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Chapter Five: Meeting of Nanda and Vasudeva
from the book Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad
Although Krishna was the real son of Vasudeva and Devaki, because of Kamsa's atrocious activities Vasudeva could not enjoy the birth ceremony of his son. But Nanda Maharaja, the foster father, celebrated the birth ceremony of Krishna very joyfully. The next day, it was declared that a male child was born of Yasoda. According to Vedic custom, Nanda Maharaja called for learned astrologers and brahmanas to perform the birth ceremony. After the birth of a child, the astrologers calculate the moment of the birth and make a horoscope of the child's future life. Another ceremony takes place after the birth of the child: the family members take baths, cleanse themselves and decorate themselves with ornaments and garlands; then they come before the child and the astrologer to hear of the future life of the child. Nanda Maharaja and other members of the family dressed and sat down in front of the birthplace. All the brahmanas who were assembled there on this occasion chanted auspicious mantras, according to the rituals, while the astrologers performed the birth ceremony. All the demigods are also worshiped on this occasion, as well as the forefathers of the family. Nanda Maharaja distributed 200,000 well decorated, dressed and ornamented cows to the brahmanas. He not only gave cows in charity, but hills of grains, decorated with golden-bordered garments and many ornaments.
In the material world we possess riches and wealth in many ways, but sometimes not in very honest and pious ways, because that is the nature of accumulating wealth. According to Vedic injunction, therefore, such wealth should be purified by giving cows and gold in charity to the brahmanas. A newborn child is also purified by giving grains in charity to the brahmanas. In this material world it is to be understood that we are always living in a contaminated state. We therefore have to purify the duration of our lives, our possession of wealth and ourselves. The duration of life is purified by taking daily bath and cleansing the body inside and outside and accepting the ten kinds of purificatory processes. By austerities, by worship of the Lord, and by distribution of charity, we can purify the possession of wealth. We can purify ourselves by studying the Vedas, by striving for self-realization and by understanding the Supreme Absolute Truth. It is therefore stated in the Vedic literature that by birth everyone is born a sudra, and by accepting the purificatory process one becomes twice-born. By studies of the Vedas one can become vipra, which is the preliminary qualification for becoming a brahmana. When one understands the Absolute Truth in perfection, he is called a brahmana. And when the brahmana reaches further perfection, he becomes a Vaishnava or a devotee.
In that ceremony, all the brahmanas assembled began to chant different kinds of Vedic mantras to invoke all good fortune for the child. There are different kinds of chanting known as suta, magadha, vandi and virudavali. Along with this chanting of mantras and songs, bugles and kettledrums sounded outside the house. On this occasion, the joyous vibrations could be heard in all the pasturing grounds and all the houses. Within and outside of the houses there were varieties of artistic paintings, done with rice pulp, and scented water was sprinkled everywhere, even on the roads and streets. Ceilings and roofs were decorated with different kinds of flags, festoons and green leaves. The gates were made of green leaves and flowers. All the cows, bulls and calves were smeared with a mixture of oil and turmeric and painted with minerals like red oxide, yellow clay and manganese. They wore garlands of peacock feathers and were covered with nice colored dresses and gold necklaces.
When all the ecstatic cowherd men heard that Nanda Maharaja, father of Krishna, was celebrating the birth ceremony of his son, they became spontaneously joyful. They dressed themselves with very costly garments and ornamented their bodies with different kinds of earrings and necklaces and wore great turbans on their heads. After dressing themselves in this gorgeous way, they took various kinds of presentations and thus approached the house of Nanda Maharaja.
As soon as they heard that mother Yasoda had given birth to a child, all the cowherd women became overwhelmed with joy, and they also dressed themselves with various kinds of costly garments and ornaments and smeared scented cosmetics on their bodies.
As the dust on the lotus flower exhibits the exquisite beauty of the flower, all the gopis (cowherd girls) applied the dust of kunkuma on their lotus-like faces. These beautiful gopis took their different presentations and very soon reached the house of Maharaja Nanda. Overburdened with their heavy hips and swollen breasts, the gopis could not proceed very quickly towards the house of Nanda Maharaja, but out of ecstatic love for Krishna they began to proceeded as quickly as possible. Their ears were decorated with pearl rings, their necks were decorated with jewel padlocks, their lips and eyes were decorated with different kinds of lipstick and ointment, and their hands were decorated with nice golden bangles. As they were very hastily passing over the stone road, the flower garlands which were decorating their bodies fell to the ground, and it appeared that a shower of flowers was falling from the sky. From the movement of the different kinds of ornaments on their bodies, they were looking still more beautiful. In this way, they all reached the house of Nanda-Yasoda and blessed the child: "Dear child, You live long just to protect us." While they were blessing child Krishna in this way, they offered a mixture of turmeric powder with oil, yogurt, milk and water. They not only sprinkled this mixture on the body of child Krishna but on all other persons who were present there. Also on that auspicious occasion, there were different bands of expert musicians playing.
When the cowherd men saw the pastimes of the cowherd women, they became very joyful, and in response they also began to throw yogurt, milk, clarified butter and water upon the bodies of the gopis. Then both parties began to throw butter on each other's bodies. Nanda Maharaja was also very happy to see the pastimes of the cowherd men and women, and he became very liberal in giving charity to the different singers who were assembled there. Some singers were reciting great verses from the Upanisads and Puranas, some were glorifying the family ancestors, and some were singing very sweet songs. There were also many learned brahmanas present, and Nanda Maharaja, being very satisfied on this occasion, began to give them different kinds of garments, ornaments, and cows in charity.
It is very important to note in this connection how wealthy the inhabitants of Vrndavana were simply by raising cows. All the cowherd men belonged to the vaisya community, and their business was to protect the cows and cultivate crops. By their dress and ornaments and by their behavior, it appears that although they were in a small village, they still were rich in material possessions. They possessed such an abundance of various kinds of milk products that they were throwing butter lavishly on each other's bodies without restriction. Their wealth was in milk, yogurt, clarified butter and many other milk products, and by trading their agricultural products, they were rich in various kinds of jewelry, ornaments and costly dresses. Not only did they possess all these things, but they could give them away in charity, as did Nanda Maharaja.
Thus Nanda Maharaja, the foster father of Lord Krishna, began to satisfy the desires of all the men assembled there. He respectfully received them and gave them in charity whatever they desired. The learned brahmanas, who had no other source of income, were completely dependent on the vaisya and ksatriya communities for their maintenance, and they received gifts on such festive occasions as birthdays, marriages, etc. While Nanda Maharaja was worshiping Lord Vishnu on this occasion and was trying to satisfy all the people there, his only desire was that the newborn child Krishna would be happy. Nanda Maharaja had no knowledge that this child was the origin of Vishnu, but he was praying to Lord Vishnu to protect Him.
Rohinidevi, mother of Balarama, was the most fortunate wife of Vasudeva. She was away from her husband, yet just to congratulate Maharaja Nanda on the occasion of the birth ceremony of his son, Krishna, she dressed herself very nicely. Wearing a garland, a necklace and other bodily ornaments, she appeared on the scene and moved hither and thither. According to the Vedic system, a woman whose husband is not at home does not dress herself very nicely. But although Rohini's husband was away, she still dressed herself on this occasion.
From the opulence of the birth ceremony of Krishna, it is very clear that at that time Vrndavana was rich in every respect. Because Lord Krishna took birth in the house of King Nanda and mother Yasoda, the goddess of fortune was obliged to manifest her opulences in Vrndavana. It appeared that Vrndavana had already become a site for the pastimes of the goddess of fortune.