The perpetual challenges of living together.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

A poet once jokingly wrote this verse:

eka bharya prakrti-mukhara chanchala cha dvitiya
putro ’py eko bhuvana-vijayi manmatho durnivarah
sesah sayya vasati-jaladhau vahanam pannagarih
smaram smaram svagrha-charitam darubhuto murarih

Narayan has two wives: Saraswati and Laksmi. Saraswati is by nature very talkative; she is always talking and talking, and running, and dancing, and singing, and talking some more. Narayan cannot control her. Chanchala cha dvitiya: His second wife, Laksmi, is very chanchal, fickle-minded. Today she is here, tomorrow she is there, and the next day somewhere else. She never stays in the same place for long; she is always moving about. Seeing this, Narayan becomes very upset.

Putro ’py eko bhuvana-vijayi manmatho durnivarah: Narayan has one son, Kamadev (Cupid). He is always in a fighting mood. He constantly runs after every soul and fights with them. Everyone is attracted by his arrows, and in this way he has made a massacre all over the world. Even Krishna cannot control the boy; Krishna Himself also has thousands and thousands of wives running after Him because of the influence of His son Kama.

Sesah sayya vasati-jaladhau: Narayan lies down on His bed, who is the snake Anantadev, in the middle of the ocean. He has no proper place to stay actually. And not only that, His carrier, Garuda, is always looking at the snake Anantadev and thinking, “When Narayan goes out, I will catch him!”

This is the family history of Narayan. He lives in the middle of the ocean on top of a snake with His wives and carrier, who are always creating problems. He has no peace. Considering all this, Narayan became Jagannath: His legs disappeared, His hands went inside His body, His face transformed, and His hair fell out. Constantly thinking of the condition of His family life, Narayan became Jagannath.


Spoken on 18 March 1991.


eka bharya prakrti-mukhara chanchala cha dvitiya
putro ’py eko bhuvana-vijayi manmatho durnivarah
sesah sayya vasati jaladhau vahanam pannagarih
smaram smaram svagrha-charitam darubhuto murarih

“His first wife is garrulous and the second is fickle.
His only son, Cupid, is irresistible and has conquered the world.
Ananta Sesa is His bed, the ocean is His residence, and Garuda is His carrier.
Mulling over the affairs in His household, Narayan became petrified!”

“Narayan’s first wife (eka bharya), Saraswati, the goddess of the arts, is naturally expressive and boisterous (prakrti-mukhara). His second wife (dvitiya), Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, is naturally fickle-minded (chanchala) and proud. The Lord’s son (putro ’py eko), Cupid (manmatho), the god of attraction, relentlessly attacks everyone (durnivarah bhuvana-vijayi), including the Lord Himself. Ananta Sesa (Sesah), a thousand-headed serpent, serves as the Lord’s bed (sayya). The Lord resides in the middle of the ocean (vasati-jaladau) on which Ananta Sesa floats. The Lord’s carrier (vahanam), Garuda, whom He rides when He goes out, is an eagle that lives on snakes (pannagarhih). Agitated by (smaram smaram) the natural conflicts and inconveniences (charitam) in His household (svagrha), Lord Narayan (Murarih) assumed the wooden form of Jagannath (darubhuto)!”

There a similar verse of ninda-stuti (praise in the form of criticism) about Lord Siva:

attum vanchhati vahanam ganapater akhum ksudharttah phani
tan cha krauncharipos sikhi cha girija-simho ’pi nagananam
gauri jahnu-sutam asuyati kalanatham lalatanalo
nirvinnah sa papau kutumba-kalahad iso ’pi halahalam

“His snake, stricken with hunger, tries to eat Ganesa’s mouse.
Kartikeya’s peacock tries to eat the snake, and Gauri’s lion tries to eat Ganesa himself.
Gauri envies Ganga, and the fire on his forehead envies the moon.
Disturbed by household quarrel, Lord Siva drank poison!”

“The snake (phani) on his shoulders, stricken with hunger (ksudharttah), tries (vanchhati) to eat (attum) Ganesa’s (Ganapater) mouse (akhum) carrier (vahanam). Kartikeya’s (krauncharipos) peacock (sikhi) tries to eat the snake (tan), and (cha) Gauri’s lion (girija-simho) tries to eat Ganesa himself, as he has the face of an elephant (nagananam). His wife Gauri (Gauri) envies (asuyati) Ganga (Jahnu-sutam), who Siva carries on his head, and the fire on Siva’s forehead (lalatanalo) envies (asuyati) the moon he wears on his crown (kalanatham). Disturbed (nirvinnah) by household quarrel (kutumba-kalahad), Lord Siva (sa iso) drank (papau) the poison produced by the churning of the ocean (halahalam)!”