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Krishna’s childhood pastimes.
When Nanda Maharaja and all of the cowherd men heard the crashing sound of the falling yamala-arjuna trees, they rushed to the spot, fearing thunderbolts. When they saw the fallen trees, the cowherd men were bewildered, for they could not see any cause for this. They simply saw Krishna bound to the mortar, dragging it along the ground.
Some of the boys then said, “It is Krishna who has done this. When He went between the two trees, the mortar became stuck, and then when He pulled it, the trees fell. After that, two beautiful men came out of the trees. We saw this with our own eyes.”
Due to parental affection, the cowherd men, headed by Nanda Maharaja, could not believe this. Some were doubtful, however, thinking, “Since it was predicted that Krishna would become equal to Narayana, it might have been Him that did this.”
While smiling, Nanda Maharaja went and untied Krishna. (He was thinking, “Krishna binds the conditioned souls to fruitive activities, and He binds us with parental affection.”)
The gopis used to tell Krishna, “If You dance, then I shall give You half of a sweet.” Saying this and clapping their hands, the gopis encouraged Krishna in various ways. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna would smile and then dance according to their desire, as if He were a wooden doll in their hands. Sometimes He would sing, at their urging, and in this way, He came completely under the control of the gopis.
Sometimes, Mother Yashoda and the other gopis would tell Krishna to bring them a wooden plank, wooden shoes, or a wooden measuring pot. Being so ordered, Krishna would try to bring them. Sometimes, these things were too heavy, however, and so He would just touch them and stand there. Sometimes, for the pleasure of the gopis, He would strike His body with His arms, just to show that He had sufficient strength. While showing how subservient He can be to His devotees, Krishna gave great pleasure to the Vrajavasis by His childhood activities.
One day, a woman selling fruit called out, “If anyone wants to purchase some fruit, come here!” Upon hearing this, Krishna took some grains in His hands and went to barter with the fruit vendor. But as Krishna hastily went, most of the grains fell from his hands, through His fingers. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna’s hands with fruit, and as a result of this devotional service, her basket immediately became filled with jewels and gold.
One should try to give something to Krishna, for that will be for his own benefit. The example given is that if one’s face is decorated, then the reflection of one’s face in a mirror will automatically become decorated.
One day, mother Yashoda sent Rohinidevi to call Krishna and Balarama for lunch. Krishna and Balarama had gone to the riverside to play with Their friends, and being so absorbed in Their play, They did not return home, in spite of Rohini’s calling Them.
Rohini then sent Yashoda to call the boys, because her affection for Them was greater. It was already late, and as Mother Yashoda called Krishna and Balarama, milk flowed from her breasts due to her ecstatic love.
Mother Yashoda called, “My dear son Krishna, come here and drink my breast-milk. My dear darling, You must be very tired and hungry, for You have played for such a long time. You have played enough, so please come now. My dear Baladeva, please come now, along with Your brother, for Nanda Maharaja is waiting for You to come before He will eat.”
After hearing this, Krishna and Balarama started to return home. At this, Their companions became very disappointed, and so they taunted, “Oh, You are leaving us when our play has reached its peak? If You don’t come back here and continue playing, they we will never allow You to play with us again!”
When They heard this, Krishna and Balarama became afraid, and so They resumed playing with their friends.
Seeing this, Mother Yashoda went and scolded, “My dear Krishna, are You a street boy that has no home? Today, the moon is in conjunction with the auspicious star of Your birth. Because of playing all day, Your body is covered with dust and sand, and so You must come home now and have a bath. Today is Your birthday and so You must give some cows in charity to the brahmanas. The other boys have already bathed and have been beautifully dressed and decorated with ornaments by their mothers. After You have bathed and eaten Your lunch, You can play with Your friends once again.”
In this way, Mother Yashoda took Krishna by the hand, and along with Balarama she brought Them home, where she performed her daily duties of bathing Them, feeding Them, and dressing Them.
Once, all of the cowherd men, headed by Nanda Maharaja, assembled for the purpose of dealing with the continuous disturbances that plagued them at Mahavana. At this meeting, Upananda spoke, for he was not only Nanda Maharaja’s elder brother, but he was also very wise and experienced in considering things according to time, place and circumstance.
Upananda said, “My dear friends, for our welfare, we should leave Gokula because so many attempts are made to kill Krishna and Balarama. Somehow, by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, Krishna was rescued each and every time. Before another demon comes here and gives trouble, let us move to a place which is free from disturbances.”
“Between Nandishvara and Mahavana is a place named Vrindavana. It is very suitable because it has much grass for the cows and other animals. It has nice gardens and hills, and is full of facilities, for all of our cows and us. There is no need to wait. If you all agree, then, placing the bullock carts and cows in front, let us depart” (Previously, the cowherd men had shifted from Gokula to Mahavana).
The cowherd men unanimously agreed, thinking this to be a very nice proposal. They immediately went and packed all of their household paraphernalia, and loaded everything onto carts. Putting all the old men, women, children and goods on the bullock carts, and keeping the cows in front, the cowherd men picked up their bows and arrows, sounded their bugles made of horn, and began their journey, accompanied by the brahmanas.
The gopis were dressed very gorgeously and their bodies were decorated with kunkum powder. As they went, they chanted the pastimes of Krishna with great pleasure. Mother Yashoda, along with Rohini, rode in the same cart with Krishna and Balarama, so that they would not be separated from Them for even a moment. Sitting all together, they looked very beautiful.
When they came to Vrindavana, where it is pleasing to live in all seasons, they made a temporary camp by arranging the bullock carts in the formation of a half-moon. The camp was fully enclosed because thorn trees completed the boundary.
When They saw Vrindavana, along with the River Yamuna and Govardhana Hill, Krishna and Balarama were very pleased. By acting like small boys and talking in broken language, They gave transcendental pleasure to the inhabitants of Vraja. In due course, when They became old enough, Krishna and Balarama were given charge of the calves. Staying near home, They took all Their playthings and tended the calves while simultaneously playing with Their friends.
Sometimes, Krishna and Balarama would play Their flutes, sometimes They would throw ropes or stones into the trees to make the fruit fall to the ground, and sometimes They would play football with fruit like bael and amalaki. Sometimes, They would cover Themselves with blankets, so that They could imitate cows and bulls. Then, They would fight with one another, while roaring loudly. At other times, They imitated the sounds of peacocks, monkeys, as well as other birds and animals, and thus Krishna and Balarama enjoyed sporting like ordinary children.
One day, as Krishna and Balarama, along with Their playmates, were tending the calves on the banks of the Yamuna, a demon came there, desiring to kill Them. When Krishna saw that the demon had assumed the form of a calf and entered among the herd, He pointed out to Baladeva, “Here is another demon.”
Krishna then stealthily approached Vatsasura, as if He were unaware of the demon’s intentions. Suddenly, Krishna grabbed the demon (in the form of a calf) by the hind legs, whirled him around and around until he died, and then threw him up into the top of a kapittha tree. (Krishna did this so that the cowherd boys could eat the kapittha fruit, which is sweet and sour.) The tree then fell down, along with the demon, who had assumed his original, terrible form.
Upon seeing the demon’s dead body, all of the cowherd boys exclaimed, “Well done, Krishna! Very good, very good!” In the upper planetary systems, the demigods were also very pleased, and so they showered flowers upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lord Krishna, who maintains the entire universe, took charge of the calves as if He were a cowherd boy. But actually, Krishna’s business in this material world was to kill the demons. As He tended the calves on the banks of the Yamuna, two or three incidents took place every day.
One day, while the cowherd boys, each taking care of his own group of calves, were drinking the water of the Yamuna, they saw some huge living being nearby. It looked like a broken mountain peak, struck down by a thunderbolt, and the cowherd boys were afraid to see it. This great demon was named Bakasura, and he had assumed the form of a gigantic duck with a very sharp beak.
Suddenly, Bakasura swallowed Krishna, and when Balarama and the other boys saw this, they became almost unconscious with grief. Krishna, who is the father of Lord Brahma, but was acting as the son of a cowherd man, became like fire, burning Bakasura’s throat.
Feeling a terrible burning sensation, Bakasura vomited Krishna. Then, seeing Krishna unharmed before him, the demon attacked Him with his sharp beak. (“Ye yatha mam prapadyante…..” Although Krishna’s body is the essence of sweetness, Bakasura found it intolerable.) As Bakasura attacked Him, Krishna suddenly grabbed his beaks, and while all of the cowherd boys looked on, He bifurcated the demon, just as a child splits a blade of virana grass.
The residents of heaven were very pleased, and so they showered flowers grown in the Nandana-kanana upon Krishna, and congratulated Him by beating drums, blowing conch shells and offering prayers. Seeing all this, the cowherd boys were quite astonished. Being freed from all dangers, they felt as if their lives had been restored. The boys went and embraced Krishna, and while rounding up their calves, they loudly recounted the incident.
When the cowherd men and women heard about the killing of Bakasura, they were amazed, and they received Krishna and the cowherd boys very warmly, considering them to have returned from the mouth of death. Indeed, they looked at Krishna and the boys steadfastly, not wanting to turn their eyes aside, even though they were now out of danger.
Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men thought, “It is very astonishing the even though Krishna is attacked so many times, it is the causes of fear that are killed and not He. The words of self-realized souls are never proven false. Whatever Gargamuni had predicted is now actually happening.”
By enjoying the pastimes of Krishna and Balarama, Nanda Maharaja and the other residents of Vrindavana enjoyed great transcendental pleasure, and thus could not even perceive material tribulations. In this way, Krishna and Balarama passed Their childhood age, playing hide-and-seek, constructing a make-believe bridge to Lanka, and jumping here and there like monkeys.
Any person, in any part of the world, can also free himself from the tribulations of material existence, by following in the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavana.