Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Name Names

Hari OM
Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!

The Mukundamala of King Kulashekhara is the focus, currently, as we seek to raise our devotion.

The first action of devotion must always be to call upon the Higher and give description to its qualities. Give it what name you will. In this text, it is Mukunda.

ïivLl_aeit vrdeit dyapreit
_a´iàyriy _avlu{Qnkaeivdeit,
Naweit nagzyneit jgiÚvase-
Tyalapn< àitpd< kué ma< mukuNd.2.
Shri-vallabheti vara-det dayaa-pareti
Bhakta-preyeti bhava-lunthana-kovedeti,
Naatheti naaga-shayaneti jagan-nivaaseti
Aalaapanam prati-padam kuru maam mukunda ||2||
O, Mukunda! Kindly make me engage in crying out (as did beloved Lakshmi), the giver of boons, the compassionate One, the beloved of devotees, the expert in destroying worldly sorrows, the Master, the One resting on a snake, the One in whom the whole universe exists.

The cry is not one of sorrow, but of joy. A deep request to be pulled towards the one called and to identify with Him. It is natural for us to turn towards that with which most strongly identify. It is the very same desire which drives the nature of 'fandom' in the modern world, youngsters seeing something they really want to be themselves in their favourite actors and singers. This is the level of yearning in this verse.

The devotee of a spiritual 'idol', though, goes beyond merely calling the name of the desired in the hopes of being seen. He or she acknowledges and names some of things which their Beloved is and does.

The 'giver of boons'  is quite self-explanatory; it also recognises the Beloved as having status of giver in the same way a parent might be seen. That same parent might be expected, as is Mukunda here, to exhibit compassion to the devotee, being understanding and tolerant of the devotee's weaknesses. This adds to the 'bhaava' - the love the devotee has for the Beloved - just when you think you cannot love any more, another drop comes, such is the nature of the Lord. Equally, when we are distressed, it is the parents to whom we turn and they do their best to alleviate our anxiety. How much more so can the Lord, if we allow it?

Why might the snake be mentioned? Mukunda is Shri Krishna, associated with cows. Forget not, though, He is also an avatar of Shri Vishnu, who does lie upon a serpent, whose name is Adishesha. Krishna-ji tells Arjuna in chapter three of the Bhagavad Gita, that if he did not work continuously (setting an example) the people would 'follow' (copy) Him and thus He would have been the cause of the world's destruction. In this way, He takes the blame for people's laziness! It also refers to His true identity as Vishnu. The name of the snake, is 'adi' which means beginning, and 'shesha' which means end. This equates to the Alpha and Omega of the Christian tradition. The Lord makes sure of the continued functions of the world as per divine law from the beginning of time and will do so till the end of time - all whilst seeming to take it easy on the back of a snake… the best manager is the one who doesn't manage! By being present and ensuring that all are doing each the task assigned them, that is the true skill of management. All this is acknowledged by citing the snake in this verse.

Finally, it is as well to remember that the face and name we give the Lord as we perceive him is still only a part of the whole, for the universe exists within and without this power. It means, too that this world we think we know, is nothing but Him only. What is more, Vishnu is still only a part of that whole which is Brahman - that from which all arises, all resides, and all goes back into.

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