Power of Association - Part 20

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

In our last offering on the story of Mrgari, we saw how the hunter was ecstatically receiving Narada muni and Parvatai muni. Let us continue to meditate on further lessons from the story today.

20. Offering Obeisances Takes us Back to Godhead: The hunter ran towards his spiritual master Narada muni and wanted to offer him his dandavats but upon seeing some ants running around here and there on the ground he hesitated. He then gently whisked them away with a piece of cloth and then fell down flat to offer his obeisances.

This is the significant transformation that was brought by Narada muni in the life of the hunter devotee. Turning the clock backwards if we can recall how the hunter treated even big animals so cruelly, it is the same hunter now who does not even want to harm the tiny ants. No one cares much for the ants. They are present everywhere. Even inadvertently we step on them and they die. But the hunter who was so violent in his past has become so compassionate towards even those tiny ants. This is the result of his unflinching devotional service. 

The hunter then paid his dandavat by falling flat on the ground. Srila Prabhupada, in his purport explains the meaning of dandavat, "The word daṇḍa means “rod,” and vat means “like.” To offer obeisances to the spiritual master, one must fall flat exactly as a rod falls on the ground.

It is normal tendency that we look at the place where we offer obeisance as whether it is clean and we will be doubly careful if our dress is fresh or new. There is a nice saying in Hindi which our Guru Maharaj used to say and it is a nice play of word just by shifting one letter. 

नर कपड़न को डरत है
नरक पड़न को नहीं

nar kapadan ko darat hai narak padan ko nahi

Men are worried about their dress (getting dirt) when they offer dandavat, but they don't worry about falling down to hell.

This is normally our level of consciousness. We worry more about the externals like our clothes, body etc. getting dirty than thinking about the benefits of paying dandavat pranam to exalted vaishnavas and the Supreme Lord. Even while praying or offering obeisances inside the temple we meditate on the slippers that we left outside. We can change the cloth easily even if it gets dirty but we cannot change the body easily once we get it. Offering obeisances is one of the important limbs of devotional service. It stops the changing of bodies once and for all what to speak of change of clothes? Srimad Bhagavatam concludes with the last verse 12.13.23 proving the importance of offering obeisances:

nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ yasya sarva-pāpa praṇāśanam
praṇāmo duḥkha-śamanasaṁ namāmi hariṁ param

I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Hari, the congregational chanting of whose holy names destroys all sinful reactions, and the offering of obeisances unto whom relieves all material suffering.

Offering obeisances to exalted vaishnava devotees is as good as offering obeisances to the Supreme Lord because He Himself says they are non-different from Him. It is an expression of humility and gratitude for the greatest gift of Krishna consciousness that they have given us. Hence Mrgari who had by then transformed into mrdhu-hrday (soft-hearted) had no hesitation in falling down to offer his dandavat pranam to his spiritual master & life savior Narada muni and the saintly devotee Parvata muni. We have to learn this important lesson of offering obeisances from the hunter transformed into a devotee.

Krishna willing, we will meditate on further lessons from the story of Mrgari in the subsequent offering.

Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das