October 18, 2013
It’s 70 degrees in New York City today, hardly what I would expect for mid-October, although I suppose these patterns of unseasonable weather should no longer surprise me much. Nevertheless, it is the beginning of the Kartik, which always solidifies the autumn season for me, regardless of the climate. Now, it really feels like Fall.
Today is the full moon officiating the lunar month of Damodara Masa, or Kartik, in the Vedic calendar. Damodara is a name of Krishna when he is a baby who gets into trouble doing all sort of mischievious things, such as stealing butter and running away from his mother, Yasoda. Krishna is the Divine manifested as a person in a way that He can be “Himself” and engage in loving exchanges with His devotees. During this month, practitioners within the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition celebrate of the pastime of Mother Yasoda unsuccessfully trying to tie up young Damodara to a grinding mortar with a piece of rope after he broke a pot and stole butter out of it. This is believed to be the most auspicious time of the entire year.
Due to the significance of this time of this year, any austerities undertaken for the sake of spiritual advancement or guiding others in this way will become powerfully charged. Many devotees often make special vows to maintain throughout the month, such as increasing their hearing and chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, worship, or restricting their intake of food. Personally, in addition to increasing my japa meditation and to sing the Damodarastakam prayer daily, I also feel called to do some sharing through writing. I am not entirely how it will unfold or manifest over the next few weeks, but I do sincerely hope that someone is able to benefit in some small way from my endeavors. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Hear the Damodarastakam prayer here: Sri Damodarastakam
lasat-kuṇḍalam gokule bhrājamanam
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā
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.
rudantam muhur netra-yugmam mṛjantam
sthita-graivam dāmodaram bhakti-baddham
Upon seeing His mother’s 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, I offer my humble obeisances.
itīdṛk sva-līlābhir ānanda-kuṇḍe
sva-ghoṣam nimajjantam ākhyāpayantam
tadīyeṣita-jñeṣu bhaktair jitatvam
punaḥ prematas tam śatāvṛtti vande
Those superexcellent pastimes of Lord Krishna’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.
varam deva mokṣam na mokṣāvadhim vā
na canyam vṛṇe ‘ham vareṣād apīha
idam te vapur nātha gopāla-bālam
sadā me manasy āvirāstām kim anyaiḥ
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.
idam te mukhāmbhojam atyanta-nīlair
vṛtam kuntalaiḥ snigdha-raktaiś ca gopyā
muhuś cumbitam bimba-raktādharam me
manasy āvirāstām alam lakṣa-lābhaiḥ
O Lord, the cheeks of Your blackish lotus face, which is encircled by locks of curling hair, have become reddened like bimba fruits 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.
namo deva dāmodarānanta viṣṇo
prasīda prabho duḥkha-jālābdhi-magnam
gṛhāṇeṣa mām ajñam edhy akṣi-dṛśyaḥ
O unlimited Vishnu! O master! O Lord! Be pleased upon me! I am drowning in an 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.
kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktim svakām me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha
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 Nalakuvara, 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.
namas te ‘stu dāmne sphurad-dīpti-dhāmne
tvadīyodarāyātha viśvasya dhāmne
namo rādhikāyai tvadīya-priyāyai
namo ‘nanta-līlāya devāya tubhyam
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.