Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Mukunda-mālā-stotra 46
praṇāmam īśasya śiraḥ-phalaḿ vidus
tad-arcanaḿ prāṇa-phalaḿ divaukasaḥ
vacaḥ-phalaḿ tad-guṇa-kīrtanaḿ budhāḥ
praṇāmam — offering obeisances; īśasya — to the Supreme Lord; śiraḥ — of the head; phalam — the perfection; viduḥ — they know; tat — His; arcanam — worship; prāṇa — of one's breath; phalam — the perfection; diva-okasaḥ — the residents of heaven; manaḥ — of the mind; phalam — the perfection; tat — His; guṇa — of the qualities; tattva — on the details; cintanam — meditation; vacaḥ — of speech; phalam — the perfection; tat — His; guṇa — about the qualities; kīrtanam — chanting; budhāḥ — intelligent.
The wise inhabitants of the heavenly regions know that the perfection of the head is to offer prostrate obeisances to the Supreme Lord, the perfection of the life-breath is to worship the Lord, the perfection of the mind is to ponder the details of His transcendental qualities, and the perfection of speech is to chant the glories of His qualities.
The word divaukasaḥ refers to the devas, or demigods. These are devotees of the Supreme Lord who inhabit the heavenly planets and enjoy a rare standard of sense gratification, which places them squarely within the material world as conditioned souls. But because they are staunch followers of Lord Viṣṇu, He always protects them. Being Viṣṇu's followers, they are usually victorious in their battles with the demons, who frequently threaten to possess the heavenly kingdom.
King Kulaśekhara mentions the devas not because of their material opulence but because of their good quality of rendering devotional service to Lord Hari. The residents of the heavenly planets are not like the people of the earth, where, in Kali-yuga, the philosophy of "God is dead" predominates and the ideas of atheists like Darwin, Marx, and Freud are hugely influential in all affairs. Although the devas have access to very advanced forms of technology and possess mystic powers, their faith in Lord Viṣṇu remains pure.
By the grace of Lord Caitanya, even the people of the earth planet, although unqualified in many ways, can also approach Lord Kṛṣṇa in devotional service. Indeed, Lord Caitanya is so magnanimous that He has given the residents of earth a great advantage over the demigods. That advantage is sańkīrtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names of God. Because of this great advantage, the earth is the best place to achieve the ultimate goal of life, going back to the eternal spiritual world. As stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.19.21),
Since the human form of life is the sublime position for spiritual realization, all the demigods in heaven speak in this way: "How wonderful it is for these human beings to have been born in the land of Bhārata-varṣa [the earth]! They must have executed pious acts of austerity in the past, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself must have been pleased with them. Otherwise, how could they engage in devotional service in so many ways? We demigods can only aspire to achieve human births in Bhārata-varṣa to execute devotional service, but these human beings are already engaged there."
At one time the whole world was known as Bhārata-varṣa, but now only India is known by that name. India is cited as the best place to achieve self-realization because it was in India that many ācāryas and incarnations of Kṛṣṇa appeared, and it is in India that the tradition of devotional service to the Lord remains strong. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "From all points of view, Bhārata-varṣa is the special land where one can very easily understand the process of devotional service and adopt it to make his life successful." Lord Caitanya has further encouraged the residents of Bhārata-varṣa to make themselves successful in devotional service and then preach throughout the world. This is the work of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, a mission that was developed so thoroughly and successfully by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
King Kulaśekhara reminds us of the proper functions of the various parts of the body. The head, for instance, is the center of all the senses, so we try to give it pleasure in many ways, but usually not by the humble act recommended here — bowing down before the Supreme Lord. Of course, bowing is not merely a mechanical act: the head should bow down accompanied by sincere feelings of devotion in the heart. Prostrating the body was an important part of the daily sādhana (discipline) of liberated souls like the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana. In his prayers to the six Gosvāmīs, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya states that they were "engaged in chanting the holy names of the Lord and bowing down in a scheduled measurement." Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, one of the six Gosvāmīs, offered one thousand obeisances to the Lord's devotees daily.
The word prāṇa, used in this verse of Mukunda-mālā-stotra, refers to the life-breath, which we should used in worshiping the Lord. Yogīs practice prāṇāyāma, regulation of the breath, to gain control of the mind and senses, and it is often recommended as a method of rejuvenation. Although one may certainly gain such benefits by controlling the breath, the path of bhakti calls on the devotee simply to use his life-breath in loving service to the Lord. Similarly, we should use the mind, speech, and all our other God-given faculties in the Lord's loving service. This perfection is available to all, whether demigods or human beings.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari