I am most grateful to be among all of you on this most auspicious day, in this most auspicious place. Today, all over India, there is the celebration of Diwali; for many it is the New Year. So, many celebrations are happening. For many, Diwali is a time to blow off unlimited fire crackers and in the process creates lots of noise, and smoke in the air.
The nature of this world is to take something very sacred and make it into something quite mundane, because as we were speaking, the world is a reflection of our state of consciousness. The consciousness is like an antenna, in a sense that what we associate with, we access that energy.
Radhanath Swami speaks on association or satsang
When we are in the association of saintly people, satsang, when we are hearing transcendental sound vibration, hari katha or kirtan, the vibration God’s names, we are tuning into the transcendental divine energy of God’s divine grace, within this creation and beyond this creation. – Radhanath Swami
goloka da prema dhan
hari name sankirtana
The names of the Lord have descended from Goloka, the highest planet in the spiritual world. They are simultaneously ever existing there and manifesting here. So, with a humble and sincere heart, when we connect to the holy name, we are actually accessing the grace of the spiritual world into our hearts.
mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes
tamo-dvaram yoshitam sangi-sangam
Lord Rishabhadeva has spoken this in the Srimad Bhagavatam, that when we associate with saintly people, we naturally become saintly. The doors to liberation are opened in our lives from within. When we associate with people who are too much infatuated by greed, arrogance, selfish passions, envy, anger, illusion, and then we are, on a very subtle level, very deep in our heart, greatly affected by it. It will manifest as the way we think, the way we speak, and the way we act. Association is very important, because not only are we accessing and being transformed either positive or negative according to what we access, but also we are like antennas, transmitting whatever our consciousness may be. There are three modes of nature: satvaguna, rajoguna, and tamoguna. According to the modes, we choose to associate with, we become affected and molded in that way, and then we transmit that energy to influence others.
When there is thousands of people in one place and almost everybody is sincere with an earnest heart to hear hari katha, to hear the spiritual subject matters with a genuine desire to be spiritually nourished, to be purified, to love God, to access that grace, then that will help us to overcome the impediments of this world.
There are limitless impediments but there is one power that can take us beyond every type of impediment, and that is kripa, divine grace or mercy. – Radhanath Swami
So, when we are all together to hear, to chant, and to inspire towards Krishna, towards God, that is an incredible energy. Everyone around us is helping us to actually open our heart to receive the grace of Krishna, and then individually, and collectively, we become not like just an antenna, but like a whole power plant emitting this energy of grace. That is satsang.
Radhanath Swami explains the right way of understanding holiday
When we have tendency of putting ourselves in the center, and taking Krishna or God out of the center, it is like, if you have a filthy, dirty, contaminated cloth and you take clean water and put it through, it makes water dirty. So is our consciousness, we can either transform selfish material energy into pure devotional service or we can take what is sacred and actually present it as something polluted. You cannot pollute what is sacred, but you can mix so many other things in it and the effect is it looks polluted. Just like water. Water is actually never polluted because water is always pure, H2O. But when you mix so many other elements that are not H2O, so many other chemicals from different types of power plants, sewage, and everything else, then there is hardly any water left in it. So Diwali is such a sacred day. In other places Christmas is a sacred day but for many. They have changed it to X-mas, so they don’t have to think about Christ; they can think about X and they can celebrate it as the holiest day of the year.
Holiday means holy-day and in some sacred days, they slaughter animals like anything. But sarvagrahi is a truly spiritual person is one who seeks the essence. Why is this day sacred? What is it for? Why has God presented this to the world?
All sacred days are ultimately to help us to focus our entire consciousness on the purpose of life, which is to love Krishna, to love God, to learn to be a compassionate instrument of God’s grace in whatever we do, wherever we are, and whoever we are with. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami explains the reason for celebrating Diwali
Ram Chandra was exiled from Ayodhaya, due to the envy of his stepmother, Kaikeyi. She was actually a great devotee; she loved Ram more than everything in her life. But due to the association of Manthara, her maidservant, who was envious, she was convinced that whatever she was thinking was the truth. That is human nature. When we are arrogant, envious, and greedy, when we have these anarthas, the nature of maya or this illusory energy is to convince us, really convince us, not superficially pretending for some ulterior reason, but really convince us that, ‘What I believe is right.’ Otherwise, how will we really move forward with such conviction, to the extent that we are actually making so many offenses, and even atrocities toward others? Kaikeyi was convinced that Ram was actually a very bad person, and Manthara convinced this great devotee, one of Ram’s mothers, to banish him for 14 years. She was totally convinced that that envy, which was like a little spark, Manthara made it blaze into such a fire that even when her own husband, Dashratha, died of separation of Ram because of her, it did not faze her slightest. It was just like, ‘that’s the way businesses is; for me to do the right thing some loss will be there, so what?’ A day before, she was willing to give her life for million times for Dashratha. Anyways I don’t have time to speak the whole Ramayana. But after 14 years, Ram returned to Ayodhaya on the amavasya, the dark moon night, and on that night Hanuman, Bharat were here in Ayodhaya to greet him. All the residents, for whom those 14 years were like 14000 years because they loved Ram, they all lit lamps on their rooftops, on their door steps, on their windows, in their hands to welcome Ram back, back home. So Diwali is a festival of hearts. Like the amavasya, like the dark moon night, they had been living in darkness for so long.
kṛṣṇa-sūrya-sama; māyā haya andhakāra
“Krishna is like light, Maya is darkness.”
With the lamps of our gratitude, with the lamps of our love, we offer them to welcome our beloved Lord back home, in our hearts; that is Diwali. It is a time to really focus on making our whole life for this purpose, to celebrate the Lord’s grace, and to celebrate the Lord’s coming into our lives, individually, and collectively, and offering the lamps of our love means offering our life for his pleasure. If you blow off fire crackers with that consciousness, then those fire crackers become transcendental, but I don’t know how many people are doing it that way, otherwise it just becomes some tamo-guna explosion. But here in Vrindavan, there is another very sweet past time that takes place in Diwali. It is a day when Krishna showed the whole world, the power of his devotee’s love, and how he is bound and conquered by his devotee’s love. So with your permission I would like to speak something on this subject.
Radhanath Swami narrates the pastime of appearance of Lord Krishna
It took place in Gokul. Gokul is in the forest of Mahavan, Vrindavan. According to Jiva Goswami and various other puranas and acharyas, on the midnight of Janmashtami, Krishna simultaneously appeared within this world in Mathura as the son of Vasudeva-Devaki, and in Gokul as the son of Nanda-Yashoda. It is a beautiful story. It culminates where Yashoda Mai and Nanda Maharaj, after performing one year of dvadasi observance, a beautiful little baby boy appeared in both of their minds. At the end of that observance, the Supreme Lord appeared to them and said that, “Little baby boy that is appearing to you in your heart, that you have completely fallen in love with, that child will be your son.” At the same time, by Krishna’s arrangement, Yoga Maya and Krishna were both within the heart and womb of Yashoda, and Krishna in his aishwarya feature or majestic feature, appeared within the womb of Devaki. We know the story that how at midnight, Krishna appeared outside Devaki’s heart and manifested a four armed, fully dressed, with beautiful royal transcendental jewels, and garments. He was Lord Narayan. She prayed. Vasudeva prayed.
Devaki in her motherly affection expressed that, “Kamsa has already killed six of my children. If he sees you like this, he will know that you are his enemy, he may harm you. Please hide this divine form of yours.” At that time yoga maya, the Lord’s spiritual energy, that energy which like a wind moving a lotus, took the two arm little baby Krishna from Yashoda, from her heart, and brought him to Mathura. And because Krishna is the adi-purusha, the original absolute truth and all other incarnations are included within him, the four arm form of Narayan merged into Yashoda Mai’s son Krishna. Then Vasudeva brought that little child and put him next to Yashoda in Gokul when she was asleep. While she was asleep, yogamaya just came out and lay next to her. She didn’t even know, and Vasudev switched the children. So in this way Krishna in his original form was born in Gokul.
After Krishna was born, there was Nandotsav, a beautiful and wonderful festival. Nanda Maharaj was Vrajendra-Nandana, he was the king of Braj and here was his son. So the whole Vrajbhumi was dancing, singing, playing music, performing abhisekam, and everything, just to celebrate, and through that celebration to invoke auspiciousness, safety, and blessings upon the little baby Krishna.
Radhanath Swami on deliverance of Putana
When he was just a few days old, Putana, a terrible evil person attacked. Her greatest joy in life was to murder babies, drink their blood, and eat their flesh. She made Dracula and all these vampires look like little nursery school children. She was really wicked and she disguised herself as a beautiful woman. She put terrible poison on her breast with the objective of feeding it to Krishna and killing him. When she walked in, Krishna was just the little baby.
While Nanda Maharaj went to Mathura for some tax purposes, Putana came. She disguised herself to be so gentle looking that everyone was thinking, ‘How beautiful!’ ‘Maybe some angel or the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, or some heavenly lady has come to bless Krishna, otherwise how could she be so gentle and beautiful looking.’ So they put such trust in this woman. She just walked right inside, lifted up Krishna and put her breast in his mouth. Little baby, he was looking so innocent as if he didn’t know anything, and Putana was thinking, “Ahhhh! You see, he doesn’t know. He will die.” But Krishna knew everything, he was so innocent, he just sucked. Somehow or other within all the envy, hatred, and violence, some little affection was there in Putana. Krishna drank, he drank her very life out from her and she expanded into a horrible form. She dropped dead and Krishna gave her the liberation, giving her position of his own mother in the spiritual world, because she came as a mother. So Krishna accepted her, purified her of all the negative things, just found that one little spark of positive that was left of all, and she was given the highest liberation. When Krishna was just three months old, he was put under little cart, and Shakatasura was liberated. He was very ghostly being; Krishna was merciful upon him. When Krishna was about one year old, Trinavarta came and Krishna liberated him.
Radhanath Swami explains childhood pastimes of Krishna and Balaram
Eventually, Sukadev Goswami said, Krishna and Balaram were approximately the same age and they loved to do everything together. Rohini, Balaram’s mother, and Yashoda, Krishna’s mother, both would be constantly immersed in motherly love, serving their children. Sometimes Rohini and Yashoda, when they would look in little baby Krishna and Balaram’s mouth, they would see little tiny teeth which started to grow in, they would have a festival. That is what Vrindavan was; anything Krishna did, they would have a festival.
“A tooth is growing, let us have a festival.”
“Krishna actually started to being a little up, from lying down, we should have a festival.”
“He began to crawl, let us have a festival”
“A breeze moved his peacock feather, let us have a festival.”
That is Vrindavan; to celebrate Krishna. Everything else was organized around those celebrations for Krishna’s pleasure, because the celebrations were both, to share their love for Krishna with each other, and to express their love for Krishna. They were thinking, ‘Krishna is just an ordinary little boy, it was to access wonderful blessings upon Krishna.’ Sukadev Goswami tells in Srimad Bhagavatam, how when Krishna and Balaram would crawl, they would love to crawl especially in the mud. They would look for mud to crawl in the mud because it was not an ordinary mud; it was the dust of Vrajbhumi, the holy sacred chintamani dust mixed with cow urine and cow dung, the sacred gifts of mother cow. Krishna and Balaram would enjoy crawling like little snakes with their legs straight behind them. Sometimes they would just crawl through the mud and they would get off it. When the gopis would look at them, their hearts would melt.
Sometimes Krishna Balaram would see little baby calves lying down and they would pull the tail of the calf; the calf would get scared, jump up and start running. They would hold on to the tail and the calf would be dragging the little babies through the mud of Vrindavan; and the babies would be laughing and laughing and laughing; and the gopis would be watching and they would be laughing and clapping their hands. Sometimes Krishna Balaram would be missing their mothers so much that when they would hear the tinkling of ankle bells, they would crawl to the Gopi; and with great effort they would crawl up, and then the Gopi would look down, and Krishna Balaram would see, it is not their mother, it is somebody else, and they would start to cry and crawl away. In this way they spent their childhood times.
The Bhagavatam tells that Rohini and Yashoda were in constant anxiety, because they are little babies who are so restless, and they were just crawling around everywhere. They were afraid that they may be hurt by the horns of the cows or the sharp claws or teeth of the monkeys or cats or dogs or all the different kind of weapons on the ground like thorns or sharp stones. Sukadev Goswami is a mahayogi, great liberated yogi, but he is praising Yashoda and Rohini, telling how day and night they were totally immersed in the highest samadhi, liberated meditation of distress; distress due to their intimate parental love for Krishna and Balaram. When we understand this, we really get such a magnificent conception of the possibilities and the depth of yoga from Sukadev Goswami and the bhakta’s perspective. Shanti means peace from all the turbulence of this world, both within the mind and the external environment. But beyond shanti is bhava, prema, ecstatic love and that prema is something dynamic; to be in society, worrying about Krishna, is total absorption in Krishna, and so much love is profusely emerging from our hearts in that anxiety is a transcendental liberated state of highest ecstasy. This is how the mothers were spending their days.
Radhanath Swami on ‘Gopis complaining about Krishna Balaram to Yashoda and Rohini’
After sometime Krishna and Balaram learned to walk and as soon as they learnt to walk, they began their lila as makhanchor, the butter thieves. The gopis would come on a regular basis to taste the sweetness of Krishna by speaking about him, but they would do it under the pretense of complaining to mother Yashoda.
They would say, “Your son right now is sitting very innocently like such a good boy but let us tell you what he does. With his little friends Krishna and Balaram, just at the time of dawn, when the sun is rising, they walk around Vrajbhumi, just to do the research. Before we go to the goshala to milk our cows, they will let our calves loose and the calves are running all over the place. When we saw our calves are loose, our husbands and ourselves, we will run out to catch the calves. When there is nobody in the house while we are away, Krishna and his friends will go into our house and steal our butter, yoghurt, and our curd. Sometimes we will come back and actually catch them. There will be Krishna right in our house, with his hand digging into the pot of butter and eating it, and we will be just about to catch him and bring him to you, and Krishna will smile. We become so mesmerized, so intoxicated with love by seeing that smile, that we become stunned. We can’t say a word, we can’t move, we are just standing there, watching as Krishna is eating all our butter and we are helpless to do anything.”
“Other times, not only will he come with his friends, but he will call groups of monkeys into our house, and he will feed our butter. First they will eat to their full satisfaction, then they will feed the monkeys to their full satisfaction, and when the monkey are so full that they cannot eat any more, the monkeys will leave with full bellies, then Krishna and his friends said that, ‘this butter is so useless that even the monkeys don’t want it,’ and then they will throw it all over our house, on the walls, and on the floor.”
“Sometimes in order to hide it from them, we put the clay pots of our butter hanging from ropes from ceiling, and Krishna sometimes will get on the shoulders of his friends, sometimes he will take tables or beds or boxes and stand on top to get it. When we put it really as high as we can, he will get on the shoulders of his friends, and he will poke a hole using a special stick with the very pointed end, and all the butter will be coming down. He will call all the monkeys to share with him.
“Even if it is pitch-dark, it seems that Krishna’s jewels light up our whole house. So he could see everything.”
Yashoda Mai said, “Ohh! If you like, I will take off his jewels.”
They said, “No! No! Please do not take off his jewels because even his body seems to lighten up all darkness.”
“Sometimes we catch up Krishna and we say Krishna, ‘You are a thief,’ and Krishna looks at us and smiles and he says, ‘No, you are a thief! Everything is my property. I have come to reclaim it.’”
“When we really hide our butter very well and Krishna doesn’t find it, he makes it known to us. He will pinch our little baby children and make them cry, or sometimes he will go into our temple room and pass urine.”
Now for some of you, you may be thinking, is this the Absolute Truth, this is God, this is Allah, this is the Lord of Ibrahim, Isaac and Jacob, this is Narayan, this is Narsimha, this is Shiva, the Absolute Truth? Ultimately, the exchanges of love of his devotees are his sweetest enjoyment, and they give the sweetest enjoyment to his devotees. I like to give this analogy, you may think that, ‘it seems like a little ordinary boy, passing urine on someone’s floor when they are angry with them,’ but here it is over 5000 years later, we are still talking about it. How many times did you pass urine? You don’t have to answer this question but who cares, nobody cares. But Krishna does it, everyone is celebrating, it was another celebration, we are still celebrating because Krishna is all attractive.
The gopis would tell Yashoda Mai, “Actually Krishna not only steals our butter, but he completely steals our hearts and we have come to you uncontrollably because we want to share the joy of our heart by complaining to you. And look at Krishna, now he is listening to what we are saying and he looks like such a well behaved little boy with little tears in his eyes, like, ‘I didn’t do that.’ But we know, as we are looking at him, now that although he looks so innocent, he is plotting when to come and steal our butter, makhanchor.
Lord is hari, means one who steals, one who steals all the inauspiciousness away from us. When our hearts become very soft and sweet like freshly churned butter, due to love, then hari will steal our hearts forever and bhakti is the process of churning our hearts, to make it soft and sweet for Krishna’s pleasure. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami on ‘Krishna stealing butter in house of Yashoda Mai’
Kavi Karnapurna tells the story that one time Krishna was stealing butter in the house of Yashoda Mai, his mother, and there was a pillar with jewels in it. Krishna saw a reflection of himself in the jewels; he was just a little tiny child and he got scared. He thought that somebody was watching him stealing as he was stealing in the secret place. So he looked at the reflection and he said, “My friend, please don’t tell my mother that I was stealing butter, and if you don’t tell her, I promise you I will give you some.”
Yashoda Mai was just in the next room watching all this. She was smiling with so much affection. When Krishna happened to see his mother, there was butter all over his face and all over his hands. He said, “I am not stealing butter, I am not stealing butter,” and he pointed to the reflection in the jewel and said, “He stole the butter!” He said, “I saw him coming and I told him, ‘no, you should not steal my mother’s butter, it is not the right thing,’ but even though I told him not to, he did it anyways and now he put it on me.” Yashoda Mai smiled.
One time she was outside and little Krishna was inside. His hand was in the butter pot, and Mother Yashoda came and she looked at him. His hand was in the pot and he said, “I am not stealing butter, I am not stealing butter.”
Yashoda Mai smiled and said, “Then what are you doing?”
He said, “You have put these bracelets on me which have rubies and they are so hot that they are burning my hand. So, I had to put my hand in this pot to cool it off.”
Yashoda Mai picked up little Gopal and she looked at his hand and said, “Oh! It is burnt due to the bracelets.” She said, “I will take the bracelets off. I will get you new bracelets,” and then she kissed his hand repeatedly to make him feel nice.
Radhanath Swami describes on how Krishna reacted after he was caught
One time, Krishna was in one gopi’s house. It was one of his aunt’s house and she actually caught Krishna, which is a very rare thing and she said, “I am going to bring you to your mother because I keep telling your mother that you are stealing. All the gopis are telling her but she doesn’t believe us. But now I am going to take you to her and she is going to see that there is my butter on your hands and on your face. You come with me.”
Little Gopal said, “I warn you!” He was a very small child, “I warn you, I warn you, don’t do this to me.”
She said, “Come!” and she brought him and said, “Yashoda Mai, I have caught Krishna red-handed. He was stealing our butter, look at him.”
Yashoda Mai looked and then looked at the gopi and said, “I don’t understand.”
She said, “I told you, I just caught Gopal. He is right here, don’t you see?” Yashoda Mai was looking very bewildered, and the gopi looked down, and in her hand was her own son. It wasn’t Gopal. So she was really bewildered. She said, “I am sorry Yashoda, I am sorry.” She took her son and said, “Let’s go home, let’s go home,” and she was walking home with her son, completely perplexed. Then she heard a little voice and she looked down, and Krishna was in her hand.
He said, “I warned you! I told you not to do that.” He said, “And I warn you, if you do it again, next time I will assume the form of your husband.”
So, for gopis it was like kirtan to complain about Krishna, because it was their love. They were actually glorifying Krishna. Sarva loka maheshwaram- Krishna is the proprietor of everything that exists. He doesn’t steal anything but he steals our love and actually every gopi in Vrindavan would only milk their cows, and they would only make their butter for one purpose, with the hope and the prayer that Krishna would come to steal it and would enjoy it. This is Vrindavan.
Radhanath Swami narrates pastime of Krishna eating dirt and Yashoda Mai’s bewilderment
But one day the gopas, the cowherd boys, came to complain to Yashoda Mai. They said, “Today, in a secluded place, we saw Krishna near the bank of the Yamuna eating dirt.” Now what would a mother think if she heard that her child is eating dirt. She became very much disturbed, because she is very much concerned for his health. Her realization, her prema, her love was so much beyond love of God; she had attained love of God in such a deep way that God himself was allowing her, to love him like her own child with motherly affection. Which is more intimate, the love of a servant to a master or the love of a mother for a child? In Vrindavan Krishna allows those relationships on the spiritual platform.
So, she took Krishna by the hand, because she was afraid he would run away, and she said, “Gopal, why did you eat dirt? How will you maintain your health? How will you live if you eat dirt?”
Krishna said, “I did not eat dirt.”
Yashoda Mai said, “But all your friends are saying, you ate dirt. Balaram is always on your side for everything, and even he is saying that you ate dirt.”
Krishna said, “They are not telling the truth.”
This very much intensified Yashoda Mai’s love. Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur explains the science of prema. How is it possible for the Absolute Truth to tell a lie? He is the Absolute Truth but when he speaks this way in the mood of being an innocent ordinary little child, it increases the vatsalya bhava, the motherly affection of Yashoda. That vatsalya bhava springs from prema, from the ecstatic love that is situated forever within the hearts of the devotees. The cause of that love within the heart of the devotees is Krishna’s affection for his devotees. Therefore Krishna is named bhakta-vatsal; it is Krishna’s aspect of his deep, unlimited affection for his devotees. Of all the powers, of all the knowledge, of all the glories of God, this bhakta-vatsal or Krishna’s limitless love and willingness to reciprocate love, is the crown jewel of all the ornaments of the Absolute Truth, Krishna.
Krishna said, “If you don’t believe me, look in my mouth.”
Yashoda Mai said, “Open your mouth, let me see.”
But the reality is, he did eat dirt. If she saw it, what would happen and Krishna did not have time to wash his mouth out or anything like that. So, he did something even more inconceivable, his yoga-maya potency, and his aishwarya shakti manifested within his little tiny mouth, a manifestation of the whole universe. Yashoda Mai looked in his little mouth and saw into his stomach. She saw all the oceans, all the mountain, all living beings, and the demigods. She saw Vrindavan, and she saw herself looking in Krishna’s mouth. She saw the personification of time, the personification of the three modes of material nature, the personification of all the different elements, and energies of the whole creation. She was astounded on seeing how big is the universe. Even the greatest scientists with all of their instruments cannot measure it, they cannot fathom it. It is not that Krishna’s mouth became very big, it only remained the same size. This is achintya shakti; the whole universe by Krishna’s will could fit within his little mouth.
To understand Krishna or bhagavan is beyond our rational, logical, intellectual capacity, but the perfection of our logical, intellectual capacity, is to understand logically with our intelligence, that the absolute truth is inconceivable, and is beyond us, and beyond our rational logic when we enter into the realm of true transcendental faith. – Radhanath Swami
Krishna can put in entire banyan tree in a seed, this big. Every tree that we see, the creator has put that tree at one time in a tiny little seed. That potential is in every human being. When your mother and father came together to actually create the seed of your body, they did not have any engineering plan. They did not even know what was happening. They know what was happening on one level, but then this little seed comes and it starts emulsifying and it starts mixing with other different types of little stimulating ingredients, and little eyes, little ears, little nose, heart, brain, liver, kidney, pancreas, fingers and other things start coming. What a miracle! We are seeing miracles that are inconceivable everywhere around us. When the Supreme, sarveshwareshwar, controller of all controllers wants to personally manifest his opulences, we don’t doubt, we simply appreciate and we love Krishna.
Yashoda Mai has seen the universe in his mouth but she could not see him as God; as it would disturb her love for him as a mother. So, she was trying to figure it out. She was thinking, ‘Am i dreaming. I can’t be dreaming because my eyes are open. Am I in illusion? Are the demigods putting me in some sort of illusion? No! I am just an insignificant little cowherd lady; why would the demigods waste their time putting me in an illusion like this? Or maybe am I a mentally deranged?’ She said, ‘No! I am very stable in my mentality. I am taking care of all my duties; I am very peaceful, and very happy. May be this is what Garga Muni meant?’
Because Garga Muni, who was a great brahman and Guru for many of the Yadus and the rishis, and the priest for Vasudev, actually came to perform the name giving ceremony soon after Krishna’s birth. At that time along with giving him the name ‘Krishna’, the all attractive one, he said, “This child has appeared within this world to reestablish principles of religion and do incredible things to protect and inspire his devotees and he comes in every age; sometimes in a white collar, sometimes red, sometimes golden yellow and now he has come in this dark form. But you should know that he is as good as Lord Narayan, the Supreme Lord and he will do wonderful things.”
Yashoda Mai was thinking, ‘Maybe this is why it is happening? No!’ Her motherly love would not accept it. She said, ‘What does Garga Muni know about Krishna? I know about Krishna. He said he is as good as Narayan and he has these mystical powers. But, when he is hungry, he cries for me to feed him my milk, and when he is thirsty, he cries for me to feed him. The Absolute Truth doesn’t cry and he is not hungry. Also, Krishna tells lies. The Absolute Truth doesn’t lie. And when a cat meows or when a lightning strikes in the sky, Krishna starts to cry in great fear and jumps in my arms, and until I embrace him and kiss him, he shakes in fear. Let Garga Muni say what he wants, let people believe what they want, but I know who Krishna is, and Krishna knows who I am. I am his mother and he is just my loving little child.’
But still she was seeing the universe in him. So in her motherly love the only thing she could do was, pray for Krishna’s protection. So she prayed, “Oh Supreme Lord Narayan, cause of all causes, the creator, maintainer and annihilator of everything that exist, who is always there to protect the devotees, please, please protect my Krishna. Please bless my little Gopal.” And then she became very humble. She said, “Under your illusion, Lord Narayan, I was thinking that I am this body and I am thinking that Nanda Maharaj is my husband, and therefore I am the queen of all of Vrindavan. Therefore, I think, all the gopas, and all the gopis, and all the cows, and all the calves, they are all mine and this little boy Krishna, and I am thinking he is my son because of my illusion.”
She was becoming very philosophical and Krishna closed his mouth, and the universe disappeared, at least from within him. She was seeing that the universe was in Krishna and Krishna was in the universe, that was her vision, and Krishna was thinking, ‘If my mother is thinking like this, and if she is a big philosopher like this, then who is going to cuddle me, embrace me, and give me motherly love? So, by Krishna’s will, with the little tiny smile, Yashoda Mai completely forgot everything she saw in his mouth, and lifted him up, embraced him, fed him her milk, and didn’t even think about whether he ate dirt anymore. That was Krishna’s way of getting around that.
Sukadev Goswami explains that this is the love between Yashoda and Krishna. In the three Vedas, they worship the Absolute Truth as yagna-purusha, the supreme recipient of all offerings of sacrifice. In the Upanishads, he is worshiped as purusha. In the yoga sutras, he is worshiped as parmatma. In the pancharatra, he is worshiped as bhagavan. But that same Supreme has taken the form of a little child, who is loved as the son of Yashoda. What is her good fortune! This brings us to the day of Diwali.
Radhanath Swami on Yashoda Mai’s activities on the day of Diwali
It was early morning and Yashoda Mai saw that all the other gopas and gopis were very busy that day because the next day is Indra puja, it is a big annual festival of worshiping Indra, which later became Govardhan Puja, and it was also Diwali, the new year. So people were very busy. So, Yashoda Mai woke up quite early that day and she looked at the little face of baby Krishna, he was sound asleep, his eyes were closed like two beautiful effulgent blue lotuses, and she just gazed upon him with such affection. She wanted to churn special butter from the dahi, just for Krishna, and she wanted to do it before he woke up. As she was churning, she was thinking that, ‘Krishna goes to the house of so many other gopis to steal the butter. If I make this butter myself, with all my love, then he’ll be so satisfied, and he will be happy to stay at home.’
Nanda Maharaj had 900,000 cows and Yashoda Mai took the best hundred cows, and gave them very special grasses that she personally grew. They were very nutritious, very sweet, very fragrant, and the grass had the quality of lotus flowers. Of these cows, there were 10 best cows, and she would use that milk, padmagandha; so, that butter was fragrant, tasteful, and nourishing. This was her love for Krishna. As she was churning, she was remembering past times of Gopal, and singing about them.
She was having kirtan. The bells around her waist, the bells that were on her bracelets, were all chiming, keeping a beautiful rhythm like musical instruments. As she was pulling the rope and it was making dahi, it was making the sounds of mridanga, drum. In this way, it was a kirtan; with the instrumentation of her devotional movements she was singing the glories of Krishna. As she was remembering Krishna, her heart was overflowing with love, and as her heart was overflowing in love, it was inducing that love to come through her breasts as milk. That milk was the nectar of her prema, her bhava and Krishna was sleeping. As her love was coming, it woke Krishna up, and he was thirsty for that love.
So, he got up, and he heard the singing of his holy names, glories, and past times, and came running as fast as he could. He came right up to the churning station of Yashoda Mai. With one hand, he held the wooden rod, and looked at her and said, “Surrender, no more churning, I am thirsty for your milk.” But he did it with such sweetness that when Yashoda Mai looked at him, her heart melted. Krishna climbed onto her lap; she embraced him and began to feed him. As she was feeding him, she was looking at his lovely moonlike face with lotus eyes and lips beaming like bimba fruits, and nose like a little freshly blossomed sesame flower, and she saw little teeth growing there. She was smiling upon him.
Now in the spiritual world there is no limit to love. Even though Krishna is a little baby, he could drink tens and millions of gallons of Mother Yashoda’s milk, because it is not milk, it is love and he has an unlimited capacity to receive love. Also for a devotee, Krishna has an unlimited capacity to inspire and to increase our love. So, that means Krishna could drink forever and Yashoda Mai has an unlimited supply of milk for Krishna to drink; and the pleasure between them was ever increasing. It was not a physical pleasure; it was a heart to heart, soul to soul pleasure of the love which was manifesting on every level.
There was milk, the padmagandha or lotus flavored milk that I was talking about, in a little pot. She was preparing something for Krishna with that milk and it began to boil over. According to some of our acharyas, it is explained that it boiled over is because the milk is conscious. Everything in the spiritual world is fully conscious, and the milk was thinking, ‘My only existence is for Krishna to enjoy me. Now that he is enjoying with Yashoda Mai, which that can go on forever, so what is the use of my existence. I will enter fire and he jumped out.’ But when Yashoda Mai saw this, for Krishna’s pleasure, she put little Krishna down and ran. As soon as the milk saw that she was coming, he was thinking, ‘Why am I being so self-conscious like this. Of course Yashoda Mai will share Krishna with everyone. Of course Krishna will satisfy everyone’s desire.’ So, all the milk that fell jumped back in the pot, and Yashoda Mai took it off the fire.
Radhanath Swami speaks on Krishna getting angry and later getting bound by love of Yashoda Mai
When Yashoda Mai was gone, he wanted to have a beautiful past time to increase the lila with his mother, but he also wanted to attract the whole world, for all time to come with this most sweetly love. Krishna was thinking, ‘Why did my mother leave me for anything else?’ So, he picked up a stone, which was used for grinding spices, and he broke the clay pot in which the butter was being churned, and it started dripping everywhere. Then Krishna went to little storage room and he opened it up. He locked it from inside, and started stealing butter from there. Then he went to another place and there was a wooden grinding mortar. Krishna climbed on top of it and there was a clay pot of butter hanging from ropes from the ceiling. He reached into it, ate it, and then he called his friends, and started feeding his friends. Then he called the Vrindavan monkeys and he was feeding the monkeys.
Meanwhile Yashoda Mai came back and she saw the pot was broken, and she saw little tiny butter footprints of Gopal. She followed the footprints and being a mother, she wanted to teach Krishna that he should not be so restless, because it was not safe.
A parent’s duty and their responsibility is to teach their children morality, ethics, and proper behavior, so that they can have a prosperous life in the future. – Radhanath Swami
That was Yashoda Mai’s feeling, so she picked up a little thin stick, just to scare Krishna. She was following the butter footprints and she came into this little room and there she saw Krishna. He was feeding monkeys butter and he was eating butter. He looked nervous and he kept looking in all directions to make sure his mother was not coming, but the monkey saw her with the stick. She walked up very softly to him and suddenly the monkey started jumping outside, jumping out of the windows, and going up on to the trees.
Krishna turned around and his mother was right there. He jumped off the grinding mortar and ran away. Yashoda Mai ran after him. According to the Upanishads, the Absolute Truth can never be caught by anyone, neither by the discrimination and knowledge developed by gyanis, nor by the incredible sense control, mind control or mystic siddhis of yogis. Who could catch the Absolute Truth? But Yashoda Mai was running after him, and as she was running, malati flowers were falling from her hair. Jiva Goswami tells that those flowers had their personal feelings, ‘Krishna, parabrahman is running away from Yashoda. This is the power of her love. How great she is! I shouldn’t be on her head; I should be serving her feet.’ So they jumped off toward her feet.
Krishna allowed himself to be caught by the hand of Yashoda Mai. Satyavrat Muni, in the Damodar-Ashtakam, which we sing each night during this month of Damodar, is offering beautiful prayers describing such a visualization of this pastime. Krishna is breathing very fast; and his limbs are trembling. He is crying, and the mascara or kajala around his eyes is mixing with his tears, and making beautiful streaks across his face.
His beautiful, shining, red lips are quivering in fear of Mother Yashoda and Krishna said, “Please put down that stick.”
Yashoda Mai threw the stick away and said, “Gopal, why are you such a thief?”
And little Gopal he was trembling. He said, “I didn’t get this from my father’s side of the family, I got this from your side of the family.”
Yashoda Mai said, “Because of your association with monkeys, you have developed the same nature as a monkey.”
Krishna was very much afraid. He said, “If you think I am a monkey, then I will go and live in the forest with the monkeys.”
Now, when he said that, it really made Yashoda Mai afraid that he might just do it; he is so restless. She thought, ‘Today is Diwali. Tomorrow is Indra puja and I have so many responsibilities around the house. I am all alone now. What will I do to protect my child? Who knows what he may do as he is so restless today. I will stay close by, but just to protect him, I will tie him up.’
Meanwhile little Gopal was saying to his mother, “I promise, I won’t do it again. Just let me go.”
Yashoda Mai said, “You are very naughty, I must protect you.”
So she took a rope from her hair, because Krishna was very small, and she tied it around his waist. She attempted to do so but it was the width of two fingers to short. So, she took another string from her hair, and put it, and it was again two fingers too short. Then she took a rope that was used for churning the butter and she tied that to those, and again it was two fingers too short. She took all the churning ropes in her whole house. Then she started getting the ropes that were used for the little calves, and she was tying more and more ropes to the original ropes. Krishna’s waist was not growing, it was the same little waist, and hardly the size of Yashoda Mai’s fist and the ropes were becoming meters and meters and meters and meters big tied together, but still two fingers too short. Krishna was crying, “Please don’t tie me up. Please don’t tie me up.”
Yashoda Mai said, “I must tie you, I must protect you.” They were very soft silken type of ropes. Then the gopis came from other houses and they saw this. All the gopis from all directions were bringing all the ropes of their house and there were so many different color ropes: yellow ropes, blue ropes, purple ropes, green ropes, orange ropes, and white robes, and they were all being tied by Yashoda Mai to the pre-existing ropes, but again two fingers too small. How was that possible?
Sri Jiva Goswami, Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, Sanatana Goswami, and Sridhar Swami, are giving so many beautiful commentaries to explain what is happening. Krishna is a parabrahman, he is the Supreme Brahman; the brahmajyoti which is his energy, is all pervading within and without everything. Nothing is outside of brahman. So, how could she tie Krishna with a rope outside of him? Everything was within him. This is very interesting pastime. The Supreme Absolute is transcendental. He is atma-rama, he is self-satisfied, yet he is crying because he wants butter. He is the Supreme Truth but he is speaking a lie to increase the ecstasy of the love of his mother. He is the beyond the modes of material nature, and yet he is appearing angry and breaking the little pots. He is feared by fear personified; he is the cause of time. He is sat-chit-ananda. Even Yamaraj and kalarupa is afraid of Krishna. But Krishna is showing fear, why? Just to show the power of love. He is exhibiting all these qualities simply as a reciprocation of his love. Although he is beyond everything, but when he is captured by the intimacy of the love of his devotee, bhakta-vatsal, then he is not just pretending, he is actually experiencing dependency on the love of his devotees. This is Vrindavan, the highest jewel of the supreme independence of the Lord.
The gopis were saying to Yashoda Mai that, “Don’t you see, every time you tie the ropes together; it is the same distance too short. It is not Krishna’s destiny to be tied up today.”
But Yashoda Mai was determined to protect Krishna and she said, “I am not going to give up however long it takes, however much rope I have to use. I want to find out, how much rope it takes to put around the waist of my little Gopal? If I don’t teach him, then who is going to teach him?” She was smiling, she was laughing and she was tying. After some time she was perspiring and her saree was becoming loosened.
Krishna saw the enthusiasm of her love and he allowed himself to be tied up. The width of those two fingers represent what it is required to bind Krishna with our love. One is our enthusiasm and perseverance to serve, even in the face of all obstacles. Krishna sees that for his pleasure, are we getting discouraged by success or failure, honor or dishonor, pleasure or pain, happiness or distress, health or disease, victory or defeat.
Devotional service is ahaituki apratihata; it is unconditional by these things. As long as there is selfishness or arrogance in what we do, then we become very discouraged, because we are not getting our way. But when we are truly doing it for Krishna‘s satisfaction, even though there may be so many impediments in doing Krishna‘s will, then our enthusiasm to persevere for Krishna‘s pleasure with the right intention of the heart, will never wane. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami points out the two principles of ‘two fingers too short’
This is the first principle. Whether we are tasting sweet nectar when we are chanting the holy names, or whether we don’t taste anything, or it tastes bitter, or I feel that I would rather be doing so many other things, it doesn’t matter so much that. But for Krishna’s pleasure I will go on chanting, I will do my japa, I will do my meditation on Krishna’s names, because it is for Krishna’s pleasure, and whether I feel or don’t feel, whether it is hot or cold, I will carry on with my seva, that is perseverance.
Hanumanji was unconditional. Whether he was in the embrace of Lord Ram, feeling the tears of Ram’s love bathing him, or whether he was face-to-face with Ravana, with his tail on fire tied with ropes, his enthusiasm to persevere for the pleasure of Ram was always there. That is in Vrindavan, in its highest, sweetest, manifestation. Sambhoga, when the gopas and the gopis, the vrajvasis were meeting Krishna, their hearts were flowing with the ecstasy of love to serve Krishna and was manifesting through everything they said, everything they thought and everything they did.
When Krishna departed for Mathura and Dwarka, it was not an impediment. Their enthusiasm, their perseverance, their faith was ever increasing in vipralamba bhava, in the loving separation. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami tells that after Krishna left for Mathura, every day, the gopis would make garlands, they would make bhoga, they would make beautiful flower beds for him to meet with Sri Radha because they were expecting that he will come today, and when he did not come, they just remembered so deeply in separation, crying tears of love as offerings. The next day they would do the same thing, year after year, with no impediments.
For Krishna’s protection and to show her motherly love for Krishna, Yashoda Mai was willing to spend the rest of eternity tying ropes; that was her enthusiasm.
The second finger represents Kripa, Krishna’s kindness, Krishna’s mercy, because no matter how enthusiastic we are, or how we persevere, it is not enough unless Krishna reveals himself to us, by his own sweet will. It is a descending process. We could never know him.
ye yathā māḿ prapadyante tāḿs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
Krishna tells in Bhagavad-Gita, “As one surrenders to me, I reciprocate accordingly.”
When a devotee, for the pleasure of Krishna, with faith in Krishna’s causeless mercy, surrenders their love, then Krishna reciprocates. By his mercy, he is conquered by that love.
Yashoda Mai tied Krishna up and Krishna told his mother, “Please untie me.”
Yashoda Mai said, “Krishna, I would be close by. You are very naughty today, you be like this right now, and I will be back.”
It was a very uncomfortable situation for him. When Yashoda Mai left, she brought a few of Krishna’s little friends just to be with him, to keep him company so that he would be happy. So, his friends were joking with him. Balaram was not there at that time but the other little gopas they were saying, “Krishna you got tied up!”
Krishna said, “Untie me! Untie me!” But they could not untie him. Actually Krishna did not want to be untied because that rope was the rope of Yashoda’s love. So he was happy.
Even some gopas were saying, “Can we untie?”
He said, “No, No, No.” He was feeling so sheltered in the love of his devotee.
Radhanath Swami on deliverance of Nalakuvera and Manigriva
He looked outside and he saw two gigantic trees, Arjuna trees. Arjuna trees have huge roots, really thick roots, and their roots are both above the ground and below the ground. One time, our dear God brother, Dinabandhu prabhu was explaining. He went to a place like Mauritius where there was a hurricane, and trees were blown down everywhere; but the Arjuna trees, because their base is strong, such huge roots, such a foundation, they didn’t move.
When Krishna looked at those trees, he was remembering his devotee Narada muni. Here is the story of the trees in brief. Nalakuvera and Manigriva were the sons of Kuvera, who is the treasurer of the devas. That means they were living in a heavenly abode. Their bodies were heavenly beautiful. They had incredible physical strength and handsome qualities. They had amazing degrees of wealth, property, ornamentation, and they had tremendous personalities. Everything they did was so expert and they were proud of it. It is hard to be better than so many people and not be proud. So they were thinking that they have the right to enjoy any way they want.
Once, they were in a lake, in a heavenly resort, with heavenly ladies, and they were all without clothes on, playing with each other. Narada Muni, the great sage, the great rishi, a brahmachari, a swami, who comes by with his beena singing, arrived there: narada muni bajaye vina radhika ramana name. When the ladies saw Narada Muni, the great sage, they became very sober. The ladies got out, covered themselves, and offered their pranams to Narada Muni with respect. Nalakuvera and Manigriva were intoxicated on all kinds of wines and heavenly nectars. They couldn’t care less about one of these Hari Krishna people coming by. They totally ignored Narada. ‘Who? We have our wealth, we have our prosperity, we have our power, we have our business, we have our families,’ they thought, and that is how intoxicated they were. Narada Muni was feeling compassion for them. Narada Muni does not have a house; he does not have a bank account. He has nothing. All he has, is love for Krishna and Krishna’s holy names:
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
The supreme greatest of all treasures is prema pumarta mahan, prema bhakti, prema nidhi, that was his wealth. That wealth of love for Krishna is beyond time, beyond birth, beyond death, it is ever increasing, and it is the only thing that could give fulfillment to the eternal soul.
So he was seeing these two devas, who were so arrogant, and disrespectful. Narada muni felt especially compassionate towards them and told them, “You are standing before a sage naked like a tree and because you are so much infatuated by all your power, wealth, and beauty, and you think yourself better than everyone, I bless you to become trees.”
The quality of the great soul is amani mana dena, that we shouldn’t care about being respected ourselves, but we should find the greatest joy in giving respect to others. We evaluate how much we are progressing by just applying that principle to our own way of thinking and life. – Radhanath Swami
Now, to Nalakuvera and Manigriva, that was a serious curse, because they were attached to all of the opulences and now they just had to be trees. But the thing is, they had tree bodies but they had the exact same consciousness as Manigriva and Nalakuvera. Generally, trees have tree consciousness. It is an undeveloped state of God consciousness. Trees are conscious, they feel, but if they had the consciousness of a human, how could they stand throughout the winter being covered with ice, and stand in the summer giving shade to others and just being burning in the sun?
But these two devas had the full consciousness of devas in the bodies of trees. They stood in one place even if they have an itch. That itch may go on for 10,000 years and they can’t scratch it, that’s a tree. Little insects are going around and trees don’t mind it, they like it. But when you are in a very developed demigod consciousness, more developed than a human, to be in the body of a tree is very difficult. But they were there for many years and Narada muni arranged for them to be trees in the courtyard of the house of Nanda, Yashoda, Krishna, and Balaram. So, they could see, they could feel, they could hear, they couldn’t speak, they couldn’t move, but they could just take it all in. From day of Krishna’s birth, Nalakuvera and Manigriva were watching his pastimes. They were seeing the intimate, sweet, loving, relations between Krishna and Nanda-Yashoda, and the gopas, and the gopis.
Ever since his birth, Krishna was seeing them. They were just near the gateway of Gokul and Krishna was thinking, ‘My dear devotee Narada, put these demigods as trees here. They are bound up into these tree bodies, and now that I am bound up by a rope to this wooden grinding mortar. I am feeling special sympathy for them. I will fulfill the desire of my devotee, because my devotee put them here so that they can attain the highest perfection of ecstatic love.”
Whatever a great devotee does, however it may appear, it is always with the intention of pure compassion, and it is the greatest blessing. – Radhanath Swami
So little baby Krishna, who was just a couple years old, started crawling and he pulled. Somehow this big wooden grinding mortar started getting dragged behind him, and the little children were amazed.
They were saying, “Gopal, you are pulling the grinding mortar.”
And Gopal was just smiling like this.
They said, “Gopal, you are actually pulling the grinding mortar, this is wonderful. What are you going to do with it?”
He was just smiling and he went between the trees. As he crawled between the trees, the grinding mortar got caught between them, and Krishna just pulled once more. The trees broke and fell to the ground. It was like the whole earth shook, because they were massive trees. They were thousands of years old. It was like an earthquake with the shaking of the earth and there was tumultuous sound of the falling of the trees. It was such a massive sound that all the vrajvasis fell unconscious, except the little children near Krishna who were watching it. The reason was, for them it was the sweetest thing they ever saw- Gopal knocked those trees down with the rope of mother Yashoda’s love. They were just laughing and smiling and clapping, “Well done Krishna.”
Nalakuvera and Manigriva appeared like blazing flames of fire. They were very beautiful. They were decorated in their demigod garments now and they stood before Krishna with folded hands and prayed. Just by the association of watching Krishna and meditating on his past times, just by seeing the loving relations between him and his devotees, they became completely purified. They were the most mystically self-satisfied sages in the form of those trees. They were weeping tears of ananda, ecstatic love and they were explaining to Krishna how all of this was his kindness.
tatenu kampam susumikshu manu..
Lord Brahma prays that when a devotee is put in a difficult situation, if with folded hands, they see the opportunity to go deeper into their bhakti, and remain faithful, and offer their hearts to Krishna with humility and gratitude, that person alone is entitled to the perfection of highest liberation.
They realized that platform of devotion. They were profusely thanking Narada Muni for giving them this blessing. Otherwise they would have gone through whole life wasting it with intoxication and sensory enjoyments, but by the grace of Narada they attained the ultimate intoxication of the soul, bhava, Vrindavan bhava and their only prayer to Krishna was, “Wherever you want us to be, we only want to remember you, and be the servant of the servant of your servants, constantly your glories and your holy names:
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
Krishna blessed them. He is just a little baby, still tied up, and he is blessing the demigods, and giving them permission to go back to their abodes, but now they were pure devotees, paramahamsas, and mahatmas.
Radhanath Swami explains the exchanges between vrajvasis and Krishna getting angry on Mother Yashoda
Suddenly everyone wakes up from their unconsciousness and they come running to the scene. Yashoda Mai, when she came up from her unconsciousness, she found out what happened. She was feeling so embarrassed, she was feeling so guilty that, ‘I tied Krishna up and now look what happened.’ It was inconceivable.
Nanda Maharaja came running there and he untied Krishna. Nanda Maharaj knew everything but still he asked Krishna, “Who is the fool who tied you up?”
Krishna said, “My mother! My mother did it.”
Nanda Maharaj didn’t say anything. Then Krishna crawled on Nanda Maharaj’s lap and Nanda Maharaj was asking what happened, and all the vrajvasis were gathered around. They were thinking, ‘How is this possible? These were the giant trees. We have been seeing them all our life. How did they fall down? There were no high winds; there were no charging elephants. How all of a sudden the trees just fell down? We cannot understand this.’
Nanda Maharaj asked the little children, “Do you know how this happened?”
Little children smiled and laughed and they said, “Yes! Yes we know what happened.”
“After Yashoda Mai tied little Gopal up around the waist to the wooden grinder, he was crying and crying. After his mother left, he was with us and he started laughing and joking. Then he crawled and he went between the trees, and the grinding mortar got stuck. Our little Gopal pulled and the trees came out. Then these two incredible people, who looked like blazing fire, with all sorts of ornaments, they bowed down to little Gopal, they surrendered their lives, they offered prayers and then they disappeared somewhere in the northern direction. We don’t know who they were or where they went, but it was incredible.”
Cowherd men were thinking, ‘What are these little children talking? What nonsense are they talking? How is this possible that the trees fell?”
Nanda Maharaj said, “Would you like to go back to your mother?”
Krishna said, “No! She tied me up. I will not go back to her but I am hungry.”
So, Nanda Maharaj took little Gopal with the other cowherd men and they went to the Yamuna river. They took their baths together. Nanda Maharaj and everyone were so scared because these two trees fell, and the bodies of the trees were lying there uprooted and on either side, just inches from little Gopal. If the trees were even inches closer, Krishna would have been crushed. It was very scary for them to see. They were not thinking he is God. They were thinking, ‘he is just our loving little helpless child.’
So, Nanda Maharaj took him to the Yamuna to become purified and blessed by Yamuna devi, who is the sister of Yamaraj and the daughter of Surya. Then he took Krishna to the goshala, where the cows were being milked, and he gave Krishna milk. Krishna was very happy. Then he took Krishna back home, and he bathed Krishna, and then it was time for dinner. Balaram came and Krishna, Balaram and Nanda Maharaj were taking dinner together.
Meanwhile, Rohini Devi, Yashoda Mai’s dear most, best friend, and Balaram’s mother, saw Yashoda Mai’s condition. She felt guilty and ashamed. ‘Why did I tie up Krishna? In tying up Krishna, I risked his life, I subjected him to be between these massive trees falling down and the worst thing is now Krishna is angry with me. He doesn’t even want to look at me.’
Seeing Yashoda Mai’s condition, some of the gopis went to Krishna and said, “Krishna, your mother, she wants to see you, she feels so bad. Don’t you want to see her?”
Gopal said, “No! She tied me up.”
They said, “Who is going to feed you? You have been brought up all your life on her milk.”
Gopal said, “There are so many cows that my father has, I will drink their milk.”
She said, “But, Yashoda Mai plays with you every day. Who is going to play with you?”
Gopal said, “I have so many cowherd boyfriends to play with.”
Rohini Devi said to Nanda Maharaj, “Yashoda is feeling so much shame.”
Nanda Maharaj said, “When somebody does the wrong thing, then it is good that they feel some shame. That way they learn.”
Rohini Devi said, “If Yashoda Mai hears your words, she will be devastated.”
For the whole day Yashoda could not show her face to anyone. She was crying, she couldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep, and she was just feeling so much bad that my Gopal is displeased with me. That’s all. It wasn’t a matter of her social position; it was her whole life to love Gopal, and to please him. But he was displeased with her. Her heart was breaking with love and Rohini Devi was explaining the situation.
Nanda Maharaj knew exactly what to do. He lifted hand of Gopal and said, “Should I hit your mother?”
Gopal was so fearfully, he took his father’s hand and said, “No, No, No, No!”
And then Nanda Maharaja and Rohini said, “Without you, Yashoda will not be able to live.”
Gopal immediately jumped off Nanda Maharaja’s lap and ran to the house of Yashoda. He was crying, “Maa, Maa, mother, mother, mother, I am coming! Mother please, please, mother, I am coming for you!”
And when Yashoda Mai heard his voice, she ran out of the house to Krishna. They ran and he jumped into her arms, and she embraced him. She looked at his beautiful face and he smiled upon her, and she fed him with the nectar of her love.
Radhanath Swami explains the significance of Damodar bandhan pastime
All the suspense of the lila was only to increase the sweetness of their love. That is Vrindavan, madhurya dham, the place of the deepest sweetness. Sukadev Goswami, the crest jewel of all renunciates and scholars, gives a beautiful verse to summarize this past time. He said, “This kind of mercy has never been accessible even to Lord Brahma, even to Lord Shiva, or Lakshmi Devi, the expanded energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They have never experienced the type of mercy that was given to Mother Yashoda. Brahma is the original guru of the universe, paramhamsa acharya, who is the first born son of the Lord, and the secondary creator. He is such a mahatma. Shiva, Sadashiva, Rudra –vaishnavam yatha shambhu- is an expansion, non-different than Narayan. Narayan is non-different than Krishna, who is the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of creation. Lakshmi Devi is the Goddess of Fortune; she is never separated from Krishna; and she is consort of Lord Narayan.”
Sukadev Goswami said, “What was given to Yashoda cannot be understood and experienced even by Brahma, Shiva or Laxmi. It was Yashoda’s pure intimate, sweet, motherly, love which conquered Krishna, bound Krishna, gave the highest satisfaction to Krishna, and Krishna gave the deepest, sweetest, highest, ecstasy of spiritual satisfaction to Yashoda Mai. This is Vrindavan.”
Today, Diwali is the actual day when this lila, Damodar bandana lila took place. After Krishna was untied and was reunited with mother Yashoda more intimately than ever, the gopis from that day on would love to call Krishna, as Damodar, one who was bound by the waist by the rope of your mother’s love. Satyavrat Muni, in Damodar-Ashtakam, offers his obeisances to Gopal, who is conquered by the love of his devotee, and he offers his obeisances to Yashoda Mai, who is such a devotee. He offers his obeisances millions of times to the rope which personifies the love of a devotee’s heart.
Later on there is another Damodar pastime with Srimati Radharani, the Hladhini Shakti, the ultimate reservoir of all love, who is the presiding goddess of all devotion in Vrindavan. In one lecture, Srila Prabhupada says, in Vrindavan everyone says, “Radha Radhe,” and “Jai Sri Radhe”. They say Radha’s names even more than Krishna’s, because they know that through the grace of Sri Radha, the feminine potency, the feminine aspect of the absolute truth, all the perfections of love can awaken within our heart. Only by her grace and through the grace of her servants, can one enter into the realm of Vrindavan.
The acharyas explain that, what Yashoda Mai is personified, is accessible to everyone to a particular degree, if we follow in the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavan. Following in the footsteps does not mean imitating. If we pretend to be gopas or gopis, it will never go beyond our mental imagination. But if awaken our true genuine love in the spirit of selfless service, the spirit of truly, humbly, tasting the sweetness of Krishna’s name, in the spirit of living without ego or selfishness, and in the spirit of tasting the sweetness of Krishna’s past times, then by the mercy of Guru and Vaishnavas, and by Srila Prabhupad’s divine grace, we will be connected to the residents of Vrindavan, because Srila Prabhupad and our acharyas are eternal residents of Vrindavan. We are all just trying to connect through following their instructions, through receiving their grace, and through pleasing them.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was Krishna in the spirit of the love of Sri Radha, feeling that love and distributing that love. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made the most profound, difficult thing, so simple. We can enter into the realm of Vrindavan by developing this true mood of servant of the servant, by hearing these wonderful pastimes, and by cultivating a genuine taste for chanting the holy names:
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHAN HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
Srila Prabhupad invited devotees, pilgrims, people from all over the world, to come to Vrindavan, to enter into this mood, genuinely. Prabhupad did not invite us here to enjoy Vrindavan like tourists. He came to the West from Vrindavan, and then invited all of us back, to be enriched by the spirit of love of seva. That is why we have come here. Let us appreciate the exalted gift of coming in contact with the Supreme abode of the Lord, even if it is so way beyond our realization, experience, or even imagination. If we are just grateful, with a humble spirit to receive it, then Krishna will fill our hearts with unimaginable realizations. That is why we have come. On this holy day, let us offer our obeisances to that rope, the rope of bhakti. Sri Radha is the very source. She is that rope that Yashoda Mai put around Krishna. It is ultimately her energy. One time when Krishna made Sri Radha angry, she tied the rope of her ecstatic love around Krishna’s waist. Sri Sri Radha Damodar and Krishna wanted the whole world, the whole spiritual world, material world to know that he is forever bound by the love of his devotees.
Thank you very much