Nārada became angry with their behavior and cursed them thusly: “You have no sense, so it is better if you become trees instead of the sons of Kuvera.” Upon hearing this, the boys came to their senses and begged Nārada to be pardoned for their offenses. Nārada then said, “Yes, you shall become trees, arjuna trees, and you will stand at the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāj. But Kṛṣṇa Himself will appear in time as the foster son of Nanda, and He will deliver you.” In other words, the curse of Nārada was a benediction to the sons of Kuvera because indirectly it was foretold that they would be able to receive the favor of Lord Kṛṣṇa. After that, Kuvera’s two sons stood as two big arjuna trees in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāj until Lord Dāmodara, in order to fulfill the desire of Nārada, dragged the milling pestle to which He was tied and struck the two trees, violently causing them to fall down. From out of these fallen trees came Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, who had by then become great devotees of the Lord.

The Nectar of Devotion – 1970 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 4

Devotional Service Surpasses All Liberation

How much a devotee is seriously attached to the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be understood from the statement of Mahārāj Pṛthu (Ādirāja) which is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fourth Canto, 20th Chapter, 21st verse. He prays to the Supreme Personality of Godhead thusly: “My dear Lord, if after taking liberation I have no chance of hearing the glories of Your Lordship, glories chanted by pure devotees from the core of their hearts in praise of Your lotus feet, and if I have no chance for this honey of transcendental bliss, then I shall never ask for liberation or this so-called spiritual emancipation. I shall simply always pray unto Your Lordship that You may give me millions of tongues and millions of ears so that I can constantly chant and hear of Your transcendental glories.”

The impersonalists desire to merge into the existence of the Supreme, but without keeping their individuality they have no chance of hearing and chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord. Because they have no idea of the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord there is no chance of their chanting and hearing of His transcendental activities. In other words, unless one is already beyond liberation, one cannot relish the transcendental glories of the Lord, nor can one understand the transcendental form of the Lord.


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Seven

You then freed the sons of Kuvera, Manigriva, and Nalakuvera, who were cursed to stand as trees, and You gave them the chance to become Your devotees.

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

kuvera-ātmajau–the two sons of Kuvera (named Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva); baddha-mūrtyā-eva–by He whose divine form was bound with ropes to the grinding mortar; yat-vat–since they were like that (cursed by Nārada to take birth as twin arjuna trees); tvayā–by You; mocitau–they who were liberated; bhakti-bhājau–the recipients of devotional service; kṛtau–You made them; ca–also; tathā–then; premabhaktim–loving devotion; svakām–Your own; me–unto me; prayaccha– please give; na mokṣe–not for liberation; grahaḥ–enthusiasm; me–my; asti–is; dāmodara–O Lord Dāmodara!; iha–this.

7) O Lord Damodara, in Your form as a baby, Mother Yasoda bound You to a grinding stone with a rope for tying cows, You then freed the sons of Kuvera, Manigriva, and Nalakuvera, who were cursed to stand as trees, and You gave them the chance to become Your devotees. Please bless me in this same way, I have no desire for liberation into Your effulgence.

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!


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Six

O unlimited Visnu! O master! O Lord!

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

namaḥ–I bow down; deva–O divine Lord!; dāmodara–O Lord whose belly is bound with a rope!; ananta–O limitless Lord!; viṣṇo–O allpervading Lord!; prasīda–be pleased; prabho–O my Master!; duḥkhajāla–a network of material miseries; abdhi-magnam–immersed in the ocean; kṛpā-dṛṣṭi-vṛṣṭyā–by the rain of merciful glances; āti-dīnam–very fallen; bata–alas!; anugṛhāṇa–please accept; īśa–O supremely independent Lord!; mām–me; ajñam–ignorant; edhi–please come; akṣidṛśyaḥ–perceptible to my eyes.

6) O unlimited Visnu! O master! O Lord! Be pleased upon me! I am drowning in and ocean of sorrow and am almost like a dead man, Please shower the rain of mercy on me; uplift me and protect me with Your nectarean vision.

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.


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Five

O Lord, the cheeks of Your blackish lotus face, which is encircled by locks of curling hair, have become reddened like bimba fruit due to Mother Yasoda’s kisses

idaḿ te mukhāmbhojam atyanta-nīlair
vṛtaḿ kuntalaiḥ snigdha-raktaiś ca gopyā
muhuś cumbitaḿ bimba-raktādharaḿ me
manasy āvirāstām alaḿ lakṣa-lābhaiḥ

idam–this; te–Your; mukha-ambhojam–lotus-like face; avyakta-nīlaiḥ–by very dark blue; vṛtam–surrounded; kuntalaiḥ–by curling locks of hair; snigdha–soft and glossy; raktaiḥ–by reddish-tinted; ca–also; gopyā–by the gopī (Srī Yaśodā); muhuḥ–again and again; cumbitam–kissed; bimbarakta-adharam–with lips red as the bimba fruit; me–my; manasi–in the heart; āvirāstām–may it be manifest; alam–useless (there is no need for me); lakṣa-lābhaiḥ–by millions of attainments of other boons.

5) O Lord, the cheeks of Your blackish lotus face, which is encircled by locks of curling hair, have become reddened like bimba fruit due to Mother Yasoda’s kisses. What more can I describe than this? Millions of opulences are of no use to me, but may this vision constantly remain in my mind.


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.


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Four

My only prayer is that Your childhood pastimes may constantly appear in my mind

varaḿ deva mokṣaḿ na mokṣāvadhiḿ vā
na canyaḿ vṛṇe ‘haḿ vareṣād apīha
idaḿ te vapur nātha gopāla-bālaḿ
sadā me manasy āvirāstāḿ kim anyaiḥ

varam–boons; deva–O Lord!; mokṣam–liberation; na–not; mokṣāavadhim–the highest pinnacle of liberation (the realm of Srī Vaikuṇṭhaloka); vā–or; na–not; ca-anyam–or anything else; vṛṇe aham–I pray for; vara-īśāt–from You Who can bestow any boon; api–also; iha–here in Vṛndāvana; idam–this; te–Your; vapuḥ–divine bodily form; nātha–O Lord!; gopāla-bālam–a young cowherd boy; sadā–always; me manasi–in my heart; āvirāstām–may it be manifest; kim anyaiḥ–what is the use of other things (mokṣā, and so forth.)

4) O Lord, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to You for liberation, nor eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor any other boon. My only prayer is that Your childhood pastimes may constantly appear in my mind. O Lord, I do not even want to know Your feature of Paramatma. I simply wish that Your childhood pastimes may ever be enacted in my heart.

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.


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Three

Those superexcellent pastimes of Lord Krsna’s babyhood drowned the inhabitants of Gokula in pools of ecstasy

itīdṛk sva-līlābhir ānanda-kuṇḍe
sva-ghoṣaḿ nimajjantam ākhyāpayantam
tadīyeṣita-jñeṣu bhaktair jitatvaḿ
punaḥ prematas taḿ śatāvṛtti vande

iti īdṛk–displaying in this way (childhood pastimes such as the Dāmodara-līlā and so forth); sva-līlābhiḥ–by His own pastimes; ānandakuṇḍe–in a pool of bliss; sva-ghoṣam–His own family and the other residents of Gokula; nimajjantam–immersing; ākhyāpayantam–makes known; tadīya-īśita-jñeṣu–to those desirous of knowing His majesty (aiśvarya); bhaktaiḥ jitatvam–His quality of being conquered by His loving devotees (who are devoid of aiśvarya-jñāna); punaḥ–again; premataḥ–with love and devotion; tam–unto that Lord Dāmodara; śataāvṛtti–hundreds and hundreds of times; vande–I praise.

3) Those superexcellent pastimes of Lord Krsna’s babyhood drowned the inhabitants of Gokula in pools of ecstasy. To the devotees who are attracted only to His majestic aspect of Narayana in Vaikuntha, the Lord herein reveals: “I am conquered and overwhelmed by pure loving devotion.” To the Supreme Lord, Damodara, my obeisances hundreds and hundreds of times.

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).


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami / Verse Two

Mother Yasoda bound His belly with ropes, He shivered in fright and His pearl necklace shook.

rudantaḿ muhur netra-yugmaḿ mṛjantam
karāmbhoja-yugmena sātańka-netram
muhuḥ śvāsa-kampa-trirekhāńka-kaṇṭha-
sthita-graivaḿ dāmodaraḿ bhakti-baddham

rudantam–crying; muhuḥ–again and again; netra-yugmam–His two eyes; mṛjantam–rubbing; kara-ambhoja-yugmena–with His two lotus-like hands; sa-ātańka-netram–with very fearful eyes; muhuḥ–again and again; śvāsa–quick breathing and sighing; kampa–trembling; tri-rekhaańka-kaṇṭha–neck marked with three lines (just like a conchshell); sthita–situated; graiva–pearl necklaces and other neck-ornaments; dāma-udaram–unto He with a rope around His belly; bhakti-baddham– who is bound by devotion.

2) Upon seeing His mothers whipping stick, He cried and rubbed His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes were fearful and His breathing quick, and as Mother Yasoda bound His belly with ropes, He shivered in fright and His pearl necklace shook. To this Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, who is bound with His devotee’s love, I offer my humble obeisances.

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.


Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami

Vishnujana Swami with Radha Damodara

This will be an eight part series, with an explanation on each of the eight verses of the Sri Damodarastakam, given by Visnujana Swami. This eight sloka prayer is sung morning and evening during the month of Damodara, and which began today.

Sri Damodarastakam as explained by Visnujana Swami

namāmīśvaraḿ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaḿ
lasat-kuṇḍalaḿ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaḿ
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā

namāmi–I bow down; īśvaram–to the supreme controller; sat-cit-ānandarūpam–whose form is composed of eternity, knowledge and bliss; lasatkuṇḍalam–whose earrings play and swing; gokule bhrājamānam–who is splendrously manifest in Gokula; yaśodā-bhiyā–in fear of mother Yaśodā; ulūkalāt-dhāvamānam–who gets down from the wooden ricegrinding mortar and runs away; para-āmṛṣṭam–catching Him by the back; atyam–very much; tatam drutya–chasing after Him quickly; gopyā–by the gopī (Srī Yaśodā).

1) To the supreme controller who possesses an eternal form of blissful knowledge, whose glistening earrings swing to and fro, who manifested Himself in Gokula, who stole the butter that the gopis kept hanging from the rafters of their storerooms and who then quickly jumped up and ran in retreat in fear of Mother Yasoda, but was ultimately caught. To that Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.

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.


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