Offering Obeisance with Words - Part 1

Offering Obeisance with Words - Part 1

27th Nov 2014
Narahari Krishna das

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

From scriptures we hear that we can bow down to the Lord in three ways - with body, mind and words. Along with bowing down to the Lord with our body, we should also offer our words and mind to Him. Offering obeisances with words is done by uttering 'namah'. This will help us progress in devotional service by leaps and bounds. Srila Prabhupada explains the meaning of word namah in the commentary of the verse 8.3.13 as follows. "Every living entity in this material world is struggling for existence, and the only salvation or relief from the cycle of birth and death in the evolutionary process is full surrender. This is indicated by the word namah, "I offer my respectful obeisances unto You." Also the names of the Lord become mantras when they are combined with 'Om' and 'namah'. Vasudeva, Narayana, Narasimha etc are names of the Lord and when combined with 'Om' and 'namah' we have mantras like 'Om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya, Om namo Narayanaya or Om namo bhagavate Narasimhaya etc. 

So we have the pranam mantra for Srila Prabhupada and spiritual master starting with "nama Om Vishnupadaya" and also the vaishnava pranama mantra ends with 'vaishnavebhyo namo namah'. All these mantras contain 'namah'. So while bowing down before the devotees or spiritual master, we are advised to chant the respective pranam mantras so that our words are also engaged in bowing down. Similarly at the beginning of class on Bhagavad Gita or Bhagavatam we recite "Om namo bhagavate vasudevaaya" which means obeisances to Bhagavan Vasudeva. And while singing Narasimha arati we start with "namas te narasimhaaya (Obeisances to you Bhagavan Narasimha). And while singing Tulasi arati we offer obeisances to Tulasi Maharani by saying namah (namo namah tulasi krishna preyaasi).

In Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam we see that great devotees offered their obeisances to the Lord verbally by saying 'namah'. Kunti Maharani and Bhishmacharya were elder to Lord Krishna and hence as per the social custom, they could never bow down to Him physically. Only Lord Krishna was bowing down to them whenever they met Him. And Kunti Maharani was also the aunt of Lord Krishna and hence the Lord always sought her blessings. So she could not bow down to the Lord even though He is Supremely worshipable due to social etiquette and the Lord also would not accept that. However, when Lord Krishna was departing to Dwaraka, He protected Parikshit and Uttara from the brahmastra of Aswatthama. When He was about to leave Hastinapura, Kunti Maharani offered her famous prayer. In that prayer, she offered many obeisances to the Lord by saying namah. She starts of her prayers by saying, "namas ye purusham tvaadyam", and ends her prayers by saying "bhagavan namas te". And in the below sloka she offers her obeisances verbally to each part of the Lord's transcendental form by saying "namah"

namaḥ paṅkaja-nābhāya
namaḥ paṅkaja-māline
namaḥ paṅkaja-netrāya
namas te paṅkajāṅghraye

My respectful obeisances are unto You, O Lord, whose abdomen is marked with a depression like a lotus flower, who are always decorated with garlands of lotus flowers, whose glance is as cool as the lotus and whose feet are engraved with lotuses.

Krishna willing, we will meditate more on this in the subsequent offerings.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna das.