Many gopis constantly complained to Sri Yasoda, “Your son steals from our houses and eats our butter. But, dear Yasoda, worse than that He throws milk, yoghurt, and butter everywhere. If He actually ate it, it would be all right, but He doesn’t. He smashes our pots of milk and yoghurt and unties the calves. How can we tolerate this daily loss of milk and yoghurt any longer? We have all decided to leave your village of Vraja and live elsewhere.
Mother Yasoda heard these complaints every day. She began to wonder, “Could it be that my darling boy finds the butter that comes from His own home not tasty? Is it sour? Is that why He doesn’t eat it, but instead sneaks into the houses of other gopis to steal their butter? If that is the case, then today I will prepare sweet butter for my dear son with my own hands. He will surely eat that, and not go to others’ houses to steal their butter.”
It was the festival of Dipavali, so she gave leave to all her servants and maidservants. She milked Mangala, Ganga, Pisangi, and other cows herself, and then boiled the milk until it started condensing. Then, when it was the right warmth, she added yoghurt culture to it, and in the early morning, she personally set to churning the freshly cultured yoghurt. As she was churning, she became completely immersed in love for her darling son and began to sing:
udukhale sambhrta-tandulams-caKanhaiya, the darling son of Mother Yasoda, forever begs parental love from His mother. Mother Yasoda was completely absorbed in the moods of her song and was brimming with affection for Krsna. When He heard her singing, her voice saturated with love for Him, He could not restrain Himself. He began to think, “Every day, Mother sings little songs with great tenderness to awaken Me, but today she hasn’t come and I am so hungry.” The Supreme Lord of everything, who is independently blissful and self-satisfied (atmarama and aptakama), was hungry. He began to cry loudly for His mother’s breast-milk.
samghattayanto musalaih pramugdhah
gayanti gopyo janitanuraga
govinda damodara madhaveti
Sri Bilvamangala Thakura’s Sri Govinda-Damodara Stotram (4)
“Because of their intense attachment for Sri Krsna, the gopis, while threshing their stock of rice with their mortars and pestles, would sing, “O my Govinda, my Damodara, O my dear Madhava.”
My dear Lord, how glorious You are! On this day, the effect of Sri Krsna’s crying remained unknown to anyone. It simply merged into the fathomless ocean of Mother Yasoda’s parental affection, for she was so absorbed in her sankirtana that she was unable to hear Him. With great difficulty, Kanhaiya, lying on His belly, moved little by little to the side of His bed and then got down. Rubbing His eyes and crying, He somehow made it to where His mother was churning, tottering like an intoxicated elephant along the way. He caught hold of the churning rod and stopped it from twirling. Mother Yasoda’s absorption broke. Seeing her darling son at her side, she immediately sat Him on her lap and began breast-feeding Him. Just by seeing her dear Kanhaiya, her limbs became decorated by all of the asta-sattvika bhavas (the eight types of bodily transformations arising from ecstatic love of God). Furthermore, the special emotion of motherly affection manifested: namely milk began to flow from her breasts.
“You monkey-friend!” she exclaimed. “Cora! Thief!”
To this, Sri Krsna replied, “Mother, there is no ‘Cora’ (*See Endnote 1) in My dynasty; there is only ‘Cora’ in your dynasty.”
“Oh, really?” she retorted. “If You did not steal the butter, then who was feeding the monkeys?”
Kanhaiya replied, “He who made the monkeys was feeding them.”
“Is that so?” she said. “Tell me frankly, who broke this pot?”
“Look, Mother, when you ran to save the milk, your large ankle-bells hit the pot and it broke.”
“Then how did You get butter all over Your face?” she asked.
“Mother, the monkeys were eating the butter, so I was trying to scare them away. As they were running, they smeared butter all over My mouth.” Hearing this exchange, all the gopis began to laugh.
“I am not about to set you free so easily,” Mother Yasoda said. “I’m going to tie You up.”
Mother Yasoda’s mood was grave. “If I don’t chastise Him,” she thought, “He will become quite a trouble maker.” With this in mind, she decided to bind Him. Although Sri Krsna started to cry, she did not let Him go. She thought to herself, “I’ll keep Him tied up for a while, and when I have finished churning the yoghurt, I will untie Him and feed Him butter and breast-milk to calm Him down.”
Mother Yasoda considered, “Krsna is khala, a cunning and mischievous thief, and His accomplice is ulukhala, this grinding mortar. Both deserve to be punished. I’ll tie them together in such away that Krsna cannot untie Himself from the mortar.”
Thinking thus, she proceeded to bind Him.
Direct vision of Sri Krsna is easily available to the residents of Vraja, but it is quite rare for the people of Mathura. Still, the fruit-seller became so anxious at heart that she resolved, “If I do not see Krsna today, I will not return to Mathura.”
The sadhaka’s resolve should be exactly the same. He should think, “Day and night I will execute the limbs of devotion as instructed by Sriman Mahaprabhu and Srila Rupa Gosvami. With love, I will chant a fixed number of Sri Hari’s names and serve Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas. Every day I will study Srimad-Bhagavatam and other devotional literatures. Every day I will recite Gopi-gita, Venu-gita, Bhramara-gita and Yugala-gita. If I come across a rasika Vaisnava I will give my life to serving him. I will visit the places where Sri Sri Radha Krsna performed Their confidential pastimes, in the groves and forests of Vraja. There, I will pray very piteously and recite hymns and prayers that are full of longing. Then, Sri Krsna will surely give me His darsana; He is not far away.”
Having made her vow, the fruit-seller came to Nanda Maharaja’s cowherd settlement and wandered about near his house. She began crying out, “Come, take fruits! Take fruits! Come! Take mangoes, bananas, and guavas!” But within moments, she became so absorbed in thinking about Krsna that instead of calling the names of the fruits she cried out, “Come, take Gopala! Govinda lo! Madhava lo! Damodara lo!” At first she had been balancing the basket of fruit on her head with one hand, but eventually she forgot to hold the basket altogether. It only kept from falling due to her natural expertise. Finally, she sat down before the doorstep of Nanda’s house.
When Sri Krsna heard the cries of the fruit-seller, He could not remain sitting quietly on His mother’s lap; so He climbed down and went to a nearby mound of grain. After taking as much grain as He could hold in His joined palms He started toward the fruit-seller, but His hands were so tiny that all the grain fell from them as He walked. When He reached the fruit-seller, all He had left were a few grains that were wedged between His palms and fingers. He poured His grains into her basket and demanded, “Oh! Give Me some fruit!” The fruit-seller became completely enchanted by the beautiful form of little Krsna and just sat there looking at Him for some time.
The import of this pastime is that unless someone is intensely eager to see Sri Krsna and is absorbed in remembering Him, just like the fruit-seller was, He does not give them His darsana. Sri Krsna only gives His darsana to those sadhakas who desire nothing but to see Him and serve Him. In other words, He only gives darsana to those who have become completely free from anarthas.
When the fruit-seller returned to external consciousness, she said, “Lala, my darling baby boy, I’ll only give You fruit if You sit on my lap just once, and call me Mother.”
Baby Krsna carefully looked in all directions to make sure no one was watching. When He was sure no one could see, He jumped on to her lap. “Mother.” And then quickly jumped off again. “Give Me fruit!”
All of the deepest desires within the heart of the fruit-seller had now been fulfilled. She wanted to give Krsna all of her fruit, but she could only give Him as much as He could hold in His tiny arms and hands. When Kanhaiya returned to where Mother Yasoda was sitting in the courtyard, He placed the fruit in her veil.
“Lala, where did You get these fruits from?” she asked.
Krsna simply pointed toward the door. Mother Yasoda became delighted to see such succulent and tasty fruits. While she began to distribute it to all the gopis present, amazingly, even though there were only a few pieces of fruit, the quantity did not diminish.
When Krsna had left the fruit-seller near the doorstep of His house, she completely lost external awareness. Sri Krsna had stolen her heart and she simply sat in the very same spot until a gopi passing by shook her and brought her back to external consciousness. She slowly picked up her basket of fruit, placed it upon her head, and then set off for Mathura.
As the fruit-seller walked along the bank of the Yamuna river, she realized her basket was much heavier than it had been before. When she set it down and looked inside she was struck with wonder. Her basket was filled with a variety of valuable jewels. She picked up the basket, threw it into the Yamuna, and burst into tears.
“Sri Krsna has cheated me!” she cried. “I have been completely deprived of His real mercy.
Overwhelmed by love for Sri Krsna, she lamented bitterly and never returned to her home. When Sri Krsna steals anyone’s heart, invariably, this becomes their condition.
[*Endnote 1: Editor’s footnote: Cora-ghosa gopa was the name of one of Sri Yasoda’s ancestors. ‘Cora’ literally means thief.