“O Lord, Your lotus face, which is encircled by locks of soft black hair tinged with red, is kissed again and again by mother Yashoda, and Your lips are reddish like the bimba fruit. May this beautiful vision of Your lotus face be ever manifest in my heart. Thousands and thousands of other benedictions are of no use to me.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 5)
idaḿ te mukhāmbhojam atyanta-nīlair
vṛtaḿ kuntalaiḥ snigdha-raktaiś ca gopyā
muhuś cumbitaḿ bimba-raktādharaḿ me
manasy āvirāstām alaḿ lakṣa-lābhaiḥ
Some of us embarrass easily. When we do poorly on an exam, we don’t like to tell others about it. When we forget to do something important, we wonder how we’ll ever make it in this world. If someone makes fun of us while in the company of others, we don’t like it at all. We take note and vow to get revenge. A young child a long time ago seemingly got embarrassed all the time. His mother was known to kiss His beautiful face again and again. That darling child, known as Damodara, is actually the origin of the universe.
Our grandmother embarrasses us in this way. When we took family visits to her house as a child, the greeting would always be the same.
“Oh there he is, my precious. Let me see that beautiful face. Let me kiss it over and over again. You are like the fountain of youth. Now I have life again. Come inside and eat some fresh cookies that your grandma just baked. Don’t be shy; eat us much as you want.”
Yashoda was somewhat like this, except her love was directed to her son. When He reached the appropriate age, Krishna asked for the assignment of tending to the calves. His father Nanda had so many cows in his possession. Krishna was excited for the new chore, as it would allow Him to go outside with His brother and friends. They could spend the whole day in the pasturing grounds, taking in the beautiful scenery of the forest of Vrindavana.
Yashoda was a little hesitant, though. She did not agree with her husband Nanda that Krishna was ready. She relented nevertheless, but she would still follow Krishna out each day. Like the mother that comes to school and embarrasses the child in front of all his friends, Yashoda was not worried about what others thought of her. She trailed behind Krishna until He finally got her to return home. Then she would worry the whole day about her son, eagerly anticipating the time He would return home to take His meal.
Prior to that period she would embarrass Him in other ways. One time it was through punishment. He broke a pot of yogurt in anger and then scampered away. She chased after Him and eventually caught Him. As punishment, she bound Him to a mortar by the belly. From then on her Krishna was known also by the name Damodara. That sweet Damodara is famous for being kissed again and again by the loving mother. The interesting thing is that Damodara is the most powerful person in the world. This seemingly embarrassing episode could easily have been avoided, but He preferred otherwise.
He has nothing to be embarrassed over anyway. Unlike us, He never loses. He is unconquerable; hence one of His names is Ajita. He is never without pleasure, so He is also described as atmarama. Since He is all-attractive, the name Krishna suits Him well. Since He maintains all living entities, He is known as Janardana. Since He tended to the cows in Vrindavana, He is known as Gopala. Since He gives pleasure to mother Yashoda, He is known as Yashodanandana.
He is Bhagavan, which means that He is the person who holds opulences in full; another reason He should never be embarrassed. There is nothing lost for Him when others seemingly embarrass Him. The gopis in Vrindavana ask Him to do all sorts of funny things. They make Him dance on command. They ask Him questions sometimes just to hear Him talk. He is like putty in their hands. Though the human mind is incapable of understanding Him even through logic and deduction, the gopis capture Him very easily.
Indeed, Yashoda is not known for being a high scholar. Neither are the other residents of Vrindavana considered to be overly intelligent. Arjuna, another person known to be close with Krishna, is in the warrior class. He fights and defends for a living. He is not known to be consciously aware of the singularity in spiritual quality shared by all creatures.
From this we can deduce that one who kisses Krishna again and again with love knows Him. Yashoda knows His loving nature. She is not afraid of Him. Though Krishna can create the awe-inspiring image of the universal form, that is not the one worshiped by Yashoda. She has so much affection for Him that she does not care whether He feels embarrassed by her behavior. His welfare comes first, in her mind.
In this regard Krishna is helpless. Though He is the most powerful, He has no choice but to take the embarrassment created by the love offered by the devotees. This kindness is not lost on Satyavrata Muni. He prays to always have that vision of Damodara, who is loved so much by Yashoda. He wants nothing else, in fact. Thousands of other boons have no value to him, since he knows that love for Yashoda’s son will make him and any other person more happy than can be imagined.
Embarrassing when task to forget,
On friendly jab revenge later to get.
Ajita having reason for embarrassment not,
Yashoda kissing His cheek without stop.
Gopis to dance and for this and that to say,
To their commands Damodara giving way.
On this love only the muni to rely,
To seek any other reward then why?