Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Mukunda-mālā-stotra 13

tṛṣṇā-toye madana-pavanoddhūta-mohormi-māle

dārāvarte tanaya-sahaja-grāha-sańghākule ca

saḿsārākhye mahati jaladhau majjatāḿ nas tri-dhāman

pādāmbhoje vara-da bhavato bhakti-nāvaḿ prayaccha


tṛṣṇā — thirst; toye — whose water; madana — of Cupid; pavana — by the winds; uddhūta — stirred up; moha — illusion; ūrmi — of waves; māle — rows; dāra — wife; āvarte — whose whirlpool; tanaya — sons; sahaja — and brothers; grāha — of sharks; sańgha — with hordes; ākule — crowded; ca — and; saḿsāra-ākhye — called saḿsāra; mahati — vast; jaladhauin the ocean; majjatām — who are drowning; naḥto us; tri-dhāmanO Lord of the three worlds; pādato the feet; ambhoje — lotuslike; vara-daO giver of benedictions; bhavataḥ — of Your good self; bhakti — of devotion; nāvam — the boat; prayaccha — please bestow.


O Lord of the three worlds, we are drowning in the vast ocean of saḿsāra, which is filled with the waters of material hankering, with many waves of illusion whipped up by the winds of lust, with whirlpools of wives, and with vast schools of sharks and other sea monsters who are our sons and brothers. O giver of all benedictions, please grant me a place on the boat of devotion that is Your lotus feet.


In this nightmare vision, all the dear and familiar things in life become fearful. And yet this is an accurate assessment of material reality. King Kulaśekhara's oceanic metaphors are not fanciful, but show us vividly what actually is.

There is a common saying that a drowning person suddenly sees his whole life pass before him. But we never hear what happens to the person after death. The atheist assumes that when we die it is all over and we rest in peace. But according to Vedic knowledge, there is life after death. "One who has taken birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again" (Bg. 2.27). If the conditioned soul sees his life pass before him at death, it is usually with regret. His strong attachment to life-long companions and family members becomes a big weight that drags him down into repeated birth and death.

Therefore it is better for a person to see the fearfulness inherent in material life before it is too late to rectify his consciousness. When he begins to realize that there is great danger in the way he is leading his life, enjoying a false sense of security within his orbit of friends and relatives, then he must by all means try to change the situation by taking up devotional service to the Lord. If he is fortunate he can convince his friends and relatives to also change and lead a life dedicated to God consciousness. But if he cannot change them, then he should at least save himself. As Prahlāda Mahārāja told his demoniac father, Hiraṇyakaśipu:

tat sādhu manye 'sura-varya dehināḿ

sadā samudvigna-dhiyām asad-grahāt

hitvātma-pātaḿ gṛham andha-kūpaḿ

vanaḿ gato yad dharim āśrayeta

"O best of the asuras, king of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxiety because of having fallen into a dark well where there is no water but only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest. More clearly, one should go to Vṛndāvana, where only Kṛṣṇa consciousness is prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead" (Bhāg. 7.5.5).

It is not an easy thing to wake up from the complacency of ordinary life. Everyone knows that life is full of difficulties, but we tend to think that our family members and friends are our only solace. But as Kulaśekhara and other Vedic sages point out, in materialistic life our family members are like vicious beasts attacking us. To convey this unpalatable truth, Jaḍa Bharata related to King Rahūgaṇa an allegory about the forest of material enjoyment. In this context he said, "My dear king, family members in this material world go under the names of wives and children, but actually they behave like tigers and jackals."

Several times in the Mukunda-mālā-stotra, the poet compares the material world to the sea, and the Lord (or His lotus feet) to a boat that can rescue us. The metaphor is excellent, for no matter how expert a swimmer a person may be, he cannot survive on his own in the rough and vast expanses of the ocean. So our attempt to swim the ocean of material life on our own strength, encouraged by our family and friends, is as futile as the attempt of the lone swimmer at sea. We should turn to our only rescuer, the Lord, and with utmost sincerity thank Him for coming to save us.

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