Unicorns

Modern culture relegates unicorns to rainbows and ponies for little girls but the true nature of this creature is much more dignified. First of all, even Srila Prabhupada admitted that among all the animals horses are the most beautiful, and unicorns are, essentially, horses, which means it’s the most beautiful animal in the world, which is not a cheap claim to make. If one watches horses closely one becomes mesmerized by the perfection of their bodies – curves, proportions, musculature, grace, manes and tails, and wonderful shades of their coats, too. Everything about them is beautiful and beauty is one of the automatically attractive qualities.

Unicorns are also exceptionally pure. In European lore they can be attracted only by virgin girls, which means they do not tolerate any kind of lust. They simply can’t be in the presence of such impurity. Unicorns can’t be harnessed – they are not meant for pulling stuff or for carrying people – they are not service animals. There are medieval stories of hunting the unicorns but even in those tales the unicorns would accept only a golden bridle and nothing else could hold them.

When they walk they don’t leave hoofprints, like demigods.

So the question arises – what these animals are for? What’s the purpose of their existence? The answer is that they chase moving stars. They don’t look at the world, it doesn’t interest them. What are the moving stars, however? Stars in our skies are stationary, after all. The answer is that it’s because of our condemned conditioning. We don’t see moving stars and so we don’t see unicorns either. Moving stars are like Lord Caitanya’s dancing. It’s not necessarily in the sky, it’s His magical movement through the world, the rhythm of awakening of everybody’s consciousness. One step forward, two steps back, a jump here, a leap there, pirouettes, sidesteps, little taps, raising hands, swaying arms – all kinds of mysterious and mesmerizing movements and the only thing you know is that at the end the universe becomes more and more aware of God’s presence, or at least devotees do.

This is what makes unicorns similar – they are not beings of this world, they do not leave karmic footprints, they are exceptionally pure and they do not tolerate nonsense, and they cannot be engaged in the service of mundanity. They are also exceptionally rare. Their hearts are fixed in the Lord and their eyes follow mysterious movements invisible to anyone else. Their prasadam is also extremely potent and extremely purifying, if one ever gets lucky enough to receive it with proper attitude. The best time to see them is in the still hours before sunrise when the whole world is asleep but they are deeply in the union with God. “What is night for all beings…” and all that.

Now to the question of why I talk about unicorns in all seriousness? The answer is that unicorns come from India. I don’t know what they are called in Sanskrit but some say they are mentioned in Atharvaveda and Mahabharata. I can’t verify this claim but I will say that unicorn is one of the most common image on artifacts from ancient Indiian civilizations. Here are two seals from Calcutta museum to confirm:

This doesn’t make my narration factually true but it is undeniably true if we reflect on the qualities that make people into devotees – purity, rarity, all-auspiciousness, detachment from the world etc. More importantly – the focus on unseen movements of Lord Caitanya’s divine will. Unseen with mundane eyes, that is, but seen within the hearts of His devotees.

Just yesterday I was listening to some Srila Prabhupada’s memory and somebody was telling how in Prabhupada’s last days, when they had kirtans in his room, he swears there were far more voices heard in the chorus than the devotees present. The point is that Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement (movement!) has a lot of otherwise unseen witnesses. I bet unicorns can see it.

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