“[Seeing the whipping stick in His mother’s hand,] He is crying and rubbing His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes are filled with fear, and the necklace of pearls around His neck, which is marked with three lines like a conchshell, is shaking because of His quick breathing due to crying. To this Supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, whose belly is bound not with ropes but with His mother’s pure love, I offer my humble obeisances.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 2)
rudantaḿ muhur netra-yugmaḿ mṛjantam
sthita-graivaḿ dāmodaraḿ bhakti-baddham
“What is with the comparison to the lotus? We hear that Lord Vishnu has eyes that are like lotus petals. The same comparison is made for Shri Rama, Vishnu’s incarnation who appears on earth during the Treta Yuga. We hear the same about Krishna, who is also Vishnu. His feet are referred to as ‘lotus-feet.’ The same goes for the feet of the guru, like Swami Prabhupada. Then in the Damodarashtaka, Krishna’s hands get the ‘lotus’ treatment. Isn’t that over doing it? Isn’t it exaggeration?”
The word Krishna means “all-attractive” in Sanskrit. It is considered the best name for God, as it is all-inclusive. You can never affix a single name to God, for He is never limited by anything. While we can’t see when it is cloudy outside, the sun still remains beyond. The limitation with sight means that we are not God. He can see everywhere and anywhere. He sees the biggest and the smallest. He sees everything simultaneously even, for He rests within every heart as the Supersoul.
gatir bhartā prabhuḥ sākṣīnivāsaḥ śaraṇaṁ suhṛtprabhavaḥ pralayaḥ sthānaṁnidhānaṁ bījam avyayam
“I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.18)
The individual soul is very small. How small? Take the tip of the hair and divide it into ten thousand parts. Then take one of those parts and you have some idea of how small the soul is. This tiny spark animates both the giant elephant and the small ant. The human infant and the human adult both have the same sized soul living within. By logical deduction, we conclude that the living entity is not their body. That body can be large or small, young or old, vibrant or decaying, and the soul stays the same, giving it life.
Within the heart is also the Supersoul. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, it is said that this superior soul is the size of the length between the ring finger and the thumb. Then in other places in Vedic literature the size is compared to the thumb itself. We know that some hands are larger than others, which means that this measurement is an approximation. It is a way to understand that the Supreme Soul, known as the paramatma, is larger than the individual atma.
“Vedic literature states that the Supersoul is sitting within the body of a living entity and is as big as a thumb. Therefore the argument may be put forward, how can something the size of a thumb be accommodated within the heart of an ant? The answer is that this thumb measurement of the Supersoul is imagined in proportion to the body of the living entity.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)
The size of the Supersoul is proportionate to the size of the heart of the living entity. God can take any size He chooses, and through this ability He is able to see everything. Ability is one kind of opulence, but “attractive” typically refers to beauty. So every part of Him is beautiful. What is the most beautiful thing that we know? The answer to this question helps us to better understand God. We require comparisons in order to understand; the simple helps to explain the complex. We use words to define other words. We use food to make other food.
“First a child is shown the branches of a tree, and then he is shown the moon through the branches. This is called shakha-chandra-nyaya. The idea is that first one must be given a simpler example. Then the more difficult background is explained.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 21.30 Purport)
In making these comparisons, taking an object from nature is more useful than something manmade. Nature’s objects stand the test of time. Someone living in a remote part of the world may not understand what a tablet computer is, but they know what a tree is. In one hundred years from now, the tree will still be known to everyone. The tree is not dated. The same goes for the lotus flower, which is uniquely beautiful. It rests on the surface of the pond, not getting wet. It opens at the sight of the sun and closes again at night.
As Krishna, God has beauty in every body part. It is not a stretch to compare His hands to the lotus flower. Those hands are quite beautiful, after all. They are very soft as well. They are good hands, in the true sense of the word. Sometimes what is good for me is not so for you. This is not the case with Krishna or His hands. He is pure goodness, and so whatever those hands do is for the benefit of others.
One time those hands picked up a pot of yogurt and dropped it to the ground. The yogurt was in the process of being churned into butter. The pot broke upon hitting the ground. [Sometimes Krishna uses those hands to throw a stone at the pot, which also causes it to break]. Then using His lotus feet, Krishna scampered away. The mother was persistent, though. She finally caught Krishna and then was ready to punish Him. Seeing Yashoda’s whipping stick, Krishna began to rub His eyes with His lotus-like hands.
That incident is celebrated in the Damodarashtaka. Another aspect to Krishna’s attractiveness is His play in Vrindavana. He comes as a small child and stays there for a while to delight everyone, including mother Yashoda. His pastime of breaking the pot of yogurt gives birth to the name Damodara. That Damodara has eyes like a lotus, feet like a lotus, and hands like a lotus. Yashoda gets to see those hands directly, and she feels their softness. The devotees, in turn, get to hear about those hands, appreciating even more the beauty of their beloved Krishna, who is affectionately known as Damodara when being cared for by Yashoda.
Alone describing not well to fare,
So to known objects to compare.
For God to the lotus the most use,
All body parts, comparison profuse.
To His hands also thus described,
Like when by Yashoda being tied.
As Damodara from then to know,
Like the lotus from head to toe.