“Lord Vishnu is always decorated with many valuable jewels, such as the chandrakanta stone and the suryakanta stone.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 36)
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He is the source of both material and spiritual worlds. Everything emanates from Him, and despite being responsible for the most important and difficult work, nothing affects Him. That is to say He is neither exhausted nor troubled. The many universes come into existence through His breathing. Exhale and there is manifestation. Inhale and there is annihilation.
The personal side to the Divine, Lord Vishnu is also known as Bhagavan. One way to translate this Sanskrit term into English is to say, “Supreme Personality of Godhead.” There are also non-different forms like Krishna, Rama, Narasimha and others. The distinction with Vishnu is that He is opulently adorned. He has four hands, holding the conch, the disc, the club and the lotus. The visual matches the typical mood of interaction: awe and reverence.
1. The chandrakanta stone
The chandrakanta is one of the jewels that Vishnu wears. This is the moonstone. The moon is an integral part of life on earth. Without the presence of the moon so much would go wrong. From Vedic literature we learn that the moon is considered one of the heavenly planets. Demigods, living entities in the mode of goodness, reside there. Naturally, the stone tied to the moon would be considered valuable.
2. The suryakanta stone
Paired with the sun is the moon. There are presiding deities for each place. When Vishnu incarnates on earth He usually appears in one of these families. Shri Ramachandra is in the solar dynasty. The family of rulers traces its lineage back to the sun-god, Surya. Shri Krishna appears in the Yadu dynasty, which is linked to the moon-god. The suryakanta stone is from the sun, and it is not surprising to find it on the transcendental body of Vishnu.
3. The Kaustubha
“The Personality of Godhead, appearing on the shoulder of Garuda, seemed like a cloud resting on the summit of the mountain known as Meru. The transcendental body of the Personality of Godhead was covered by attractive yellow garments, and His neck was decorated with the jewel known as Kaustubha-mani. The bodily effulgence of the Lord dissipated all the darkness of the universe.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.30.5)
A combination of matter and spirit identifies a conditioned living entity. The qualifier “conditioned” means that there is a natural state existing previously and with the potential still, but there are outside factors that result in a specific condition, namely the susceptibility to birth and death.
The way out of that cycle, when the “conditioned” label gets removed, is the path of liberation. In the liberated state there are different options for the individual spirit soul. One type of liberation is getting the same features as Vishnu. The individual resides on His spiritual planet and achieves a beautiful transcendental body with four arms.
One of the ways to tell who is actually the Supreme Lord is the Kaustubha gem. This was produced once when the ocean of milk was being churned by the gods and the demons. Vishnu took this gem for Himself, and it has been associated with Him ever since.
While ornaments typically are used to enhance a person’s appearance, with God the order is switched. The ornaments become more attractive since they are associated with Him, instead of the other way around.
A similar transformation occurs with conditioned souls. When they practice bhakti-yoga, they become more attractive due to their intimate association with the Supreme Lord. Merged together in a similar interest, having a devotional consciousness that can’t be broken, they inherit the beauty of the all-attractive one, who is ready to bestow His mercy on anyone who approaches Him.
Beautifully adorned is He,
With valuable jewels to see.
Like suryakanta from the sun,
Stone of moon another one.
In liberation similar body to get,
But distinction with Kaustubha set.
Where on Vishnu’s chest found,
To whose feet devotees bound.
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