IN THE LAST COLUMN, I mentioned the story of the doe and the stag. Parashurama and Akritavrana heard the story and were amazed. They decided to go the sage Agastya’s hermitage in Pushkara and the doe and the stag followed them.
Having greeted Agastya, Parashurama said, “A doubt has been generated in me. Through your words, which are like amrita, please dispel it. O lord! In the centre of Pushkara, I saw a stag. It recounted everything about me, the past and the future. Hearing that, I was filled with wonder and have come and sought refuge with you. Show me your compassion so that I can be successful with the great mantra. O guru! Shiva gave me Krishna’s kavacha. Please ensure success in that too. I have been striving for more than one hundred years. However, I have not obtained siddhi.” Hearing this, Agastya meditated. He understood that the stag and doe had come to his hermitage to hear about Krishna’s stotram, which was like amrita.
Agastya told Parashurama, “O immensely fortunate one! Listen. You will thereby swiftly obtain siddhi in the mantra. O immensely wise one! You have already got to know about the three signs of bhakti. If a man strives with these, he quickly obtains success. Once, desiring to see Ananta, I reached Patala, adorned by Indras among kings of the Nagas. There, full of great joy, I saw the siddhas in every direction— Sanaka and the others, Narada, Goutama, Jajali, Kratu, Ribhu, Hamsa, Aruni, Valmiki, Shakti and Asuri. There were other great siddhas, Vatsyayana being the foremost. For the sake of jnana, they were seated near the lord of hooded ones and were worshipping him. To happily hear about Vishnu’s accounts, this earth, who sustains beings, was also seated there, in her own form, along with Indras among the Nagas and the great-souled siddhas, who were bowing down before him. She was seated in front of him, always listening to the accounts attentively. Whenever the earth asked Shesha, who holds up the earth, something, he showed her his favours and answered, while all the rishis heard. I heard about the auspicious Krishna-premamrita stotram there. I will describe it to you. That is the reason you have come here.” This stotram has 108 names and it is in anushtup chhanda (with eight aksharas in every pada). When Agastya finished reciting Krishna-premamrita stotram, a divine vehicle arrived there. It was followed by four siddhas, who could assume any form they willed and travel at the speed of thought. The stag and doe bowed down at Agastya’s feet and took his leave. They happily leapt up and ascended. They assumed divine forms, with the conch shell, chakra and other marks. While all beings and Parashurama and Agastya watched, they went to Vishnu’s world. With this stotram, Parashurama also obtained success.
What are these 108 names? Where necessary, the meanings are given within brackets. It helps if one knows the stories associated with Krishna and his life. Otherwise, some of the allusions may be difficult to understand. (1) Shri Krishna; (2) Kamalanatha [lord of Kamalaa (Lakshmi)]; (3) Vaasudeva; (4) Sanatana (the eternal one); (5) Vasudevatmaja (Vasudeva’s son); (6) Punya (sacred one); (7) Lila-manusha-vigraha (one who has playfully assumed a human body); (8) Shrivatsa-Koustubha-dhara (One who wears Shrivatsa and the Koustubha jewel. Shrivatsa is the curl of hair on Krishna/ Vishnu’s chest, the place where Shri resides.); (9) Yashoda-vatsala (loved by Yashoda); (10) Hari; (11) Chaturbhujatta-chakra-asi-gada-shankhadyudayudha (one who has raised the weapons of chakra, a sword, a mace and a conch shell in his four hands); (12) Devaki-nandana (Devaki’s delight or son); (13) Shrisha (Shri’s lord); (14) Nandagopa-priyatmaja (Nandagopa’s beloved son); (15) Yamuna-vega-samhari (one who restrained Yamuna’s powerful flow); (16) Balabhadra-priyanuja (Balabhadra’s beloved younger brother): (17) Putana-jivitahara (one who takes away Putana’s life); (18) Shakatasura-bhanjana (one who destroyed the asura in the form of a cart); (19) Nanda-Vraja-jananandin (one who delights the people of Nanda’s Vraja); (20) Sacchidananda-vigraha (one whose form consists of truth, consciousness and bliss); (21) Navanita-viliptanga (one whose limbs are smeared with butter); (22) Navanita-nata (one who dances for butter); (23) Anagha (sinless one); (24) Navanita-lavahari [one who takes away a lava (a measure) of butter]; (25) Muchukunda-prasadakrit (one who showed favours to Muchukunda); (26) Shodasha-stri-sahasresha (lord of sixteen thousand women); (27) Tribhangi [one in tribhanga form, with three parts of the body (neck, wrists, knees) bent]; (28) Madhurakriti (with a sweet form); (29) Shuka-vagamritabdhindu (the moon that rises from the ocean of amrita that is Shuka’s speech); (30) Govinda; (31) Govindampati (lord of those who know about cows); (32) Vatsa-palana-sanchari (one who moves around protecting calves); (33) Dhenukasura-mardana (one who crushed Dhenukasura); (34) Trinikrita-Trinavarta (one who reduced Trinavarta to a blade of grass); (35) Yamalarjuna-bhanjana (one who broke the two Arjuna trees); (36) Uttala-talabheta (one who broke the tall palm tree); (37) Tamala-shyamalakriti (with a form that is as dark as a Tamala tree); (38) Gopa-gopishvara (lord of gopas and gopis); (39) Yogi; (40) Surya-koti-samaprabha (as radiant as one crore suns); (41) Ilapati (lord of the earth, Ilaa means earth); (42) Paramjyoti (supreme radiance); (43) Yadavendra (Indra among Yadavas); (44) Yadudvaha (one who extended the Yadu lineage); (45) Vanamali (with a garland of wild flowers); (46) Pitavasa (with yellow garments); (47) Parijatapaharaka (one who took away the Parijata tree); (48) Govardhanachaloddharta (one who raised up Mount Govardhana); (49) Gopala; (50) Sarva-palaka (one who protects everything and everyone); (51) Aja (without birth); (52) Niranjana (without blemish); (53) Kamajanaka [Kama’s (Pradyumna’s) father]; (54) Kanjalochana (with eyes like a lotus); (55) Madhuha (destroyer of Madhu); (56) Mathuranatha (lord of Mathura); (57) Dvarakanatha (lord of Dvaraka); (58) Bali (strong one); (59) Vrindavananta-sanchari (one who roams around in the outskirts of Vrindavana); (60) Tulasi-dama-bhushana [decorated with a garland of tulasi (the holy basil)]; (61) Syamantaka-manerharta (one who took away the Syamantaka jewel); (62) Nara- Narayanatmaka (with Nara and Narayana in his atman); (63) Kubjakrishtambara-dhara (one who was attracted by Kubja and wore her garments); (64) Mayi (possessor of maya); (65) Parama-purusha (supreme being); (66) Mushtikasura-Chanura-mallayuddha-visharada (skilled in wrestling with Mushtikasura and Chanura); (67) Samsara-vairi (enemy of samsara); (68) Kamsari (Kamsa’s enemy); (69) Murari (Mura’s enemy); (70) Narakantaka (destroyer of Naraka); (71) Anadi-brahmachari (a Brahmachari who has no beginning); (72) Krishnavyasana-karshaka [one who destroyed Krishnaa’s (Droupadi’s) hardships]; (73) Shishupala-shirashchetta (one who severed Shishupala’s head); (74) Duryodhana-kulantakrit (one who ended Duryodhana’s lineage); (75) Vidurakrura-varada (one who bestowed boons on Vidura and Akrura); (76) Vishvarupa-pradarshaka (one who revealed the universal form); (77) Satyavak (truthful in speech); (78) Satya-sankalpa (truthful in resolution); (79) Satyabhama-rata (devoted to Satyabhama); (80) Jayi (victorious one); (81) Subhadra-purvaja (Subhadra’s elder brother); (82) Vishnu (one who enters everywhere); (83) Bhishma-mukti-pradayaka (one who bestowed emancipation on Bhishma); (84) Jagadguru (guru of the universe); (85) Jagannatha (lord of the universe); (86) Venu-vadya-visharada (one skilled in playing the flute); (87) Vrishabhasura-vidhvamsi [one who destroyed Vrishabha (in the form of a bull) asura]; (88) Bakari (Baka’s enemy); (89) Bana-bahukrit (one who severed Bana’s arms); (90) Yudhishthira-pratishthata (one who established Yudhishthira); (91) Barhi-barhavatamsaka (adorned with peacock feathers); (92) Parthasarathi [Partha’s (Arjuna’s) charioteer]; (93) Avyakta (one who is not manifest); (94) Gitamrita-mahodadhi (the great ocean of amrita of Bhagavad Gita); (95) Kaliyaphani-manikya-ranjita shri-padambuja (one whose beautiful lotus feet are embellished by rubies from Kaliya’s hood); (96) Damodara (with a rope around the stomach); (97) Yajnabhokta (with a share in the sacrifice); (98) Danavendra-vinashana (destroyer of Indras among danavas); (99) Narayana (one whose resting place is the water); (100) Parama brahman (supreme Brahman); (101) Pannagashana-vahana [with the devourer of pannagas (Garuda) as a mount]; (102) Jalakrida-samasakta-gopi-vastrapaharaka (in the course of sporting in the water, the one who stole the garments of gopis); (103) Punyashloka (with great fame); (104) Tirthapada (one whose feet are a tirtha); (105) Vedavedya (one realised through the Vedas); (106) Dayanidhi (store of compassion); (107) Sarva-tirthatmaka (with all the tirthas in his atman); and (108) Sarva-graha-rupi (one who takes the form of all the planets).
Sanskrit chhanda (metre) is beautiful and it is impossible to capture its beauty in a translation. Most stotrams are beautiful and Krishna-premamrita stotram is no different. Most people probably know that every stotram has an associated chhanda and a rishi. I have already said that the chhanda for this stotram is anushtup, the most common chhanda in the Itihasa-Purana corpus. The rishi happens to be Ananta/Shesha naga. Most people know the main elements of the Parashurama story. I suspect that many may not know about Krishna-premamrita stotram, described in Brahmanda Purana, and about how it enabled Parashurama to achieve success. To quote Ananta, who initially told the earth about this, “In earlier times, after hearing the amrita of Gita, Vedavyasa, Krishna’s devotee, composed this stotram, which brings pleasure to Krishna. It is named Krishna-premamrita and it bestows supreme bliss. It destroys great calamities and miseries. It greatly enhances the life span. In a birth, one may undertake donations, vows, austerities and visiting tirthas. Hearing this, or reading it, bestows qualities that are crores and crores of times greater. It bestows sons on those who have no sons. It brings wealth to the poor and victory to those who desire victory. It bestows nourishment on children and families of cows. It enhances auspiciousness. For children, it pacifies children’s diseases and evil planets. It brings peace. At the end, it brings the memory of Krishna. One should use it for one’s own japa.”