“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
It was a chance encounter. You were going about your business; nothing was out of the ordinary. You went to the post office to pick up your mail. You drove over to the gas station to fill up. Then on the way home you realized that you forgot to pick up milk and bread. Making a detour to the supermarket, you parked your car and headed towards the entrance.
That’s when things changed. You ran into an old colleague. You hadn’t seen this person for years. You got to talking and he mentioned that there is an opening at his new company that you would be perfect for. It would mean a substantial increase in pay, the location would be an improvement, and you would get to work with many people you already know. What good fortune, you think. Through luck you ran into this prior colleague and had everything in your life change.
The seemingly accidental encounter having the greatest impact is the meeting with the saint who follows bhakti-yoga. This is the opinion of shastra, or scripture, and it is confirmed through analysis of historical events, including the liberation of two brothers. It’s interesting to note that the encounter is not with God Himself. It is not that one accidentally runs into the Supreme Lord. The meeting with the saint is so powerful that they create circumstances where the Supreme Lord runs into you, like He did when He pulled the mortar in Yashoda’s courtyard in Gokula.
Why isn’t the good fortune related to running into God? Why doesn’t that chance encounter happen? For starters, if a person is not qualified, the meeting would have no value. Think of it like a small child finding a winning lottery ticket. They have no concept of money even, so how will they know that one piece of paper is so much more important than another? If a person is governed by duality, under the control of attraction and aversion, they won’t be able to understand God properly. They won’t know what it means to be transcendental. Their meeting with Him will yield little benefit.
The saint can provide the meaning. It is as simple as that; a single person can enlighten us on the most bewildering aspects of life. In ignorance, I demand to see God. I want Him to show Himself to me and then explain the meaning of chaos. “Why is there death? Why is there conflict? Why is there disease? Tell me!”
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyurdhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya catasmād aparihārye ‘rthena tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
The saint beams the light of transcendental knowledge. They explain that birth and death must occur for someone who is under karma. Karma is tied to desire. If someone desires to be master, they must go under the laws of action and reaction. There is stiff competition to be the master of all, which means that so many collisions in interest will occur. The attempt is futile, since only God can be the supreme. Therefore birth and death take place, recurring in cycles, until one changes their desire.
The meeting with a saint is so powerful that you don’t even need to get transcendental knowledge right away to be benefitted. Nalakuvara and Manigriva were enjoying materially in the heavenly realm when they had a chance encounter with Narada Muni. After showing him disrespect, the saint cursed them to take birth as trees in the material world in the holy place of Gokula.
So these two brothers, sons of demigods, went from living the good life to standing naked as trees for many years. How was this beneficial? How did Narada show mercy upon them? He said that the curse would be lifted when Shri Krishna ran into them. Though the punishment was long, the reward at the end was worth it.
In His beautiful form of Damodara, the Supreme Lord dragged a mortar in between the two trees, thus knocking them down. Liberated from the curse, the two brothers praised Krishna very nicely. They got liberation in the true sense of the word, having love for Krishna.
Satyavrata Muni prays for the same benediction. Indeed, in his humility he does not realize that he is creating the same opportunity for liberation for so many others. The fortunate souls get to hear his Damodarashtaka, which is prominently featured in the month of Kartika. By hearing these eight sacred verses, the same Damodara runs into them, giving them prema-bhakti as a result. The saints of the Vaishnava tradition thus continue to give blessings, liberating countless souls from the miserable ocean of material suffering.
Meeting with God not really the height,
To fail to recognize Him you might.
Better if the saint you can meet,
And respectfully them to greet.
Listening attentively to their words to say,
Make situation where Krishna to come your way.
The Supreme Lord into you will run,
Like with Damodara and Kuvera’s sons.