I was reading the Damodarastakam along with it’s English translation. If you have not heard or read this as yet, please do so. It’s a wonderful literary piece and it will have you experiencing surges of devotion.
This is the second verse:
rudantam muhur netra-yugmam mrjantam
sthita-graivam damodaram bhakti-baddham
Captured by Yashoda, crying repeatedly,
he rubs his reddish eyes with his trembling hands.
On his conchlike neck his necklace shakes as he pants.
I bow down to Damodara, bound but by bhakti
The last line had me raising my hand in the air, with nothing but “Haribol! Hari Hari!” coming out of my mouth. It is such a simple line, yet filled with layers of love. Krishna is the Lord of the Universe. He is Jagganath (Jaggat-Naath) and everything is under His control. “Not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the Lord.” But here He is, bound by our bhakti. He, who can shatter the earth with a glance, agrees to be bound by our bhakti, the way He agreed to be bound by the ropes of Mother Yashoda. Krishna likes to be the servant of His servants. This is contrary to what many believe about service – many of us believe that it is us who do the serving and God just sits there, watching us, enjoying… But we fail to see the other side – we fail to see that Krishna likes to serve His devotees and He gets great joy out of catering to their every need. That’s one of the reasons why it is often emphasized to serve the devotees of the Lord. When we serve the Lord’s devotees, the Lord is extremely pleased. When I think of serving, I remember this verse from the bhajan, “Bhaja Hu Re Mana”:
śīta ātapa bāta bariṣaṇa
e dina jāminī jāgi re
biphale sevinu kṛpaṇa durajana
capala sukha-laba lāgi’ re
Both in the day and at night I remain sleepless,
suffering the pains of the heat and cold, the wind and the rain.
For a fraction of flickering happiness I have uselessly served wicked and miserly men.
By serving devotees, we benefit greatly. We please Krishna, we get the mercy and blessings of devotees, and we also gain a lot of knowledge. Like the verse above says, we often serve people who treat us badly, for a “fraction of flickering happiness.” Instead, we should serve the Lord, who is our only shelter. We should rather serve devotees, who can share something of real value – bhakti, the love of God – with us and teach us how to be happy forever, in True Eternal Love.
śravaṇa, kīrtana, smaraṇa, vandana,
pāda-sevana, dāsya re
pūjana, sakhī-jana, ātma-nivedana
To be engaged in the nine processes of bhakti, namely hearing the glories of Lord Hari and chanting those glories, constantly remembering Him and offering prayers to Him, serving the Lord’s lotus feet, serving the Supreme Lord as a servant, worshiping Him with flowers and incense and so forth, serving Him as a friend, and completely offering the Lord one’s very self are the desires and longing of Govinda Dasa [the writer of this bhajan]