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Hear the Damodar ashtakam

 


Damodar Lila  

 

"In the month of Kartika (October-November) one should worship Lord Damodara and daily recite the prayer known as Damodara-ashtakam, which has been spoken by the sage Satyavrata and which attracts Lord Damodara." (Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2:16:198).

In Vishnu/Krishna temples, ashrams and devotees’ homes worldwide devotees, during the month of Damodar (Kartika) offer lamps (candles - diyas, etc) and sing the glories of Sri Damodar. Damodar means He (Krishna) who had his belly tied by a rope.

The story

Despite having scores of servants and attendants, Mother Yashoda would seize every opportunity to do her personal seva to her Gopal. One day, mother Yashoda was churning yogurt into butter herself, and in the meantime Kanu came and tugged at her saree asking for a feed.

Of course, mother Yashoda immediately allowed Him to do so, and keeping Him in her lap she suckled him while rhythmically pulling the strings of the churning rod and singing Krishna's lilas to herself.

Desiring to enact another charming pastime, Krishna decided to break the sweet cosy serenity. Presently the hot milk on the stove began hissing and boiling over, and Mother Yashoda immediately stopped what she was doing, removed Kanu from her breast and put him on the floor and ran to take the milk pot off the stove.

Displaying a transcendental tantrum , Krishna, annoyed at having been so unceremoniously dumped on the ground, picked up a piece of stone, hit and broke the churning pot. Then he crawled to an adjacent room where He began to eat freshly churned butter kept in a pot there.

After attending to the overflowing milk when Mother Yashoda returned and saw the pot broken and all the yoghurt spilt, she could understand that this was the work of her mischievous Kanu, and went looking for him in an angry mood. Hearing some sounds from the adjacent room she entered and round Krishna standing on the ulükhala, a large mortar for grinding spices.

Standing on the mortar He was stuffing butter hanging from a swing into his and also generously distributing the butter to the monkeys who had assembled in the meantime. As soon as Krishna saw His mother He froze and looked at her with big fearful eyes, his face all smeared with butter and his mouth stuffed. He then tried to run away and Mother Yashoda began to chase Him with a stick in her hand.

After a few rounds, Maiya was able to catch Krishna, who was now pretending to be crying and saying he didn't do it. After scolding Him for having caused so much loss and mess, she decided to teach him a lesson by binding Him with a rope.

Holding him by one hand she went off in search of a rope. Finally finding a length of rope, she sat down and proceeded to tie him up to a tall heavy mortar standing in the verandah thinking he wouldn't be able to move from there for some time. Now, when the time came to knot the rope, the rope was just short by about two fingers.

Finding another piece of rope, she tied it to the first rope and winding it around Krishna's belly (Daam) to use up the slack she tried to knot it. Again it was short by about two fingers. Again and again she tried, and again and again she found the rope too short by two fingers.

Thus poor Maiya became very perplexed and tired, and Kanu, seeing His affectionate mother hassled and perspiring, allowed Himself to be bound. Being compassionate, He did not show her His unlimited potency.

After Mother Yashoda bound Krishna, she chastised him soundly and rose to attend to her household work. Seeing her gone, Krishna soon got bored and observed two yamala-arjuna trees, which were actually Nalakuvera and Manigreev, the two sons of Kuvera who had been cursed by Devrishi Narada to become trees. Remembering that Narada had prophesided that He (Krishna) would liberate the two demigods from the curse in Dwapara Yuga, he crawled toward two tall trees dragging the heavy mortar behind him.

By His causeless mercy, Krishna decided to fulfull his dear devotee Narada's words. Dragging the mortar slowly he inched closer and closer to the two trees. Reaching in the middle of two trees which were quite close together, Krishna crawled in between the trees and saw that the mortar was stuck in between, being too large to get through. He tugged, and tugged and gave the mortar one forceful pull.

There was a huge crashing sound as the two trees fell to the ground on either side of Krishna in an earth-shaking noise. The whole of Vrindavan heard the crash and trembled wondering what the noise could be. Mother Yashoda and all the household people ran helter skelter trying to find Krishna through the dust haze that rose to the sky. Not finding her Kanu tied to the mortar Maiya almost fainted with anxiety.

Just then Nanda Baba also rushed into the house and found everyone in complete panic, crying and shouting and pointing to the yard. Running to where the dust was still thick and high he found his beloved Kanu apparently sitting peacefully in all the mess - two tall trees lying on either side of him.

Unseen to any human eyes, the two demigods who had been liberated from their curse and assumed their original effulgent forms glorified and eulogised the Lord and after paying their humble obeisances to Him had departed to their celestial realm.

Now Nanda Baba picked up Krishna from the middle of the rubble and came into the house. Seating him on his lap, he began to clean Him and caress Him while simultaneously scolding Yashoda rani for her action. "Have you lost your senses?!!" he said, "How can you tie up a little child to a mortar like that? What if something had happened to him?!!" Poor Yashoda Maiya was now extremely sorry and desparately tried to explain what happened.

With tears in her eyes, Maiya tried to take Krishna from Nanda Baba's arms and hold him. But He wouldn't leave his father's lap and go to her. Nanda Baba said "It's okay Lala. Maiya tied you up didn't she? Don't go to her. You stay with me and sleep with me today."

Mother Yashoda looking forlorn said "Alright then, you sleep with your father today." As soon as he heard this Krishna got off his father's lap and ran into his mother's arms. Seeing this both his parents had a hearty laugh.