“O Lord Damodara, I first of all offer my obeisances to the brilliantly effulgent rope which binds Your belly. I then offer my obeisances to Your belly, which is the abode of the entire universe. I humbly bow down to Your most beloved Shrimati Radharani, and I offer all obeisances to You, the Supreme Lord, who displays unlimited pastimes.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 8)
namas te ‘stu dāmne sphurad-dīpti-dhāmne
tvadīyodarāyātha viśvasya dhāmne
namo rādhikāyai tvadīya-priyāyai
namo ‘nanta-līlāya devāya tubhyam
On the way to work in the morning, we likely drive past many trees. There are too many to count even. The same goes for when we’re walking through a park with a trail marked out. As we don’t notice each tree, it means that we don’t find any individual one to be very important. We know the trees play a vital role in the maintenance of the ecosystem, but we don’t give special attention to them while passing by. Yet the same individual tree in the heavenly realm is famous and worshipable. You can approach any one of them and get the boon of your asking. That makes them desire trees, or kalpa-taru.
These trees are so amazing that it doesn’t matter their size or abundance. You can find the smallest tree amidst a giant forest and still see the same magic. The trees are made important because of their residence. They are in the heavenly realm, a special place. The power of the small tree in the heavenly realm is used as a reference point by Goswami Tulsidas in describing how a person who is devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes worshipable and famous, regardless of where or to whom they were born.
“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the streets in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)
The comparison is necessary since in ignorance man discriminates off of so many factors that aren’t so significant in the end. Whether a person’s father is a carpenter or a priest shouldn’t matter when it comes to the potential for understanding spiritual life. As you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t make an assessment on someone based only on the circumstances of their birth.
The person devoted to God attains the stature similar to the desire tree in heaven because of association. The idea is that just as God is worshipable, so is anything directly related to Him. The same person who might discriminate based on ancestry readily acknowledges that food offered to the Supreme Lord is sacred.
“You must eat this. It is prasadam. It is the mercy of the Supreme Lord. It was first offered to Him and now He has returned it to us to eat. There is tremendous potency in this food; you should never refuse prasadam.”
The land of the Supreme Lord is also worshipable. Therefore people visit places like Vrindavana, Mathura, Ayodhya, and Jagannatha Puri. The people with a clear vision, which comes through practicing bhakti-yoga purely, extend their appreciation even further. In his Damodarashtaka, Satyavrata Muni pays obeisance to a rope.
This looks a little silly, as what can a rope do? A rope does not have a name. It does not have parents. It is an inanimate object. It is part of the material nature. Yet the rope in question was one time used to tie the Supreme Lord to a mortar. The rope didn’t really do the trick; it was the devotion of the loving mother Yashoda. Her darling child, Krishna, agreed to be bound.
Nevertheless, that rope was the instrument used by Yashoda. It is symbolic of her strong affection. That rope helped to give a new name to Krishna: Damodara. This name means “one who is bound by the belly.” It is proper to give respect to this rope since it is intimately associated with the Supreme Lord.
The muni then pays obeisance to the belly, which is the abode of the entire universe. Then he continues by paying respect to Shrimati Radharani. If you really care about someone, you will respect their friends and family. You might even take an interest in their interests. Radharani is the person who makes Krishna the happiest. Since she is interested only in pleasing Krishna, she is essentially one with Him. Radha and Krishna are just two aspects to the same singular God.
By showing profound respect, Satyavrata reveals his high intelligence. He knows that the people associated with Krishna are very important. He doesn’t think that since Yashoda and Radharani are simple village women, he shouldn’t respect them. He doesn’t think that since a rope is not a person, he should not appreciate it.
The wise person knows that just as the food offered to Krishna is worshipable, so is the person who has offered body, mind and speech to Him. Whether they come from a high family or not, since they are always engaged in devotional service, they are famous and honorable. Even better than the desire tree in heaven, they can give the gift of bhakti, which is rarely sought out but has a value beyond measure. They can give the vision of Damodara, even many thousands of years after His appearance in Gokula. They can give the mechanism by which the image of Damodara will stay in the heart: the chanting of the holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Desire trees in heaven many found,
Same whether tall or low to the ground.
From association this all coming,
Same concept when devotee becoming.
Birth not a concern, for everyone a hope,
Obeisance deserved for even a rope.
Like one by Yashoda for her son to tie,
Through Damodara reaching a stature high.