“O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera – Manigriva and Nalakuvara – were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 7)
kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha
After someone passes away, the only connection we have to them is through memory. We can no longer speak to them. We can’t go to visit them. If they left recorded instructions then perhaps we can associate that way, but usually it is the interactions we had with them previously that keep them alive to us. Since death usually occurs through illness, we won’t want to remember them when they were towards the end. Rather, when they were full of life, when they were happiest, that is how we like to picture them.
Time makes it so that the individual always seems to be changing. There is never a fixed moment. The famous athlete who dies gets remembered for their playing days. The picture in the eyes of the adoring public is the person in uniform, in the prime of their ability. To others the same person is remembered as a dear parent or grandparent. Perhaps they were a good friend to someone else.
From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that it is the body only which changes. And that shift occurs at every second. When we say someone was our friend in childhood, it means that since we are not children anymore that relationship has changed. To draw on that relationship is to remember the person at a point in the timeline of life that is not recent. The individual stays fixed throughout; this is because the individual is spirit soul.
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāyanavāni gṛhṇāti naro ‘parāṇitathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇānyanyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)
The Supreme Lord is different in nature. His body and soul are identical. In this sense time has no influence on Him. If you want to remember something that He did five thousand years ago, it can be made to happen again during the present time. Since His body does not change under the influence of time, He can do anything and everything. He never takes birth and He never dies. He is without a beginning, anadi, and endless, ananta.
Ponder this for a moment. He has done everything. The engineer of the celestials is known as Vishvakarma, whose name means “doing the work of the world.” Whenever something amazing needs to be built, the call goes out to Vishvakarma. Even when the Supreme Lord was present on this earth, Vishvakarma was called upon to take up important construction.
“In this greatly beautiful city of Dvaraka, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had many residential quarters. The great kings and princes of the world used to visit these palaces just to worship Him. The architectural plans were made personally by Vishvakarma, the engineer of the demigods, and in the construction of the palaces he exhibited all of his talents and ingenuity.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)
But the real credit actually belongs to God. He gives the materials by which things can be built. He is the intelligence behind the labor of all living entities. He leisurely stays in the background as His material nature operates under the laws that He creates. Sometimes He personally does things as well. He lifts mountains and holds them up with His pinky finger on the typically non-dominant hand. He defeats 14,000 of the best fighters singlehandedly. He creates innumerable universes through exhaling and dissolves them through inhaling. He holds up all the planets in the universe, making it look as if they are floating on air.
All of this means that there are a lot of ways to remember God. You have your pick, actually. Whichever thing that He does that you most prefer, keep that in your mind. For Satyavrata Muni it is the time when God received the name Damodara. Already known as Krishna for being all-attractive, the son of Yashoda was once tied to a mortar as a form of punishment handed out by His adoring mother.
From the name Damodara we see that God can have a mother and a father. He can do naughty things. He can pretend to be afraid. He can agree to get punished. All of this makes Krishna extremely endearing. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does so many things, but to Satyavrata Muni it is His lila as Damodara which is most appealing.
Punished and tied to a mortar one second, knocking down two large trees the next – Damodara used the situation to liberate two sons of demigods. They had previously been cursed for failing to show proper etiquette in front of the venerable Narada Muni. The brothers not only got free from the curse of living as trees, but they got devotion to Krishna also. Known as prema-bhakti, this is a boon like no other. It is the one sought by Satyavrata Muni.
Krishna can give liberation through any means. He can give it while appearing majestically as Narayana. He can offer it through His unmanifest expansion of the Supersoul residing within the heart. He can offer it through sound as well, such as with the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. As an adorable child under the control of His devotee Yashoda, He can also offer the same liberation, granting entrance into the eternal occupation of devotional service.
For building complex and tall,
Upon Vishvakarma to call.
The work of the whole world can do,
But actually credit to go to You.
From whom the entire universe came,
To brothers known as Damodara the name.
Sons of Kuvera, liberation attained,
Prema-bhakti, life’s highest gain.