praviṣṭam udakaṁ niśi
tam — him; gṛhītvā — seizing; anayat — brought; bhṛtyaḥ — a servant; varuṇasya — of Varuṇa, the lord of the sea; asuraḥ — demon; antikam — to the presence (of his master); avajñāya — who had disregarded; āsurīm — the inauspicious; velām — time; praviṣṭam — having entered; udakam — the water; niśi — during the night.
Because Nanda Mahārāja entered the water in the dark of night, disregarding that the time was inauspicious, a demoniac servant of Varuṇa seized him and brought him to his master.
Nanda Mahārāja was intent on breaking his fast during the Dvādaśī day, of which there remained only a few minutes. Thus he entered the water to bathe at an inauspicious time, before the first dawn light.
The servant of Varuṇa who arrested Nanda Mahārāja is stated here to be an asura, or demon, for obvious reasons. First, the servant was foolishly ignorant of Nanda Mahārāja’s position as the pastime father of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Also, Nanda Mahārāja’s intention was to carry out the injunctions of scripture; therefore Varuṇa’s servant should not have arrested Nanda on the technical grounds that he bathed in the Yamunā at an inauspicious time. Later in this chapter Varuṇa himself will say, ajānatā māmakena mūḍhena: “This was done by my ignorant servant, who is a fool.” This foolish servant did not understand the position of Kṛṣṇa or Nanda Mahārāja or devotional service to the Lord.
In conclusion, it is clear that Lord Kṛṣṇa wanted to give His personal audience to Varuṇa and simultaneously accomplish other didactic purposes. Thus this wonderful pastime will now unfold.