Troublesome Family Life

Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj muses on the perpetual challenges of living together.

A poet once jokingly wrote this verse:

ekā bhāryā prakṛti-mukharā chañchalā cha dvitīyā
putro ’py eko bhuvana-vijayī manmatho durnivāraḥ
śeṣaḥ śayyā vasati-jaladhau vāhanaṁ pannagāriḥ
smāraṁ smāraṁ svagṛha-charitaṁ dārubhūto murāriḥ

Nārāyaṇ has two wives: Saraswatī and Lakṣmī. Saraswatī is by nature very talkative; she is always talking and talking, and running, and dancing, and singing, and talking some more. Nārāyaṇ cannot control her. Chañchalā cha dvitīyā: His second wife, Lakṣmī is very chañchal, 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, Nārāyaṇ becomes very upset.

Putro ’py eko bhuvana-vijayī manmatho durnivāraḥ: Nārāyaṇ has one son, Kāmadev (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 Kṛṣṇa cannot control the boy; Kṛṣṇa Himself also has thousands and thousands of wives running after Him because of the influence of His son Kāma.

Śeṣaḥ śayyā vasati-jaladhau: Nārāyaṇ 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, Garuḍa, is always looking at the snake Anantadev and thinking, “When Nārāyaṇ goes out, I will catch him!”

This is the family history of Nārāyaṇ. 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 of this, Nārāyaṇ became Jagannāth: 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, Nārāyaṇ became Jagannāth.


Spoken on 18 March 1991.


ekā bhāryā prakṛti-mukharā chañchalā cha dvitīyā
putro ’py eko bhuvana-vijayī manmatho durnivāraḥ
śeṣaḥ śayyā vasati jaladhau vāhanaṁ pannagāriḥ
smāraṁ smāraṁ svagṛha-charitaṁ dārubhūto murāriḥ

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

Nārāyaṇ’s first wife (ekā bhāryā), Saraswatī, the goddess of the arts, is naturally expressive and boisterous (prakṛti-mukharā). His second wife (dvitīyā), Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, is naturally fickle-minded (chañchalā) and proud. The Lord’s son (putro ’py eko), Cupid (manmatho), the god of attraction, relentlessly attacks everyone (durnivāraḥ bhuvana-vijayī), including the Lord Himself. Ananta Śeṣa (Śeṣaḥ), a thousand-headed serpent, serves as the Lord’s bed (śayyā). The Lord resides in the middle of the ocean (vasati-jaladau) on which Ananta Śeṣa floats. The Lord’s carrier (vāhanaṁ), Garuḍa, whom He rides when He goes out, is an eagle that lives on snakes (pannagārhiḥ). Agitated by (smāraṁ smāraṁ) the natural conflicts and inconveniences (charitaṁ) in His household (svagṛha), Lord Nārāyaṇ (Murāriḥ) assumed the wooden form of Jagannāth (dārubhūto)!”

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

attuṁ vāñchhati vāhanaṁ gaṇapater ākhuṁ kṣudhārttaḥ phaṇī
tañ cha krauñcharipoś śikhī cha girijā-siṁho ’pi nāgānanam
gaurī jahnu-sutām asūyati kalānāthaṁ lalāṭānalo
nirviṇṇaḥ sa papau kuṭumba-kalahād īśo ’pi hālāhalam

His snake, stricken with hunger, tries to eat Gaṇeś’s mouse.
Kartikeya’s peacock tries to eat the snake, and Gaurī’s lion tries to eat Gaṇeś himself.
Gaurī envies Gaṅgā, and the fire on his forehead envies the moon.
Disturbed by household quarrel, Lord Śiva drank poison!”

The snake (phaṇī) on his shoulders, stricken with hunger (kṣudhārttaḥ), tries (vañchhati) to eat (attuṁ) Gaṇeś’s (Gaṇapater) mouse (ākhum)  carrier (vāhanaṁ). Kartikeya’s (krauñcharipoś) peacock (śikhī) tries to eat the snake (tañ), and (cha) Gaurī’s lion (girijā-siṁho) tries to eat Gaṇeś himself, as he has the face of an elephant (nāgānanam). His wife Gaurī (Gaurī) envies (asūyati) Gaṅgā (Jahnu-sutām), who Śiva carries on his head, and the fire on Śiva’s forehead (lalāṭānalo) envies (asūyati) the moon he wears on his crown (kalānāthaṁ). Disturbed (nirviṇṇaḥ) by household quarrel (kuṭumba-kalahād), Lord Śiva (sa īśo) drank (papau) the poison produced by the churning of the ocean (hālāhalam)!”