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The Childhood Pastimes of Kṛṣṇa

This chapter describes how the inhabitants of Gokula left Gokula and went to Vṛndāvana and how Kṛṣṇa killed Vatsāsura and Bakāsura.

When the yamala-arjuna trees fell, they made a tremendous sound, like that of falling thunderbolts. Being surprised, Kṛṣṇa’s father, Nanda, and the other elderly inhabitants of Gokula went to the spot, where they saw the fallen trees and Kṛṣṇa standing between them, bound to the ulūkhala, the wooden mortar. They could find no cause for the trees’ having fallen and Kṛṣṇa’s being there. They thought this might be the work of some other asura who had met Kṛṣṇa on this spot, and they inquired from the playmates of Kṛṣṇa about how the whole incident had taken place. The children properly described how everything had happened, but the elderly persons could not believe the story. Some of them, however, thought that it might be true, since they had already seen many wonderful incidents in connection with Kṛṣṇa. Anyway, Nanda Mahārāja immediately released Kṛṣṇa from the ropes.

In this way, Kṛṣṇa, at every day and every moment, displayed wonderful incidents to increase the parental affection of Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā, who thus felt both surprise and joy. The breaking of the yamala-arjunas was one of these wonderful pastimes.

One day a fruit vendor approached Nanda Mahārāja’s house, and Kṛṣṇa gathered some food grains with His little palms and went to the vendor to exchange the grains for fruit. On the way, almost all the grains fell from His palms, only one or two grains remaining, but the fruit vendor, out of full affection, accepted these grains in exchange for as much fruit as Kṛṣṇa could take. As soon as she did this, her basket became filled with gold and jewels.

Thereafter, all the elderly gopas decided to leave Gokula because they saw that in Gokula there was always some disturbance. They decided to go to Vṛndāvana, Vraja-dhāma, and the next day they all departed. In Vṛndāvana, both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, after finishing Their childhood pastimes, began to take charge of the calves and send them to the pasturing grounds (go-caraṇa). During this time, a demon named Vatsāsura entered among the calves and was killed, and another asura, in the shape of a big duck, was also killed. The playmates of Kṛṣṇa narrated all these stories to their mothers. The mothers could not believe their children, Kṛṣṇa’s playmates, but because of full affection they enjoyed these narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s activities.

Text 1:
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, when the yamala-arjuna trees fell, all the cowherd men in the neighborhood, hearing the fierce sound and fearing thunderbolts, went to the spot.
Text 2:
There they saw the fallen yamala-arjuna trees on the ground, but they were bewildered because even though they could directly perceive that the trees had fallen, they could not trace out the cause for their having done so.
Text 3:
Kṛṣṇa was bound by the rope to the ulūkhala, the mortar, which He was dragging. But how could He have pulled down the trees? Who had actually done it? Where was the source for this incident? Considering all these astounding things, the cowherd men were doubtful and bewildered.
Text 4:
Then all the cowherd boys said: It is Kṛṣṇa who has done this. When He was in between the two trees, the mortar fell crosswise. Kṛṣṇa dragged the mortar, and the two trees fell down. After that, two beautiful men came out of the trees. We have seen this with our own eyes.
Text 5:
Because of intense paternal affection, the cowherd men, headed by Nanda, could not believe that Kṛṣṇa could have uprooted the trees in such a wonderful way. Therefore they could not put their faith in the words of the boys. Some of the men, however, were in doubt. “Since Kṛṣṇa was predicted to equal Nārāyaṇa,” they thought, “it might be that He could have done it.”
Text 6:
When Nanda Mahārāja saw his own son bound with ropes to the wooden mortar and dragging it, he smiled and released Kṛṣṇa from His bonds.
Text 7:
The gopīs would say, “If You dance, my dear Kṛṣṇa, then I shall give You half a sweetmeat.” By saying these words or by clapping their hands, all the gopīs encouraged Kṛṣṇa in different ways. At such times, although He was the supremely powerful Personality of Godhead, He would smile and dance according to their desire, as if He were a wooden doll in their hands. Sometimes He would sing very loudly, at their bidding. In this way, Kṛṣṇa came completely under the control of the gopīs.
Text 8:
Sometimes mother Yaśodā and her gopī friends would tell Kṛṣṇa, “Bring this article” or “Bring that article.” Sometimes they would order Him to bring a wooden plank, wooden shoes or a wooden measuring pot, and Kṛṣṇa, when thus ordered by the mothers, would try to bring them. Sometimes, however, as if unable to raise these things, He would touch them and stand there. Just to invite the pleasure of His relatives, He would strike His body with His arms to show that He had sufficient strength.
Text 9:
To pure devotees throughout the world who could understand His activities, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, exhibited how much He can be subdued by His devotees, His servants. In this way He increased the pleasure of the Vrajavāsīs by His childhood activities.
Text 10:
Once a woman selling fruit was calling, “O inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi, if you want to purchase some fruits, come here!” Upon hearing this, Kṛṣṇa immediately took some grains and went to barter as if He needed some fruits.
Text 11:
While Kṛṣṇa was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Kṛṣṇa’s hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.
Text 12:
Once, after the uprooting of the yamala-arjuna trees, Rohiṇīdevī went to call Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, who had both gone to the riverside and were playing with the other boys with deep attention.
Text 13:
Because of being too attached to playing with the other boys, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma did not return upon being called by Rohiṇī. Therefore Rohiṇī sent mother Yaśodā to call Them back, because mother Yaśodā was more affectionate to Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.
Text 14:
Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, being attached to Their play, were playing with the other boys although it was very late. Therefore mother Yaśodā called Them back for lunch. Because of her ecstatic love and affection for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, milk flowed from her breasts.
Text 15:
Mother Yaśodā said: My dear son Kṛṣṇa, lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, come here and drink the milk of my breast. My dear darling, You must be very tired because of hunger and the fatigue of playing so long. There is no need to play any more.
Text 16:
My dear Baladeva, best of our family, please come immediately with Your younger brother, Kṛṣṇa. You both ate in the morning, and now You ought to eat something more.
Text 17:
Nanda Mahārāja, the King of Vraja, is now waiting to eat. O my dear son Balarāma, he is waiting for You. Therefore, come back to please us. All the boys playing with You and Kṛṣṇa should now go to their homes.
Text 18:
Mother Yaśodā further told Kṛṣṇa: My dear son, because of playing all day, Your body has become covered with dust and sand. Therefore, come back, take Your bath and cleanse Yourself. Today the moon is conjoined with the auspicious star of Your birth. Therefore, be pure and give cows in charity to the brāhmaṇas.
Text 19:
Just see how all Your playmates of Your own age have been cleansed and decorated with beautiful ornaments by their mothers. You should come here, and after You have taken Your bath, eaten Your lunch and been decorated with ornaments, You may play with Your friends again.
Text 20:
My dear Mahārāja Parīkṣit, because of intense love and affection, mother Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa’s mother, considered Kṛṣṇa, who was at the peak of all opulences, to be her own son. Thus she took Kṛṣṇa by the hand, along with Balarāma, and brought Them home, where she performed her duties by fully bathing Them, dressing Them and feeding Them.
Text 21:
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: Then one time, having seen the great disturbances in Bṛhadvana, all the elderly persons among the cowherd men, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, assembled and began to consider what to do to stop the continuous disturbing situations in Vraja.
Text 22:
At this meeting of all the inhabitants of Gokula, a cowherd man named Upananda, who was the most mature in age and knowledge and was very experienced according to time, circumstances and country, made this suggestion for the benefit of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.
Text 23:
He said: My dear friends the cowherd men, in order to do good to this place, Gokula, we should leave it, because so many disturbances are always occurring here, just for the purpose of killing Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.
Text 24:
The child Kṛṣṇa, simply by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was somehow or other rescued from the hands of the Rākṣasī Pūtanā, who was determined to kill Him. Then, again by the mercy of the Supreme Godhead, the handcart missed falling upon the child.
Text 25:
Then again, the demon Tṛṇāvarta, in the form of a whirlwind, took the child away into the dangerous sky to kill Him, but the demon fell down onto a slab of stone. In that case also, by the mercy of Lord Viṣṇu or His associates, the child was saved.
Text 26:
Even the other day, neither Kṛṣṇa nor any of His playmates died from the falling of the two trees, although the children were near the trees or even between them. This also is to be considered the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Text 27:
All these incidents are being caused by some unknown demon. Before he comes here to create another disturbance, it is our duty to go somewhere else with the boys until there are no more disturbances.
Text 28:
Between Nandeśvara and Mahāvana is a place named Vṛndāvana. This place is very suitable because it is lush with grass, plants and creepers for the cows and other animals. It has nice gardens and tall mountains and is full of facilities for the happiness of all the gopas and gopīs and our animals.
Text 29:
Therefore, let us immediately go today. There is no need to wait any further. If you agree to my proposal, let us prepare all the bullock carts and put the cows in front of us, and let us go there.
Text 30:
Upon hearing this advice from Upananda, the cowherd men unanimously agreed. “Very nice,” they said. “Very nice.” Thus they sorted out their household affairs, placed their clothing and other paraphernalia on the carts, and immediately started for Vṛndāvana.
Texts 31-32:
Keeping all the old men, women, children and household paraphernalia on the bullock carts and keeping all the cows in front, the cowherd men picked up their bows and arrows with great care and sounded bugles made of horn. O King Parīkṣit, in this way, with bugles vibrating all around, the cowherd men, accompanied by their priests, began their journey.
Text 33:
The cowherd women, riding on the bullock carts, were dressed very nicely with excellent garments, and their bodies, especially their breasts, were decorated with fresh kuṅkuma powder. As they rode, they began to chant with great pleasure the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa.
Text 34:
Thus hearing about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma with great pleasure, mother Yaśodā and Rohiṇīdevī, so as not to be separated from Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma for even a moment, got up with Them on one bullock cart. In this situation, they all looked very beautiful.
Text 35:
In this way they entered Vṛndāvana, where it is always pleasing to live in all seasons. They made a temporary place to inhabit by placing their bullock carts around them in the shape of a half moon.
Text 36:
O King Parīkṣit, when Rāma and Kṛṣṇa saw Vṛndāvana, Govardhana and the banks of the river Yamunā, They both enjoyed great pleasure.
Text 37:
In this way, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, acting like small boys and talking in half-broken language, gave transcendental pleasure to all the inhabitants of Vraja. In due course of time, They became old enough to take care of the calves.
Text 38:
Not far away from Their residential quarters, both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, equipped with all kinds of playthings, played with other cowherd boys and began to tend the small calves.
Texts 39-40:
Sometimes Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma would play on Their flutes, sometimes They would throw ropes and stones devised for getting fruits from the trees, sometimes They would throw only stones, and sometimes, Their ankle bells tinkling, They would play football with fruits like bael and āmalakī. Sometimes They would cover Themselves with blankets and imitate cows and bulls and fight with one another, roaring loudly, and sometimes They would imitate the voices of the animals. In this way They enjoyed sporting, exactly like two ordinary human children.
Text 41:
One day while Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, along with Their playmates, were tending the calves on the bank of the river Yamunā, another demon arrived there, desiring to kill Them.
Text 42:
When the Supreme Personality of Godhead saw that the demon had assumed the form of a calf and entered among the groups of other calves, He pointed out to Baladeva, “Here is another demon.” Then He very slowly approached the demon, as if He did not understand the demon’s intentions.
Text 43:
Thereafter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa caught the demon by the hind legs and tail, twirled the demon’s whole body very strongly until the demon was dead, and threw him into the top of a kapittha tree, which then fell down, along with the body of the demon, who had assumed a great form.
Text 44:
Upon seeing the dead body of the demon, all the cowherd boys exclaimed, “Well done, Kṛṣṇa! Very good, very good! Thank You.” In the upper planetary system, all the demigods were pleased, and therefore they showered flowers on the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Text 45:
After the killing of the demon, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma finished Their breakfast in the morning, and while continuing to take care of the calves, They wandered here and there. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, the Supreme Personalities of Godhead, who maintain the entire creation, now took charge of the calves as if cowherd boys.
Text 46:
One day all the boys, including Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, each boy taking his own group of calves, brought the calves to a reservoir of water, desiring to allow them to drink. After the animals drank water, the boys drank water there also.
Text 47:
Right by the reservoir, the boys saw a gigantic body resembling a mountain peak broken and struck down by a thunderbolt. They were afraid even to see such a huge living being.
Text 48:
That great-bodied demon was named Bakāsura. He had assumed the body of a duck with a very sharp beak. Having come there, he immediately swallowed Kṛṣṇa.
Text 49:
When Balarāma and the other boys saw that Kṛṣṇa had been devoured by the gigantic duck, they became almost unconscious, like senses without life.
Text 50:
Kṛṣṇa, who was the father of Lord Brahmā but who was acting as the son of a cowherd man, became like fire, burning the root of the demon’s throat, and the demon Bakāsura immediately disgorged Him. When the demon saw that Kṛṣṇa, although having been swallowed, was unharmed, he immediately attacked Kṛṣṇa again with his sharp beak.
Text 51:
When Kṛṣṇa, the leader of the Vaiṣṇavas, saw that the demon Bakāsura, the friend of Kaṁsa, was endeavoring to attack Him, with His arms He captured the demon by the two halves of the beak, and in the presence of all the cowherd boys Kṛṣṇa very easily bifurcated him, as a child splits a blade of vīraṇa grass. By thus killing the demon, Kṛṣṇa very much pleased the denizens of heaven.
Text 52:
At that time, the celestial denizens of the higher planetary system showered mallikā-puṣpa, flowers grown in Nandana-kānana, upon Kṛṣṇa, the enemy of Bakāsura. They also congratulated Him by sounding celestial kettledrums and conchshells and by offering prayers. Seeing this, the cowherd boys were struck with wonder.
Text 53:
Just as the senses are pacified when consciousness and life return, so when Kṛṣṇa was freed from this danger, all the boys, including Balarāma, thought that their life had been restored. They embraced Kṛṣṇa in good consciousness, and then they collected their own calves and returned to Vrajabhūmi, where they declared the incident loudly.
Text 54:
When the cowherd men and women heard about the killing of Bakāsura in the forest, they were very much astonished. Upon seeing Kṛṣṇa and hearing the story, they received Kṛṣṇa very eagerly, thinking that Kṛṣṇa and the other boys had returned from the mouth of death. Thus they looked upon Kṛṣṇa and the boys with silent eyes, not wanting to turn their eyes aside now that the boys were safe.
Text 55:
The cowherd men, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, began to contemplate: It is very astonishing that although this boy Kṛṣṇa has many times faced many varied causes of death, by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead it was these causes of fear that were killed, instead of Him.
Text 56:
Although the causes of death, the daityas, were very fierce, they could not kill this boy Kṛṣṇa. Rather, because they came to kill innocent boys, as soon as they approached they themselves were killed, exactly like flies attacking a fire.
Text 57:
The words of persons in full knowledge of Brahman never become untrue. It is very wonderful that whatever Garga Muni predicted we are now actually experiencing in all detail.
Text 58:
In this way all the cowherd men, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, enjoyed topics about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma with great transcendental pleasure, and they could not even perceive material tribulations.
Text 59:
In this way Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma passed Their childhood age in Vrajabhūmi by engaging in activities of childish play, such as playing hide-and-seek, constructing a make-believe bridge on the ocean, and jumping here and there like monkeys.