Category Archives: 1.08 Prayers of Queen Kunti

Conclusion of Queen Kunti’s Prayers

1.8.37

We are your bosom friends.
We live for you and you alone.
We hold your lotus-like feet above all else.
Can it be that you want to leave us today, O Lord of self-determined action,
Leave us to all our political problems?

Kuntī profoundly asks Kṛṣṇa not to leave.

38

What will become of us Pāṇḍava and Yadu,
With our big name and opulence, but without your audience?
The same that becomes of a lovely body
Without a soul.

39

None of this will have any of the beauty it has now,
O Mace-Wielder.
It is attractive only because your lotus-like footprints
Decorate it with their own decorations.

“Mace-Wielder” (Gadādhara) is a name of Kṛṣṇa as a warrior and identifying him as Viṣṇu, who carries a mace (club) in one hand.

40

All our towns, lands, herbs, and vegetables,
Forests, hills, rivers, and lakes
Flourish now,
Nourished by your glance.

41

So cut the ropes that bind my heart so deeply
To all my things, and to this family of Pāṇḍava and Vṛṣṇi.
O Universal Form! O Universal Soul!
O Universal Master!

Since everything beautiful in her life derives its beauty from its connection to Kṛṣṇa, Kuntī wants to have no affection for any of it, if Kṛṣṇa leaves it. In other words she asks for full realization that Kṛṣṇa is the source of beauty and sweetness in everything beautiful and sweet.

42

On you and you alone, O Sweet Protector
Let my attention be ceaselessly allured.
Like the flooding Ganges
Flowing straight to the sea.

“Madhu-pati,” the Sweet Protector, has a romantic connotation since madhu implies “honey” and pati is the word for husband.

43

Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Friend of Kṛṣṇā, Bull among Bulls,
Tireless hero who destroys the royal dynasties that trouble the Earth.
Pleasure of our senses;
Your incarnations give refuge to cows, teachers, and gods.
Master of mystics; Guide of the World; All-Attractive…

…to you I give myself.

Kuntī brings her address to a close with this stunning spontaneous composition.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa: The “Śrī” in “Śrī Kṛṣṇa” means “beauty.” So it implies “Beautiful Kṛṣṇa.” Śrī further means the goddess of beauty, Lakṣmī . In the company of Kṛṣṇa Lakṣmī manifests her original and supreme form: Rādhā. So “Śrī Kṛṣṇa” further implies “Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”

Friend of Kṛṣṇā: This choice of words allows Kuntī to say “Kṛṣṇa” twice and better satisfy her thirst for that sound. Several people are called Kṛṣṇā, especially Arjuna, Draupadī and Kuntī herself. So it is both sonically satisfying and personally relevant.

Bull among Bulls: Vṛṣṇi-ṛṣabha is a sophisticated alliteration. One meaning is that Kṛṣṇa is the most powerful (ṛṣabha) of his dynasty, the Vṛṣṇi. Another meaning is that Kṛṣṇa is the bull (ṛṣa) among bulls (vṛṣa), which means that he is the best and most powerful of all the best and most powerful men.

Tireless hero of the Earth: The Earth is the wife of Kṛṣṇa’s boar incarnation. Kṛṣṇa is her hero because he saves her from the militarism and exploitive opportunism of self-serving leaders and politicians. How? Sometimes by incarnating to personally annihilate them, but usually by allowing them to annihilate each other as a result of the fate which he enforces in his form as supreme time.

Pleasure of our senses: Kuntī intimately addresses Kṛṣṇa as Govinda, the one who delights the eyes, ears, nose, skin, and mouth.

She concludes in a stunning manner with a refrain back to her opening motif, “I give myself to you.”

Queen Kuntī is extremely intimate with Kṛṣṇa and her appreciation is for the romantic side of Kṛṣṇa. This is clear from the messages she sends to Kṛṣṇa just slightly below the surface of all her words:

  • She compares Kṛṣṇa to an attractive actor.
  • She makes a point to identify herself as female.
  • She refers to Kṛṣṇa in the romantic setting of Vṛṇdāvana, by calling him the Son of Nanda.
  • She calls him the “delight of her senses.”
  • She appreciates his attractive body: naval, eyes and finally even his feet.
  • As is important in the art of romantic communication, she indicates that she is aware of Kṛṣṇa’s special feelings for her.
  • She calls him her “protector” which, in Sanskrit (pati), is the same word used for “husband.”
  • She illustrates her highly philosophical points with reference to intimate Kṛṣṇa in Vṛṇdāvana, as the Son of Yaśodā.
  • She describes kīrtana with adjectives like “embracing” and “enjoying” the hearing, singing, and reminiscing of Kṛṣṇa.
  • She says she wants to love no one else, be attracted to no one else.
  • She twice refers to Kṛṣṇa in relation to Rādhā.
  • In this mood she wishes to give herself to him.

This certainly begs the question: is the relationship between Kuntī and Kṛṣṇa romantic (mādhurya-rasa)? The answer may not be clearly understood before we realize that the ideal cherished in one’s heart need not be forceful enough to fully manifest in ones deeds. What I feel is certain is that lovely and devoted Kuntī cherishes romantic affection for Kṛṣṇa above all else. She particularly adores the concept of Kṛṣṇa as her true husband. She even holds the highest reverence for Kṛṣṇa’s supremely intimate romance with Śrī Rādhā.

If these cherished ideals were forceful enough to grant her a place among his queens or Gopīs is unknown to me. But in her current shape as Kuntī it remains a heartfelt ideal, the deepest motive and most treasured emotion. We should realize that all self-realized souls cherish the intimate romantic love of Kṛṣṇa and his queens, Kṛṣṇa and the Gopīs, and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa above all else – regardless of the capacity or level of intimacy to which their personal nature permits them to access Kṛṣṇa.

I also wonder how much the sentiment of the storytellers influences the choice of words and the subtleties. I think that Kuntī holds these sentiments as the secret treasure of her heart, and the storytellers may make it more apparent due to their own deep sympathy for such feelings.

Kuntīs prayers teach us so many important things.

  • Kṛṣṇa is a Transcendent Person, which means that his delimiting features such as name and form are unlimited.
    • Illusion prevents us from accepting that this is possible.
    • Illusion is the product of not wanting Kṛṣṇa to be the Absolutely All-Attractive
    • Illusion is truly destroyed, therefore, only be becoming absolutely all-attracted to Kṛṣṇa, as Kuntī is.
  • There is no such thing as good and bad luck.
    • Good luck can separate one from the true fortune of attraction to the All-Attractive.
    • Bad luck can increase that fortune.
  • Kṛṣṇa refuses to become the property of anyone who holds on to any other property. He fully gives himself, however, to those who are uninterested in power and enjoyment, are self-satisfied, gentle and pure.
  • Kṛṣṇa is absolutely impartial.
    • Destiny is the absolutely impartial form of Kṛṣṇa
    • Receiving or not receiving affection from Kṛṣṇa is our decision.
  • The most significant reason Kṛṣṇa appears in our world is to provide us an opportunity to remember him and thus realize our full-potential as roles in the play of divine love.
  • Everything is beautiful and attractive only in so far as we are aware of its connection to all-beautiful, all-attractive Kṛṣṇa.
    • Therefore let us become attracted to him first and foremost, then everything will become beautiful.

Considering the sublimity of Kuntīs emotion and the profundity of her philosophical points, it is easy to see why Sūta chose her words as the first monologue he enunciated to the sages in pursuit of retelling Śuka’s Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

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Prayers of Queen Kunti, Part II

Kuntī previously expressed so much gratitude to Kṛṣṇa for taking special care of her through so many calamities. Kṛṣṇa might say, “First you say I am the Original Godhead and then you say I took so much care of you, but this is a contradiction because Godhead does not show partiality to anyone!” Fearing this objection, Kuntī speaks these words:

1.8.28-29

I know you as the master of time itself,
Infinite, without beginning or end.
You distribute yourself equally in all circumstances.
Friendship or enmity is something living beings create.

Who can understand the behavior of the All-Attractive?
People confuse you to be like them.
How could anyone be your object of favor or disfavor?
Impartiality exists only in the human mind.

Kuntī says, “You are infinite time.” Time is the force which allows events to transpire. All good and bad things therefore happen as a result of time. Time is therefore synonymous with the concept of fate, destiny, karma.

Destiny is completely impartial. It plays no favorites and gives no dispensations. It merely enforces the appropriate result of your freewill. If a soccer player commits a foul, the referee calls a penalty. Is it the referees fault or the players? If the same player scores a goal, the referee awards a point. Is this favoritism? No, it is impartiality. The good and bad one experiences from an impartial being are ones own creation. God is not to fame or fault for the pleasures and pains of the world. It is we alone who create our fortunes.

The love and protection Kṛṣṇa gave Kuntī and her family is equally available to everyone at anytime. It is up to us to choose friendship or enmity with the All-Attractive.

30

It is completely confusing
That the unborn, deedless soul of the universe
Takes birth and performs deeds
Among animals, humans, sages, and aquatics.

For example:

31

When you were naughty, the cowherd woman grasped for a rope.
Then, mascara ran in the tears flowing from your frightened eyes.
Your face looked down and fear filled you up.
This confuses me, since even the god of fear fears you!

Now  Kuntī will try to unravel the confusing mystery of why and how the unborn and deedless is born and has deeds:

32-36

Someone says the unborn is born
To glorify the Subject of Pure Poetry,
As a dear friend to the Yadu dynasty,
Like sandalwood in the Malaya hills.

Someone else says he was born
To answer the prayers of Vasudeva and Devakī.
You are that unborn who protected them
By destroying those who hate the godly.

Another person says
The world was like a sinking boat at sea with too much weight,
And Brahmā prayed for your birth
On behalf of her distress.

“This world is full of the distress
Of ignorant desires and pursuits.
So he has enabled us to hear about, remember, and worship him”
– say many others.

Embracing constant hearing & singing;
Enjoying the consequent remembrance of your deeds;
Such a person soon sees your lotus-like feet,
And the flow of material destiny runs dry.

Kuntī cites different opinions which attempt to explain why the unborn and deedless is born and does deeds.

The first opinion she cites is that the unborn is born to create subject matter for pure poetry to be used in divine glorification (kīrtan).

She uses a metaphor of sandalwood in the Malayan hills. Sandal trees could potentially grow anywhere, but for whatever reason they wound up growing in a certain hilly region and thus that region is very famous and prosperous. Similarly the All-Attractive could take birth and perform deeds anywhere, but for whatever reason he does so among the Yadu dynasty (Kuntī’s royal family) who are therefore very famous and prosperous.

The next opinion she cites is that the unborn is born to protect the world from those who hate the godly. Foremost was to protect Devakī and Vasudeva from the wicked Kaṁsa.

The third opinion is similar: that the unborn is born because the armies of greedy kings made the earth distressed like a boat at sea with too much weight, so Kṛṣṇa appeared to destroy hundreds of thousands of warriors and kings.

The fourth opinion she sites is similar to the first: The unborn is born because the world is full of intense suffering, the ultimate cause of which is forgetfulness of our essential unifying link with the Supreme Blissful All-Attractive. So Kṛṣṇa takes birth to give us something truly uplifting to sing about and hear about, which allows us to remember our link to him and thus destroy the root of our suffering.

Finally, she gives her own opinion in support of the first and fourth opinions she cited. She says that the unborn and deedless is born and has deeds just to facilitate true love and enjoyment and thus save the forlorn soul from asphyxiation in a river of meaningless existence.

The primary reason that the Absolute exists in tangible personal form is to give us something perfect to love. Therefore the primary reason you and I exist in a tangible form is to love something perfect. Singing and hearing songs about the All-Attractive are the most effective way to fall into this divine love, and also the most powerful and pure way to enjoy, embrace and express it.

The divine exists for kīrtana, therefore so do we.

A modern painting of Kunti addressing Krsna before he could leave.


Prayers of Queen Kunti, Part I

1.8.17

Saved along with her children from the blast of the ultimate weapon, devoted Pṛthā went before Kṛṣṇa, who was still ready to depart, and said this:

18-19

Kuntī said:

I give myself to you, the Original Person,
Master of energies and their source,
The undelimited existence,
Inside and outside of everything.

The fool’s eye,
Covered by a curtain of illusion,
Cannot see your limitless transcendental delimitations;
As an actor in costume goes unrecognized.

Do not think that the intimate associates of Kṛṣṇa are unaware of his majestic divinity! They are more aware of Kṛṣṇa than anyone else, because nothing reveals a person in more depth and clarity than a deep loving relationship with him. The do not always focus upon the power and majesty of Godhead because their relationship with Kṛṣṇa is more than that. But this does not mean that they lack any understanding of the true position of Kṛṣṇa.

Kuntī, mother of the Pāṇḍavas, immediately addresses Kṛṣṇa as the “Original Person.” The Sanskrit she uses, puruṣaṁ ādyam, directly connotes Kṛṣṇa as the original Viṣṇu.

She calls Kṛṣṇa “master of energies and their source” – īśvaraṁ prakṛteḥ param. This means that Kṛṣṇa is the controller of this world of energy, as well as the spiritual source from which the energy originates. Following this to its conclusion, Kuntī addresses Kṛṣṇa as the lover of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, who is the original spiritual source of all Kṛṣṇa’s energy (param-prakṛti).

She describes Kṛṣṇa as “undelimited existence inside and outside of everything.” She says that only a fool looks at Kṛṣṇa and thinks, “he sort of looks and acts like a human being, so… how can he be God?” Kṛṣṇa’s so called “delimitations” (name, color, shape, etc) are that very infinite undefinable spiritual substance itself. An eye befooled by the curtains of illusion cannot, or will not, see this. Illusion is the mechanism by which we experience something impossible. What is impossible is that an infinitesimal being such as you or I can be All-Attractive. When the true All-Attractive is placed before such eyes illusion closes a curtain over the truth, lest our hallucination of centrality become extinct.

Thus pitiful fools such as we overlook Kṛṣṇa every day, everywhere.

20

The greatest souls,
The scholars, the liberated,
Can see you by the means of devotion.
Can a simple woman also see?

Kuntī previously expressed that the eye covered by illusion cannot see the All-Attractive. Now she explains the cure to this blindness. The cure is to change what we want; instead of wanting to be All-Attractive we must want to be All-Attracted. Instead of wanting people to be devoted to us, we must become devoted to them and ultimately to Godhead. This is the “means of devotion” which allows great souls, scholars, and liberated people to see the Infinite Being in a concrete and tangible personal form.

Kuntī then humbly expresses, “I am no scholar or sage or spiritualist, yet I too can see you! How can a simple woman have this topmost divine realization? By the process of devotion.” The process of devotion is open to everyone, scholar and simpleton alike. In fact in some ways it is simpler for a simple person to embrace it.

Kuntī then gives two beautiful verses expressing her loving devotional sentiments.

21-22

I give myself, I give myself to Krsna,
Son of Vasudeva, Darling child of Devakī,
Cowherd Nanda’s dear boy;
Delight of our senses.

I give myself to you whose naval is like a lotus,
Who wears a necklace of lotuses,
Whose eyes are like lotuses,
Whose feet are like lotuses

23

Oh master of our senses,
As you freed your mother Devaki from her long imprisonment by treacherous Kamsa;
So you protected my sons and I, O Powerful,
From danger after danger:

Kuntī expresses her appreciation to Kṛṣṇa for treating her as lovingly and carefully as he did his own mother.

24-27

From poison, inferno, and the attacks of man-eaters,
From the vile assembly and the sufferings of exile,
From the midst of the weapons of countless warriors,
And from the weapon of Droṇa’s son, you kept us completely safe.

Let there be such dangers forever!
For, O Guide of the Universe, each and every one
Granted us your wonderful company;
Freeing us from the company of repeated birth and death.

Status, power, erudition, and beauty
Only increase the human hallucination
Completely Inhibiting us from sincerely turning to you
Who are within reach of those who have nothing else.

I give myself to you, the wealth of the wealthless
Who are unimpressed by the qualities of material things.
I submit myself unto you,
Lord of the Self-satisfied, gentle and pure.

When she enumerated all the dangers Kṛṣṇa protected her from his eyes asked of her, “Is that the goal of devotion then, to receive something in return?”

She passionately replied, “No! I want more dangers!”

Why?

Because in these times of danger she and her family always turned to Kṛṣṇa, found themselves in his company, and freed from the greatest danger: constant death in the cycle of reincarnation. It is implied here that devotional awareness of Kṛṣṇa delivers one from the cycle of reincarnation (saṁsāra) as a mere side effect.

She explains that people in illusion want more status, power, erudition and attractiveness – but these things only inflate our hallucinations. Such fantasies inhibit us from embracing the reality of our abject dependence on Godhead. Thus people who gain “good things” are at risk of losing their sincere connection to the best thing, the All-Attractive.

The All-Attractive is always within the embrace of those who hold on to no possession except him.