Tag Archives: Devaki

Krishna’s Affectionate Mothers

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He entered the city with blessings from learned teachers and their impressive wives, and with respects from his admirers.

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O learned one, Kṛṣṇa went by the royal road and all the women of Dvārakā’s important families rushed up to their rooftops to enjoy the greatest festival: the opportunity to see him!

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The Dvārakā-dwellers regularly saw him, but still their thirst to see the Infallible body – the wellspring of all beauty – just couldn’t be slaked.

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His chest is the abode of Goddess Beauty.
His face is a full goblet for the eyes.
His arms protect the worlds.
His lotus-like feet delight his lovers.

Bursting to a new level of expressiveness, Sūta composes a verse perfectly suited to impress upon a mixed audience the delightful beauty of the All-Attractive. He says, “Many appreciate the beauty of Śrī, the Goddess of Fortune and Beauty. His chest is where she dwells! Others among you search for a goblet full of Soma, to enjoy like the gods themselves. There is a full pot of it for your eyes if you look upon his face! Still others among you serve the gods for various blessings and protections. All the gods get their strength from his arms! And the rest of you, oh wonderful souls, are purely in love with him like swans delighting among the lotuses that are his feet.”

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On the road a shade-umbrella, fans, and showers of flowers kept him cool. As these surrounded his yellow clothes and flower necklaces it seemed like a thick cloud was surrounded by the sun, the half-moon, a rainbow, and lightning.

Kṛṣṇa’s brilliant black complexion is the thick cloud. His yellow clothes are the sun. The flowers falling like confetti all around him twinkle and sparkle like lightning. The umbrella above his head is like the half-moon. His multicolored flower necklaces are like rainbows. This is how I envision the analogy.

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As soon as he entered his father’s house, his mothers embraced him. He very gladly bowed his head in respect to the seven headed by Devakī. Their breasts swelled and became wet out of affection for their son, who they sat upon their laps. Overwhelmed with delight, the tears from their eyes soaked him.

Kṛṣṇa’s father, Vasudeva, eventually had 18 wives [SB 10.84.47]. All of them embrace Kṛṣṇa as their son, and Kṛṣṇa embraces all of them as his mothers. Kṛṣṇa’s biological mother is Vasudeva’s principle wife: Devakī. She married Vasudeva along with her six sisters: Śāntidevā, Upadevā, Śrīdevā, Devarakṣitā, Sahadevā and Dhṛtadevā [SB 9.24.21-23]. These are the “seven headed by Devakī.”

Of the remaining eleven I am aware only of the names: Pauravī, Rohiṇī, Bhadrā, Madirā, Rocanā, and Ilā [SB 9.24.45].

To see even one ordinary Indian mother embrace her ordinary son warms the heart. Imagine eighteen divine mothers embracing their All-Attractive “child!” The scene evokes the indescribable heights of infinite motherly love.

Motherly love is more intimate than all the other types of affection we have seen thus far from the residents of Dvārakā. Therefore the setting is now indoors in private quarters. Now Sūta will continue to graduate us towards romantic affection, the most intimate and exalted form of divine love.


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:

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.


Questions that Inspired Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.4-23

A host of sages and mystics assembled in a great forest to perform a prolonged sacrifice for the benefit of the world, which just entered the challenging Age of Quarrel. One morning a very learned sage, named Suta, appeared amongst them and they all questioned him eagerly.

He might protest their attention and respect, so they said:

“It is right that we respect and inquire from you because (a) you have studied all branches of science and philosophy, (b) you understand all the major schools of thought on these subjects, and (c) you are very humble and therefore blessed by your teachers and eager to help others.”

Then they put their question to him – they asked, “We have assembled here to perform a sacrifice for the benefit of humanity in this difficult epoch of history. But we are afraid that we are not getting anything from our sacrificial fires except a lot of black smoke and soot. What should we do successfully benefit mankind?”

Suta would have protested that the learned sages should know the answer, so they continued:

“We have studied much indeed, but all the various branches and opinions have confused us. We are asking you to identify and explain the essence of all branches of knowledge.”

Suta may have protested that to answer would take a long time, so they said:

“You are very long-lived! As you can see from this thousand-year sacrifice we have begun, we are also long-lived and patient.”

Suta might have then doubted, “If these sages don’t even have the slightest idea as to the answer to their question, which though profound is indeed simple and essential, then perhaps they are not qualified or capable to learn the subject, and it would be a misuse of my time and effort to try to instruct them?” Fearing this doubt the sages spoke up to indicate that many of them did indeed have a strong suspicion about what might be the answer to this question – what is the most beneficial thing for humanity. Therefore they said:

“We think this question has everything to do with Krishna. The Supreme Godhead only appears in this world to uplift and benefit humanity, so his very recent appearance as Krishna must be the key to humanity’s welfare in this difficult age.”

Seeing Suta’s approving expression, the sages felt encouraged to reveal more of their opinion on the subject:

“Anything connected to Krishna is extremely purifying and beneficial for human beings. His name, for example, very easily frees everyone from the inescapably complex and frightening web of illusions. His servants and friends, for example, purify a human more than the Ganges river – just by being in their company. So we think that poems about Krishna and his confidential partners must be the most beneficial thing to purify and uplift humanity, especially in the Age of Quarrel.”

Now Suta may have tested the sages, or the sages anticipated such. One test Suta might have posed is, “What do you mean, how can hearing about some person be beneficial for humanity?”

They addressed this test thus: “Krishna is not an ordinary person, he is an incarnation of the Supreme Godhead.”

Suta tests further, “Yes, but in an incarnation Godhead acts like an ordinary man. What is the value of hearing about someone who imitates ordinary men?”

Sri Krishna, as a young child with foster mother .

Image via Wikipedia

The sages reply [1.1.17-18], “No, no, no! The Gods themselves and great saints and sages all sing loudly to broadcast the activities of Godhead. If such activities were ordinary, how would such extraordinary beings take delight in them? Please rest assured that we do not have this obnoxious misconception about the incarnations of Godhead, thinking that they are material and ordinary. We know fully well that the activities of the divine are not at all within the arena of illusion! They are all expressions of the overflowing internal spiritual bliss of Godhead. Poems about them are pictures of pure spirit in action! Therefore please tell us all about the activities of Krishna and many other incarnations of Godhead, too!”

Suta may then test the sages: “Are you sure? I love these topics. I will not stop speaking about them for a long time. Don’t you have busy schedules and responsibilities with this sacrifice? Won’t you become distracted or bored?”

They reply [19], “No! We can never get enough of the topmost poetry describing the amazing deeds of the Supreme Personality! We are familiar with the truth of pleasures and happiness and therefore when we hear the deeds of Krishna we will enjoy, oh we will so enjoy! In each and every word we will enjoy true pleasure.”

Now Suta becomes fully satisfied that his audience is fit to truly relish a full disclosure of Srimad Bhagavatam – the poetry describing the character and deeds of many incarnations of the Supreme Entity, the subject matter that should be meditated upon to attain the highest blessing. But he wonders, “Previously they mentioned Krishna as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki as their prime interest, but later they extended their interest to all incarnations of the Supreme Godhead. Which incarnation of Godhead should I really focus on as I narrate these divine tales?”

The sages reply [20], “We specifically want you to focus on Krishna, with beautiful hair, who sported with his brother Rāma. Especially we want to know the most intimate and concealed activities of Krishna – the Superhuman Godhead acting like a tricky young man!”

With this statement, the sages in the Forest of the Unblinking Eyes indicate boldly and directly that they want Suta Goswāmī to focus his narration upon Śrī Krishna as the son of Nanda and Yasoda, in the Sweet Forest (Vrindavana), especially on his very expert and tricky dealings with the young girls there. Indeed this topic will become the focal point and crown jewel of Suta Goswāmī’s presentation.

At this point, Suta Goswāmī is overjoyed but shocked to have found such deep spiritual passion in an unexpected place – a ritualistic ceremony.

The sages reply to this surprise [21-22]: “Because we knew that the Age of Quarrel had already begun, all of us gathered here in this special forest to perform a sacrifice. This forest is special because it is consecrated to Śrī Vishnu and is therefore fit for Vaishnava functions. The sacrifice we truly intended to perform here is not done with fire and oil, but with words! However we found no one fit to lead the sacrifice by speaking the divine words of poetry glorifying the incarnations of the Supreme Personality, Śrī Vishnu. But now you have come into our midst, sent directly by providence! You shall fill the post that no one here was fit to fill. You shall become the captain of the boat which can carry humanity in the Age of Quarrel over the insurmountable ocean of decay and deterioration!”

Wishing to end their statements with a specific question allowing Suta to have clear focus on how to begin his discussion, the sages closed with the following [23]:

“The master of all spiritual powers, the Spiritual Entity, the protector of dharma – Krishna – has now gone away to his own abode. Who or what shall now protect dharma?”


1.1.4-17 Questions in the Forest

The introduction is over and the story now begins…

A host of learned sages and mystics, headed by Shaunaka, assembled in the Forest of He Who Does Not Blink, and engaged themselves in an arduous thousand-year long sacrifice for the benefit of both heaven and earth. But one morning, after they tended the sacrificial fire, the uncommonly wise and learned Suta entered their midst. The sages made Suta a respectful seat, and very thoughtfully presented him the following questions.

“You have carefully studied and taught the many branches of Vedic Wisdom – all the histories, accounts, and guidelines for morality. You yourself practice what you have learned and taught, being free from vice. You are fully conversant with the teachings of the foremost scholar Vyasadeva, and all other important teachers as well, and are therefore the most learned person. And equally important, you are a humble and receptive person. Therefore you fully absorbed all the blessings of your teachers and are now eager to pass those gifts on to others such as us. Considering all that you have learned, good and long-lived Suta, please answer this question in a simple, unequivocal way: What is the highest good for humanity?

“Specifically please tell us of the highest good for the current epoch of human history – the Age of Quarrel – during which time human beings become very meager in longevity, lazy, misguided and dull, unlucky, and surely always without peace of mind and free time.”

Here Suta Goswāmī may have humbly indicated that all of these learned sages and mystics assembled must surely know the answers to such question. Therefore the sages said that although they were quite learned, they were confused…

“We are learned, but we have learned so many branches of knowledge – each of which seems to say a different thing and put forth a different idea about what is best. We ask you to unify all these divergent teachings by pointing out to us what is the essence of all of them. Considering all the many divergent theories and philosophies, what is the singular best thing for humanity, by which their troubled hearts will be fully satisfied?”

Again Śrī Suta would now very likely look at them with some disbelief, as if saying, “none of you has any idea?” In fact many of the sages did know the answer, but wished to hear it expanded and gloriously explained by the greatly blessed Suta. Therefore they now indicate that they are aware of what the answer to this question most likely is…

“Suta! You are most blessed because you know the true purpose why the Supreme Entity, protector of the pure, appeared as Krishna – the son of Vasudeva and Devaki. That is what we are so eager to understand, for the incarnations of the Supreme are meant to protect and uplift humanaity! Please explain what you have learned about Krishna!

“The sound of his name – “Krishna,” even if inattentively heard, at once liberates even those completely entangled in the complex and frightening web of material life. Ah, fear itself flees in fear of that wondrous name! The Ganges river purifies after some use, but one immediately becomes far more purified just by being in proximity to those who merely serve Krishna’s feet. Is there anyone that desires their own purification who would not want to hear the auspicious poetry describing Krishna’s character and activities? Such poems are the only means of sanctifying the impure Age of Quarrel. All his activities are magnanimous, and broadcast by the gods and sages. We are very, very eager to hear about the pastimes he enjoys in all his incarnations – please speak to us about this!”