Components of Prayers

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.03.09-12 - Components of Prayers (download mp3)
by Radha Gopinath Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.3.9-10
tam adbhutam balakam ambujeksanam
catur-bhujam sankha-gadady-udayudham
srivatsa-laksmam gala-sobhi-kaustubham
pitambaram sandra-payoda-saubhagam
tvisa parisvakta-sahasra-kuntalam
virocamanam vasudeva aiksata

Vasudeva then saw the newborn child, who had very wonderful lotuslike eyes and who bore in His four hands the four weapons sankha, cakra, gada and padma. On His chest was the mark of Srivatsa and on His neck the brilliant Kaustubha gem. Dressed in yellow, His body blackish like a dense cloud, His scattered hair fully grown, and His helmet and earrings sparkling uncommonly with the valuable gem Vaidurya, the child, decorated with a brilliant belt, armlets, bangles and other ornaments, appeared very wonderful.

To support the word adbhutam, meaning "wonderful," the decorations and opulences of the newborn child are fully described. As confirmed in the Brahma-samhita (5.30), barhavatamsam asitambuda-sundarangam: the hue of the Lord's beautiful form resembles the blackish color of dense clouds (asita means "blackish," and ambuda means "cloud"). It is clear from the word catur-bhujam that Krsna first appeared with four hands, as Lord Visnu. No ordinary child in human society has ever been born with four hands. And when is a child born with fully grown hair? The descent of the Lord, therefore, is completely distinct from the birth of an ordinary child. The Vaidurya gem, which sometimes appears bluish, sometimes yellow and sometimes red, is available in Vaikunthaloka. The Lord's helmet and earrings were decorated with this particular gem.

SB 10.3.11
sa vismayotphulla-vilocano harim
sutam vilokyanakadundubhis tada
krsnavatarotsava-sambhramo 'sprsan
muda dvijebhyo 'yutam apluto gavam

When Vasudeva saw his extraordinary son, his eyes were struck with wonder. In transcendental jubilation, he mentally collected ten thousand cows and distributed them among the brahmanas as a transcendental festival.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has analyzed the wonder of Vasudeva upon seeing his extraordinary child. Vasudeva was shivering with wonder to see a newborn child decorated so nicely with valuable garments and gems. He could immediately understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead had appeared, not as an ordinary child but in His original, fully decorated, four-handed form. The first wonder was that the Lord was not afraid to appear within the prison house of Kamsa, where Vasudeva and Devaki were interned. Second, although the Lord, the Supreme Transcendence, is all-pervading, He had appeared from the womb of Devaki. The third point of wonder, therefore, was that a child could take birth from the womb so nicely decorated. Fourth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was Vasudeva's worshipable Deity yet had taken birth as his son. For all these reasons, Vasudeva was transcendentally jubilant, and he wanted to perform a festival, as ksatriyas do to celebrate the birth of a child, but because of his imprisonment he was unable to do it externally, and therefore he performed the festival within his mind. This was just as good. If one cannot externally serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can serve the Lord within one's mind, since the activities of the mind are as good as those of the other senses. This is called the nondual or absolute situation (advaya jñana). People generally perform ritualistic ceremonies for the birth of a child. Why then should Vasudeva not have performed such a ceremony when the Supreme Lord appeared as his son?

SB 10.3.12
athainam astaud avadharya purusam
param natangah krta-dhih krtañjalih
sva-rocisa bharata sutika-grham
virocayantam gata-bhih prabhava-vit

O Maharaja Pariksit, descendant of King Bharata, Vasudeva could understand that this child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana. Having concluded this without a doubt, he became fearless. Bowing down with folded hands and concentrating his attention, he began to offer prayers to the child, who illuminated His birthplace by His natural influence.

Struck with such great wonder, Vasudeva now concentrated his attention on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Understanding the influence of the Supreme Lord, he was surely fearless, since he understood that the Lord had appeared to give him protection (gata-bhih prabhava-vit). Understanding that the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present, he appropriately offered prayers as follows.