The following account is an excerpt from
Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī – His Life and Teachings
by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
“Once, during the month of Kārtika, Śrīla Gurupādapadma had brought his noble presence to Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha. One day, he was sitting in his bhajana-kuṭīra chanting harināma, absorbed in transcendental emotions. I had sat down nearby and was silently reading the chapter on Śrī Dāma-bandhana-līlā from Śrī Gopāla-campūḥ. As I read, I became completely fascinated with Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s beautiful description of this pastime. Finally, unable to restrain myself, I ran over to Śrīla Gurudeva and said, ‘Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī was a mahāpuruṣa, a most exalted personality, and an unrivalled philosopher. At the same time, he was a transcendental, rasika poet, whose work is eloquent, touching and descriptive. Although such a combination of vast erudition and poetic artistry is rarely found in this world, when we read his narration of Śrī Dāma-bandhana-līlā, we see the two unified in an astonishing manner.’
“I began to read that description aloud. As I neared the end of the story, my śrīla gurudeva suddenly began weeping. An incessant flow of tears cascaded down his cheeks, and other symptoms of spiritual ecstasy were clearly visible in his form. I have only seen such an expression of extraordinary spiritual emotions once or twice in my life.”
The determination to bind Śrī Kṛṣṇa with rope
The deliverance of the twin arjuna trees
From Chapter Eight of
Śrī Gopāla-campūḥ (pūrva)
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmīpāda
Editor’s note: Every morning before Śrī Kṛṣṇa takes the cows out to graze an assembly of Vrajavāsīs gather together at Śrī Nanda Bābā’s palace. For the pleasure of Śrī Nanda Bābā and his four brothers, as well as for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Balarāma, and the other Vrajavāsīs, Snigdha-kaṇṭha and Madhu-kaṇṭha narrate Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. What these twin brothers narrated one day is about to be described.
The next morning in that assembly when all the gopas, who are part of the vaiśya community, had gracefully taken their seats, Śrī Snigdha-kaṇṭha began:
The month of Kārtika was nearing conclusion. Early one morning, Śrī Yaśodā gladly beheld her sleeping little Gopāla, whose eyes, now closed, resemble two blue lotus flowers. Mother Yaśodā contentedly gazed upon her child and began to gently and lovingly stroke Him with her hands, which are as soft as fresh budding leaves. When she noted with relief that He was again in deep sleep, she slowly and silently left His bedside. She entered the courtyard on her own, tied her cloth tightly around her and started churning some yoghurt to use in her home.
Today, on the affectionate and insistent invitation of Śrī Nanda Mahārāja’s elder brother Śrī Upananda, Śrī Rohiṇī-devī, accompanied by her son Baladeva, mounted a magnificent chariot and went to his home. The maidservants were also coming and going while performing their different services. There was quite a lot to do because the month of Mārga-śīrṣa, the topmost month of the year, was approaching and the annual festival of Indra-pūjā, which is observed by the people in general, and which has long been celebrated in traditional culture, was at hand. (1)
When all the maidservants were thus engaged in their respective tasks, the queen of Vraja, Śrī Yaśodā, personally set to churning the yoghurt with great care. To encourage her son’s pleasant slumber, she sang sweetly as she churned. Absorbed in thoughts of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, with her mind and her soul fully offered to Him, she sang detailed descriptions of His childhood pastimes, as her eyes admired His lovely face. (2)
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī has mentioned this in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.2): “One day when all the maidservants were engaged in various tasks, Śrī Yaśodā, the wife of Śrī Nanda, personally began to churn yoghurt. At that time, songs about Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s childhood pastimes came to her mind, and she began to sing them.” (3)
As dark complexioned Vrajeśvarī Śrī Yaśodā churned, her arms repeatedly moved back and forth. A series of girdles embedded with jewels encircled her waist-cloth, and beautiful bangles adorned her arms. Her ornaments sounded in time with the vigorous movement of her waist and arms. Meanwhile, her son drowsily opened His eyes a little. As Śrī Vrajeśvarī beheld the charm of His lotus face, she churned with greater intensity and sang: (4)
gokula-pati-kula-tilakaṁ tvam asīha
kṛta-sukṛta-vraja racita-sukha-vraja! nayanānandi-samīha!
O my darling son, You are the crest ornament of the dynasty of gokula-pati Śrī Nanda Mahārāja. The Vrajavāsīs must have performed greatly pious acts to witness You bringing joy to their hearts. Your activities delight the eyes of all.
pūtanikā-mṛti-nava-maṅgala-kṛti valayita gokula-rāja!
You rouse the joy of the cowherd community by the blissful festival of Your birth. And by the recent and auspicious act of killing Pūtanā, You have spread the glory of Your father, the king of Gokula, far and wide.
dhairya-nivartana-śakaṭa-vivartanam anubhavyena parīta!
After eliminating Śakaṭāsura, who made everyone lose all composure, You were blessed by the auspicious rituals of the brāhamaṇas. Later, Śrī Nanda’s worshipful deity, Parameśvara, returned You to us after destroying Tṛṇāvarta along with His storm.
madhura-prāṅgaṇa-viracita-riṅgaṇa jalaja-nayana supuṇya!
nānā-keliṣu nṛtya-kalāliṣu darśita-vara naipuṇya!
O lotus-eyed boy of incomparable piety, You used to crawl about on Your tiny hands and knees in our charming courtyard. You have shown great expertise in playing various games and demonstrating many varieties of dance.
tarṇaka-bāladhi śabalita-tanvadhi valayita mañjula-śobha!
jaratī-nivahe kautuka-kalahe prabalita-mithyā-lobha!
When You used to grab the tails of the calves, they would run away, dragging You along. At those times, Your gorgeous form was pulled through the dust and cow-dung, which gave You an even more enchanting splendour. While playfully quarrelling with the elderly gopīs, You would frivolously increase everyone’s confusion through Your antics.
māṁ mātaram anu-sukham udvitanu pratataṁ satataṁ kṛṣṇa!
drutam urarī kuru tanu-vṛddhiṁ puru-khelāvali-kṛta-tṛṣṇa!
O Kṛṣṇa, since I am Your mother, forever continue to expand my already boundless joy. Quickly grow healthy and strong, and fulfil our desire by delighting our eyes with Your many, lively pastimes.
tribhuvana-darśana vismaya-marśana niścita-vaiṣṇava-māya
hari-varivasyā sukha-datamaḥ syā vigata-jarāmara-kāya
At first, You caused bewilderment by displaying the three worlds within Your mouth. Later however, it was understood that by doing so, You confirmed the existence of Lord Viṣṇu’s spiritual illusory potency – vaiṣṇavī māyā. O Kṛṣṇa, may Your body be free from ageing and death, and may You become the bestower of bliss by serving Śrī Hari. (5)
Then, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the ocean of eternal charm, woke up and climbed down from the bed, crying. (6)
As He stretched His body, He took long breaths and rubbed His sleepy eyes. Now fully awake, He cried, “Mā, Mā.” Hearing the sound of the churning rod, Śrī Gopāla, tottered over to His mother. (7)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the best of the blessed and the king of beauty stopped the rod from churning. Śrī Yaśodā’s motherly affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa expanded within her heart, completely filling it with the desire to cradle Him, and in her mood there was a trace of fear and grief. As her motherly affection surged, she fed her young child the milk that spontaneously poured from her breasts in a stream. (8)
Mother Yaśodā is gracious and splendrous like the rainy season. Her breasts began to shower streams of milk that resembled a continuous downpour, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, like a cātaka bird, fittingly and gleefully began to drink that downpour. (9)
With great eagerness, Śrī Kṛṣṇa drank the milk of that blessed breast. He had only half satisfied His hunger when Mother Yaśodā noticed that the milk in the next room was boiling over. Although her child was eager for her breast-milk, she immediately put Him down, although it was apparently unwise of her to do so, and hastened inside to save the milk. She did not carry Him as she ran, fearing that He might fall. (10)
Madhu-kaṇṭha interrupted, “Snigdha-kaṇṭha, what are you saying, my brother? That is illogical. How could it be that Śrī Yaśodā left her starving baby to go elsewhere? She is the faultless ideal among all loving mothers within this universe.”
Snigdha-kaṇṭha laughed and said, “My dear elder brother, just wait and listen to me attentively. In reality, her leaving her child to save the milk is also a lovely pastime of motherly affection.”
Madhu-kaṇṭha was sceptical. “How?” he asked.
In the absence of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the residents of Vraja see that their bodies, homes and other possessions are more or less waning. From the day He was born, His parents, Śrī Nanda and Śrī Yaśodā, considered that all those residents of Vraja, as well as all the items used to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa, have abundant mamatā for Him. Even Śrī Brahmā confirms this in his prayers in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.35): “O Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the residents of Vraja have completely offered their homes, their wealth, their relatives, their beloveds, their soul, their bodies, their children, their lives and their minds – everything – at Your feet. How, in all fairness, could You not award them a result superior to what You awarded Pūtanā and other demons?”
What can be said of the love that Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s own mother and father have for Him, when Śrī Brahmā himself has glorified the love of the other Vrajavāsīs? All of the Vrajavāsīs’ rich milk and yoghurt, as well as their bodies, homes and other possessions, are exclusively meant for the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Thus, while serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is befitting to have more mamatā, or attachment, for the objects used to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa than for Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself.
Thus it is specifically understood that Mother Yaśodā’s intention in leaving Kṛṣṇa to save the milk was most exalted. This has been sanctioned in the scriptures that advocate bhakti. The import is that it is appropriate for Mother Yaśodā to have more attachment for the objects that are dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa than for Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Indeed, this is the eternal nature of an affectionate mother. (11)
Having concluded this, it is only fitting that Śrī Yaśodā first attend to those objects used in the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. At such times, she tolerates many personal inconveniences and remains unaware of her various household duties. With the loving mood born of her permanent emotion (sthāyībhāva) that “this is my son”, she is always aware of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s needs more than her own bodily or household needs. She is always conscious of His complete dependence on her and her perpetual attitude is, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s necessities are my necessities; and fulfilling them is my sole obligation.” Only the residents of Vraja know what is involved in expressing this type of affection. Even when they chastise Śrī Kṛṣṇa and punish Him, He knows that they are just taking care of Him. This is because a parent’s chastisement is considered part of loving and raising their children. There is no limit to what I can say about the boundless expression of their parental affection. (12)
And if the residents of Vraja feel angry with Kṛṣṇa out of their affection for Him, being the object of their extreme mamatā, He is even prepared to undergo bondage. Just see, even fire in the form of lightening sometimes appears in dense rain clouds. (13)
The evidence for the above statement is that both Mother Yaśodā and her son benefit each other by their mutual love. Listen as I describe their affectionate dealings. When Mother Yaśodā went to take the milk off the stove, for the pleasure of her son, she first comforted Him saying, “My darling son, may all Your problems and difficulties come to me. Watch this pot of yoghurt for just a minute while I check on the boiling milk. I will return quickly.” (14)
Ahh, just as swiftly as she put her son aside and left that churning place, she returned. Even in that time, milk poured from her breasts out of deep motherly affection, wetting her blouse. It poured so much that it made the floor slippery. (15)
Still, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s wishes had been checked and He was most perturbed. In anger He bit His trembling reddish lips and burst into tears. Then, picking up a small grinding stone, which was lying nearby, He broke the pot of half churned yoghurt. However He did not even get the slightest bit of butter from it. (16)
Poets have described His beauty at that time: “Little Kṛṣṇa’s white teeth, a series of moons, were enveloped by the reddish hue reflecting from His lips. His two eyes, resembling restless partridges, were full of tears, and His lotus hands shone as they vigorously sloshed yoghurt here and there. (17)
In this way, when the half-churned yoghurt from the pot covered the entire floor, another type of festival manifested. (18)
Just then His eyes caught sight of a pot of fresh butter hanging from the ceiling in the adjoining room. He ran to the door, slid the latch aside, and pushed it open. Then, moving the door-stopper back into place, He slipped into the room and closed the door behind Him. He used a nearby cot as a step, lowered the pot of butter and started to eat it. Thereafter, He took the remaining butter and secretly sneaked out through the window of that room. (19–20)
Meanwhile, Mother Yaśodā had stopped the milk from boiling over into the fire. The milk cooled down to a simmer within seconds, and she took it off the stove. She dashed back to where she had left her son only to find that He was gone! However, seeing evidence of her son’s activities, she laughed in mixed anger and amusement. (21)
At first, out of suspicion, she became perturbed. But then Yogamāyā manifested an aerial voice, which gave her knowledge and made her laugh. (22)
The aerial voice said, “Feeling hungry and thirsty, your little bumblebee made a hole in the bud of a lotus flower that had no pollen. When He saw that it was merely water that began dripping from that flower, He became disappointed and went to another lotus flower, where He has found a big supply of honey. The import is that in order to get fresh butter, your son performed all these deeds. He first broke the churning pot, but did not find butter there. He then found it hanging in the next room. (23)
“You have displayed your intelligence by deciding to leave your baby and go cool down the milk, but if you can calm the anger of your child, you will receive even more praise.” (24)
Upon hearing the aerial voice Mother Yaśodā laughed and followed the thief’s conspicuous yoghurt-footprints to the next room. She managed to force the doors open. Then she stepped inside, only to behold her son’s other matchless mischief. Tracing His path of escape, she finally spotted Him, His eyes restless with fear. (25–26)
He was thinking, “I have just stolen fresh butter. If My mother sees Me here, how will I face her?” His eyes moved about so frantically that they seemed to be on the verge of leaping into His ears. In other words His eyes and His ears were watching out for His mother. (27)
Mother Yaśodā saw Him sitting restless-eyed atop the grinding mortar that He had overturned with all His strength, feeding butter to the monkeys. Astonished by this, she smiled softly. (28)
She quietly crept up behind her guilty son. It is said that a wealthy person only has two eyes, but a thief has a hundred. That is to say, a wealthy person only has two eyes to look after his treasures, but a thief has a hundred to spot that person’s wealth and steal it. Although a person may be extremely careful to protect his wealth, it is not inaccessible to a thief. (29)
By nature, monkeys are proud of exhibiting their strength, but today their bellies were fully satisfied, so when they saw Mother Yaśodā advancing, holding a stick covered with cloth, they immediately scampered up the nearby trees. This alerted Kṛṣṇa to what was happening, and He also fled. (30)
Seeing her son fleeing, Mother Yaśodā broke into a run and began to chase Him. A shower of flowers fell from her braid. “O king of thieves,” she loudly called, “where are You going? Stop!
Stop!” Hearing this, Śrī Kṛṣṇa uttered a faint cry and a smile appeared on His face, enhancing His beauty. Mother Yaśodā ran quickly after Him. Although she came close, she could not catch Him. It was as if two clouds, one big and one small, were being chased by the wind from west to east, across the sky, the larger cloud unable to catch up with the smaller one. Similarly, this mother could not catch her son. (31–32)
Little Kṛṣṇa was confident that His mother would never pursue Him beyond the main gate, for she would then be seen running in public. Therefore, He intentionally ran in that direction. Mother Yaśodā knew that at that time of day no one would be outside the gate so she just kept chasing Him. (33)
As long as Kṛṣṇa ran without looking back, His mother was unable to catch Him, but as soon as He turned His head back in fear, she caught Him by His hand. (34)
He frantically moved His eyes about as if trying to continue running away. He began crying in an attempt to reduce Mother Yaśodā’s anger, and out of impudence He started trembling artificially, but He did not give up His childish pranks. Whenever she forcefully held His face so that she could look Him in the eye, Śrī Kṛṣṇa turned His face in such a way as to wipe the oily gloss of butter from His mouth and make it look dry. (35–36)
Threatening Him, Mother Yaśodā said, “O Kṛṣṇa, You have given me so much trouble. Before You steal from Your home, first look at this stick in my hand.” When she saw her lotus-eyed son’s terror upon hearing these words, Śrī Vrajeśvarī tossed that stick aside. (37)
“Don’t beat Me, Mother!” Kṛṣṇa beseeched her.
The queen of Vraja scorned Him, “But You are a thief, a thief!” Laughing to herself, she suddenly and forcefully instigated a quarrel with Him. (38)
“Ahh, You are the king of thieves (cora)!”
Kṛṣṇa protested, “No Mother, Cora took birth in your dynasty, not Mine. Why would we have a cora (thief) in our home?” In this way, Mother Yaśodā and her butter-stealing son argued with each other. (39)
“Oh, really? Well, who broke the pot of yoghurt?” she again inquired.
Kṛṣṇa replied, “The Supreme Lord. He was punishing you.”
“But,” she continued, “who fed butter to the monkeys?”
“He who created them.”
“No!” she exclaimed, “I suspect that You always feast with great relish on the fresh butter we prepare for use in religious sacrifices.”
Mother Yaśodā scolded her son as she would a thief, but finally her heart softened. She laughed with anger and said, “Just admit Your theft; give up Your arrogance.”
Thus pressed by His mother, Śrī Kṛṣṇa burst into tears. “Look, Mā,” He sobbed, “when you anxiously rushed to save the milk, your ankle-bells struck the pot of yoghurt and it broke. How is this My fault?” (40–43)
“And the monkeys,” He continued, “were inspired by the Supreme Lord to sneak into the house to steal. When they began taking the butter, I caught them. What did I do wrong?” (44)
“And then,” He retorted, “the stick in your hand frightened Me, so even though I am completely innocent, I fled like a thief. You saw I was so afraid, but still you mercilessly chased Me, all for no reason!” (45)
Mother Yaśodā spoke as if lamenting: “Oh, You who are the king of those skilled in argument.” she said. “You are the best of thieves. Although You are the son of Śrī Vraja-rāja, the most noble of men, Your nature has become like a monkey’s because You are fond of them.” When fearful Śrī Kṛṣṇa heard this, He pointed to the forest and said, “If I am a monkey, then I will live in the forest,” which slightly frightened His mother. (46)
“Who knows?” she thought, “this arrogant boy could easily put His threat into action. To keep Him from running into the forest, I must tie Him up; otherwise, it will be very difficult for me to single-handedly manage my household duties and this child.”(47)
Turning to Kṛṣṇa, she openly said, “You thief! You restless boy! You who bewilder one and all by the charm of Your flickering eyes, why don’t You simply accept my prohibitions? Look! I will tie You up and then quickly return to the house. If You have any strength left You can show it to me by trying to steal something else.” (48)
As she started to bind Him, His eyes became moist, and in fury He began to loudly cry out, “O Mother Rohiṇī!” He shrieked, “where have you gone with My big brother? Because you are not here today, this mother is tying Me up. Come quickly!” (49)
Since Śrī Rohiṇī was far away, she could not hear His cries. But the ladies from neighbouring homes who had previously complained about Kṛṣṇa and who had chastised Him, did hear His cries. They informed each other of the fun and assembled there. As if taunting her, they reminded Śrī Yaśodā of their complaints. “Has this thief done something mischievous in your home also?” they laughed. (50)
Mother Yaśodā, however, was bent on teaching her son a lesson, so she paid no heed to their remarks. Snatching up a silk ribbon that had fallen from her braid, she immediately began binding her son’s waist to a grinding mortar lying in the courtyard, with the same persistence it takes to bind the neck of a calf. But that silk ribbon was two fingers too short. (51)
She took another ribbon from her hair and joined it to the first one, but still the same problem confronted her. Amazed, she then tried to bind Kṛṣṇa’s waist with several churning ropes that the gopīs handed her, but still Vrajeśvarī could not make up that gap of two fingers. (52)
From a distance, a cloud that is actually touching the peak of a mountain may be mistakenly perceived as being quite far beyond it. In a similar sense, although the full length of rope was actually touching Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it could not bind His apparently tiny waist. The rope was always two fingers too short. (53)
Observing this, the ladies of Vraja laughed and remarked, “O Vrajeśvarī, we already told you that this boy surely has some extraordinary illusory potency. On account of it, He even surpasses Kaphallak, the foremost among thieves. He seems to be satisfied simply by eating stolen goods, or, by such acts He delights both the donors of those goods and the enjoyers of them. He is gradually gaining quite a reputation as one who steals others’ possessions.”
Mother Yaśodā responded “What does this recently born child know [about being a thief]? He does not know good from bad. But it seems that you are the ones who know some evil trickery. Although you actually favour Him, externally you behave in a contrary way.”
At this, the ladies laughed. “O respected Śrī Yaśodā,” they said. “we take an oath at your feet that we have nothing to do with these astonishing powers.”(54)
Finally, Śrī Yaśodā reasoned, “As Śrī Gargācārya said, surely some potency of Śrī Bhagavān surrounds my son. This infant boy cannot know what He is doing.” (55)
Just to put an end to this bewilderment, Śrī Yaśodā repeatedly called for more and more churning ropes from the homes of those gopīs. Despite her persistence in her endeavour to bind her son, she could not find any way to accomplish the seemingly impossible task. Instead, Śrī Yaśodā, the queen of Vraja, dripped with perspiration, and curls of hair fell over her face again and again. Finally she became completely exhausted. (56-57)
As long as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who was born in the Yadu dynasty, stubbornly refused to be bound, Mother Yaśodā’s persistent efforts were fruitless, just as one whose fate is grasped by an unfavourable star is always unsuccessful in his endeavours. Finally Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s heart was touched by the sight of His mother being so overwhelmed, and almost immediately she successfully bound Him with the two ribbons she had initially used from her hair. It was clear to all present that it was only these two ribbons that bound Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The other ropes she had used to tie Him simply lay there. (58)
It was actually Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s maidservant, His yogamāyā potency, who had understood His mind and accomplished the task of binding Him. This made Mother Yaśodā feel that all those astonishing activities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa were an illusion. When that rope was finally tied tightly around Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s waist, Mother Yaśodā knotted it to another long rope, which she then tied around the middle of the grinding mortar. (59)
She had taught her son Kṛṣṇa a lesson by tying Him up and thus showed Him how unmoved she could be by His stubbornness. To protect Him, she seated the other little boys around Him and, happily went inside with the giggling gopīs to complete her household chores. (60)
Within a moment of the vraja-gopīs’ departure, Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested His pastime of crying, but He soon cheered up at the thought of pulling the grinding mortar around. He was tied up, but because He was surrounded by other little boys, He stimulated their desire for adventure. As He laughed and played with them, He slowly began to tug at the grinding mortar.
The gopīs who had gleefully brought ropes from their homes to bind Śrī Kṛṣṇa were now in Nanda-bhavana with Śrī Yaśodā. This meant that their homes were empty. Seizing that excellent opportunity, Śrī Kṛṣṇa directed His friends to steal the fresh butter hanging from the ceilings of their deserted homes and then eat it. Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa found pulling the grinding mortar so entertaining, He never even wanted to free Himself by His own hands, nor by the hands of His friends. (61)
Just then, His eyes fell on the twin arjuna trees which stood facing the main gate and which swayed, as if dancing, whenever there was a strong wind. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa pulled the mortar along, He eventually crawled towards the middle of the two trees. (62)
At this point, Snigdha-kaṇṭha, who had been loudly narrating all this with great excitement, suddenly realized, “If I tell them that Śrī Hari is the cause of the two trees falling, I will be glorifying His aiśvarya, or opulence. That would not at all be appropriate in this assembly of Vrajavāsīs, who are absorbed in Śrī Hari’s mādhurya, or sweetness. I will conceal this fact and just tell them another reason why the trees fell.” (63)
Just as Śrī Kṛṣṇa came between the trees, He became filled with eagerness to proceed further and quickly crawled between them. The passage between the trees was narrow, and as He crawled away the mortar became stuck. (64)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa jerked and tugged at the mortar with the conscious intention of breaking the rope that bound Him to it, but instead the two trees made a crackling sound as they were uprooted and came crashing to the ground, falling in opposite directions. The sound was so tumultuous that it made the Vrajavāsīs feel more disoriented than deaf people, and it made their minds restless. (65–66)
Although Śrī Kṛṣṇa had uprooted the twin arjuna trees, which were more powerful than thunderbolts, amazingly He was still unable to break the rope that embodied His mother’s intense attachment and relentless determination born of vātsalya-prema. (67)
In this regard, poets praise Śrī Kṛṣṇa as follows:
karṣac chaśvad-udūkhalaṁ khara-kharatkāra-prakāra-pratham
visphūrja-pratimārjuna-dvaya kaṭatkārārjitāt kautukāt
paryāvṛtta-nirīkṣaṇaṁ vraja-vadhū-lālyasya bālyaṁ stuve
I adore the childhood mood (bālya-bhāva) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is nurtured by the ladies of Vraja. He is gloriously situated in His childhood mood in which His dark blue limbs are adorned by His tinkling ankle-bells. He bestows the greatest bliss as He crawls on His knees and repeatedly pulls at the grinding mortar, which clatters as He drags it along. Excited by the thunderous crackling of the two falling arjuna trees, He looks all around with His restless eyes. (68)
Terrified by that thunderous sound, all the inhabitants of Gokula fainted and remained unconscious for one daṇḍa (twenty-four minutes). Only the children who had gathered around Śrī Kṛṣṇa did not faint. Being immersed in the utmost sweetness of His pastimes, they, like the figures in a painting, remained unaffected by fear. (69)
From a distance Śrī Vrajarāja and other cowherd men heard that tumultuous and terrifying sound. Fearing some calamity, they all rushed to the spot, speculating to each other along the way about what had happened. When they reached the spot, they became overcome with fear and doubt. “Oh, what could have uprooted these two trees?” they all cried. “There is no wind or rain, nor was there any lightening, nor has an elephant attacked them. Who has uprooted them?” (70–71)
Some remarked, “This is such a disaster, yet no one is here but us.”
“Well,” reasoned another, “that is probably because the tumultuous sound of the crashing trees knocked everyone in Vraja unconscious.” (72)
Just then, they noticed their little Gopāla near the trees, a playful smile beautifying His face as He tugged the grinding mortar, freely showering the bliss of His pastimes upon all. “What happened? What happened?” they asked as they surrounded Him, discussing the cause of the disaster. (73)
Seeing His father approaching from behind, little Mukunda began to cry. Although Śrī Nanda Mahārāja was still bewildered, he beamed a smile to pacify His darling child and quickly untied Him. (74–75)
Śrī Nanda Mahārāja kissed the face of his son Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who spoke to Nanda Bābā while crying, and although he knew why Kṛṣṇa had been bound, he repeatedly asked, “O my son, where is the wicked person who forcefully bound You to this grinding mortar?” Eventually, Kṛṣṇa, who was devoted to His father, climbed into his lap. With His arms around His father’s neck and His voice quivering, He slowly spoke into his ear, “Father, it was Mother who bound Me.” (76)
When Śrī Yaśodā had heard the deafening crash, she fainted. After regaining consciousness, she pitifully began to repent. Śrī Nanda Mahārāja came to know this, and therefore he did not want to immediately question her, even in private. He did not even bother to ask the little children present. “What could these little infants possibly know about it?” he wondered.
But then the children spoke up. “Father, we saw everything ourselves. We clearly saw your son go between the trees. He saw that open space over there and wanted to play there. As He moved away from the trees, the grinding mortar became caught in between them. From an angle, He tugged at the grinding mortar. Immediately the trees made a loud cracking sound and came crashing to the ground. Two divine personalities adorned with armour, crowns and earrings emerged from the trees, their stout figures as bright as fire. After circumambulating your Kṛṣṇa and offering Him obeisances, they said something to please Him and then set off to the north.” Śrī Nanda Mahārāja and others who were completely absorbed in parental affection for Kṛṣṇa discarded the boys’ words as silly prattling. Others, however, were left doubtful. (77)
All the people of Vraja came there in ones and twos, and gradually a large crowd gathered. Decorating his chest with his son, Śrī Vrajarāja went with all of them to the Yamunā to finish his morning activities. He bathed in the river with his son on his lap, and after dressing, he arranged for the brāhmaṇas to chant svasti-vācana (specific mantras to invoke auspiciousness) in that very place. Afterwards he donated great wealth to them. He then returned to his home, ready to take his breakfast. (78)
Śrī Yaśodā, the wife of Śrī Nanda Mahārāja, felt so sad and embarrassed that she had bound Kṛṣṇa that she refused to leave the inner chambers of the house. She could not even speak with the gopīs who had come to see her. So, after they had all left, the respected Śrī Rohiṇī, who was expert in reconciling all situations, directed the head kitchen maids, who were all held in high esteem, in serving the morning meal. (79)
Beckoning Śrī Vasudeva’s son, Śrī Balarāma, and his own son Kanhaiyā to join him, Śrī Vrajarāja ate with Them in the midst of the endearing and indescribably sweet tumult They had made. He then rested for nearly an hour with the two brothers, who were the personifications of supreme bliss. Soon it was evening, the charming time when the cows return from the fields. Having rested well, he felt happy and content. After coming to the gośālā, he directed the cowherds in milking the cows and caring for them. (80)
Since Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were quite young, They still needed Their mother’s breast-milk, and cows’ milk is the best representative of breast-milk. Śrī Vrajarāja first asked for some excellent, white rock-candy to be brought from the house. After distributing it to Them and the other little boys like Subala, Nanda Bābā began squirting nourishing cow’s milk from the cows’ udders directly into the brothers’ mouths. Then, as They sat in the cowshed, he taught Them how to make leaf cups and how to write letters on leaves. (81)
After some time he returned home, and in a blissful gathering he took his evening meal with the two boys. The wise elderly gopīs, who adorned their respective dynasties like jewels, or goddesses of wealth, always desired Śrī Vrajarāja’s happiness. Therefore, after he had finished his meal, they approached him along with Śrī Rohiṇī and said, “O King, Kṛṣṇa’s mother has not eaten anything all day, nor has she spoken with anyone. Seeing her condition, all the maids and other gopīs have also been sitting silently, and they, also, have not eaten anything.” (82)
Śrī Vrajarāja was both sorry and amused. “What can I do?” he asked. “She herself can see the detrimental effect of submitting to her anger.”
At this, tears began streaming down the gopīs’ faces, and they sobbed, “Oh, no, she is so soft, internally and externally. Hearing these painful words of yours, she will become even more aggrieved.” Smiling, Śrī Vrajarāja asked his son, “My dear boy, do You want to go to Your mother?”
Śrī Kṛṣṇa promptly responded, “No, no! I will stay with you only.”
Giggling, the wife of Śrī Vrajarāja’s elder brother, Śrī Upananda, questioned Him: “If You are only ever with Father, whose breast-milk will You drink?”
“I will drink warm squirts of cow’s milk mixed with rock candy.” Kṛṣṇa replied.
“With whom will You play?” all the gopīs asked.
“I will play with Father and My brother too.” He answered.
Śrī Vrajarāja then asked, “Why don’t You go to Your brother’s mother, Rohiṇī?”
Tears welled up in Kṛṣṇa’s eyes and He angrily said, “She was not there for Me when I needed her.”
At this, tearful eyed Śrī Rohiṇī spoke gently, “My dear son, why are You so harsh? Your mother is in so much anguish.” Kṛṣṇa pretended not to hear her words and, with moist eyes, simply gazed at the face of His father. (83)
Upon the motioning of Śrī Rohiṇī, Balarāma ran forward and seized Kṛṣṇa’s hand to bring Him to her, but He wrestled out of Balarāma’s grip, ran back to His father’s lap and tightly hugged him. While on the lap of Vrajarāja, He stood up and draped His arms around His father’s neck. Kṛṣṇa gazed into his eyes, which were now releasing a stream of tears, and absolutely captivated His father. (84)
Śrī Vrajarāja knew that really, Kṛṣṇa dearly loved His mother from the core of His heart. To unearth that inner love, he raised his hand and said, “If You tell me to, I will beat Your mother!” Śrī Kṛṣṇa could not tolerate this and tightly grabbed His father’s arm with both hands. This made Nanda Bābā laugh. Because he had the inherent vātsalya-bhāva of being a father, he compassionately thought of the condition of Mother Yaśodā’s heart, and said, “Son, what will You do if Your mother just…?” In this statement, Śrī Nanda Mahārāja jokingly implied the word that means the opposite of “lives”. (85)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa had the nature of a child, and therefore He became overwhelmed for want of His mother. With tear-filled eyes He said, “Where is My mother? I am going to her!” In this anxiety, He stumbled into Śrī Rohiṇī’s arms and a din arose as everyone began to laugh. Meanwhile, Śrī Rohiṇī, who bestows supreme joy upon all, entered into the house with teary-eyed Kṛṣṇa, who joyously embraced His mother. (86)
Śrī Yaśodā let forth deep sighs that resembled the lowing of a cow. She rested her chin on her darling child’s head and began to weep. Her crying, which was full of love, completely melted her heart. Upon seeing her condition, everyone there also began to weep. (87)
The elderly gopīs consoled Śrī Yaśodā in various ways. Gradually, her heart began to feel relief, and the charm of her face began to reappear. Then Śrī Yaśodā, the daughter of Śrī Sumukha Gopa, fed her darling son her breast-milk to His great delight. After this, she took her meal with the wife of Śrī Upananda and the other ladies, who were her greatest well-wishers. As she ate, she kept Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His elder brother Śrī Balarāma right beside her. (88)
Śrī Yaśodā felt so utterly ashamed that for three days, she did not come before the eyes of Śrī Vrajarāja. Finally, Śrī Bāla-gopāla, who always carries out His father’s orders, personally brought her before him, pulling her by her upper cloth. Also, from that day onward, the ladies of Vraja jokingly and blissfully began calling Śrī Kṛṣṇa “Dāmodara”, and remarking, “Ah, this is our same enchanting blue boy, Śrī Śyāma-manohara.” (89)
Although Śrī Yaśodā repeatedly witnesses Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s superhuman majesty, this majesty never even slightly affects her vātsalya, or motherly affection, for Him. Which scholar on earth is really able to praise her? Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī has even stated that what to speak of others, Śrī Brahmā, Śrī Śaṅkara and Śrī Lakṣmī have failed to achieve even a hundredth of the satisfaction and happiness of what Śrī Bāla-mukunda, He who bestows liberation, has awarded Śrī Yaśodā. In other words, from the perspective of bhakti, Śrī Brahmā, Śrī Śaṅkara and Śrī Lakṣmī have failed to achieve even a small fraction of a fraction of Śrī Yaśodā’s bhakti. (90)
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī has thoroughly disclosed the splendrous fame of Śrī Yaśodā, which reverberates like a drum throughout the three worlds. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.20) and other scriptures verify this. (91)
At this point, Śrī Balarāma turned to His younger brother, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and excitedly remarked, “Do You remember when We used to live in Mahāvana-Gokula?”
Śrī Kṛṣṇa smiled. “Yes, yes. We had such fun sporting there.” (92)
Snigdha-kaṇṭha then concluded the day’s narration: “O King of the cow-herders, your divine son is so amazing, He was even able to make twin arjuna trees His dedicated devotees.”
The author, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, comments: “As all the members of the assembly returned to their respective homes after hearing śrī dāmodara-līlā, they felt as if they had directly witnessed that festive pastime.” (94)
The next day, while seated amidst that effulgent assembly, Śrī Vrajarāja asked, “My dear son Snigdha-kaṇṭha, those two trees in Vraja that you mentioned used to grant all of one’s cherished desires. In that way, they were like demigods. Who were these trees in their previous births, and why did they come to Vraja? Moreover, when they gave up their lives as trees, what form did they take, and where did they go?” (1)
Snigdha-kaṇṭha replied, “Those two trees were the sons of Śrī Śiva’s friend, Śrī Kuvera, the king of the Yakṣas. Once, they behaved horrendously in front of the best of ṛṣis, Devaṛṣi Śrī Nārada. Consequently, he punished them to live as trees. This punishment was Śrī Nārada’s extreme favour upon them because they achieved bhakti for Śrī Bhagavān. Whenever you descend to this world, they also come as twin arjuna trees in front of your home in Mahāvana. These trees later attained their ultimate destination and became the best of Śrī Bhagavān’s devotees. However, at present they are illustriously situated in the abode of premī-bhaktas, where they reveal to others the results of performing bhakti to Śrī Bhagavān.” (2)
His curiosity aroused, Śrī Vrajarāja again inquired. “Tell me frankly, son, where are they at present?”
At this moment Snigdha-kaṇṭha bowed his head and became silent. Then he started glancing at Madhu-kaṇṭha from the corners of his eyes. Śrī Vrajarāja pressed Snigdha-kaṇṭha even further. “Why are you embarrassed to speak?”
With great respect, Snigdha-kaṇṭha replied, “O King, what more can we say? Your distinguished self can understand everything.”
Śrī Vrajarāja beamed. “It is true that your words will merely repeat what your silence is trying to say. By your virtuous disposition certainly we have all understood your meaning, but still, we want you to satisfy us by telling it to us yourselves.”
Snigdha-kaṇṭha said, “The twin trees, or the sons of Kuvera, Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, received the supreme destination of residing in Vraja in exchange for their insolence at the lotus feet of Devaṛṣi Śrī Nārada, which are a shower of all types of bliss. Those two are none other than we, the two present before you.” (3)
Hearing this with mixed feelings of curiosity and pleasure, Śrī Vrajarāja and all others present began gazing at their faces and happily embraced them, as if meeting them for the first time. (4)
After hearing his brother’s reply to Śrī Vrajarāja’s inquiry, Madhu-kaṇṭha took the opportunity to begin that day’s narration… (5)