Mukunda-Mala Stotram

madana parihara sthitià madéye
manasi mukunda-padäravinda-dhämni
hara-nayana-kåçänunä kåço ’si
smarasi na cakra-paräkramaà muräreù
madana—O Cupid; parihara—give up; sthitim—your residence; madéye—my; manasi—in the mind; mukunda—of Lord Mukunda; pada-aravinda—of the lotus feet; dhämni—which is the abode; hara—of Lord Çiva; nayana—from the eye; kåçänunä—by the fire; kåçaù—decimated; asi—you have become; smarasi na—you do not remember; cakra—of the disc weapon; paräkramam—the powerful capability; mura-areù—of the enemy of Mura.
O Cupid, abandon your residence in my mind, which is now the home of Lord Mukunda’s lotus feet. You have already been incinerated by Lord Çiva’s fiery glance, so why have you forgotten the power of Lord Muräri’s disc?
This is a bold challenge to Cupid, who can usually subdue everyone, including aspiring transcendentalists. As Lord Kapila says to His mother, “Just try to understand the mighty strength of My mäyä in the shape of a woman, who by the mere movement of her eyebrows can keep even the greatest conquerors of the world under her grip” (Bhäg. 3.31.38).
A devotee can challenge Kämadeva (Cupid) in such a feisty way because devotees constantly meditate on Lord Kåñëa, who destroys Cupid’s influence. Here King Kulaçekhara is giving fair warning to Kämadeva to leave the king’s mind or risk destruction for a second time. The reference here is to an incident in which Kämadeva tried to shoot his arrows at Lord Çiva to arouse lust in him. Lord Çiva retaliated by burning Kämadeva to ashes with his glance. Kämadeva should have learned his lesson from that incident. If not, King Kulaçekhara warns that Lord Kåñëa will have no trouble destroying Kämadeva with His disc and freeing His devotee’s mind of lust.
Kämadeva is also called Madana, a name that means “one who attracts.” But Lord Kåñëa is known as Madana-mohana, “the bewilderer of Cupid.” In other words, Kåñëa is so transcendentally attractive that anyone who absorbs his mind in Him will not be troubled by sex desire. Furthermore, Lord Kåñëa’s consort, Çrématé Rädhäräëé, is called Madana-mohana-mohiné because She alone can captivate even Kåñëa.
In all the world’s religions, ascetics have practiced renunciation, and Kämadeva always tests them and gives them trouble. Often, despite one’s best attempts at purification, one thinks of the opposite sex at the time of death. Then one has to come back in the cycle of birth and death, to be again attracted and again suffer the miseries of material life. Even the powerful mystic Viçvämitra became a victim of the beauty of Menakä, united with her, and begot Çakuntalä.
But the bhaktas have discovered an infallible shelter from Cupid—absorption in the beauty of Kåñëa. One who is captivated by the beauty of Kåñëa is not victimized by lust. As Çré Yämunäcärya sings,
“Since my mind has been engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Kåñëa and I have been enjoying ever-new transcendental pleasure in that service, whenever I think of sex with a woman my face at once turns from it, and I spit at the thought.”
 näthe dhätari bhogi-bhoga-çayane näräyaëe mädhave
 deve devaki-nandane sura-vare cakräyudhe çärìgiëi
 léläçeña-jagat-prapaïca-jaöhare viçveçvare çrédhare
 govinde kuru citta-våttim acaläm anyais tu kià vartanaiù
näthe—on your master; dhätari—and sustainer; bhogi—of the serpent (Ananta Çeña); bhoga—on the body; çayane—who lies down; näräyaëe mädhave—known as Näräyaëa and Mädhava; deve—the Supreme Lord; devaki-nandane—the darling son of Devaké; sura-vare—the hero of the demigods; cakra-äyudhe—the holder of the disc; çärì-giëi—the possessor of the bow Çärìga; lélä—as a pastime; açeça—endless; jagat—universes; prapaïca—manifestation; jaöhare—in the stomach; viçva—of the universes; éçvare—the controller; çrédhare—the Lord of Çré; govinde—on Lord Govinda; kuru—place; citta—of your mind; våttim—the workings; acaläm—without deviation; anyaiù—other; tu—conversely; kim—what is the use; vartanaiù—with engagements.
Think only of your master and sustainer, the Supreme Lord, who is known as Näräyaëa and Mädhava and who lies on the body of the serpent Ananta. He is the darling son of Devaké, the hero of the demigods, and the Lord of the cows, and He holds a conchshell and the bow Çärìga. He is the husband of the goddess of fortune and the controller of all the universes, which He manifests from His abdomen as a pastime. What will you gain by thinking of anything else?
In previous verses King Kulaçekhara has instructed his own mind to be fixed at the lotus feet of Kåñëa, and now he instructs his readers to fix their minds on Him as well. He gives some of the Lord’s innumerable names, which describe His qualities and pastimes. Devotees are attracted to serving a specific aspect of the Supreme Lord according to their specific rasa, or loving relationship with Him. One may meditate on and serve any bona fide form of the Lord and derive the same benefit of going back to Godhead. While passing away from the world, Grandfather Bhéñma, who was in a chivalrous relationship with Kåñëa, chanted prayers recalling that aspect of the Lord. Praying that his mind would go unto Kåñëa, he reviewed the Lord’s chivalrous pastimes in his mind: “May He, Lord Çré Kåñëa, the Personality of Godhead, who awards salvation, be my ultimate destination. On the battlefield He charged me, as if angry because of the wounds dealt by my sharp arrows. His shield was scattered, and His body was smeared with blood due to the wounds” (Bhäg. 1.9.38).
In this verse King Kulaçekhara instructs us to attain samädhi, or ecstatic concentration on the Supreme. Yogés try to achieve samädhi by perfecting the eightfold yoga process, but this is very difficult. When Kåñëa recommended this practice to Arjuna, he replied, “O Madhusüdana, the system of yoga You have summarized appears impractical and unbearable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.... [Controlling the mind] is more difficult than controlling the wind” (Bg. 6.33–34).
By contrast, bhakti-yoga is so easy that anyone can successfully practice it. A sincere soul who chants and hears the holy names of Kåñëa, and also hears His pastimes and qualities narrated by self-realized devotees, can progress to the highest stages of concentration with an ease unknown to the followers of other yoga processes.
Why does King Kulaçekhara deem as worthless all activities except fixing the mind on Kåñëa? Because all other acts and thoughts are temporary and thus lead to unending entanglement in material misery. As Çréla Prabhupäda writes in his Bhagavad-gétä commentary, “If one is not in Kåñëa consciousness, there cannot be a final goal for the mind.” By the tricks of fate and the inexorable workings of karma, what appears auspicious and happy one moment may turn into tragedy the next. Like the Supreme Lord, the soul is sac-cid-änanda-vigraha (eternal and full of bliss and knowledge), and as such he can be fully satisfied only when he unites in bhakti with the Lord. We should join with Bhéñmadeva in praying, “May His lotus feet always remain the objects of my attraction.”
MM 24
mä dräkñaà kñéëa-puëyän kñaëam api bhavato bhakti-hénän padäbje
mä çrauñaà çrävya-bandhaà tava caritam apäsyänyad äkhyäna-jätam
mä smärñaà mädhava tväm api bhuvana-pate cetasäpahnuvänän
mä bhüvaà tvat-saparyä-vyatikara-rahito janma-janmäntare ’pi
mä dräkñam—may I not look at; kñéëa—depleted; puëyän—whose credit of piety; kñaëam—a moment; api—even; bhavataù—Your; bhakti—devotion; hénän—devoid of; pada-abje—for the lotus feet; mä çrauñam—may I not hear; çrävya—worth hearing; bandham—compositions about which; tava—Your; caritam—pastimes; apäsya—putting aside; anyat—other; äkhyäna—of narrations; jätam—topics; mä çmärñam—may I not remember; mädhava—O Mädhava; tväm—Your; api—indeed; bhuvana—of the world; pate—O master; cetasä—mentally; apahnuvänän—those who avoid; mä bhüvam—may I not become; tvat—Your; saparyä—for the personal service; vyatikara—the opportunity; rahitaù—devoid of; janma-janma-antare—in repeated rebirths; api—even.
O Mädhava, please do not let me even glance at those whose pious credits are so depleted that they have no devotion for Your lotus feet. Please do not let me be distracted from listening to the worthy narrations of Your pastimes and become interested in other topics. Please, O Lord of the universe, let me pay no attention to those who avoid thinking of You. And let me never be unable to serve You in some menial way, birth after birth.
Like other Vaiñëavas’ prayers, King Kulaçekhara’s are characterized by single-minded intensity. A critic might say his attitude doesn’t embody the “golden mean” praised in Greek wisdom. The critic might ask, “What’s wrong with sometimes serving Kåñëa and sometimes enjoying yourself in sense gratification? Why be so fanatical as to avoid even glancing at impious persons? And why focus exclusively on the Deity of Lord Viñëu?” These questions are not to be answered by reason alone. The devotee’s exclusive intensity is dictated by love. It is unreasonable to ask someone in love to be interested in something other than his beloved.
But kåñëa-bhakti is not an ordinary lover’s madness. Çré Kåñëa is the Absolute Truth, the source of supreme wisdom, and, as such, in the Bhagavad-gétä He teaches single-minded devotion to Himself:
bhaktyä tv ananyayä çakya aham evaà-vidho ’rjuna
jïätuà drañöuà ca tattvena praveñöuà ca parantapa
“My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding” (Bg. 11.54). Furthermore, unlike ordinary, materialistic “love,” one-pointed devotion to Kåñëa does not produce indifference to everyone else besides one’s beloved. While in this verse King Kulaçekhara expresses his valid wish to avoid the association of nondevotees, out of compassion a pure devotee will “glance at” and “pay attention to” nondevotees for the sake of preaching. When a devotee actually becomes fully absorbed in Kåñëa, he sees the whole world as the Lord’s creation and everything as part and parcel of His energies. Through his exclusive devotion to the Lord, the devotee becomes a mahätmä, a high-souled person who works for the benefit of all living beings by reminding them of their connection with Kåñëa.
The stage of Kåñëa consciousness King Kulaçekhara desires is not artificial but is the original state of the living being. He is therefore calling out to the Lord to invoke His mercy so that he can return to his original, undistracted, blissful state of samädhi. In the conditioned state, souls are bewildered by innumerable distractions in the name of necessities, sufferings, and enjoyments, and so a devotee prays for the removal of these distractions. The language of devotion may seem extreme to the distracted materialist, but it is actually a prayer for a return to sanity and balance, a return to eternal servitude by the eternal servant of the supreme master.
MM 25
maj-janmanaù phalam idaà madhu-kaiöabhäre
mat-prärthanéya-mad-anugraha eña eva
bhåtyasya bhåtya iti mäà smara loka-nätha
mat—my; janmanaù—of the birth; phalam—the fruit; idam—this; madhu-kaiöabha-are—O enemy of Madhu and Kaiöabha; mat—by me; prärthanéya—prayed for; mat—to me; anugrahaù—mercy; eñaù—this; eva—certainly; tvat—Your; bhåtya-bhåtya—of the servant’s servant; paricäraka—of the servant; bhåtya-bhåtya-bhåtyasya—of the servant of the servant of the servant; bhåtyaù—the servant; iti—so; mäm—me; smara—think of; loka—of the world; nätha—O master.
O enemy of Madhu and Kaiöabha, O Lord of the universe, the perfection of my life and the most cherished mercy You could show me would be for You to consider me the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.
This verse is startling for its repetition of the word “servant” seven times. One can almost picture all the servants of the Lord whom Kulaçekhara wishes to serve. Direct servants of Lord Kåñëa are Çrématé Rädhäräëé or Lord Balaräma and other gopés and cowherd boys. Some of the gopés and cowherd boys are assistants to the direct servants. Among these assistants are the maïjarés, who help Rädhäräëé serve Kåñëa and who, according to Her, experience a happiness even greater than Hers. The Vaiñëava spiritual masters, especially those in the mädhurya-rasa, serve the gopés, and each spiritual master is being served by his disciples. In the modern age Lord Kåñëa appeared as Lord Caitanya, who was served directly by the six Gosvämés of Våndävana, and these Gosvämés also took disciples, such as Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja, who in turn accepted disciples—and His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda is in the eleventh spiritual generation of that Caitanya-sampradäya. So the phrase tvad-bhåtya-bhåtya-paricäraka-bhåtya-bhåtya-bhåtyasya bhåtyaù is not only pleasing poetry, but it is an accurate description of the paramparä: each devotee is serving a previous servant of the Lord.
To consider oneself a servant of all the Vaiñëavas and to put their foot-dust on one’s head is not demeaning; it is the best way to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kåñëa. Prahläda Mahäräja told his father that unless one humbly serves the Vaiñëavas and “bathes” in the dust of their lotus feet, one can never attain devotional service to Kåñëa.
King Kulaçekhara says that if the Lord grants this prayer it will be the display of His most cherished mercy. But why does he ask to be so many times removed from direct service? Why not ask simply to be the servant of the Lord? One reason is that the Supreme Lord does not accept direct service without service to His servants. As Kåñëa states in the Ädi Puräëa,
ye me bhakta-janäù pärtha na me bhaktäç ca te janäù
mad bhaktänäà ca ye bhaktäs te me bhaktatamäù matäù
“My dear Pärtha, those who say they are My devotees are not My devotees, but those who claim to be devotees of My devotees are actually My devotees.”
The pure devotee’s chief aim is to please his worshipable Lord, and a wise Vaiñëava knows what will please Him best—becoming the servant, many times removed, of the Lord’s bona fide servants. It is because the servants of God are so dear to the Lord that one can please Him best by pleasing them. Çréla Prabhupäda compared the process to an ordinary person’s attempt to please a very great man. Normally an ordinary man cannot even approach the great man, but if by good fortune he is able to please the great man’s pet dog, then he can quickly achieve the favor of the celebrated person.
Another reason a devotee wishes to serve through other devotees is that he is naturally humble. He wants to take that place below, rather than push himself forward. He wants to serve all the devotees, or even worship the place where they have walked. The genuine devotee does not rashly presume that he is a member of the inner circle of the Lord’s most dear ones. Lord Caitanya has advised us that if we really wish to chant the holy name constantly, we should consider ourselves “lower that the straw in the street, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others.” We should serve not only recognized devotees but all living entities, by giving them Kåñëa consciousness.
 tattvaà bruväëäni paraà parastän
 madhu kñarantéva mudävahäni
 prävartaya präïjalir asmi jihve
 nämäni näräyaëa-gocaräëi
tattvam—the truth; bruväëäni—which speak; param—supreme; parastät—beyond everything superior; madhu—honey; kñaranti—dripping; iva—as if; mudä—joy; avahäni—bringing; prävartaya—please recite; präïjaliù—with joined palms; asmi—I am; jihve—O tongue; nämäni—the names; näräyaëa-gocaräëi—which refer to Lord Näräyaëa.
My dear tongue, I stand before you with joined palms and beg you to recite the names of Lord Näräyaëa. These names describing the Supreme Absolute Truth bring great pleasure, as if exuding honey.
At first our tongues may be unwilling to chant the Lord’s names. Describing the neophyte chanter, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura states, “Some bear only the burden; others appreciate the true worth of things.” Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé also recognizes the plight of the beginner and encourages him to pursue his chanting even though it seems dry and unpleasant: “The holy name, character, pastimes, and activities of Kåñëa are all transcendentally sweet like sugar candy. Although the tongue of one afflicted by the jaundice of avidyä, ignorance, cannot taste anything sweet, it is wonderful that if a person simply chants these sweet names carefully every day, a natural relish awakens within his tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed at the root” (Nectar of Instruction 7).
We may also take heart in the example of Nämäcärya Haridäsa Öhäkura. Although born in a Muslim family, he received the mercy of the holy name and began to chant Hare Kåñëa constantly. In this way he achieved the highest perfection of love of Godhead. Indeed, he was such an exalted devotee that Lord Caitanya Himself praised him “as if speaking with five mouths.” We cannot imitate Haridäsa Öhäkura, but it is encouraging to know that although one may be lowborn, one can overcome all obstacles by the mercy of the holy name. Moreover, Haridäsa Öhäkura always remained very humble and wanted to remain aware of his material disqualifications. He therefore did not want to associate too intimately with Lord Caitanya, and he did not attempt to enter the temple at Jagannätha Puré. Cultivating humility in the mood of Haridäsa Öhäkura is an absolute requirement for one who wishes to taste the nectar of the holy name and to chant constantly.
The honey within the holy name is remembrance of Kåñëa. That is why chanting the name brings ecstasy. As Çréla Prabhupäda writes, “The more one chants the names of Kåñëa, the more one becomes attached. Thus service by çravaëa and kértana, hearing and chanting about Kåñëa, is the beginning. The next process is smaraëa—always remembering Kåñëa. When one is perfect in hearing and chanting, he will always remember Kåñëa. In this third stage he becomes the greatest yogé” (The Matchless Gift, p. 89). Whether we are still at the beginning stage of bhakti, afflicted with avidyä, or whether we are starting to appreciate “the true worth of things,” let us all go on chanting the holy names of the Lord. And let us relish verses from the authorized devotees who tell us of the honey in the holy name, such as this one by Çréla Sanätana Gosvämé:
“All glories, all glories to the all-blissful holy name of Çré Kåñëa, which causes the devotee to give up all conventional religious duties, meditation, and worship. When somehow or other uttered even once by a living entity, the holy name awards him liberation. The holy name of Kåñëa is the highest nectar. It is my very life and my only treasure” (Båhad-bhägavatämåta 1.9).
MM 27
namämi näräyaëa-päda-paìkajaà
karomi näräyaëa-püjanaà sadä
vadämi näräyaëa-näma nirmalaà
smarämi näräyaëa-tattvam avyayam
namämi—I offer obeisances; näräyaëa—of Lord Näräyaëa; päda-paìkajam—to the lotus feet; karomi—I do; näräyaëa—of Lord Näräyaëa; püjanam—worship; sadä—always; vadämi—I speak; näräyaëa—of Lord Näräyaëa; näma—the name; nirmalam—free from contamination; smarämi—I remember; näräyaëa—of Näräyaëa; tattvam—truth; avyayam—infallible.
At every moment I bow down to the lotus feet of Näräyaëa, I perform worship to Näräyaëa, I recite the pure name of Näräyaëa, and I reflect on the infallible truth of Näräyaëa.
One may wonder, Is this an exaggeration or perhaps an expression of wishful thinking? The answer is no, this verse describes the practical experience of King Kulaçekhara, a pure devotee. Moreover, such absorption in various services to the Lord is possible not only for King Kulaçekhara but for all sincere devotees. Such twenty-four-hour engagement in the Lord’s service is rarely possible at once, but we can take encouragement from Lord Kåñëa’s words in the Bhagavad-gétä (12.9): “If you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop the desire to attain to Me.”
King Kulaçekhara first states, namämi: “I offer obeisances.” This refers to bowing down to the Lord physically and mentally, thus praying to Him with one’s whole being to be placed, as Lord Caitanya said, as “an atom at [His] lotus feet.” We offer obeisances because we recognize the inconceivable greatness of the Supreme Lord, and we beg for awareness of our own tinyness and dependence on Him. In addition to following the regulative principles of devotional service, we should take time regularly to go beyond the mechanical activity of religious duties, beyond all the relative roles we may play with our family and in our religious institution, and to try to recall that we are actually eternal servants of the Supreme Lord and of all living beings.
The preacher of Kåñëa consciousness should offer mental obeisances to the recipients of his message. Lord Caitanya advised His followers, yäre dekha täre kaha kåñëa-upadeça: “Impart Kåñëa’s teachings to whomever you meet” (Cc. Madhya 7.128). By carrying out this order we offer humble obeisances to the Lord within all living entities.
King Kulaçekhara says that he recites the name of Näräyaëa at every moment. Çréla Prabhupäda advised his followers to do the same: “In our Kåñëa consciousness movement we are teaching our followers to chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra continuously on beads. Even those who are not accustomed to this practice are advised to chant at least sixteen rounds on beads so they may be trained.... Sadä means ‘always.’ Haridäsa Öhäkura says nirantara näma lao: ‘Chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra without stopping’ ” (Cc. Antya 3.139, purport).
To chant all the time one has to follow Lord Caitanya’s advice—to think oneself lower than the straw in the street and offer all respects to others. In this way one combines reciting the Lord’s names and offering obeisances. A person who does not offer respects to God and all God’s creatures, who is proud of his material acquisitions, cannot call upon the Lord sincerely. Even if he does occasionally chant the Lord’s name, he does so with complacency. A devotee who realizes his actual situation of dependence on Kåñëa calls on the name of the Lord the way a child calls upon his mother. And as stated in previous verses, such a chanter tastes unprecedented nectar in the holy name.
King Kulaçekhara also reflects on the infallible truth of Näräyaëa. The conclusion (siddhänta) concerning the science of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is received from the scriptures, from the guru, and from authorized sädhus. One should regularly read and hear the Çrémad-Bhägavatam, the Bhagavad-gétä, the Caitanya-caritämåta, and similar Vaiñëava works, and one should also hear realized devotees explain them. One who does so will eventually be able to see all events in a Kåñëa conscious way. This is known as çästra-cakñur, seeing the world with the vision gained through scriptural knowledge.
And so King Kulaçekhara has offered four activities that should consume all our time without distraction: offering obeisances to the Lord, worshiping Him, chanting His holy names, and thinking of the conclusive truths concerning Him. These practices are included in the ninefold process of devotional service Prahläda Mahäräja describes in the Seventh Canto of the Çrémad-Bhägavatam (7.5.23). So whether one performs the activities King Kulaçekhara mentions here or adds the ones Prahläda Mahäräja recommends—praying, worshiping the Deity, becoming the Lord’s friend, and so on—one can move from one activity to another, from one thought to another, and yet stay within the internal, spiritual energy of Lord Näräyaëa. Such a fully Kåñëa conscious devotee will transfer at the time of death to the spiritual world, where he will render further services in the blissful company of the Lord and His intimate associates.
MM 28-29
SÜTRAS 28–29
çré-nätha näräyaëa väsudeva
çré-kåñëa bhakta-priya cakra-päëe
çré-padmanäbhäcyuta kaiöabhäre
çré-räma padmäkña hare muräre
ananta vaikuëöha mukunda kåñëa
govinda dämodara mädhaveti
vaktuà samartho ’pi na vakti kaçcid
aho janänäà vyasanäbhimukhyam
çré-nätha—O Lord of the goddess of fortune; näräyaëa—O resort of all living entities; väsudeva—O supreme proprietor; çré-kåñëa—O Kåñëa, son of Devaké; bhakta—toward Your devotees; priya—O You who are favorably disposed; cakra—the disc weapon; päëe—O You who hold in Your hand; çré—divine; padma-näbha—O You from whose navel grows a lotus; acyuta—O infallible Lord; kaiöabha-are—O enemy of Kaiöabha, çré-räma—O blessed Räma; padma-akña—O lotus-eyed one; hare—O remover of misfortune; mura-are—O enemy of Mura; ananta—O limitless one; vaikuëöha—O Lord of the spiritual kingdom; mukunda—O bestower of liberation; kåñëa—O Kåñëa; govinda—O master of the cows; dämodara—O You who were tied up as punishment by Your mother; mädhava—O Lord of the supreme goddess; iti—thus; vaktum—to speak; samarthaù—able; api—although; na vakti—one does not say; kaçcit—anything; aho—ah; janänäm—of people; vyasana—toward a danger; äbhimukhyam—the inclination.
O Çrénätha, Näräyaëa, Väsudeva, divine Kåñëa, O kind friend of Your devotees! O Cakrapäëi, Padmanäbha, Acyuta, Kaiöabhäri, Räma, Padmäkña, Hari, Muräri! O Ananta, Vaikuëöha, Mukunda, Kåñëa, Govinda, Dämodara, Mädhava! Although all people can address You, still they remain silent. Just see how eager they are for their own peril!
The Supreme Personality of Godhead manifests innumerable inconceivable qualities, and to remember and glorify these qualities His devotees address Him by innumerable names. The names themselves are fully invested with the power of the Lord. As Lord Caitanya states in His Çikñäñöaka (2), nämnäm akäri bahudhä nija-sarva-çaktis taträrpitä niyamitaù smaraëe na kälaù: “O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as Kåñëa and Govinda, by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting them.”
Çré Yämunäcärya, who appeared in the same sampradäya as King Kulaçekhara, composed a verse lamenting that although the Lord is fully accessible by His many names and qualities, the nondevotees do not approach Him, and thus they bring about their own destruction. In Bhagavad-gétä (7.15), Lord Kåñëa summarizes the types of persons who do not surrender to Him:
na mäà duñkåtino müòhäù prapadyante narädhamäù
mäyayäpahåta-jïänä äsuraà bhävam äçritäù
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are the lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender to Me.”
As His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda traveled worldwide spreading the Kåñëa consciousness movement, he noted that most people could not understand the simplest rudiments of transcendental knowledge. The first lesson of spiritual knowledge is that the self is not the body but rather the soul, and that therefore the soul is the truly important thing. But in Western countries, even among the scholarly elite, people do not understand the nature of the soul, and therefore they fail to understand the real mission of human life—understanding God. One who cannot understand the soul cannot understand God, for the soul is a minute particle of God, and failing to understand the particle, one fails to understand the whole. Instead of even trying to understand the spirit soul, most people ignore it or, even worse, deny its existence entirely. And godless scientists encourage the people in their ignorance by propounding the theory that life arises from matter. Çréla Prabhupäda decried this atheistic theory and exposed the fact that it could not be proved. Thus he said that civilized countries, especially in the West, were living in a fool’s paradise.
King Kulaçekhara notes that we ignore God and His many names and activities at our peril. This peril is not only individual but collective. Materialists try to live in a technological paradise, but the paradise is lost when war breaks out or other calamities strike. Although Çréla Prabhupäda noted that fools become angry when called fools, he never hesitated to boldly criticize the foolish materialists in his books and lectures. But he didn’t simply criticize: he offered the teachings and the example that can bring relief to the whole world. He taught the members of his International Society for Krishna Consciousness to live in a way that leaves ample time for spiritual advancement. The Society is meant to be an example for the whole world, a community whose members have reduced their problems and are simply interested living a God-centered life.
Though the four kinds of unsurrendered persons Kåñëa mentions in the Bhagavad-gétä are not interested in surrendering to Him, the devotees continue their efforts, satisfied to set the example their spiritual master has requested and to help conditioned souls wherever possible.
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 bhaktäpäya-bhujäìga-gäruòa-maëis trailokya-rakñä-maëir
 gopé-locana-cätakämbuda-maëiù saundarya-mudrä-maëiù
 yaù käntä-maëi-rukmiëé-ghana-kuca-dvandvaika-bhüñä-maëiù
 çreyo deva-çikhä-maëir diçatu no gopäla-cüòä-maëiù
bhakta—His devotees; apäya—who takes away; bhuja-aìga—whose arms; gäruòa—riding on the great bird Garuòa; maëiù—the jewel; trai-lokya—of the three worlds; rakñä—for protection; maëiù—the jewel; gopé—of the cowherd girls; locana—of the eyes; cätaka—for the cätaka birds; ambuda—of clouds; maëiù—the jewel; saundarya—displaying beauty; mudrä—of gestures; maëiù—the jewel; yaù—who; käntä—of consorts; maëi—who is the jewel; rukmiëé—of Rukmiëé; ghana—full; kuca-dvandva—of the two breasts; eka—the one; bhüñä—decorative; maëiù—jewel; çreyaù—ultimate benefit; deva—of the demigods; çikhä-maëiù—the crown jewel; diçatu—may He grant; naù—to us; gopäla—of cowherds; cüòä-maëiù—the crest jewel.
He is the jewel riding on the back of Garuòa, who carries away the Lord’s devotees on his wings. He is the magic jewel protecting the three worlds, the jewellike cloud attracting the cätaka-bird eyes of the gopés, and the jewel among all who gesture gracefully. He is the only jeweled ornament on the ample breasts of Queen Rukmiëé, who is herself the jewel of beloved consorts. May that crown jewel of all gods, the best of the cowherds, grant us the supreme benediction.
In this verse King Kulaçekhara gives us glimpses of Lord Kåñëa in some of His various léläs. In each example, the Lord is described as maëi, a jewel. Like a jewel, He is self-effulgent, very beautiful, and highly valuable.
Without a jewel, a ring-setting looks empty, and so without Kåñëa, Garuòa would have no extraordinary importance, although he is a large and powerful bird. Without Kåñëa, the gopés’ eyes would have no place to rest and nothing to see, just as a cätaka bird remains restless until it sees a rain-bearing and life-giving cloud. As Lord Caitanya says in the mood of a gopé, “The whole world appears vacant without You.” In the absence of Kåñëa, the gods would be without their crest jewel, and their own value would fall away. Thus Lord Kåñëa is the absolutely essential figure in His own lélä in the spiritual world, as well as in all the operations of the material worlds. As He states in the Bhagavad-gétä (7.7), “Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.”
When a soul misuses his free will, he tries to become the center of existence and thinks he can do without Kåñëa. This mistake is illustrated in the story of Saträjit, who once possessed a wondrous jewel called Syamantaka, which he wore in a locket around his neck. When Saträjit entered Dvärakä, Kåñëa asked him to deliver the jewel to the king, Ugrasena. But instead Saträjit installed the jewel in a temple, worshiped it, and gained 170 pounds of gold daily. Because of his claim that the jewel did not belong to Kåñëa, King Saträjit and his family suffered in many ways. The king found peace only when he realized that the Syamantaka should be given to the supreme jewel, Lord Kåñëa. And so he gave both the jewel and his daughter, Satyabhämä, to the Lord.
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çatru-cchedaika-mantraà sakalam upaniñad-väkya-sampüjya-mantraà
saàsäroccheda-mantraà samucita-tamasaù saìgha-niryäëa-mantram
sarvaiçvaryaika-mantraà vyasana-bhujaga-sandañöa-santräëa-mantraà
jihve çré-kåñëa-mantraà japa japa satataà janma-säphalya-mantram
çatru—enemies; cheda—for destroying; eka—the only; mantram—mystic chant; sakalam—entire; upaniñat—of the Upaniñads; väkya—by the words; sampüjya—worshiped; mantram—the mystic chant; saàsära—the cycle of birth and death; uccheda—which uproots; mantram—the mystic chant; samucita—accumulated; tamasaù—of darkness; saìgha—the mass; niryäëa—for driving away; mantram—the mystic chant; sarva—all; aiçvarya—for opulence; eka—the only; mantram—mystic chant; vyasana—of material distress; bhujaga—by the snake; sandañöa—for those who have been bitten; santräëa—saving; mantram—the mystic chant; jihve—O my tongue; çré-kåñëa—of Çré Kåñëa; mantram—the mystic chant; japa japa—please repeatedly chant; satatam—always; janma—of one’s birth; säphalya—for the success; mantram—the mystic chant.
O tongue, please constantly chant the mantra composed of Çré Kåñëa’s names. This is the only mantra for destroying all enemies, the mantra worshiped by every word of the Upaniñads, the mantra that uproots saàsära, the mantra that drives away all the darkness of ignorance, the mantra for attaining infinite opulence, the mantra for curing those bitten by the poisonous snake of worldly distress, and the mantra for making one’s birth in this world successful.
A mantra is a sound vibration that delivers the mind from illusion. When a person chants a mantra consisting of the Lord’s names, his mind is freed of distress and he comes to the state of transcendental peace in God consciousness. Of all such mantras, however, the one King Kulaçekhara recommends is a kåñëa-mantra—in other words, one composed of Kåñëa’s names. One of these is the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra, which Lord Caitanya chanted and which the Upaniñads proclaim the best mantra for Kali-yuga:
hare kåñëa hare kåñëa kåñëa kåñëa hare hare
hare räma hare räma räma räma hare hare
iti ñoòaçakaà nämnäà kali-kalmaña-näçanam
nätaù parataropäyaù sarva-vedeñu dåçyate
“Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. These sixteen names composed of thirty-two syllables are the only means of counteracting the evil effects of the Kali-yuga. After searching through all the Vedic literature, one cannot find a method of religion for this age so sublime as the chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mantra” (Kali-santaraëa Upaniñad).
King Kulaçekhara declares that the kåñëa-mantra destroys one’s enemies. We find one confirmation of this in the story of Ajämila, who chanted the name Näräyaëa and was protected from the agents of death. Elsewhere the Çrémad-Bhägavatam states,
“Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Kåñëa, which is feared by fear personified” (Bhäg. 1.1.14). Also, chanting the holy name of Kåñëa destroys the six mental enemies: lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness, and envy.
Next Kulaçekhara says that the kåñëa-mantra is worshiped throughout the Upaniñads. For the most part, the Upaniñads describe the personal form of the Lord indirectly, yet they always point toward Kåñëa. Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé reveals this inner meaning of the Upaniñads in his Nämäñöaka (1):
“O Hari-näma! The tips of the toes of Your lotus feet are constantly being worshiped by the glowing radiance emanating from the string of gems known as the Upaniñads, the crown jewels of all the Vedas. You are eternally adored by liberated souls such as Närada and Çukadeva. O Hari-näma! I take complete shelter of You.”
The kåñëa-mantra also uproots saàsära. Lord Caitanya confirms this in His Çikñäñöaka (1), where He states, bhava-mahä-dävägni-nirväpanam: “The congregational chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mantra extinguishes the blazing fire of repeated birth and death.” The kåñëa-mantra is also most effective for driving away the darkness of ignorance. As Lord Caitanya says in the same verse, vidyä-vadhü-jévanam: “Chanting Hare Kåñëa is the life and soul of transcendental knowledge.” Also, the second verse of the Caitanya-caritämåta compares Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityänanda, the foremost propagators of the chanting of Kåñëa’s names, to the sun and moon: “They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauòa [Bengal] to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all.” Elaborating on this point, Çréla Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja informs us that the material sun and moon are able to dissipate the darkness of the external world, “but these two brothers [Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityänanda] dissipate the darkness of the inner core of the heart and thus help one to meet the two kinds of bhägavatas [persons or things related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead]” (Cc. Ädi 1.98).
King Kulaçekhara glorifies the kåñëa-mantra as the bestower of infinite opulence. The most valuable thing, even more valuable than the cintämaëi stone of this world, is love of Godhead. “Simply chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra without offenses vanquishes all sinful activity. Thus pure devotional service, which is the cause of love of Godhead, becomes manifest” (Cc. Ädi 8.26).
King Kulaçekhara also praises the kåñëa-mantra as a type of medicine that relieves the suffering of those who have been bitten by the snake of material distress. In Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura’s song Aruëodaya-kértana, Lord Caitanya says to the people of the world, “I have brought the medicine for destroying the illusion of Mäyä. Now pray for this hari-näma mahä-mantra and take it.”
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Of the many hundreds of poetic Sanskrit stotras—songs of glorification offered to the Supreme Lord, His devotees, and the holy places of His pastimes—King Kulaçekhara’s Mukunda-mälä-stotra is one of the most perennially famous. Some say that its author conceived it as a garland (mälä) of verses offered for Lord Kåñëa’s pleasure. It has long been dear to Vaiñëavas of all schools, and our own spiritual master, Çréla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda, frequently enjoyed citing certain favorite stanzas from it.
King Kulaçekhara was part of the Çré-sampradäya, the Vaiñëava school founded by Lord Viñëu’s divine consort, Çré (Laxmidevi). This school’s most prominent representative, Rämänuja Äcärya (eleventh century), built on the work of his predecessors Nätha Muni and Yämuna Äcärya and established the systematic philosophy of Çré Vaiñëavism. But these äcäryas came in an already old tradition, that of the ecstatic mystic poets called Älvärs. The twelve Älvärs appeared at various times in South India, in the area roughly corresponding to present-day Tamil Nadu. According to the tradition of the Çré Vaiñëavas, the earliest Älvärs lived more than five thousand years ago, at the start of the present age, Kali-yuga, while the most recent lived in the first millennium A.D.
The Älvärs’ Tamil poetry was collected in the Tiruväymoli, revered by Çré Vaiñëavas as their own vernacular Veda. On the strength of the Tiruväymoli’s devotional authority, the Çré Vaiñëavas claim to follow Ubhaya-vedänta, the dual Vedänta philosophy founded on both Sanskrit and Tamil scripture. Some Älvärs were atypical renunciants: the third, Äëòäl, was a woman, and three were involved in governing. Among these was the tenth Älvär, Kulaçekhara Perumäl, who was a ruling king in the Cera dynasty of Malainäòu, in what is now Kerala. Modern scholars say he may have lived during the ninth century A.D.
A traditional history of King Kulaçekhara states that once, as he slept in his palace quarters, he had a brilliant and distinct vision of Lord Kåñëa. Upon awaking he fell into a devotional trance and failed to notice dawn breaking. The royal musicians and ministers came as usual to his door to wake him, but after waiting some time without hearing him respond, they reluctantly took the liberty of entering his room. The king came out of his trance and described his vision to them, and from that day on he no longer took much interest in ruling. He delegated most of his responsibilities to his ministers and dedicated himself to rendering devotional service to the Lord. After some years he abdicated the throne and went to Çré Raìgam, where he remained in the association of the Kåñëa Deity of Raìganätha and His many exalted devotees. At Çré Raìgam Kulaçekhara is said to have composed his two great works: the Mukunda-mälä-stotra, in Sanskrit; and 105 Tamil hymns, which were later incorporated into the Tiruväymoli under the title Perumäl-tirumoli.
As the other Älvärs do in their mystic expressions, in his Perumäl-tirumoli King Kulaçekhara emulates the roles of some of Lord Rämacandra’s and Lord Kåñëa’s intimate devotees: King Daçaratha; two of the Lord’s mothers, Kauçalyä and Devaké; and some of the young cowherd women of Våndävana. But Mahäräja Kulaçekhara expresses no pride in realizing such confidential devotional moods. On the contrary, with deep humility he repeatedly begs simply to be allowed to take his next births as a bird, fish, or flower in the place where Lord Kåñëa enacts His pastimes, and in this way to enjoy the association of His devotees.
The Mukunda-mälä-stotra, although composed in elegant Sanskrit, is a simple expression of King Kulaçekhara’s devotion to Kåñëa and his eagerness to share his good fortune with everyone else. Being thus a very public work, it does not delve into intimate personal revelations or abstruse philosophical conundrums. Like most other works of the stotra genre, it aims less at presenting a plot than at vividly and honestly expressing the true feelings of a lover of God. With this much we the readers should be completely satisfied, because it is a rare opportunity for us when a devotee of King Kulaçekhara’s stature opens his heart so freely—and in a way just appropriate for us, with all our imperfections, to appreciate.
In 1989, the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness requested Satsvarüpa däsa Goswami to complete the Mukunda-mälä-stotra. One of Çréla Prabhupäda’s earliest disciples, Satsvarüpa Goswami had distinguished himself over the years as one of his most learned and literary followers. He had served as editor of Back to Godhead magazine—the Society’s monthly journal—for most of the twenty-three years it had been published in the West, and had written many books already, most notably a six-volume biography of Çréla Prabhupäda.
Satsvarüpa Goswami accepted the assignment and enlisted the help of Gopéparäëadhana däsa, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust’s Sanskrit editor, to translate the remaining forty-seven verses. Then he carefully prepared the purports, often quoting from Çréla Prabhupäda’s Bhagavad-gétä, Çrémad-Bhägavatam, and other works. The result is a book that we trust will be informative and enlivening to devotees, scholars, and laymen alike.