“O Supreme Godhead, I offer my obeisances unto You. O Damodara! O Ananta! O Vishnu! O master! O my Lord, be pleased upon me. By showering Your glance of mercy upon me, deliver this poor ignorant fool who is immersed in an ocean of worldly sorrows, and become visible to my eyes.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 6)
namo deva dāmodarānanta viṣṇo
prasīda prabho duḥkha-jālābdhi-magnam
gṛhāṇeṣa mām ajñam edhy akṣi-dṛśyaḥ
Satyavrata Muni is swimming in an ocean of bliss. He cannot believe his good fortune of having someone to love for all of eternity. One aspect to that happiness is glorification; composing words of praise in honor of the person he loves the most. This one act accomplishes many other tasks; one of them is that it offers the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon another human being: happiness.
Let’s say that I found a new television series that I like. I came across it by accident, through channel surfing one night. I was sitting there on my laptop doing some work. I had the television on in the background, with a familiar program playing. I’m not sure when things changed, but suddenly I was drawn to the television. It was a different program; one I hadn’t seen before. Soon I put the laptop down so I could concentrate more.
I liked the program so much that I scheduled to watch all episodes of it. Laughing so hard, thinking this was the best thing I’d ever seen, I shared my experience with others. This was a way to connect with them and also a chance to hopefully bring to them the same laughter. It’s good to laugh every now and then, and hopefully what I find funny others will as well.
The same sequence happens with pretty much anything in life. If I find a new restaurant I like, I can bring the same happiness to someone else by taking them to that restaurant. Even if my happiness relates to something bigger, like coming into a lot of money, there is the possibility of sharing the experience with someone. Though it is much more difficult to give someone a lot of money, it is still possible.
But what if the source of my happiness is not material? What if it is not something to be watched, eaten, or held in the hand? What if it is a lifestyle? What if it is a way of thinking? I want others to be happy; this is only natural. The problem is that I am not them and they are not me. This is obvious based on perception, and the same truth is found in the spiritual science.
avināśi tu tad viddhiyena sarvam idaṁ tatamvināśam avyayasyāsyana kaścit kartum arhati
“That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.17)
The essence of identity is the spirit soul. The soul in this body is different from the soul in that body. Therefore the souls discussed here are known as individual, or jivatma. It’s an interesting thing to think about. I have no way of knowing how you perceive me. It’s just impossible. I’m living my life. I’m experiencing different things. I know who you are. I know what you look like, how you sound, and how you come across. Yet I can never be you; I have no way of truly knowing what you experience. That is because the individual soul is not all-pervading.
The Supersoul is different. Known as Paramatma, it is the same within all creatures. Not surprisingly, Paramatma is one way to understand God. He witnesses everything, regardless of location or time. He saw what happened in that remote cave in India five thousand, two hundred and thirty five days ago. He sees what I see right now, and He knows where I will be in one hundred years from now.
Connecting with Paramatma brings the bliss experienced by saintly people like Satyavrata Muni. Yet since he is not me and I am not him, how can I experience the same bliss? Especially considering that he lived on this earth so long ago, where can I go to question him on his secret? The power of the written word comes to our rescue. Describing experiences enables a person to share transcendental happiness with others.
Satyavrata Muni prays to be showered with the glances of Damodara, the darling child tied to a mortar in the courtyard of mother Yashoda. This is part of his devotion. He never thinks that he has caught God. Even mother Yashoda didn’t keep Damodara there for long; she tied Him simply to have Him settle down in front of her for a while. Damodara, the same Paramatma, allows this to happen. He knows the devotees have abandoned the world of ignorance for life by His side. He knows that they don’t want anything except devotion to Him.
That devotion is the muni’s secret. He feels so much happiness and the only way he can share it with others is to describe it. His descriptions are so wonderful that they stand the test of time. His Damodarashtaka gets sung to this day, which means that the secret to imperishable pleasure is available for anyone to find. Even if the power of description is not present in the devoted soul, the sound of the holy name carries the same ability to deliver. Through the sound of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the individual who is separate from other individuals can experience the topmost bliss of surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and show others how to get the same experience.
So happy now to be,
But others the same can see?
Experience of life my own,
Impossible for another to be known.
By descriptions this is done how,
Even future can learn from right now.
Satyavrata happiness from Krishna’s glances taking,
His Damodarashtaka the same joy for others making.