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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Ananda Vrindavana Champu > 21 Stealing of Krishna Flute

Chapter Twenty-one

The Pastime of Stealing Krishna's Flute



After enjoying the rasa-lila in the autumn season, Krishna relishes the  pastimes of Holi and having His flute stolen which take place in the  spring season.

One night, Govinda and Rama (Balarama) went to the forest of Vrndavana to  enjoy the pastime of Holi (festival of throwing colors), which is enacted  either in the morning or evening. The skillful festival perfor­mance  exactly matched the local customs. The devatas were very enthusi­astic to  observe this celebration. Seeing the astonishing beauty of Krishna holding  His flute, and wearing a fresh garland, glittering garments and ornaments,  the gopis tied Him up in their hearts and sang His glories in charming  voices. Krishna and Balarama, and their dear cowherd boyfriends performed this  pastime amongst the splendid gopis of Vrndavana who are clever and  skillful at playing Holi. The two brothers, however, out of respect for  each other's moods of love, played separately with Their own groups of  gopis whose minds relished the association of their respective lovers.


Krishna and Balarama sang a special alapa in a raga with great devotion.  Their artistic vocalizing of the appropriate notes and embellishments  pro­duced waves of continuous joy. Under the influence of the Holi  festival, the land of Vrndavana, having revived its strength after the  long cold winter, looked beautiful and auspicious. To begin the festival,  the young ladies of Vrndavana, who are adorned with all wonderful  qualities, and whose bodies looked attractive smeared with natural  ointments, shyly held water in their hands and offered it to the land of  Vrndavana. The cowherd boys and their associates sang lovely songs in dvipadika and  carcari tala. Their traditional Vraja bhasa songs sounded as pleasing as  the smell of musk. The accompaniment oikaratalas and sweet mrdangas  enhanced the charming vibration of their bangles and ankle-bells. Krishna  and Balarama played in this way for a long time, and then wandered around  in the lonely forests, pleasant with rows of young trees. The only signs  of life in that deep forest were the maudlin cries of the peacocks  piercing the evening sky. The rays of the moon filtering through the  leaves of the trees painted the forest floor with beautiful colors.  Illumined by the moon­light of spring, the splendid forest atmosphere  easily aroused the sweet mellows of conjugal love.


Haladhara (Balarama, the holder of the plow) looked extraordinarily  elegant moving with His own group of young gopi consorts. One golden  earring enticingly danced on Balarama's cheek and His eyes rolled from  drinking varuni. With His dark blue caddar half falling off His camphor  white chest, Baladeva looked like the white moon breaking through the  darkness. For some time, Baladeva, who is a talented artist, danced to the  beat of songs in carcass and dvipadika. Appearing like the personification  of bliss, Balarama sang, laughed, and threw kunkuma powder on His be­loved  gopis, as if sprinkling the sindura of love on their foreheads. Backed by  the vina, Baladeva loudly sang a song in dvipadika. Then in a joking mood,  He threw colored powders on the restless-eyed gopis. Balarama mixed with  His many gopi group leaders and their companions in the same way that  Krishna enjoys with His gopis like Radhika, Lalita, Candravali, Syama, and  Bhadra.


Krishna meanwhile defeated the gopis' long-standing pride of their sing­ing  skill by playing sweetly but indistinctly on His flute. The gopis  re­sponded by surrounding Krishna and dousing Him with kunkuma while their  bangles jingled joyfully. While tolerating the showers of kunkuma, Hari  hung His head down submissively like the best of youthful, intoxicated  elephants, and continued playing His flute song in carcari tala. As Krishna playfully moved with heroic steps, He met with Balarama who  rambled about like an intoxicated elephant along with His own group of  enraptured young gopis. These gopis, who were completely attached to  Balarama, gazed at Him with tender eyes, conveying their affection for  their beloved consort. Lifting their bangle-laden arms, they sang  accord­ing to the beat and sometimes induced Balarama to sing along. While  their ankle-bells tinkled in time with the nimble movements of their feet,  the gopis danced beside their beloved Balarama, and threw kunkuma pow­der  on His body with great delight.


Understanding the hints from Krishna's glances, the cowherd boys bom­barded  the gopis with red, white and yellow scented powders. Balarama's gopis ran  away fearfully. Seeing their condition, Krishna smiled and mocked them by  playing merrily on His flute. Krishna's gopis laughed along in sweet tones.  While clapping their hands with a strong beat and bellowing "Ho! Ho! Hee!  Hee!" Krishna's friends filled the four directions with robust laugh­ter.

His anger and passion enflamed, Rohininandana, roaring like a wild young  bull elephant suddenly spurred to competition, chased Krishna's com­panions  to defeat them with a deluge of powders. Glancing forwards and backwards  like lions stalking prey, Krishna's girlfriends desired victory. But losing  their intelligence, they could not decide whether to attack or to retreat,  so they all ran away. When Krishna's gopa friends counter-attacked Baladeva,  He laughed as He squeezed them in His strong, snake-like arms and covered  them with colorful powders. In the pleasure of playing, Krishna's cowherd  boyfriends lost all sense of awe for Baladeva, as they shouted at Him with  contorted faces. Being very strong, they managed to get free from  Baladeva's grip. Gathering in a group, they fearlessly retaliated with a  volley of vermilion flower bombs. Though defeated, Baladeva remained  fearless.Krishna, bathing everyone in the glow of His soft, sweet smile,  said, "What you have done is not right. I do not like it. It is  ungentlemanly to gang up on My brother who is all alone." Hearing this,  all the boys calmed down.


Moved by the emotions of comedy, pride and anger, Baladeva's com­plexion  assumed a ruddy hue to appear like a diamond pillar embraced by red  lotuses. The majestic form of Balarama shone like a huge crystal bud  reflecting the red jaba flower, or like a proud pinnacle of ice touched by  the pink of early dawn. Baladeva looked as elegant as a mountain of white  lotuses covered by a forest of pink lotuses inhabited by cakravaka birds.  He looked like a full moon anointed with vermilion, glowing in the red  evening sunset. Seeing Him thus, Balarama's gopis surrounded Him and  amused Him with blissful singing and dancing as they wandered off  together. Meanwhile, Krishna's gopis, their hearts full of longing and drunk with the  potion of love, enhanced the festive atmosphere with various amo­rous  gestures indicating their conjugal desires. Conspiring together they  planned a theft. The gopis said, "How can we steal that flute, which is  like a snake scented with aguru, from Krishna's strong arms? What will Krishna  do without His flute? Is it a good idea to put our beloved into  depression? But when the flute is in Krishna's hand, it acts like a lance to  cleverly pierce our hearts with its sweet, enchanting melody. Therefore,  we must get that flute in our hands!"


Smiling surreptitiously, the lotus-eyed gopis continued whispering among  themselves, "We cannot take the flute in Krishna's presence. Nor does He  ever put it down. Even in a state of confusion, He does not let go of it.  Among these three possibilities, we must find some way to steal it. The  third possibility, taking it out of Krishna's hand when He is bewildered, is  the strongest."

In order to bewilder Krishna, one expert gopi met Radhika in a lonely place  and confided, "O fortunate Radha. If You really want to take Krishna's flute  under Your control, then put on a show of obstinacy for some time. The  impudence of Krishna's flute playing will flee, and the skill of our  sing­ing will become prominent."


After the gopis' secret talk, Krishna's close friend Kusumasava, though not  knowing their complete plan, boldly spoke to Krishna. Combining shrewdness  with the fragrance of the flowering creeper of frank talkative­ness,  Kusumasava said, "O friend! Listen! Though the gopis are very learned,  their singing cannot match Your ambrosial flute playing. So out of  jealousy, they are planning to steal Your flute. To prevent this You  should keep Your flute with me and sing in a loud voice. The gopis will  not be able to approach me because of the power of my brahminical  austeri­ties."Krishna replied, "O friend! We have fully witnessed the great  strength of the brahmanas in the pastimes of your spring festival. Without  a doubt, it seems that today you will show us the festival of protecting  the flute as well."


Kusumasava said, "O friend! I cannot protect the flute as much as that  person who has given You the ability to attract everyone by the special  power of his mantra. But one cannot see such a person in this world. So  what is the question of someone trying to take Your flute? Do not  mis­trust a dear friend like me."

Krishna said, "What will you do if the intensely frenzied gopis, due to  being overpowered by bliss, just snatch the flute from your hand? How will  you get it back?"


Kusumasava replied, "You will see the power I have gained from pen­ance."  Then taking the flute and tucking it under his arm, he said, "Please sing  a song."

In a voice conquering the sound of the vina, Krishna sang a song in carcari  tala with great artistry. The Yamuna stoppa^towing in her stunned  con­dition, the trees rained tears, and the birdJHn animals trembled in  ec­stasy. Hearing the song, the does felt blissHrand licked up the drops  of perspiration behind each other's ears. It seeined that the streams of  sweet­ness from Krishna's song entered the ear holes of the deer and then  oozed out due to finding insufficient space. The expertly composed raga  pleased the ear due to its precise srutis, jatis, and seven notes.

Kusumasava proudly boasted, "O how wonderful! My friend, I have never  heard such strong singing in the carcari tala in all my years! O arrogant  gopisl You cannot sing songs with alapa that give such happiness."

Sangita Vidya, a learned gopi musician, said, "O unintelligent one! If  Lalita, who is wearing a gorgeous silk sari, can sing better than Krishna,  then crooked-minded fellow you will lose the flute. Let the flute be the  wager."

Kusumasava said, "O learned one! Only I know the science of music! It is  difficult for an ordinary person to know, even if engaged in constant  meditation on the subject. According to my final judgement, I will  pro­claim the winner at the appropriate time. This will please the devatas  and be agreeable to all."

Sangita Vidya, said, "O learned brahmana boy! This is not simply chanting  the Vedas, which satisfies the Vedic scholars. Who are you to judge this?"

While smiling, Krishna continued singing and hinted with a glance.  Un­derstanding His intentions, Kusumasava said, "O vain woman! If you do  not agree that my knowledge of music is sufficient for judging, then we  should agree that the singing of both parties is equal. Let us see if your  singing, like Krishna's, can stun the Yamuna water, bring tears to the trees  and creepers, and make the birds and animals tremble in ecstasy. I am  certain that no one can sing as zestfully as my friend. Therefore we will  wager the flute! If you want to gamble over the singing, then to be fair,  you must offer Radha as a wager from your side."

Lalita said, "O stupid boy! A fool makes the whole world insipid! In all  gambling matches, the stakes must be of equal value. We can never equate  glass with gold!"

Kusumasava responded, "O worshipable one! Do you think that my dear  friend's flute is like glass, and that your friend is like gold?"

Lalita answered, "Is there any doubt? If you want equal stakes, then  without fear you should wager your friend."

Kusumasava said, "All right then, begin singing. Since I am totally pure  in heart, I will wager my friend."

Then Lalita, her throat reddened and her eyebrows dancing, gave up all  shyness to sing a gentle kedara raga with boldness and enthusiasm. Lalita  clearly enunciated a variety of gamakas (trills) spanning from lower to  higher octaves, ascending and descending. Using the full grandeur of the  gandharva scale, Lalita easily surpassed the expertise of the Gandharvas  and vanquished their pride. After feelingly singing the alapa (without  tala) in kedara raga, Lalita sang a song in a pleasing tempo according to  the conventions of musical taste in the maharastrian dialect.

Lalita sang, "The brightly shining moon of Syama, the nectarean disc  endowed with all arts, is expert at giving bliss to the lotuses, and in  agitat­ing the ocean oiprema. Krishna, the beloved of Vrndavana who wears a  crown of mango buds while fondly sporting in the spring, is partial to His  girlfriends."

With great pride, Kusumasava held his arms above his head and pranced  about while blurting out, "Hee! Hee! You are defeated! O, Lalita has been  defeated!" Unseen, Krishna's flute slipped from Kusumasava's arm­pit and  fell on the ground. Without anyone in the universe knowing, Sangita Vidya  quickly snatched it up and hid it. Overwhelmed with vanity, she did not  even tell her friends about it.

She spoke to talkative Kusumasava, "Listen, Why are you so happy over  something that never happened? You are prancing around like a mad­man.  Your friend with the fickle ankle-bells should consider who is the actual  winner!"

Kusumasava replied to Sangita Vidya, "O one respected by the learned!


According to me, your defeat is evident, for the wager was laid for  singing in carcari tala. Lalita sang only one little fragment in dvipadika  tala. O one with a happy face! Please consider, has she been defeated or  not?"

Hearing this, Lalita and Sangita Vidya broke out in laughter. Sangita  Vidya said, "O uncouth one! What is remarkable about carcari, dvipadi or  jambhalil The attraction is in the use of murchana, svara and grama.  Lalita's song displayed the epitome of sweetness. Indeed, just see! The  jewel basins under the trees have melted into water due to the strong  currents of her song. By its nature this water has spread out around the  bases of the trees and solidified as sitting platforms.

"It is true that from your friend's song the Yamuna looks divine, the  trees of Vrndavana become conscious, and the birds and animals seem fully  alive. But by our friend's song, they have all become petrified like hard  rock. Therefore we have won. Bring your friend and hand Him over to us!"

Subala-sakha said, "O Sangita Vidya! How is it that you have become  covered with foolishness like an ignorant person? With such intelligence  can you understand music? Did it not occur to you that it is impossible  for this boy to wager Krishna and give Him away? It is an accepted rule that  a person can wager only one who is His dependent. No one can wager and  give away the Lord."

Krishna said, "Kusumasava! Now you cannot command the respect of others! You  have been defeated by these girls, who are proud of their victory and mad  with the intoxicatior«mhe festival. You will fall into an inescapable  condition. Therefore yoHJld better give the flute. Other­wise, My flute  will go along with you arWway."

Kusumasava said, "O friend! But I have won! Showing Your strength, You  should snatch away their dear companion."

Lalita said, "Unabashed you are! Hard working ass! Dullard! We have  wagered on the song I sang and the song proclaims my victory."

Kusumasava said, "Friend! Greedy woman! If you speak in such an ar­rogant  way, then take the flute which I have hid." Saying this, He looked for the  flute but could not find it. "O friend! Out of fear, the flute has run  away from my arm pit to some safe garden with unbroken creepers." When he  said this everyone broke out smiling.


Killing Sankhacuda


Meanwhile, Balarama enjoyed throwing colors at His beloved gopis. At that  time, a foolish demon named Sankhacuda, a lowly Yaksa servant of Kuvera  with no sense of propriety, brazenly tried to rob the jewels of Balarama's  gopis. As if called by death, he leaped in front of them.

Sankhacuda resembled a man delirious from the hot sun, leaping from a tall  tree into the mirage of an oasis of cooling water produced by the rays of  the sun. He appeared like a foolish grasshopper jumping into a fire while  thinking it to be the effulgence of a forest of succulent herbs. He  resembled a frog leaping at a snake in order to grab the jewel on his  hood, or an antelope approaching a lion with the idea that his shining  mane is a field of ripe grains.

With a crest jewel firmly fastened to his turban, Sankhacuda raised his  arms and frightened the girls. Trembling like deer seeing a powerful wolf,  the gopis cried out, "O Balarama! Krishna! Please protect us!" Before  Balarama heard those painful cries, Krishna quickly stopped His Holi  pas­times and instantly went there. The Yaksa fled in haste, but Krishna ran  after him so quickly that His feet did not appear to touch the ground.  Balarama, angry at the disturbance, also ran after him. Seeing heroic  Krishna and Balarama in hot pursuit, the rascal hurled the dirtiest insults  and discarded the jewels. Filled with anxiety, Sankhacuda rapidly fled for  his life as if mounted on an airplane. Displaying intense anger, the demon  roared while running away, and then he started shaking from exhaustion.

As Krishna chased the demon wherever he went, He looked like the king of  lions running down a regal elephant, or Garuda chasing a snake, or like a  hawk pursuing a crow. That best of all men, who happily pleases His  surrendered servants, grabbed the Yaksa by his hair. Though Krishna's hand  is as soft as a lotus, it becomes as hard as the back of a tortoise when  He makes a fist. Using His fist, Krishna removed the wicked demon's head  along with his crest jewel. It was a high quality effulgent gem of fine  work­manship, pleasing to look at, and famous for its beauty. Feeling  excessive delight, Krishna gave the jewel to His elder brother as His  consorts looked on.


Krishna Searches the Gopis for His Flute


In a playful mood, Krishna met again with His beloved gopas and gopis, who  are expert at singing proper scales, notes, and fading notes. Krishna  celebrated His eternal pastimes with these eternal associates, the  per­sonified touchstones of all the pleasure arts. Krishna's meeting them  re­sembled a sputtering wick regaining its bright flame by adding a new  sup­ply of oil, like a dried up pond filling with water during the monsoon  season, or like a dilapidated palace restored by repairs. Pretending to search for the flute, Krishna made false accusations while  approaching different gopis. Accosting one gopi, Krishna said, "You are the  thief." Going to another, He said, "You are the thief. You are the one who  has stolen My precious flute." Coming up to Candravali's assistants,whose  hearts melted with love, Krishna rudely ripped open their bodices to search  for the flute. They responded by scolding Him with frowning faces and  charming smiles.


The gopis said, "O associate of Kusumasava! Such bad conduct is just what  we expect of You! How could the flute slip from Your hand and hide in our  bodices? If we have stolen Your attractive flute, then You may punish us  severely. But if it is not true, then we will take Your necklaces and  kaustubha jewel as a wager."With great pride, Candravali said, "O arrogant  fellow, who gives pain to women! Kusumasava has forcibly taken that flute,  which we wanted to steal, from your hand. Don't You remember?"

Kusumasava said, "When you say 'the flute we wanted to steal' you show  your intention to steal it. What proof have you that I forcibly took the  flute?"

Candravali replied, "All the witnesses are here."

Kusumasava retorted, "They are all my enemies."

Candravali said, "Your friend there is also a witness."

Kusumasava said, "That cannot be true. Then why did my pure-minded friend  open your clothing to look for it? Therefore, it is certain that you  ladies have stolen this best of flutes. Your statements have proven to be  downright lies."

After speaking like this, Kusumasava, who is clever, fearless, and  effulgent, again spoke to Krishna, "Sangita Vidya, the goddess of music, has  stolen Your flute, not these gopis." Hearing this, the clever Sangita  Vidya became afraid and with a graceful gait went to see Lalita. With a  sly glance, she passed the flute to Lalita without anyone's noticing.


Seeing Sangita Vidya's gestures and movements, Kusumasava said hotly,  "Friend! This Sangita Vidya has really stolen the companion of Your hand,  the flute. She definitely took it! When we jokingly mentioned her name,  intending it to mean the presiding goddess of musical knowledge, she took  it as meaning herself, and thus felt fearful. That is the sign of the  thief."

Hearing this, Sangita Vidya stepped forward while Lalita hid the flute  behind her back. With an astonishing smile Sangita Vidya said, "O little  boy! What is this? You are a big pit of deceit. How could I ever steal the  flute while playing in the Holi festival? You are heartless. What use have  I in stealing the flute? If you accuse people of lying, please understand  that you are committing a serious sin. You talk too much! You are the  incarnation of injustice. It is not necessary to speak such false words.  So go away! Today I have been merciful and spared you from punishment!"

Everyone broke out in mild smiles upon hearing her words. Krishna, smil­ing  all the while, derived more pleasure from boldly attacking the gopis

while searching the flute than from His intimate pastimes with them.  Sur­rounded by the gopis, who could not be submissive because of their  innate bold natures, Krishna, wearing forest flower garlands, finally  stopped the search.

Disregarding Lalita's show of pride that always manifests newer and newer  features, Krishna touched her with His lotus hand. Lalita, a master in all  arts, secretly slipped the flute into the hand of the daughter of  Vrsabhanu. Then devoid of fear she spoke without hesitation.

Lalita said, "O killer of Agha! Though I am innocent, You insist on  touching me, due to being mad with the pride of love. I will stop this  display of impudence born of Your pride. I am not lying. I do not have  Your flute." Saying this, Lalita opened her bodice to prove it. Showing  her brilliant white teeth as she smiled, Lalita continued, "O one under  the spell pride and lust! Please remember that when You ran after  Sankhacuda, possibly Your flute fell to the ground. Your attempts to  cor­ner me have proven fruitless."

Kusumasava said, "O friend! The thief must be Radha!"

Krishna replied, "Intelligent one! It must be as you say. Radha has the  flute so I will search Her!"

Just when the crest jewel of witty behavior started to search Radha, a  dear girl friend of Balarama happily presented the Sankhacuda crest jewel  to Radha, saying, "O Radha, endowed with all qualities! Listen to me.  Balarama is offering this jewel to You, so please accept it." The  incred­ible effulgence of Sankhacuda's crest jewel lit up the heavenly  planets. It brought more happiness than the eight mystic siddhis.

As Radha gladly extended Her hand to accept the jewel, Her bodice  slackened and the flute fell on the ground. Kusumasava's face lit up. He  slapped his armpits, twisted his neck, stepped in a crooked manner,  con­torted his body, clapped his hands, and laughed in a raucous voice.  Sur­rounded by His laughing, boisterous friends, Krishna smiled and  ridiculed Lalita.

Krishna said, "O Lalilta! Unrepentant one! You have spoken truthfully. While  running after that demon, My flute, seeing our preoccupation with the  jewel of Sankhacuda, felt neglected and fell on the ground. Now, see­ing  Radha's preoccupation with the same jewel, My flute has again be­come  angry and fallen on the ground."

Kusumasava said, "Such intelligence of Brhaspati cannot be found in anyone  of Your age. It is not astonishing that Radha, whose perfect, fault­less,  and auspicious form takes away my friend's intelligence, has also stolen  His enchanting flute whose form is inauspicious and full of holes. But  Krishna, the amazing thing is that You saw that I had taken the flute from  You, so how did they get it? O friend, with the hue of a tamala tree,now  please take Your celebrated flute."Damodara, rejoicing with pleasure, took  the flute and played it sweetly. And as the beautiful gopis displayed  various symptoms of ecstatic bliss the festival came to a close.