Krishna’s pastimes of crawling about and drinking His mother’s breast milk gradually stopped. Soon He walked on His lotus feet and started stealing butter.
Is there anyone who did not feel unlimited bliss when the Lord, who is the very source of bliss, enacted His childhood pastimes?
One day when no one was looking, Krishna began His pastimes of stealing fresh butter.
Startled upon seeing His own reflection in a jeweled inlaid pillar, He shivered in fear and said, “O dear brother, do not tell mother. I will save some butter for You and You may enjoy too.”
Watching her mischievous son from a hidden place, Mother Yasoda heard these sweet broken words with great relish. Then she innocently appeared before Krishna and Rama.
Pointing to His effulgent reflection, Krishna said, “O Ma! Being very greedy, this boy came here today in order to steal your butter. Although I forbade Him, He did not listen to Me. And when I got angry with Him, He also got angry. But I am not at all greedy for butter.”
One day while Yasoda was outside the house engaged in some domestic activities, inside the house Krishna stole butter again.
When Yasoda returned and called out, “O my darling Krishna! Where are You and what are You doing?”
Hearing her, Krishna became afraid and stopped stealing butter.
Pausing for a moment, He answered, “Mother! My hand started burning from the shining effulgence of My ruby bangles, so I stuck it in this butter pot to relieve the pain.”
Pleased by her son’s clever words, Yasoda said, “Hey Vatsa! Please come sit on my lap. Oh My darling, show me the burns on Your hand.”
Then Yasoda kissed Krishna’s hand and consoled Him, saying, “Ahh…ahh… Look, Your hand has been burned. So let me remove these ruby bangles.”
On another day Krishna cried and rubbed His eyes with His flower budlike palms. In a choked voice He uttered unintelligible phrases.
Even though Yasoda had previously scolded Krishna for stealing butter, this time she wiped the tears from His eyes with the edge of her sari.
While tenderly caressing Krishna, She said, “Hey Lala, all of our stock of butter actually belongs to You alone.”
One night the soothing rays of the full moon illumined the courtyard of Nanda’s house. Yasoda sat there talking with some elderly gopis while Krishna played nearby gazing at the moon.
Sneaking up behind Yasoda, Krishna removed the veil covering her head, loosened her braid, and patted her on the back to get her attention with His butter-soft lotus palms. His voice choked up as He continually cried. Yasoda’s heart swelled with maternal love, so she indicated with a glance that her friends should attend to Krishna.
With great respect and affection the gopis enthusiastically lifted up Krishna and asked,
“O darling! What do You want? Do You want some khira Krishna replied, “No, No!” ”
Do You want some thick creamy yo-gurt?” Krishna replied, “No, No!”
“Do you want some cheese?” Again Krishna said, “No, no! I want freshly churned condensed butter.”
The gopis continued, “Do not lament or be angry with Your mother. What do You mean by ‘condensed butter?’
” Pointing His little index finger to the full moon, Krishna replied, “I want that freshly churned condensed butter!”
The elderly gopis said, “O Vatsa! Do not mistake the moon for a huge piece of butter. It is a rajahamsa (royal swan) gliding across the lake of the sky.”
Krishna said, “Then give Me that rajahamsa so I can play with him. Quickly catch him before he reaches the bank of the lake. Full of anxiety, Krishna kicked His legs and cried loudly, “Give Me! Give Me!”
While Krishna showed his childish antics, some other gopis said, “O darling! They have lied to You. What You see is not a rajahamsa, but it is the moon hanging in the sky and it is called Candra.”
Krishna said, “Then give Me that Candra! I really want it so I can play with it. Right now! Get it!”
Yasoda placed her crying son on her lap and comforted Him, “Darling! Actually it is freshly churned condensed butter! Definitely, it is not a rajahamsa nor is it the moon. Regardless, I can never give it to You. Just see by chance or by the arrangement of Providence it has poisonous spots on it. Although it looks very tasty, no one in this world can eat it.”
Then Krishna said, “Mother, mother! Why is it stained with spots of poison? What is poison anyway?”
Seeing a change in Krishna’s mood, mother Yasoda embraced Him and spoke in a gentle, sweet voice. “Listen attentively my dearest son. There is an ocean of milk called Ksira-sagara.”
Krishna: “Mother please tell Me about that? How many milk cows made that ocean?”
Yasoda: “Darling, the milk ocean was not made by cows.”
Krishna: “Mother, you are lying to Me. How can there be milk without cows?”
Yasoda: “The one who gave cows the ability to produce milk can also make milk even without cows.”
Krishna: “Who is He?”
Yasoda: “He is the Lord, the cause of creation. He is Bhagavan. He is immovable and all pervading. Although He is everywhere, I cannot show Him to You.”
Krishna: “Well mother, are you telling Me the truth?”
Yasoda: “Long ago the demigods and the demons had a fight. To favor the demigods and bewilder the demons, the Lord churned the ocean of milk. Mandara Mountain served as the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of the serpents, offered his body for the rope. The demons and demigods stood on opposite sides pulling that rope.”
Krishna: “Mother, did they churn the way the gopis do?”
Yasoda: “Yes my son. The churning of the Ksira-sagara produced a poison named kalakuta.”
Krishna: “Mother, how did churning milk produce poison? Only snakes have poison.”
Yasoda: “Darling, Mahadeva drank that poison. But the snakes drank the drops of poison that fell from his mouth. As a result, they now have poison. The poison rising from that milk is also the energy of the Lord.”
Krishna: “Yes mother that is indeed true.”
Yasoda: “Darling, this condensed butter You are seeing in the sky is produced from that Ksira-sagara. That is why the moon is spotted with the remnants of that poison. Look carefully, do You see it?
Therefore, do not try to eat that butter, but please take my freshly churned butter instead.”
After hearing this description, Krishna felt sleepy so mother Yasoda put Him to rest in an opulent golden bed on a fluffy soft mattress, whiter than powdered camphor.
The next morning Yasoda brought butter, yogurt and other eatables into Krishna’s room. Lovingly fondling His body, she said, “Wake up! God forbid, You seem to be weak from not eating sufficiently yesterday.”
After Krishna awoke, Yasoda cleansed His mouth with scented water. Then she offered Him a golden plate full of butter, yogurt and other delights while saying, “O my beloved son, take whatever You like.”
Krishna replied, “Mother, I will not eat anything that you have brought Me. Last night you lied to Me and put Me to sleep. And I felt very distressed due to hunger.”
Yasoda said, “Krishna, if You went to sleep then who stole the butter?”
Krishna replied, “Mother, when did I steal your butter? You are lying.”
With His charming transcendental pastimes Krishna continually captivated the heart of mother Yasoda.
Sometimes while roaming in the courtyard Krishna caught a stray calf, put it on His lap, and kissed it with His lotus mouth.
Seeing this Yasoda felt both pleased and apprehensive.
In the pasturing ground Krishna sometimes grabbed the tail of a calf. Startled, the calf would jump up and run away dragging Krishna, dressed only by the wind, behind him. Thus the uncovered Brahman personified stole the hearts of the Vrajavasis.
Sometimes, Krishna smeared cow dung all over Himself. Seeing it as musk covering His body, the Vrajavasis enjoyed a festival of beauty. How can there be any inebriety in the one who is beauty personified?
At other times, Yasoda tied a very attractive turban on Krishna’s head, and dressed Him in gorgeous yellow garments. After marking His body with tilaka the color of gorocana, she would anoint His lotus eyes with soft kajala.
Adopting the mood of an ordinary mother, Yasoda placed her saliva on Krishna’s forehead to prevent people from casting an evil eye on her son, whose sublime elegance enchants the entire creation.
While playing in the courtyards of the gopis, Krishna often wore a necklace of tiger nails set in gold and a waist belt bedecked with costly jewels.
Once the Vraja gopis talked amongst themselves, “Krishna brings good fortune wherever He goes, and His presence make everyone’s life glorious. Who in this world is not enchanted by the frivolous and amusing childhood pastimes of Krishna? Who cannot appreciate these mirthful activities?”
Rather than getting upset, they felt the greatest happiness whenever Krishna broke their clay pots and stole their butter.Still the housewives of Vrndavana pretended to be angry and complained to Yasoda about Krishna’s stealing.
In a mixed mood of love and laughter the gopis warned Yasoda, “O Queen of Vrndavana, Yasoda! In the future you will suffer for the mischievous acts of your son. Although now your son is like a young sprout with tender leaves, already He is disrupting the whole creation. But be careful, in the future when this tender sprout grows into a tree full of leaves and branches, He will bring you tremendous pain. Now your boy’s adventures are just beginning, but by nature they are forever expanding. Your son’s naughty behavior will soon destroy our whole village. We have no idea what mischief He will do next. “Before our cows have been milked, your son unties the calves and lets them drink all the milk. If someone tries to rebuke Him, He simply smiles sweetly, and that person immediately forgets all his anger. If we keep our butter in a dark storeroom, He uses His natural effulgence to easily find our stock and steal it. But instead of eating it Himself, He takes great pleasure in feeding it to the monkeys. When the monkeys reach their fill and refuse to eat more, Krishna breaks the pot and throws the butter on the ground.
“He catches the butter pots which are beyond His reach by stacking many small tables on top of each of other, climbing them, and extending His arm to grab the pots. Krishna is always stealing our butter and yogurt. If someone tries to stop Him, He immediately drops the food on the ground and quickly escapes. If by chance a housewife captures Him, Krishna twists her wrist and runs away. Then from a safe distance He yells back, ‘Hey just stay where you are! If you come any closer, I will give you even more trouble by teasing your babies and making them cry.’
“If someone calls, ‘Hey thief, stop!’ Krishna becomes angry and shouts, ‘You are the thief. This house is Mine and everything in this house belongs to Me.’
“In the morning we spread a fresh layer of clay on the outer walls of our houses, and paint beautiful designs on top of it with powdered limestone. Then your son Krishna comes along to spoil everything by throwing dirt all over our houses. In front of you, Krishna is so quiet and well behaved. But when He enters our homes He acts frivolously, steals our food, speaks sharp words, and becomes angry and greedy.”
In this way the ladies of Vrndavana, pretending to be angry, made many complaints against Krishna. But in reality Krishna’s joyous pranks filled everyone with pleasure. When accused by the gopis, Krishna feigned innocence and shed false tears. Though culpable for His immoral acts of stealing and offending the villagers in various ways, Krishna tried to minimize His misdeeds by speaking very sweetly.
Responding to the charges of the gopis, Krishna said, “Mother, none of these ladies have any affection in their hearts. They are not speaking a single word of truth. Actually they are all liars, and have given up their human dignity. Whenever I see them or their sons I feel completely happy. Because of the natural affection I have for them, I regularly visit their homes every morning at sunrise.
“Ma, so knowing My motives you can easily understand they are deliberately telling lies. You should not believe them at all. Mother, since you are My worshipable superior, from now on I will not visit My friends any more.”
Saying this, Krishna sobbed and cried. Vrajesvari Yasoda put Krishna on her lap and smiled shyly at the gopis in order to conceal her real mood. Then just to please Krishna, Yasoda said, “You gopis are all telling lies.
Only Krishna is telling the truth. He is just an innocent boy, so how could He possibly do such things. I think you have already scolded my son sufficiently.” After saying this, Yasoda spoke affectionately with the gopis. Then as a friendly gesture, Rohini applied tilaka to their foreheads and sent them home.
After the departure of the gopis, Yasoda, who is expert in the laws of etiquette, spoke to Krishna, “My son, because of greed You performed many improper acts in the homes of our friends. Although in Your own home such behavior is acceptable, in the home of another it is totally unbecoming. O beautiful one! These deeds of Yours were not good at all. From now on just stay here and play.”
After instructing her son Yasoda caressed Him lovingly.Just then Vrajaraja Nanda arrived and brightened the room with his favorable feelings.
Nanda spoke pleasing words to encourage and pacify his charming son. “O Vatsa! Come sit on my lap.”
Leaving Yasoda’s lap, Krishna climbed up on Nanda’s lap and wrapped His arm around His father’s neck.
Then Krishna said softly, “Why is mother chastising Me for nothing?”
Nanda responded, “What is this all about?”
That fabulous boy of oceanic intelligence replied, “Mother, now tell truthfully what happened.”
Then mother Yasoda recounted the misdeeds of Krishna by repeating the words uttered by the gopis.
Pointing to Queen Yasoda, Vrajaraja Nanda said, “My son is faultless. He has not done anything wrong. I always see Him behaving nicely. By siding with those who made fun of Him and with those who showed envy toward my jewel-like son, you have wrongly accused my well-behaved son and so you should be punished.”
Concealing his real mood behind these words, Nanda rebuked Yasoda and comforted his son: “O my darling son, just stay in my lap and do not go to anyone else.” Though hearing His father’s words, Krishna immediately jumped off his lap just like an unpredictable child, and quickly climbed on Yasoda’s lap. Seeing this gave both parents a hearty laugh.