11 / Killing the Demons Vatsasura and Bakasura
When the twin arjuna trees fell to the ground, making a sound like the falling of thunderbolts, all the inhabitants of Gokula, including Nanda Maharaja, immediately came to the spot. They were very much astonished to see how the two great trees had suddenly fallen. Because they could find no reason for their falling down, they were puzzled. When they saw child Krsna bound up to the wooden mortar by the ropes of Yasoda, they began to think that it must have been caused by some demon. Otherwise, how was it possible? At the same time, they were very much perturbed because such uncommon incidences were always happening to the child Krsna. While the elderly cowherd men were thus contemplating, the small children who were playing there informed the men that the trees fell due to Krsna's pulling the wooden mortar with the ropes to which He was bound. "Krsna came in between the two trees," they explained, "and the wooden mortar was topsy-turvied and stuck in between the trees. Krsna began to pull the rope, and the trees fell down. When the trees fell down, two very dazzling men came out of the trees, and they began to talk to Krsna."
Most of the cowherd men did not believe the statement of the children. They could not believe that such things were at all possible. Some of the them, however, believed them and told Nanda Maharaja, "Your child is different from all other children. He just might have done it." Nanda Maharaja began to smile, hearing about the extraordinary abilities of his son. He came forward and untied the knot just to free his wonderful child. After being freed by Nanda Maharaja, Krsna was taken onto the laps of the elderly gopis. They took Him away to the courtyard of the house and began to clap, praising His wonderful activities. Krsna began to clap along with them, just like an ordinary child. The Supreme Lord Krsna, being completely controlled by the gopis, began to sing and dance, just like a puppet in their hands.
Sometimes mother Yasoda used to ask Krsna to bring her a wooden plank for sitting. Although the wooden plank was too heavy to be carried by a child, still somehow or other Krsna would bring it to His mother. Sometimes while worshiping Narayana, His father would ask Him to bring his wooden slippers, and Krsna, with great difficulty, would put the slippers on His head and bring them to His father. When He was asked to lift some heavy article and was unable to lift it, He would simply move His arms. In this way, daily, at every moment, He was the reservoir of all pleasure to His parents. The Lord was exhibiting such childish ativities before the inhabitants of Vrndavana because He wanted to show the great philosophers and sages searching after the Absolute Truth how the Supreme Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is controlled by and subject to the desires of His pure devotees.
One day, a fruit vendor came before the house of Nanda Maharaja. Upon hearing the vendor call, "If anyone wants fruits please come and take them from me!" child Krsna immediately took some grains in His palm and went to get fruits in exchange. In those days exchange was by barter; therefore Krsna might have seen His parents exchange fruits and other things by bartering grains, and so He imitated. But His palms were very small, and He was not very careful to hold them tight, so He was dropping the grains. The vendor who came to sell fruits saw this and was very much captivated by the beauty of the Lord, so he immediately accepted whatever few grains were left in His palm and filled His hands with fruits. In the meantime, the vendor saw that his whole basket of fruit had become filled with jewels. The Lord is the bestower of all benediction. If someone gives something to the Lord, he is not the loser; he is the gainer by a million times.
One day Lord Krsna, the liberator of the twin arjuna trees, was playing with Balarama and the other children on the bank of the Yamuna, and because it was already late in the morning, Rohini, the mother of Balarama, went to call them back home. But Balarama and Krsna were so engrossed in playing with Their friends that They did not wish to come back; They just engaged Themselves in playing more and more. When Rohini was unable to take Them back home, she went home and sent mother Yasoda to call Them again. Mother Yasoda was so affectionate toward her son that as soon as she came out to call Him back home, her breast filled up with milk. She loudly cried, "My dear child, please come back home. Your time for lunch is already past." She then said, "My dear Krsna, O my dear lotus-eyed child, please come and suck my breast. You have played enough. You must be very hungry, my dear little child. You must be tired from playing for so long." She also addressed Balarama thus: "My dear, the glory of Your family, please come back with Your younger brother Krsna immediately. You have been engaged in playing since morning, and You must be very tired. Please come back and take Your lunch at home. Your father Nandaraja is waiting for You. He has to eat, so You must come back so that he can eat."
As soon as Krsna and Balarama heard that Nanda Maharaja was waiting for Them and could not take his food in Their absence, They started to return. Their other playmates complained, "Krsna is leaving us just at the point when our playing is at the summit. Next time we shall not allow Him to leave."
His playmates then threatened not to allow Him to play with them again. Krsna became afraid, and instead of going back home, He went back again to play with the boys. At that time, mother Yasoda scolded the children and told Krsna, "My dear Krsna, do You think that You are a street boy? You have no home? Please come back to Your home! I see that Your body has become very dirty from playing since early morning. Now come home and take Your bath. Besides, today is Your birthday ceremony; therefore You should come back home and give cows in charity to the brahmanas. Don't You see how Your playmates are decorated with ornaments by their mothers? You should also be cleansed and decorated with nice dress and ornaments. Please, therefore, come back, take Your bath, dress Yourself nicely, and then again You may go on playing."
In this way mother Yasoda called back Lord Krsna and Balarama who are worshipable by great demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. She was thinking of Them as her children.
When mother Yasoda's children, Krsna and Balarama, came home, she bathed Them very nicely and dressed Them with ornaments. She then called for the brahmanas, and through her children she gave many cows in charity for the occasion of Krsna's birthday. In this way she performed the birthday ceremony of Krsna at home.
After this incident, all the elderly members of the cowherd men assembled together, and Nanda Maharaja presided. They began to consult amongst themselves how to stop great disturbances in the Mahavana on account of the demons. In this meeting, Upananda, brother of Nanda Maharaja, was present. He was considered to be learned and experienced, and he was a well-wisher of Krsna and Balarama. He was a leader, and he began to address the meeting as follows: "My dear friends! Now we should leave here for another place because we are continually finding that great demons are coming here to disturb the peaceful situation, and they are especially attempting to kill the small children. Just consider Putana and Krsna. It was simply by the grace of Lord Hari that Krsna was saved from the hands of such a great demon. Next the whirlwind demon took Krsna away in the sky, but by the grace of Lord Hari He was saved, and the demon fell down on a stone slab and died. Very recently, this child was playing between two trees, and the trees fell down violently, and yet there was no injury to the child. So Lord Hari saved Him again. Just imagine the calamity if this child or any other child playing with Him were crushed by the falling trees! Considering all these incidences, we must conclude that this place is no longer safe. Let us leave. We have all been saved from different calamities by the grace of Lord Hari. Now we should be cautious and leave this place and reside somewhere where we can live peacefully. I think that we should all go to the forest known as Vrndavana, where just now there are newly grown plants and herbs. It is very suitable for pasturing ground for our cows, and we and our families, the gopis with their children, can very peacefully live there. Near Vrndavana there is Govardhana Hill, which is very beautiful, and there is newly grown grass and fodder for the animals, so there will be no difficulty in living there. I therefore suggest that we start immediately for that beautiful place, as there is no need to waste any more time. Let us prepare all our carts immediately, and, if you like, let us go, keeping all the cows in front."
On hearing the statement of Upananda, all the cowherd men immediately agreed. "Let us immediately go there." Everyone then loaded all their household furniture and utensils on the carts and prepared to go to Vrndavana. All the old men of the village, the children and women were arranged on seats, and the cowherd men equipped themselves with bows and arrows to follow the carts. All the cows and bulls along with their calves were placed in the front, and the men surrounded the flocks with their bows and arrows and began to blow on their horns and bugles. In this way, with tumultuous sound, they started for Vrndavana.
And who can describe the damsels of Vraja? They were all seated on the carts and were very beautifully dressed with ornaments and costly saris. They began to chant the pastimes of child Krsna as usual. Mother Yasoda and mother Rohini were seated on a separate cart, and Krsna and Balarama were seated on their laps. While mother Rohini and Yasoda were riding on the cart, they talked to Krsna and Balarama, and feeling the pleasure of such talks, they looked very, very beautiful.
In this way, after reaching Vrndavana, where everyone lives eternally, very peacefully and happily, they encircled Vrndavana and kept the carts all together. After seeing the beautiful appearance of Govardhana on the bank of the river Yamuna, they began to construct their places of residence. While those of the same age were walking together and children were talking with their parents, the inhabitants of Vrndavana felt very happy.
At this time Krsna and Balarama were given charge of the calves. The first responsibility of the cowherd boys was to take care of the little calves. The boys are trained in this from the very beginning of their childhood. So along with other little cowherd boys, Krsna and Balarama went into the pasturing ground and took charge of the calves and played with Their playmates. While taking charge of the calves, sometimes the two brothers played on Their flutes. And sometimes They played with amalaki fruits and bael fruits, just like small children play with balls. Sometimes They danced and made tinkling sounds with Their ankle bells. Sometimes They made Themselves into bulls and cows by covering Themselves with blankets. Thus Krsna and Balarama played. The two brothers also used to imitate the sounds of bulls and cows and play at bullfighting. Sometimes They used to imitate the sounds of various animals and birds. In this way, They enjoyed Their childhood pastimes apparently like ordinary, mundane children.
Once, when Krsna and Balarama were playing on the bank of the Yamuna, a demon of the name Vatsasura assumed the shape of a calf and came there intending to kill the brothers. By taking the shape of a calf, the demon could mingle with other calves. Krsna, however, specifically noticed this, and He immediately told Balarama about the entrance of the demon. Both brothers then followed him and sneaked up upon him. Krsna caught hold of the demon-calf by the two hind legs and tail, whipped him around very forcibly and threw him up into a tree. The demon lost his life and fell down from the top of the tree to the ground. When the demon lay dead on the ground, all the playmates of Krsna congratulated Him, "Well done, well done," and the demigods in the sky began to shower flowers with great satisfaction. In this way, the maintainers of the complete creation, Krsna and Balarama, used to take care of the calves in the morning every day, and thus They enjoyed Their childhood pastimes as cowherd boys in Vrndavana.
All the cowherd boys would daily go to the bank of the River Yamuna to water their calves. Usually, when the calves drank water from the Yamuna, the boys also drank. One day, after drinking, when they were sitting on the bank of the river, they saw a huge animal which looked something like a duck and was as big as a hill. Its top was as strong as a thunderbolt. When they saw that unusual animal, they became afraid of it. The name of this beast was Bakasura, and he was a friend of Kamsa's. He appeared on the scene suddenly and immediately attacked Krsna with his pointed, sharp beaks and quickly swallowed Him up. When Krsna was thus swallowed, all the boys, headed by Balarama, became almost breathless, as if they had died. But when the Bakasura demon was swallowing up Krsna, he felt a burning fiery sensation in his throat. This was due to the glowing effulgence of Krsna. The demon quickly threw Krsna up and tried to kill Him by pinching Him in his beaks. Bakasura did not know that although Krsna was playing the part of a child of Nanda Maharaja, He was still the original father of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. The child of mother Yasoda, who is the reservoir of pleasure for the demigods and who is the maintainer of saintly persons, caught hold of the beaks of the great gigantic duck and, before His cowherd boy friends, bifurcated his mouth, just as a child very easily splits a blade of grass. From the sky, the denizens of the heavenly planets showered flowers like the cameli, the most fragrant of all flowers, as a token of their congratulations. Accompanying the showers of flowers was a vibration of bugles, drums and conchshells.
When the boys saw the showering of flowers and heard the celestial sounds, they became struck with wonder. When they saw Krsna, they all, including Balarama, were so pleased that it seemed as if they had regained their very source of life. As soon as they saw Krsna coming towards them, they one after another embraced the son of Nanda and held Him to their chests. After this, they assembled all the calves under their charge and began to return home.
When they arrived home, they began to speak of the wonderful activities of the son of Nanda. When the gopis and cowherd men all heard the story from the boys, they felt great happiness because naturally they loved Krsna, and hearing about His glories and victorious activities, they became still more affectionate toward Him. Thinking that the child Krsna was saved from the mouth of death, they began to see His face with great love and affection. They were full of anxieties, but they could not turn their faces from the vision of Krsna. The gopis and the men began to converse amongst themselves about how the child Krsna was attacked in so many ways and so many times by so many demons, and yet the demons were killed and Krsna was uninjured. They continued to converse amongst themselves about how so many great demons in such fierce bodies attacked Krsna to kill Him, but by the grace of Hari, they could not cause even a slight injury. Rather, they died like small flies in a fire. Thus they remembered the words of Gargamuni who foretold, by dint of his vast knowledge of the Vedas and astrology, that this boy would be attacked by many demons. Now they actually saw that this was coming true, word for word.
All the elderly cowherd men, including Nanda Maharaja, used to talk of the wonderful activities of Lord Krsna and Balarama, and they were always so much absorbed in those talks that they forgot the threefold miseries of this material existence. This is the effect of Krsna consciousness. What was enjoyed 5,000 years ago by Nanda Maharaja can still be enjoyed by persons who are in Krsna consciousness simply by talking about the transcendental pastimes of Krsna and His associates.
Thus both Balarama and Krsna enjoyed Their childhood pastimes, imitating the monkeys of Lord Ramacandra who constructed the bridge over the ocean and Hanuman, who jumped over the water to Ceylon. And They used to imitate such pastimes among Their friends and so happily passed Their childhood life.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Eleventh Chapter of Krsna, "Killing the Demons Vatsasura and Bakasura."
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