Akarsayati iti krsnah. Sri Krsna is all-attractive. The scriptures describe that Lord Brahmä has fifty qualities. Each and every living entity possesses a part of these fifty qualities of Brahmä. Lord Siva has five more qualities than Brahmä, giving him a total of fifty-five qualities. Lord Narayana has five more qualities than Lord Siva, but Lord Sri Krsna is supreme, having extra four qualities that are unique only to Him. These four qualities are rüpamädhuri, lilä-mädhuri, venu-mädhuri and premnä priyädhikya. Lord Sri Krsna is most famous for His incredibly sweet pastimes. In fact Lord Sri Krsna displays unlimited nectarean pastimes which attract every living entity. He is so beautiful that He becomes attracted by His own beauty. His beauty has thus been described as ätma-paryanta sarva-citta-hara, which means He is so attractive that He attracts the hearts of everybody, including even His own heart.
Among the unlimited pastimes of Lord Sri Krsna His däma-bandhana pastime is very unique. Srila Sukadeva Gosvämi has described this pastime in Srimad- Bhägavatam in great ecstasy and many Gaudiya äcäryas have given a variety of beautiful purports on this description. The following article has been prepared on this däma-bandhana pastime, based on the description in Srimad- Bhägavatam, the commentary of Srila Visvanätha Cakravarté Thäkura, the commentary of Srila Jiva Gosvämi and from the description in Gopäla-campü. In Srimad-Bhägavatam Srila Sukadeva Gosvämi begins his description of the pastime of binding Krsna by Mother Yasodä, by using the first word “ekadä.”
“ekada grha-dasisu yasoda nanda-gehini”
In Sanskrit, dä means time. It is used in words like sarvadä, ekadä, yadä, kadä. Ekadä means “at one time,” yadä means “at some time,” kadä means “at which time,” and sarvadä means “at all times.” As mentioned, “ekadä” means at one time, or once upon a time, but when is this “once upon a time”?
This pastime of Lord Krsna took place when He was in Gokula Mahävana. We know that Lord Sri Krsna appeared in Gokula Mahävana as the son of Mother Yasodä, in the house of Nanda Mahäräja. According to Srila Visvanätha Cakravarti, Sri Krsna remained there in Gokula for three years and four months. Following this period, Nanda Bäbä moved to a place on the western bank of the Yamunä called Chatikarä in Vrndävana. Again, the Lord stayed there for three years and four months. From there Nanda Bäbä moved to Dig, then Kämyavana and finally settled at Nanda-gräma. During His stay at these various places, the Lord exhibited many wonderful pastimes. This particular pastime took place while the Lord was in Gokula Mahävana before He was three years and four months old. After this pastime, Nanda Bäbä along with Sri Krsna and their associates left Gokula Mahävana.
This pastime took place during the month of Kärttika, also known as the Dämodara month. The day was Dipävali amävasyä day, just before the day of Govardhana-püjä. Of course, at that time Govardhana-püjä had not yet been introduced. The Vraja-väsis were holding a big festival to worship Indradeva. Everyone, including all the servants of the house, was engaged in preparing for that Indra-püjä festival. All the gopis were preparing the huge amount of butter needed for this festival.
On this day, in the early morning, the joyful Mother Yasodä saw that Krsna was sleeping with closed eyes, which were as beautiful as blue lotuses. Caressing Him gently with her hand as He lay on the bed, she let Him sleep. Slowly leaving His bedside, she left the room, quickly tying up her cloth to engage in the morning household chores which started with churning yogurt. On that day, Rohini mounted a chariot with Balaräma and went to the house of Upananda, having received a special invitation.
Mother Yasodä engaged herself in churning buttermilk for her darling Krsna. Her love for Krsna was so great that she could not bear the thought of her maidservant making butter for her dearest son. This was a service that only she could perform, out of her deep affection for Krsna. She was also thinking, “My son is always stealing butter from the houses of the other gopis. Therefore I must make such tasty butter, that after eating the butter at home He will surely stop His stealing. If the taste of my butter is supreme then the butter at the other houses will seem bland and tasteless.” The third reason that Mother Yasodä had for wanting to make the butter herself, was that she would offer it to Lord Näräyana for the well-being of her beloved child.
Mother Yasodä is äsraya, or the shelter of prema, and Sri Krsna is viñaya, or the object of prema. Mother Yasodä is the epitome of the parental loving relationship. Her name is Yasodä because she gave yasah (fame) to Krsna. What fame? Krsna is famous for being controlled by His devotees. This He proved to everyone, by allowing His mother to bind Him with a rope around His belly! “Dä” means giver. “Yasah” means fame. Mother Yasodä was the giver of yasah or fame to Krsna. Therefore her name is Yasodä. In her unique love for Krsna, she displayed the most wonderful, parental loving mellows.
Mother Yasodä was expert in making butter. She began churning butter with great attention, from very early in the morning, while Sri Krsna was still fast asleep inside the room. Mother Yasodä understood perfectly that she must churn the butter in the early morning because once Krsna was awake, He would certainly disturb the process.
Mother Yasodä was therefore churning butter in the courtyard while Sri Krsna was sleeping, and thus she was not able to see Krsna. She was not able to see the beautiful face of Krsna and was feeling great separation from her dear son. In order to mitigate that feeling of separation, Mother Yasodä was meditating on the various pastimes of Krsna and reciting sweet songs describing the pastimes which He had already exhibited. These songs had been composed by herself and the other ladies of Gokula. Mother Yasodä sang:
“O tilaka of the family of Nanda! You are living in Vraja. Since the people here have performed hundreds of pious acts, You have given them great happiness. By witnessing Your activities, the eyes become joyful.
By the great festival arising from this bliss, You give bliss to all the cowherds. O king of Gokula filled with the auspicious action of killing Pütanä!
You engaged in auspicious acts after overturning the cart, which destroyed the steadiness of our hearts. The Supreme Lord has brought You back after He killed the whirlwind demon.
You crawl about in the beautiful yard. Lotus-eyed child! You are the greatest piety. You show the greatest skill at dancing and playing.
You appear most attractive when You hold onto the calves’ tails. You show false greed in arguing for fun with the elders.
O Krsna! Always give happiness to me, Your mother. Stay in this house always. Please reveal Your playful antics and quickly grow.
You exhibited the potency of the Lord, causing astonishment, in showing the universe within You. May Your body remain without old age and death and become the cause of joy by worshiping the Lord.”
Her earrings shook and jingled harmoniously. Then, her ankle bells and the golden belt around her waist also joined in, creating a beautiful melodious sound. It was as if an expert karatäla player was playing. As she was churning the yogurt, the churning rod went “gharad gharad gharad,” sounding like an expert mrdanga player. In this way, mother Yasodä had full musical accompaniment as she continued to sing about Krsna’s glorious childhood pastimes.
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, overwhelmed by the great fortune of Yasodä and being very affectionate to her, described the beauty of Yasodä while she was churning butter. Those devotees who worship Krsna in parental loving relationship try to remember or meditate on this form of Yasodä while she churned butter. She is the person most qualified to be the mother of Krsna, being the epitome of parental loving relationship due to her high level of parental love, her qualities and form. Srila Sukadeva describes the beauty of her body, of her dress and the beauty of the movements of her body while she churned butter for Krsna with so much love and affection.
She was subhrü (having beautiful eyebrows) and prthu-katitata which means her waist was broad. She was wearing a very finely woven, yellow sari, made of fabric prepared from the fibre of the atasi tree. This tree is well-known for producing an extremely fine thread. Her bodily colour was syama (dark). Around her waist she wore a piece of cloth called mekhalä. The bracelets on her wrists moved side to side and her earrings swayed as she expertly churned butter for the Lord. Her eyebrows shifted expressively, reflecting her happiness. Due to the labour of churning butter, beads of perspiration decorated her face, and mälati flowers fell to the ground from her head.
In this way she was nirmamantha, churning the yogurt. Her hands and body were engaged in this intensive labour, parisrama, to make the makhan (butter). Her tongue was singing the glories and pastimes of Krsna. Her ears were engaged in hearing those songs. And her mind was remembering and meditating on how she would make the makhan to feed Krsna. This is the state of a perfect devotee, fully engaging mind, body and intelligence in the service of Krsna.
As Mother Yasodä was thus engaged in churning yogurt, Krsna woke up from His sleep.
On this day, Krsna woke up earlier than usual. He was looking for His mother and thought, “Why is Mä not here with me on the bed?” Then He heard her
singing in another room. He immediately thought, “What is wrong with her today? She is not worried about Me at all. She has left Me to start on her ordinary household duties.”
He was feeling very hungry and was eager to enjoy drinking milk from His mother. Breathing heavily, stretching His limbs and rubbing His eyes, Lord Sri Krsna cried, “Mother, mother!” Hearing the sound of churning, He walked on faltering feet to His mother.
The Lord was hungry. Here the question arises, “How can param brahma, who is ätmäräma or self-satisfied, be hungry?” Param brahma is supposed to be self-satisfied. But here the Lord felt hungry and desired to drink milk from Mother Yasodä. This hunger was not like the hunger of ordinary people. This hunger was the hunger for love. This hunger has manifested within the Lord as an expression of parental loving relationship. The Lord wanted to give pleasure to Mother Yasodä.
Mother Yasodä enjoyed seeing her baby approaching her with a desire to drink milk. To indicate His great desire to drink her milk, the Lord was sobbing as He made His way towards Yasodä who was engaged in churning yogurt. He then caught hold of the churning rod and stopped His mother from churning yogurt, expressing His desire, “Oh, mother! Please stop churning yogurt now and feed Me milk.”
One acarya has given his realization as to why Krsna stopped the churning. He stopped this churning to tell His mother, “All the jnänis are constantly reading and analyzing the scriptures, trying to extract the essence, just churning, churning and churning. At last they may approach Me, for it is I who am the conclusion of all scriptures. Oh, My dear mother, you are already with Me, so what is the use of all this churning?”
We can analyze the Upanisads, the Vedas, the Puränas, and the other Vedic scriptures. But what is their final conclusion? All the scriptures conclude that
attaining Krsna is the highest goal of life. That Krsna is the son of Mother Yasodä. Why then would she have to do any churning? Why was she doing this unnecessary labour? For this reason, Krsna stopped His mother from churning the yogurt. Mother Yasodä was pleased to see how her son had become so strong and intelligent that He was trying to stop her by holding the churning rod. This increased her meditation on the qualities of Krsna and captured her mind. Just by seeing Krsna approaching her, torrents of milk began to flow from her breast due to her extreme parental love. In His eagerness, Krsna climbed onto the lap of Yasodä before she could pick Him up. Krsna did not need to be invited onto the lap of Mother Yasodä, as the lap of Yasodä was Krsna’s own property.
He also became very proud of Himself. He thought to Himself, “How smart I am. I stopped mother from her work and claimed My right.” Thinking in this way, He smiled continuously, making His chubby cheeks more adorable. After climbing onto His mother’s lap, Krsna began drinking the milk from her breast, which poured forth in excess due to her deep affection. Indeed, there was no need for Krsna to suck the breast of Mother Yasodä, as her milk flowed so freely. Krsna was certainly fortunate, as He could not consume the volume of milk produced by the love of His mother. When the milk flowed from Yasodä like monsoon rains, Krsna was like a cätaka bird drinking those showers. Milk was overflowing from His mouth and onto His cheeks. Mother Yaçodä happily fed her dear son in this way while absorbed in meditation on the beautiful blue face of the Lord, decorated with attractive white rivulets of her milk.
As Krsna drank Mother Yasodä’s breast milk, a transcendental competition began, Krsna’s belly would not become satisfied and Mother Yasodä’s milk would not stop flowing due to her intense affection. The milk was endeavoring to completely satisfy Krsna but Krsna can never be satiated with any amount of prema. So the milk continued to flow and Krsna continued to drink. In this way she continued feeding Him for a good long while, again becoming fully engrossed and losing all sense of time.
The stove for heating the milk was not far from Mother Yaçodä and she suddenly realised that the milk was boiling over and falling into the fire. In her desire to prevent the fire from consuming the pot of precious milk, Mother Yasodä placed Krsna on the ground and quickly ran to the stove. She wasn’t able to carry Krsna as she had to move extremely fast and feared dropping her darling son, who had not finished drinking her milk and was certainly not yet satisfied.
One may question, how can Mother Yasodä leave Krsna like this, depriving Him of her milk? Yasodä is the epitome of vätsalya-rasa. Her love for Krsna knows no limits. She is the spotless example of love for her child. However, she still left Him, just to save a little milk! Was there a lack of milk in her house? Nanda Mahäräja had 900.000 cows. They must have given so much milk! Just to save a little milk on the stove, how could mother Yasodä leave her most darling child on the ground, causing Him so much distress? She left Krsna to save the milk because this milk was very special and meant for the service of Krsna. Yasodä loved Krsna so much that she would select special cows from the herds and take care of them personally, feeding them the best grasses, to produce the sweetest milk. Yasodä would personally milk those cows and carefully boil the milk to feed Krsna. Her worry was that if this milk was spoiled, then what would her beloved Krsna drink? Having this higher principle of serving Krsna in mind, Mother Yasodä made the difficult decision to leave Him on the ground, even before He had finished relishing her milk.
In this regard the Gopäla-campü describes: “His parents thought, ‘This is my son’ and from birth had possessiveness with complete disregard for their own bodies and house.” Brahmä has said the following concerning all the people of Vraja, what to speak of Lord Krsna’s parents:
“So what is left for You to give these devotees of Vrndävana, whose homes, wealth, friends, dear relations, bodies, children and very lives and hearts are all dedicated only to You?”
Since the milk and yogurt were for Krsna, they were even more attractive than Krsna. This is the special nature of her love.
This was her way of thinking. Enduring great difficulties, she was not aware of her household chores that should be done. She thought more of Krsna as her son than her body and house. Making Krsna the object of her compassion, she thought that her duty was to serve Krsna. Krsna also understood that her scolding and punishment were her show of affection. What more can be said of her affectionate caring for Him?
On this point, our äcäryas have made a comparison between Mustika and Canura, and Mother Yasodä. Mustika and Canura fought with Krsna, who, being the Supreme Personality of Godhead was simply enjoying wrestling with them. Thus Mustika and Canura were giving pleasure (the pleasure of wrestling) to the Lord by fighting with Him. On the other hand, Mother Yasodä made the Lord dissatisfied and angry by leaving Him on the ground and depriving Him of her milk. It appears that Mustika and Canura were pleasing the Lord and Mother Yasodä was upsetting the Lord. How is it then, that Mother Yasodä is a great devotee, and Mustika and Canura were great demons?
The reason is, the Lord is always in bliss. As paraà brahma He is änandaà brahma. He is änanda-mayo ’bhyäsät. He is ever-blissful. He is “äptakäma” and thus ever-satisfied. He never feels any pain or dissatisfaction. Even when Mustika and Canura were punching Him, the Lord was feeling pleasure. Similarly, when the Lord appeared in His tortoise form, the demons and demigods placed the Mandara Mountain on His back to churn the milk ocean. It appears as though this would have been a great endeavour for the Lord, but it was actually effortless for Him. The Lord was enjoying holding this
great mountain and felt a pleasurable scratching sensation as the demigods and demons churned the milk ocean by rotating the huge mountain on His back. Similarly, the punching of these two demons gave pleasure to the Lord, in the form of wrestling. In fact, whatever one does to the Lord, He simply enjoys. For Him there is no suffering. He is änandaà brahma, änanda-mayo ’bhyäsät. Kevala änanda-krsna.
What is most important in one’s interactions with the Lord, is one’s consciousness. Although Mustika and Canura were giving pleasure to the Lord by wrestling with Him, they were still demons due to their acting with demoniac consciousness. Their motive was not to give pleasure to the Lord, but rather to cause Him harm, reflecting an unfavourable mood or pratiküla bhäva. On the other hand, Mother Yasodä’s act of leaving the Lord on the ground, depriving Him of drinking milk and making Him angry was done with a favourable mood and service attitude. Mother Yasodä ran to save the milk because it was very special milk meant for Krsna to drink. There was a higher purpose in a favourable mood of serving Krsnaa. Mother Yaçodä was thinking, “If that milk is spoiled then what will my baby Krsna drink?” Thus she had great concern for the Lord and her favourable mood was expressed in this way. As the Bhakti-rasämrta-sindhu says:
änukulyena krsnanusilanaà bhaktir uttamä
Krsna is bhäva-grähi Janärdana. He accepts the bhäva or mood of the devotees. Thus even if outwardly it looks like Krsna was dissatisfied and angry, still in truth He was pleased and enjoyed the parental loving relationship.
When Mother Yasodä went to take the milk off the fire she spoke to Krsna in joy, “I worship You with ärätika, but for a moment please protect the churning pot. After taking care of the milk I will come as quickly as I can.” The milk overflowing from the breast of Mother Yasodä soaked through her cloth and sprinkled the floor as she ran to save the milk on the stove.
Srila Jiva Gosvämi has justified the act of Mother Yasodä leaving Krsna on the ground and running to save a little milk on the stove, stating that it in no way reflects a lessening of her affection for Krsna. The question may arise that Nanda Mahäräja had so many cows, she had so much milk, why then should she run to save a little milk which was put on the stove and overflowing. Is her saving milk more important than feeding Krsna? What kind of affection does she have for Krsna?
Jiva Gosvämi explains: Whatever wealth Nanda and Yasodä had (their main wealth was cows and cow products) was meant for Krsna. Yasodä would think, “My baby son does not know how to protect wealth. I have to do it for Him.” The father and mother sometimes do something to their son, which apparently causes him some distress, but which is actually beneficial for his future. Parents always work hard, tolerating the apparent suffering of their son for his future well-being. It is a very well-known fact that parents feed bitter medicine to their children for their health even though the children may not like it. In a similar way, parents also chastise their children in order to teach them the lessons they need to learn for their future. This kind of parental, loving mood of the father and mother is sometimes very difficult to understand. Being a cowherd woman, Mother Yasodä’s wealth was in cow products such as milk, yogurt and ghee. She was thinking, “My little boy does not know how to protect all these products. I must do it personally, for His welfare.” In this way there was no mistake or deficit of affection when Mother Yasodä left Krsna on the ground and ran to save the milk.
The following point has been made by various äcäryas in our line to explain the reason the milk would overflow and fall into the fire. The external reason could be that the milk was overflowing due to excessive heat but still there is another internal reason, which is as follows: The milk on the stove was watching Lord Krsna drinking milk from Mother Yasodä. The milk became very worried, thinking, “If the Lord drinks too much milk from His mother then what will happen to me? What will be the use of my life? If I cannot serve the Lord then better I commit suicide.” With such thoughts in its mind, the milk started to overflow and enter the fire to commit suicide.
But as Mother Yasodä ran to save that special milk, the milk, out of shame, stopped boiling over and resumed its normal state. The milk now started to think that it had committed a great offense by interrupting the loving exchange between Mother Yasodä and Krsna. The milk chided itself, “What have I done? Mother Yasodä was so happy and joyful feeding Krsna and I impeded her devotional service. I am an offender.”
As everything in the spiritual world is alive and conscious, it is quite possible for milk to feel and think in this way. Once, Srila Prabhupäda told a story about Mother Yasodä cooking rice in the spiritual world. She put the rice into a pot and placed it on the stove to cook. She then went to the courtyard outside, to do some other work. This is the normal practice for ladies in India, and they will return to the kitchen from time to time to check the rice by pressing one grain between their fingers to see if it is cooked. In the spiritual world, however, there is no need for Mother Yaçodä to come to the kitchen from time to time to check if the rice is cooked. Even if she is in another part of the house or courtyard, far away from the kitchen, she will simply speak to the rice from there, “Oh rice! Are you cooked?” Upon hearing the question, the rice will reply, saying whether or not it is cooked.
Thus when Krsna was left behind on the floor by His mother, He was deprived of drinking her milk, not yet fully satisfied. Being left in this state of dissatisfaction, Krsna became very angry. The white moons of His teeth became red like His lips. His eyes, like cakora birds, became filled with tears. With His two lotus hands He destroyed the yogurt pot, showing His strength. Here we must note that Krsna is becoming dissatisfied and angry. Neither dissatisfaction nor anger are supposed to be present in paraà brahma. Paraà brahma or God is äptakäma or ever-satisfied. As He has everything in His possession and doesn’t lack anything, how can He feel dissatisfied? Since God is ever satisfied surely this is an anomaly. He also became very angry. How can God become angry? Anger arises from the mode of passion.
käma esa krodha esa rajo-guna-samudbhavaù mahäsano mahä-päpmä viddhy enam iha vairinam
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: “It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gitä 3.37)
Käma and krodha or last and anger arise from the mode of passion. God is not influenced by the three modes of material nature. He is trigunätita or nirguna. How then can Krsna, if He is God, be influenced by the mode of passion and become angry?
Our äcäryas have explained that Krsna’s dissatisfaction and anger are not material. Although He has everything and there is no question of Him becoming dissatisfied, He exhibits His dissatisfaction only to reciprocate with the loving mood of His mother.
Krsna picked up a stone used for grinding spices, and while biting His lip due to excessive anger, broke the pot in which His mother was churning butter. After breaking the pot He began shedding false tears and left the place. Here Krsna exhibited the mood of anger to reciprocate with Mother Yasodä’s parental love. Krsn’s anger was actually meant to please His mother. Srila Jiva Gosvämi explains that Sri Krsna was not just pretending to be angry. His anger arose from the core of His heart. He manifested His internal feeling in a very solitary place inside the house of His mother. As there is no one else present there, we can conclude that the Lord revealed His real feelings. He was not performing a drama or acting, for what would be the need if there were no audience? The Lord manifested such intense emotions in reciprocation with the equally intense parental affection of His mother. This kind of pastime cannot take place anywhere else except in the courtyard of Mother Yaçodä.
Krsna shed tears, which have been described as rsasru or false tears by some people. Actually Krsna’s tears are arsasru or genuine tears. Srila Jiva Gosvämi gives the explanation that because intelligent people know that Krsna is God, they conclude that His tears are false. This may be true on some occasions but in this case the Lord’s tears were genuine (amrsasru), due to His being deprived of drinking milk to His full satisfaction.
Krsna was very clever. While breaking the pot He was very careful and quiet. He took a small stone used for grinding and hit the pot on its bottom without making a sound. Through the hole in the pot, all the yogurt began flowing out onto the ground. Krsna saw this and became fearful of consequent punishment. To avoid the wrath of His mother, the Lord quickly left the scene of the crime and fled to a solitary room to hide. Krsna skilfully loosened the bolt of the door to enter the store room. He then climbed on a wooden bed to reach a pot of butter which was kept hanging from the ceiling. The Lord then stole the butter and fled unseen.
After subduing the milk which was overflowing from the pot, Mother Yasodä came back to the spot where she was churning butter. To her surprise she saw that the pot was broken and the contents spilled all over the floor. She could easily understand that this must be the work of none other than her son Krsna, because she knew very well how naughty her son was. She realised that because she had left Krsna unsatisfied, He must have done this due to His anger. She might have thought that the pot had been broken by a monkey, but when she saw the intelligent way in which the pot was broken, as well as the fact that Krsna was not there, she was convinced that Krsna was the culprit. The cleverness of the boy in breaking the pot so quietly and His running away from there out of fear so carefully that the sound of the bangles adorning His wrists were not heard, was enough evidence for Mother Yasodä. A soft smile came to her lips and she touched her forefinger to her nose. Although Mother Yasodä was worried at first, a message from the sky caused her to smile.
The voice from the sky said, “The baby bee, being very thirsty, has not been fully satisfied with honey, and has thus broken the lotus bud. On breaking the lotus and seeing only contents flow out without honey, the bee has gone to another lotus and obtained honey. Moreover, you have shown skill on taking the milk off the fire, but you will be praised more for your ability to pacify the anger of your son.”
Hearing this she smiled as she looked at His footprints of buttermilk which indicated the direction of His escape.
Sri Krsna was sitting in a cross-legged position on top of a grinding mortar which was kept upside down to protect it from the crows. Krsna was taking butter from a pot, eating some butter and also feeding some to the monkeys. It is common for a small child to retaliate against his parents in some way if he feels offended or hurt by them. Krsna perfectly displayed this propensity by destroying the churning pot and spoiling the butter. Since this was not satisfying enough for Him, He went on to distribute butter to the monkeys to really teach His mother a lesson.
Even though there was fresh makhan being made for Him, Krsna started as if to eat the previous day’s makhan. As he was doing so, He began thinking to Himself, “I will eat this makhan and get sick, you will have to take me out of Vraja, to a hospital in Mathurä where you will have to spend lots of money and take care of Me. I’ll show you! Then you’ll see. Then you’ll be sorry!”
Krsna had left the scene of the broken churning pot very quietly and carefully, thinking that Mother Yasodä would not be able to find Him. However, despite the precautions a thief may take in order to remain undetected, he normally leaves some clues. Krsna unknowingly left some evidence which pointed to His whereabouts. When Krsna was walking away from the place where He had broken the churning pot, He inadvertently stepped in some of the spilled butter, leaving telltale footprints indicating the direction He had taken. Moreover, Mother Yasoda was able to hear the sound of Krsna’s ankle bells and the sound of butter pots being moved. She started to smile, amused by the activities of her son. Mother Yasodä entered the yard while holding a stick, which was concealed under her cloth. Krsna was eating while very carefully looking around out of fear that His mother may come at any moment and catch Him. He was not only looking around in fear with His eyes, but also very attentively listening with His ears. If He were to only use His eyes He could see Yasodä only when she came in front of Him. Thus He also very carefully kept His ears alert so that before Yasodä came in front of Him, He would be aware of her arrival just by hearing the sound of her footsteps.
But Mother Yasodä was also very careful. She approached Krsna very slowly and quietly, without making a sound. Thus Yasodä appeared in front of Krsna suddenly. Krsna, seeing His mother with a stick in her hand, could realise that the situation was very serious. Sri Krsna had never been approached by His mother with a stick before and so He scrutinized her every move, afraid of what might happen. Srila Sukadeva has used the word “prasamiksya.” Samikñya means “seeing.” Prasamiksya means to see with more attention again and again. He looked upon His mother very attentively to see her more clearly, thinking, “I have never seen her with a stick in her hand.” As soon as He realised what is the situation He immediately jumped up and started to run. It is well known that the thief has a hundred eyes whereas the owner of wealth has only two eyes.
Krsna ran towards the main gate of the palace where two arjuna trees were standing. He was thinking, “If Mother catches Me inside the house she will punish Me, but if I run away to the main gate where many people are walking by, I will be safe, as she will not punish Me in public.”
Krsna was running out of fear. He was running as if He was in great danger. The word bhétavat can have different meanings. He has no real fear but He was running like a person who had become afraid. Krsna was running in fear of His mother just to exhibit His wonderful childhood pastimes. Even though Krsna ran towards the gates of the palace, His mother refused to give up the chase. Krsna, of whom Yamaräja is afraid, of whom fear personified is afraid, was seemingly running in fear from His mother.Srila Sukadeva Gosvämi has mentioned that the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s small toe cannot be touched by the great yogis who have the power to merge into Brahman by the strength of their samädhi. That same Lord was being chased by Mother Yasodä and was easily eluding her. This effort of Mother Yasodä surprised Srila Sukadeva Gosvämi. What to speak of the great fortune of Mother Yasodä who could take care of the Lord as a baby by carrying Him on her lap and on her back. Her good fortune of running after the Lord and trying to catch Him cannot be perceived by great yogés. Thus the fortunate and elevated position of Mother Yasodä among all devotees has been established here.
While Mother Yasodä was running behind Krsna, her bundles of hair loosened and flowers fell from her hair. The mälati flowers thought, “How can I sit on the head of Mother Yasodä? I should worship her lotus feet by falling to the ground.” Due to her broad waist she was not able to run very fast, but still she managed to catch hold of Krsna. Krsnaa, who cannot be reached by the great yogis, who are able to run as fast as the speed of the mind and enter into Brahman, was caught by Mother Yasodä due to her loving parental affection for Him.
While chasing Krsna she shouted, “King of thieves! Where are you going?” While Krsna was running away in fear of His mother, His beauty increased by His indistinct smiling and crying. At times, Mother Yasodä almost caught Krsna, but just missed grabbing hold of Him. At one point Krsna thought of stopping to look behind to check how far behind His mother was. As soon
as Krsna stopped to look back, Mother Yasodä quickly caught hold of His right hand from behind. Realising He had been captured, Krsna began to cry, rubbing His eyes. He tried to cover His butter-soaked limbs by smearing Himself with dust, while looking upon Mother Yasodä with great fear. Mother Yasodä threatened Krsna with the stick in her hand by raising it in the air, but did not beat Him. She chastised the Lord for His offences. Srila Jiva Gosvämi has said that usually whenever Sri Krsna cried, His mother would wipe away His tears with her own sari. Krsna expected the same reaction from His mother, but when she didn’t reciprocate in the same way, He used His left hand to wipe away His own tears as His right hand was firmly held by His mother. The Lord thought, “Today she does not wipe away My tears. This must be a very serious situation.”
Sri Krsna then rubbed His eyes to produce more tears in an attempt to invoke the compassion of His mother and avoid punishment. Mother Yasodä chastised Him by raising her stick and saying, “Oh, restless boy (asänta)! So hot-tempered (rosäkränta)! O greedy boy! Monkey lover! House plunderer! From today onwards I will not give You any butter or milk products. I will keep You bound in the house. You can no longer play anywhere as You please. I will not allow any toys or playmates!” As Mother Yasodä chastised Krsna in this way, raising her stick above Him, He looked up at her in fear. Srila Visvanätha Cakravarti Thäkura states that Mother Yasodä not only caught hold of Krsna, who is difficult to reach even for great yogis, but she also started chastising the Lord, who has been offered prayers by great personalities like Lord Brahmä and Lord Siva. Mother Yasodä caused fear in Him who is the cause of fear for Mahäkäla and Yamaräja, just by raising her stick towards Him.
When Mother Yasodä saw that her son had become extremely fearful, she was worried that He might become too distressed by this fear. She quickly threw her stick aside in order to lessen His fear. But Mother Yasodä was still concerned that Krsna learn a lesson. She didn’t want Him to be untrained.
She wanted Him to become a well-mannered, good person. Due to her intense love, Mother Yasodä contemplated how to make Krsna, who is puruñottama (the best man among all men), a good human being.
This pastime demonstrates the uniqueness of Krsna’s vraja-lilä. In no other incarnation does the Supreme Lord await judgment from anyone. Here, Krsna is guiltily standing in front of His mother, His fate completely in her hands. Mother Yasodä now has full jurisdiction to decide whether to punish, bind or release Krsna. This is the specialty of the parental affection, vätsalya-bhäva of Vraja where the knowledge of Krsna’s godhood is covered. Sukadeva Gosvämi then says arbhaka-vatsalä—seeing the genuine fear in His eyes, Mother Yasodä put her stick down and contemplated on how else to discipline her mischievous son.
Due to her intense parental loving mood, she had no knowledge of the opulence of her son, and wanted to teach Him a lesson by binding Him with a rope. Here Srila Sukadeva Gosvämi has used the word “tad-vérya-kovidä.” Srila Jiva Gosvämi has given two meanings of this word. Tad-vérya-kovidä and a-tad-vérya-kovidä. Tad-vérya-kovidä means, by knowing very well about His great restlessness. A-tad-vérya-kovida means, by not knowing His all pervading greatness due to her parental loving mood.
Srila Visvanätha Cakravarti has explained that Krsna pleaded with great fear, “My dear mother! Please do not beat Me!” Mother Yasodä replied, “If You are so afraid of being chastised then why did You break the churning pot?” Krsna said, “I will never do it again. Please throw away that stick.” Mother Yasodä felt apprehensive to hear her darling son speaking in this way. She thought, “Oh, today my son is so perplexed.” At this point she decided that the stick was no longer necessary and discarded it, but she was convinced that Krsna needed to be taught a lesson and she was afraid that He might run away to the forest. This was due to something He had said earlier, when she had chastised Him and called Him a friend of the monkeys. At that time, Krsna had responded, “What? You tell Me that I am a monkey? If I am a monkey then let Me go to the forest. I will stay there with all the monkeys!” For this reason Mother Yasodä thought it would be a good idea to bind Krsna, keeping Him close to her house.
In the Gopäla-campü this is described as follows. With a hidden smile she said, “But you are a thief. Ah! You are the king of thieves! Your father’s lineage is all thieves.” She asked her son, “How did the yogurt pot break?” Sri Krsna replied, “It was the Supreme Lord’s stick.” Mother Yasodä asked, “Who gave butter to the monkeys?” Krsna replied, “He who created monkeys gave it to them.”
“I think that You always taste and eat the fresh ghee meant for sacrifices.” After Yasodä scolded the infant as a thief, her heart softened. Smiling but with anger she said, “You should tell Your secret and give up Your pride.” When His mother said this, Krsna began weeping. He said, “When you ran quickly, the pot broke because of being struck by your anklets. What is My fault in this? Inspired by the Lord, the monkeys entered the house to steal. When they pulled at the butter pot, I caught it. What is My fault? Seeing you holding a stick I ran away like a thief. Seeing that I was frightened you tried to mercilessly beat Me without justice.” Yasodä spoke with repentance, “O best of thieves with clever words! Though You are the son of the king of Vraja, You are fond of monkeys and have the nature of a monkey.” Fearful and to give fear to His mother, he said, “If I am a monkey then I will go to the forest and stay there.” His mother began to worry, thinking: “Who can understand Him? A proud child will do this. I must tie Him up to prevent it, since I am alone and cannot continue to pay attention to both the house and this child.”
She then spoke aloud, “O thief who bewilders everyone with Your restless eyes! Do not think of avoiding me. After binding You up I will go to the house quickly. If You show Your strength, then steal something else.”
When she began tying Him up, Krsna became so angry that he breathed with a hissing sound. He said, “Rohini! Where have you gone with Balaräma? Because you are not here, My mother is binding me up. Please come quickly.”
Because Rohini was far away she could not hear, but the other neighboring women who had previously scolded Him, heard His cries and came. They laughed and said, “Has He done anything at your house?” They did this so that Mother Yasodä might remember what she had said to them previously.
Krsna used to steal butter in the houses of different gopis. When the gopis would come to Yasodä to complain about her son stealing butter she would not believe it. She would say, “Why would my son go to steal butter in your house? Is there any lack of butter in my house?” In this way Yasodä would discard the complaints of the gopis. Today, as Yasodä was punishing Krsna, the gopis were thinking, “When we complained about Krsna she would not believe it. Today Krsna must have done some naughty business in her house.” At this point it is important to understand some of the ways Krsna would cheat the gopis when stealing butter from their houses.
One day, Krsna along with His friends entered the house of one of the gopis to steal butter. She was not in the house as she had gone to the Yamunä to fetch water. While they were stealing butter, she suddenly returned. As soon as the children saw her approaching they ran away, but somehow the gopi caught hold of Krsna. She thought, “Every day this boy comes to our house to harass us. When we go to complain to Yasodä she never believes us. Today I have caught this boy red-handed. I must bring Him to His mother to prove how Krsna is stealing butter.”
With this thought, she caught hold of Krsna’s hand and pulled Him towards His house to bring Him to Mother Yasodä. While she was pulling, Krsna was trying to resist and thus being dragged behind her. At one point along the way Krsna somehow managed to release His hand from her grip and quickly replaced it with her son’s hand, without her noticing it. Her son was one of Krsna’s friends, all of whom were at this point accompanying Him as He was being dragged along to His mother. She was now pulling the hand of her son who was walking behind her, while she was thinking she was pulling Krsna. When she reached Mother Yasodä’s house she screamed, “Mother Yasodä! Mother Yasodä! Just see, I have brought your son. He was stealing butter in my house. I have complained to you so many times. But you do not believe me. This time I have brought Him personally as I have just caught Him redhanded stealing butter in my house!” Yasodä came out of her house after hearing the screaming of the gopi, and said, “Why should my son go to your house to steal butter? My son is here in my house. He is eating butter, sitting right here in my house.”
Yasodä saw that the gopi was holding her own son’s hand. She asked, “Where is Krsna?” The gopi then presented the thief to Mother Yasodä, and was shocked to see that it was her own son. Mother Yasodä said, “Just see, you have caught your own son who was stealing butter from your house. You must be thinking too much about Krsna. Therefore when anybody does any mischief you think of my son.”
The gopi then saw Krsna, sitting peacefully in Mother Yasodä’s house, eating butter and smiling at her. She was very surprised and she couldn’t believe what was happening. Feeling very disappointed, she picked up her son and placed him on her shoulder. While she was walking back to her house, the boy tapped her on the head, saying, “Hey, look at me.” When the gopi looked at the boy, she saw Krsna on her shoulder instead of her son. Feeling overwhelmed, she put Krsna down. As soon as Krsna’s lotus feet touched the ground, He ran off, saying, “Just see what happened. Never try to catch Me again. Today I became your son, but if you catch Me next time, I will become your husband!” In this way Krsna would jokingly harass the Vraja gopikäs, who would thoroughly enjoy Krsna’s childhood pranks.
On another occasion, a gopi found Krsna stealing butter from her house and she very expertly managed to catch hold of Krsna. “Today,” she thought, “I will not take Krsna to Mother Yasodä. I will rather bind him here and bring Yasodä to see her little thief.” Thinking like this, she brought a rope and tried to bind Krsna to a pillar. Whatever method she tried was unsuccessful. Somehow she couldn’t manage to bind Krsna. After numerous attempts by the gopi, Sri Krsna said, “You may try in so many ways to bind Me, but you will always fail as you do not know how to bind Me. If you really want to know how, then I can show you.” The gopi agreed and Krsna then made the gopi stand next to the pillar and started to bind her in order to teach her how to bind. After tightly binding her to the pillar, Krsna tied the rope with some strong knots, instructing, “This is the way you should bind Me.” He then ran away, leaving the gopi fully bound. Although this gopi could not bind Krsna, Mother Yasodä was able to bind Him by the strength of her loving parental affection. Srila Sukadeva Gosvämi explains the great wonder of the love of Mother Yasodä, how she has made the impossible possible. It is impossible to bind Krsna, as He is paraà brahma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and is all-pervading. This means He has no outer limits and therefore no inner limits. He has no pürväparam, no before and no after. He was in existence before this world was manifested, as the cause, and He will continue to be in existence after this world disappears. Without His existence as cause, this world could not have become manifest. He is the entire world. How then is it possible to bind Him? If this world cannot bind Him, then how can He possibly be bound by a mere rope, which is made of but a tiny fraction of matter in this world?
Thus the great opulence of Lord Krsna has been described, which clearly indicates that it is impossible for anyone to bind Him. Yet Mother Yasodä bound that Krsna, who is beyond approach by any of the senses and who has appeared in the form of a human being. She bound Him by a rope to the grinding mortar, thinking of Him as her son. The unlimited thirst for relishing the limitless parental love of Mother
Yasodä that resides within the heart of Bäla Gopäla, who is the source of all power, has made it possible for her to bind Him with an ordinary rope. Mother Yasodä was able to do this as the Lord was displaying the form of an ordinary, material boy. If He appeared as an ordinary boy, then the question may be asked, “How can He have no inner or outer limits?” This is because He is “adhoksaja.” Even if He is visible, like an ordinary boy to the ordinary eyes of people in general, He is also beyond the knowledge acquired by the senses or beyond sense perception. This means He cannot be perceived by the material senses. He is simultaneously avyakta or un-manifest and vyakta or manifest.
nityävyakto ‘pi bhagavän iksyate nija-saktitah
täm rte paramätmänam kah pasyatämitam prabhum
“Even though God is eternally un-manifest, by His internal potency He is also fully manifest. Without the help of this energy, who is able to see that infinite paraà brahma, Paramesvara?”
(Näräyaëädhyätma, quoted in the Caityanya-bhägavata, Ädi-khanda, 3.52-53)
This proves that nobody can manifest Him. He is un-manifest and can be manifest by His own energy alone. He reveals Himself through the influence of His inconceivable krpä-sakti or mercy energy, to those who are surrendered to Him. Behind the manifested and un-manifested aspects of His pastimes, His inconceivable potency is at work.
prakrtibhyaù param yac ca tad acintyasya laksanam
“One cannot use material reasoning on those things which are inconceivable. Inconceivable refers to those things existing beyond prakrti.” (Mahäbhärata 6.6.11)
srutes tu sabda-mülatvät
“The defects of the agent do not apply to Brahman because of scriptural statements, which are the only proof concerning inconceivable subjects.” (Brahma-sütra 2.1.27)
Sruti says, “God is neither gross nor subtle but is simultaneously gross and subtle.” In other words, He is the perfection of form while simultaneously being formless. He has no colour, but still His body is bluish and His eyes are reddish. It is known from scripture that God possesses all opposite qualities. Opposite means the extreme of everything. He is smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest. He is the controller of everything, and yet He is controlled by His devotees. He is within everything and at the same time He is apart from everything. This is His inconceivable potency.
Krsna has said, “By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation.” (Bhagavad-gitä 9.4-5)
By this direct statement of the Lord from the Bhagavad-gitä we can understand that God possesses all qualities as well as their opposites. In this way He can be simultaneously vyakta and avyakta. This is possible only for the Lord. While He is constantly all-pervading He can have an isolated or localised form at the same time. In both cases He retains all His powers. Even if the Lord has taken the form of a small boy, He retains the power of all-pervasiveness. Thus it is not possible for His mother to bind the all-pervading Lord with a rope. The Lord had proven His greatness when He displayed unlimited universes to Mother Yasodä in His mouth.
But this great opulence and greatness of the Lord does not manifest to Mother Yasodä. Mother Yasodä thinks, “This boy is my son.” Due to her parental love, she cannot see the all-pervasive nature of God. She was able to bind the all-powerful vibhu because of her parental loving mood. Within the mind of Mother Yasodä, her son’s vibhutä-sakti or all-pervasive power remains covered or does not manifest.
In this regard Srila Visvanätha Cakravarti comments, “The all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, controller of all controllers, Lord Sri Krsna, who has bound all living entities by the rope of mäyä (äbrahmastamba- paryantam sarvaà mäyä-mayam jagat), starting from a blade of grass all the way up to Brahmä, has now been bound by Mother Yasodä by the power of her love. She bound Krsna by the rope of her love. Only in this way was it possible. We can only bind something which has an outer surface or outer periphery, something which is limited in its size. If something is allpervasive, this means it has no outer limits, no periphery, and consequently no inner limits either. How then can one bind such a thing? It is not normally possible. The Lord is sarva-desa-vyäpaka, all-pervading, and He is also sarvakäla- vyäpaka, eternal. That means there is nothing before or after Him. Käla or time flows eternally.”
The Lord is also the world. Because this world has manifested from His energy and because the energy and the energetic are non-different, we can conclude that the Lord is the world. If the Lord is the world then the world cannot bind the Lord. If the world cannot bind the Lord, then how can a rope, which is an insignificant part of the world, bind the Lord? We cannot dismiss Krsna as just a small boy and question His all-pervasiveness, as He had already proven this by displaying the entire cosmic manifestation in His mouth. We must therefore conclude that it is impossible to bind Krsna. If so, then how did Mother Yasodä achieve this incomprehensible task?
She bound Him by the power of her unparalleled parental love. Among the unlimited qualities of Lord Sri Krsna, He has a quality known as prema vasyatä, which means He is controlled by love. Because of this quality of the Lord, it was possible for Yasodä to bind Him by a rope of love.
Because Sri Krsna was so mischievous, He deserved the punishment His mother had devised for Him. She had a duty to train her son properly and could not neglect this. As Mother Yasodä was binding Krsna, something very interesting happened. She was about to tie the knot when she discovered that the rope was short by two fingers. She added more rope, but again it was two fingers short. She made several more attempts, but whatever quantity of rope she added, she was surprisingly two fingers short at every attempt to tie the knot. Yasodä thought, “My child, due to His uncommon naughtiness, has become very restless and is not allowing me to bind Him.” This reflects the very sweet mood of the parental love of Mother Yasodä.
Of the Lord’s many potencies, one is vibhutä. Vibhu means big, and this potency appeared in the waist of the Lord, increasing it in a way that was invisible to Mother Yasodä. We have seen that the love of Mother Yasodä was one of the main factors for her being able to bind the Lord, but is this love all that is needed? Actually the love of Mother Yasodä had to be combined with the sanction or acceptance of the Lord. The reason the rope was two fingers short every time indicates the two essential components needed to bind or capture Krsna: eagerness for Krsna and the mercy of Krsna. When Krsna saw the labour of Mother Yasodä, He felt compassion or mercy and thus He accepted the binding.
When Mother Yasodä was trying to bind Krsna, He began to shout, begging help from Mother Rohini. Krsna said, “Oh, Mother Rohini! Oh, brother Balaräma! Please help Me. My mother is binding Me!” But they were not there as they had gone to the house of Upananda to attend a program. If Mother Rohini had been there, the situation may not have escalated to such a degree where Mother Yasodä had to bind Krsna. Mother Rohini would most likely have intervened to normalise the situation.
Due to Krsna’s wailing and pleas for help, the neighbourhood ladies came to Nanda Bäbä’s house to see the reason for all the commotion. They were surprised to see Mother Yasodä punishing her darling son by trying to bind Him with a rope. The gopis thought, “Today Kanha must have done something very mischievous in His house. He usually comes to our houses to steal butter. When we come to complain, Yasodä refuses to accept that Krsna would steal butter from other houses. But today Krsna has done something naughty at His house, causing His mother great anger.” The gopis pleaded on behalf of Krsna, “Oh, Yasodä! Please release this boy. Consider Him punished already. What great offense has He committed for which you are trying to bind Him? This is very common behaviour for children.”
But Mother Yasodä did not care for their words. She became more determined to bind Krsna. Seeing Yasodä so flustered, the gopis began to laugh, saying, “Oh! Just see, you can never bind Him! There must be a secret to binding this boy. It appears that destiny is protecting Him.” Mother Yasodä initially tried to bind Krsna with the rope she was using to churn butter, and then eventually used every rope in her house. The neighbourhood ladies, jokingly, brought more ropes from their houses and said, “Take all these ropes to bind your son. Let us see how you bind Him.”
Hearing the gopis, Mother Yasodä became even more determined and said, “What are you talking about? Do you think I cannot bind this small boy? I will try all day and use all the ropes in my house to see how big His belly is.” Mother Yasodä was also laughing along with the gopés, who were all very surprised to witness this miraculous event. Mother Yasodä said, “He was born at the wrong time. Thus He does not know good from bad. But I think you have been put under a spell since internally you are prejudiced against Him, but externally you show yourselves differently.”
The neighbouring ladies laughed and said, “Falling at your feet, we swear that we are not under some amazing spell.” Mother Yasodä then began to think, “According to Garga’s words, the Lord’s powers are covering this boy, and He does not know what is happening.”
Srila Visvanätha Cakravarti has described the reason why the rope became shorter. He states, “When Yasodä was trying to bind Krsna it was during the morning. Usually at that time He would go to play with His friends. By that time, all His friends had come and were looking through their windows and calling Krsna to play with them. Krsna wanted to go out and play with His friends and His lilä-sakti acted according to His desire. When His lilä-sakti saw that Krsna wanted to go out and play but that His mother was trying to bind Him, thus stopping Him, the lilä-sakti thought, ‘Who can bind my Lord?’ Thus His vibhutä-sakti was sent by His satya-saìkalpa-sakti to appear in the waist of Krsna. As a result whatever amount of rope was used it was always short.”
Mother Yasodä thought, “Alas! The size of my son’s waist is only as big as my palm, but I have used rope as long as a hundred hands and still it is not sufficient to bind this boy! Surprisingly though, I do not see His belly growing in size. The second surprising thing is that every time I am about to knot the rope, it is exactly two fingers short, not three or four!”
The neighbourhood ladies said, “Alas! After using all the ropes in your house, the small waist of this boy still could not be bound. This indicates His good fortune. Destiny has dictated that He will not be bound. Oh Yasodä! Better you refrain from this endeavour.” Hearing this from the ladies, Mother Yasodä became more obstinate and thought, “Today I will try to bind this boy even if it takes until evening and I have to use all the ropes in this village, but I will see the end of this boy’s belly. I have to know the size of His waist.” In this mood, Mother Yasodä, the greatest well-wisher of her son, would not give up the effort to bind Krsnaa, setting the scene for a transcendental contest between God and His devotee. Finally Lord Krsna, upon seeing the labour of His mother, gave up His impudence (hatha).
In this way, that Supreme Personality of Godhead, the most attractive and completely independent Krsna, who is the controller of all controllers, showed His great quality of bhrtya-vasyatä, becoming subordinate to His bhrtya, or servant.
He is controlled by His devotees. He who controls all controllers is controlled by His devotee.
One may ask, “Can Krsna really be bound in this way?” Sukadeva Gosvämi says, “Yes, because of His merciful nature, Krsna can actually be tied and bound by His devotee, krpayäsit sva-bandhane.” Krsna’s merciful nature, krpä-sakti, prevailed and subdued all of His other saktis. His Holiness Rädhä Govinda Mahäräja describes a very nice exchange between Balaräma and Yasodä as well as Balaräma and Krsna.
After binding Krsna to a grinding mortar, Mother Yasodä sternly told Krsna, “Stay here! If You dare to move, I’ll beat You.” She asked the other gopis to keep an eye on Him. Until this point, Balaräma was not there, so someone informed Balaräma that His brother was tied up. Upon arriving, Balaräma assumed His Sankarsana mood and strongly declared, “Who dares to bind Krsna? I am Sankarsana. I am Sesa Näga. As Sankarsana, I can burn the entire universe with one breath. As Sesa Näga, I can inundate the entire Vraja with the poison coming from My one thousand hoods. Does this wrong-doer not know what I can do? Who has done this? Who tied Krsna?”
Someone told Balaräma that it was Mother Yasodä who had bound Krsna. Upon hearing this, Balaräma’s mood changed. He was no longer like a fiery snake. He became like a timid mouse. Balaräma’s anger waned and He did not know what to do. Balaräma saw that Krsna was crying. And Krsna, seeing Balaräma, cried even more to invoke His mercy. Seeing Krsna crying, Balaräma became angry again and shouted, “Who has tied Krsna? He is Näräyana. He is Narasimha. He is Vämana. He is Matsya. Krsna is the origin of all avatäras. He is everything. Who is the guilty one? I have one thousand hoods—I will burn this Vraja to the ground with the flames from My one thousand hoods!”
Looking at Balaräma, Mother Yasodä sarcastically said, “Oh, I see, Krsna is the origin of all incarnations. If that is so, who then are You?” Balaräma replied, “I am Laksmana. I am Sesa Näga, I am Sankarsana. I can do this, I can do that.” Mother Yasodä then said, “Do all these incarnations have to appear only in my home?” She picked up her stick and waved it threateningly at Balaräma. She warned, “You had better get out of here before I beat and bind You as well!” Hearing this, Balaräma ran away.
All His Sankarsana power was no longer present. Mother Yasodä said, “Krsna is Bhagavän? Indeed! He hears a cat meow and runs to me. Bhagavän Narasimha is like this? If Krsna is Bhagavän, then why does He need to steal makhan?”
Balaräma ran from Mother Yasodä and went to Krsna, saying, “I told You so many times to give up this makhan stealing. Did You listen to Me? You ignored My advice and now You are suffering. What can I do? If someone else had tied You, I would have taken care of it. But when Mä ties You, what can I do? I am helpless. What can I do to stop her? I heard that You broke the yogurt pot, why did You do that? Even if You had broken the pot, why did You not just stop at that? Instead You had to continue Your mischief and make her more angry. My dear brother Krsna, I am sorry, there is nothing I can do.” Krsna heard this and began to cry even more.
Balaräma continued, “I told You so many times to give up this stealing habit but You would not listen. This serves You right. Today You are getting punished. All You can do is cry. Who can release You?” Balaräma pleaded with Mother Yasodä, “Please untie Him, please untie Him.” Then He said, “Then I will untie Him. I will go and untie Him.” Balaräma was hoping that Mother Yasodä would relent and tell Him to untie Krsna. But Mother
Yasodä did not relent. In the end, Balaräma went back to Krsna and They both cried. Krsna cried because He was tied up and Balaräma cried because He was helpless. Mother Yasodä, after binding Krsna, had left to perform her daily duties. While His mother was engaged in her household activities, Sri Krsna, while still bound, cast His merciful glance towards the two arjuna trees. Mother Yasodä left Krsna but she did not go too far away. She also engaged a few boys to guard Krsna and she knew very well that her boy did not have enough strength to pull the grinding mortar. Thus she had no fear that her son would wander off and get up to some mischief. Mother Yasodä said, “You restless boy! If You can, then let me see You release Yourself from this binding.”
Gopäla-campü describes this: Having tied Him up and showing harshness to Him to teach Him, Mother Yasodä went to do her household chores with the other women who were laughing. She placed other boys around her child to protect Him. When the neighbourhood women left, Krsna pretended to cry for a while. Then He became joyful at the prospect of moving the mortar to many places. Although He was tied up, with great faith, increased by being surrounded by the boys, He played with them while smiling, and moved the mortar bit by bit while they also laughed. He then had them go to the empty houses of the women and steal the butter hanging in pots. But He did not desire to free Himself from the mortar using His hands or any instrument, in order to give joy by pulling the mortar.
Here it should be noted that while Krsna was bound He still had the power to deliver the two trees. Thus even if the Lord has been bound by His devotee He still retains His power to deliver others. When Mother Yasodä left Krsna after binding Him with the rope to the grinding mortar, Sri Krsna could have asked the other boys to untie the rope and release Him. But He did not ask for that because He enjoyed being bound by His mother. He enjoyed that His mother had bound Him with the rope of her love.
Srila Jiva Gosvämi has said, “Krsna had seen these trees since His birth. But on this particular day He had a very merciful glance. Why did He not have this merciful glance before? Because on this day, Krsna was in bondage. He realised the pain of bondage, which reminded Him that Nalaküvara and Manigriva, the two sons of Kuvera, had been standing there in the form of trees for so many years. Empathizing with the suffering of the sons of Kuvera, due to His own bondage, the Lord felt mercy. Krsna thought, ‘I have been bound by My mother due to some debt that I must repay.’ He decided to repay the debt by delivering the sons of Kuvera.”
Desiring to pull down the two trees, Krsna started pulling hard. He uprooted both of the arjuna trees, creating a terrible sound. All the inhabitants of Vraja (other than the deaf) could not maintain their composure on hearing that sound. What was most astonishing, however, was that Krsna had broken the two trees which were hard as thunderbolts, but He could not break the bondage of affection He had with His mother. Poets praise this:
“I praise the child cared for by the women of Vraja. He has a dark complexion and His ankle bells jingle. He gives joy when He crawls. He produced a rough sound as He pulled the mortar over the earth. His eyes became restless at the curious, thunderous sound of the falling arjuna trees.”
Hearing the fearful sound of the falling trees the inhabitants of Vraja fainted for a muhürta. Only the boys around Krsna did not faint. Experiencing the height of sweetness of His pastimes, they did not become frightened and remained immobile like painted pictures. Hearing that sound from far off, the villagers speculated on its origin and went towards the place. Arriving all at the same time and full of anxiety, they conversed with each other: “How have these trees fallen without wind, without rain, without thunderbolts, without an attack by elephants? How is it possible for someone to uproot
the trees when there is no one here?” For that reason everyone fainted on hearing that loud sound. They noticed that Krsna was near the trees and that He was smiling. Pulling the mortar, He was experiencing bliss in His actions. They surrounded Him, saying, “How did this happen?”
Seeing His father coming from behind, Krsna began crying. His frightened father smiled in order to comfort the child and untied Him. Kissing the child’s face, he repeatedly asked what happened although he knew the cause of His being tied up. “Where is the rascal who has tied You to the mortar?” Attached to His father, He approached him after some time and whispered in his ear, “O father! Mother did this.”
Yasodä, after recovering from fainting and repenting what she had done, had told Nanda everything. Thus he already knew. But he did not want to say anything suddenly to Krsna while alone with Him. Not with disrespect, but out of ignorance of the details he asked the other boys, “How did this happen?” The boys spoke. “Krsna went between the two trees in order to go to a wider space for playing and pulled the immovable mortar by its base in a crooked manner. He produced a cracking sound in the trees and then suddenly made them fall to the earth. Then two people like fire, decorated with bracelets, crowns and earrings, emerged from the broken trees and offered respects in all directions. They then praised Krsna. The two then departed for the north.” Hearing this, all the people with parental feelings including Nanda dismissed it as children’s talk. Others, however, could not remove the doubt in their hearts. Gradually one by one, others came and joined Nanda. Holding Krsna on his chest, he went to the Yamunä River to perform his daily rites. Taking a bath with his son, he had brähmaëas chant auspicious prayers and after dismissing
them with great gifts, returned to his house to take his morning meal. Being unhappy because of separation from Krsna and ashamed of having tied Him up, Yaçodä did not come out of the house and did not talk to other women in the house. When the other women left, Rohiëé, who solves all problems, surrounded her along with the respectable kitchen assistants.
Nanda brought Krsna and Balaräma and ate his meal with them while engaging in affectionate, soft talk. He relaxed with the two, who were supreme bliss incarnate, for two muhürtas. His heart was satisfied as if lying on a soft bed. He went to the cowshed at the time when the cows returned and supervised their milking. Bringing white sugar from the house, he had the two boys, along with Their friends, drink most beneficial milk fresh from the cows as a substitute for breast milk. He taught Them how to write some letters. Later, entering the house, he met with others to have his evening meal.
Desiring unbroken happiness for his son, the head women including Rohini, the jewels of their families, came and made a request. “O King! Yasodä has not eaten all day and she does not speak to anyone. Seeing this, all others have also followed her example.” Nanda spoke with sadness and a smile, “What can we do? After showing anger, one should regret one’s fault.” They said with tears in their eyes. “Ah! She is very soft internally and externally. She will be devastated by your words.” Slightly smiling, Nanda Mahäräja then asked his son, “Will You go to Your mother?”
Krsna said, “No, no! I will spend My time with you. I will not go to Mother. I will stay with My father.” The wives of Nanda Mahäräja’s elder brothers said, “Whose milk will You drink? If You do not go to Your mother then who will feed You milk?”
Krsna said, “I will drink fresh milk from the cows mixed with sugar.” The ladies said, “Who will You play with?” Krsna said, “I will play with My father. I will bring My brother also.” Nanda Mahäräja said, “Will You not go to Your brother’s mother?” Angrily Krsna said with tears in His eyes, “She left Me and went away.” Hearing this, Rohini, with tears in her eyes said softly, “O son! Why are You so harsh? Your mother is suffering.”
Not listening to her words, Krsna with tearful eyes glanced at His father’s face. To attract Krsna, Rohini gave a signal to Balaräma. Balaräma went to Krsna and held His hand. Krsna rejected His hand and went to the lap of His father and held His arms around his neck, looking at Nanda’s tear-filled eyes, and bringing Nanda under His control.
Seeing Krsna’s internal affection for His mother, Nanda raised his hand as if to beat Yasodä, in order to reveal Krsna’s affection for her: “O son! If You agree I will beat her.” Krsna could not tolerate this and blocked Nanda’s hand. Smiling again, Nanda, showing great compassion because of his parental affection, and, understanding the heart of Krsna’s mother, said, “O son! If Your mother is in this condition, what will You do?” He spoke while smiling, indicating she would die. Because of His childlike nature, Krsna immediately became anxious for His mother.
With tears in His eyes He said, “Where is Mother? I must go there.” In anxiety, He went to Rohini’s lap. While all were noisily laughing, Rohini, who bestows the greatest happiness, took Him and entered the house. He hugged His mother’s neck while crying in joy. Yasodä kissed the child’s head and made sounds like a cow. With a melted heart, she sobbed, making all others there sob.
Yasodä pacified the women with comforting words and a slight glow appeared on her face. She appeared healthy with a beautiful face and satisfied her child with breast milk. With the other helpful women, she fed Krsna and Balaräma. For three days after the incident, being reserved, Yasodä did not show herself to Nanda. But on another day, Krsna brought her to His father on his order, holding the edge of her cloth.
From the day when He was bound, the women of Vraja called the beautiful dark child “Dämodara” in a joking way.
What poet amongst all the people in this world can describe Yasodä, whom Sukadeva has described as much superior to Brahmä, Siva and Laksmi? The drum roll of her fame announced by Sukadeva Gosvämi wanders throughout the three worlds with great renown:
“Neither Lord Brahmä, nor Lord Siva, nor even the goddess of fortune, who is always the better half of the Supreme Lord, can obtain from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the deliverer from this material world, such mercy as received by Mother Yasodä.”
(Srimad-Bhägavatam 10.9.20) Jaya Mother Yasodä-mayi Ki! Jaya!