“Shukadeva Gosvami continued: O Maharaja Parikshit, when the yamala-arjuna trees fell, all the cowherd men in the neighborhood, hearing the fierce sound and fearing thunderbolts, went to the spot.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.1)
gopā nandādayaḥ śrutvā
drumayoḥ patato ravam
The Supreme Lord has many names. Indeed, even the term “supreme” is a sort of name, a word describing a position relative to something else. The Sanskrit equivalent is Bhagavan, which means an entity who possesses all opulences in full and simultaneously. Bhagavan has all beauty, all wealth, all strength, all knowledge, all fame and all renunciation. He is never deficient in any of these categories at any time.
Looks can be deceiving. There is the name for the Lord that references a form that seemed to lack both strength and wisdom. Named Damodara, this was the adorable child of mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda. He was first described as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness. The family priest, Gargamuni, early on hinted to Nanda that Krishna was none other than the Supreme Lord.
“Just as demigods are always protected by Lord Vishnu, so the devotees of your child will always be protected by Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This child will grow in power, beauty, opulence – in everything – on the level of Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 8)
Damodara is a small child who drinks milk from the breast of His mother. He plays in the sacred land of Vrindavana with the cows, calves, and neighborhood boys. Despite looking so innocent and sometimes helpless, Damodara is indeed the Supreme Lord.
1. His name has a specific meaning.
Damodara is a compound Sanskrit word consisting of the terms “dama” and “udara.” Together this means one who is bound by the belly with a rope. Parents must punish their children every now and then. Otherwise, what is the point to being a parent? Mother Yashoda bound Shri Krishna to a mortar one time as a kind of punishment. It is from this pastime that Krishna earned the name Damodara.
2. God can be naughty, giving meaning to pure goodness.
We live in a world of duality. What is good for me may not be so for you. If you are healthy, you can eat an entire pizza pie without issue. If I’m suffering from a stomach problem, the same is not possible for me. The act is the same each time, but due to relative circumstances there are different effects.
There are three modes of material nature which govern such things as body types, behavior, sacrifices, charitable giving, and knowledge. The highest mode of nature is goodness, which leads to true enlightenment. God is situated above goodness. He is shudda-sattva, which means “pure goodness.”
One way to understand this is to study the pastime leading to the name Damodara. Krishna one time angrily broke a pot of yogurt. This was in response to mother Yashoda leaving His side to tend to affairs in the kitchen. Yashoda had worked so hard to churn the yogurt into butter, and Krishna made that effort go for naught. He left with the butter and started feeding it to the monkeys. Though He ran away, Krishna was soon found by the loving mother. Though breaking things in a temper tantrum is usually not commendable behavior, with Krishna the incident is celebrated for centuries.
3. He allowed Himself to be bound.
When Yashoda caught her son, she decided to punish Him by tying Him to a mortar. There was only one problem. The rope she used kept coming up short. No matter how many extra ropes she tied together, every time she was short by the width of two fingers. The name Damodara came to be only because Krishna allowed Himself to be bound. The same figure who remains elusive to even the renounced ascetics living in the remote mountains easily gave Himself up to the pure love of His devotee playing the role of mother.
4. He used the mortar to take down two trees.
After finally tying Krishna, Yashoda went back to her duties. Krishna then took the opportunity to move the mortar to which He was bound in between two nearby trees. Those two large trees then fell down, with two heavenly figures emerging. These were Nalakuvara and Manigriva, who previously were cursed by Narada Muni in the heavenly region. Narada decided that their salvation would come when they would see God as Damodara face to face. Being freed from their tree bodies, the brothers offered nice prayers to that adorable form of the Supreme Lord.
5. He gave liberation through His divine vision.
The two brothers got liberation through seeing Damodara. This means that in whatever spiritual practice a person is engaged, unless they have seen God in the right mood, they still have further to go. Acquiring good traits and being free from anger, greed and wrath are not enough. Krishna appears in forms other than Damodara as well. In true liberation there is personal interaction with the Supreme. He appears before the devotee in their preferred form of choice, one that they cherish in their heart forever after.
Taking mortar to which He was bound,
Placing in between trees, knocking to ground.
Two sons of Kuvera emerged,
Who from righteousness had diverged.
Offered prayers upon seeing,
Krishna, the Supreme Being.
In this way liberation to them came,
Devotion for Lord of Damodara name.