Childhood Pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa

Damodara pastimes1

…All the gopī friends of Yaśodā and Rohiṇī enjoyed the naughty childish activities of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma in Vṛndāvana. In order to enjoy further transcendental bliss, they all assembled and went to mother Yaśodā to lodge complaints against the restless boys. When Kṛṣṇa was sitting before mother Yaśodā, all the elderly gopīs began to lodge complaints against Him so that Kṛṣṇa could hear. They said, “Dear Yaśodā, why don’t you restrict your naughty Kṛṣṇa? He comes to our houses along with Balarāma every morning and evening, and before the milking of the cows They let loose the calves, and the calves drink all the milk of the cows. So when we go to milk the cows, we find no milk, and we have to return with empty pots. If we warn Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma about doing this, They simply smile charmingly. (Krsna Book Chapter 8)

…continuing with our attempt to post Krsna’s childhood pastimes, throughout the duration of the “Month of Damodara”

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 10, Chapter 8, Text 26-31


kālenālpena rājarṣe
rāmaḥ kṛṣṇaś ca gokule
aghṛṣṭa-jānubhiḥ padbhir
vicakramatur añjasā

kālena alpena—within a very short time; rājarṣe—O King (Mahārāja Parīkṣit); rāmaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ ca—both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa; gokule—in the village of Gokula; aghṛṣṭa-jānubhiḥ—without the help of crawling on Their knees; padbhiḥ—by Their legs alone; vicakramatuḥ—began to walk; añjasā—very easily.


O King Parīkṣit, within a very short time both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa began to walk very easily in Gokula on Their legs, by Their own strength, without the need to crawl.


Instead of crawling with Their knees, the babies could now stand up by holding on to something and walk little by little, without difficulty, by the strength of Their legs.


tatas tu bhagavān kṛṣṇo
vayasyair vraja-bālakaiḥ
saha-rāmo vraja-strīṇāṁ
cikrīḍe janayan mudam

tataḥ—thereafter; tu—but; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; kṛṣṇaḥ—Lord Kṛṣṇa; vayasyaiḥ—with Their playmates; vraja-bālakaiḥ—with other small children in Vraja; saha-rāmaḥ—along with Balarāma; vraja-strīṇām—of all the ladies of Vraja; cikrīḍe—played very happily; janayan—awakening; mudam—transcendental bliss.


Thereafter, Lord Kṛṣṇa, along with Balarāma, began to play with the other children of the cowherd men, thus awakening the transcendental bliss of the cowherd women.


The word saha-rāmaḥ, meaning “along with Balarāma,” is significant in this verse. In such transcendental pastimes, Kṛṣṇa is the chief hero, and Balarāma provides additional help.


kṛṣṇasya gopyo ruciraṁ
vīkṣya kaumāra-cāpalam
śṛṇvantyāḥ kila tan-mātur
iti hocuḥ samāgatāḥ

kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa; gopyaḥ—all the gopīs; ruciram—very attractive; vīkṣya—observing; kaumāra-cāpalam—the restlessness of the childish pastimes; śṛṇvantyāḥ—just to hear them again and again; kila—indeed; tat-mātuḥ—in the presence of His mother; iti—thus; ha—indeed; ūcuḥ—said; samāgatāḥ—assembled there.


Observing the very attractive childish restlessness of Kṛṣṇa, all the gopīs in the neighborhood, to hear about Kṛṣṇa’s activities again and again, would approach mother Yaśodā and speak to her as follows.


Kṛṣṇa’s activities are always very attractive to devotees. Therefore the neighbors, who were friends of mother Yaśodā, informed mother Yaśodā of whatever they saw Kṛṣṇa doing in the neighborhood. Mother Yaśodā, just to hear about the activities of her son, stopped her household duties and enjoyed the information given by the neighborhood friends.


vatsān muñcan kvacid asamaye krośa-sañjāta-hāsaḥ
steyaṁ svādv atty atha dadhi-payaḥ kalpitaiḥ steya-yogaiḥ
markān bhokṣyan vibhajati sa cen nātti bhāṇḍaṁ bhinnatti
dravyālābhe sagṛha-kupito yāty upakrośya tokān

vatsān—the calves; muñcan—releasing; kvacit—sometimes; asamaye—at odd times; krośa-sañjāta-hāsaḥ—after this, when the head of the house is angry, Kṛṣṇa begins to smile; steyam—obtained by stealing; svādu—very tasteful; atti—eats; atha—thus; dadhi-payaḥ—pot of curd and milk; kalpitaiḥ—devised; steya-yogaiḥ—by some sort of stealing process; markān—to the monkeys; bhokṣyan—giving to eat; vibhajati—divides their portion; saḥ—the monkey; cet—if; na—not; atti—eats; bhāṇḍam—the pot; bhinnatti—He breaks; dravya-alābhe—when eatables are unavailable or He cannot find such pots; sa-gṛha-kupitaḥ—He becomes angry at the residents of the house; yāti—He goes away; upakrośya—irritating and pinching; tokān—the small children.


“Our dear friend Yaśodā, your son sometimes comes to our houses before the milking of the cows and releases the calves, and when the master of the house becomes angry, your son merely smiles. Sometimes He devises some process by which He steals palatable curd, butter and milk, which He then eats and drinks. When the monkeys assemble, He divides it with them, and when the monkeys have their bellies so full that they won’t take more, He breaks the pots. Sometimes, if He gets no opportunity to steal butter or milk from a house, He will be angry at the householders, and for His revenge He will agitate the small children by pinching them. Then, when the children begin crying, Kṛṣṇa will go away.


The narration of Kṛṣṇa’s naughty childhood activities would be presented to mother Yaśodā in the form of complaints. Sometimes Kṛṣṇa would enter the house of a neighbor, and if He found no one there, He would release the calves before the time for the cows to be milked. The calves are actually supposed to be released when their mothers are milked, but Kṛṣṇa would release them before that time, and naturally the calves would drink all the milk from their mothers. When the cowherd men saw this, they would chase Kṛṣṇa and try to catch Him, saying, “Here is Kṛṣṇa doing mischief,” but He would flee and enter another house, where He would again devise some means to steal butter and curd. Then the cowherd men would again try to capture Him, saying, “Here is the butter thief. Better capture Him!” And they would be angry. But Kṛṣṇa would simply smile, and they would forget everything. Sometimes, in their presence, He would begin eating the curd and butter. There was no need for Kṛṣṇa to eat butter, since His belly was always full, but He would try to eat it, or else He would break the pots and distribute the contents to the monkeys. In this way, Kṛṣṇa was always engaged in mischief-making. If in any house He could not find any butter or curd to steal, He would go into a room and agitate the small children sleeping there by pinching them, and when they cried He would go away.


hastāgrāhye racayati vidhiṁ pīṭhakolūkhalādyaiś
chidraṁ hy antar-nihita-vayunaḥ śikya-bhāṇḍeṣu tad-vit
dhvāntāgāre dhṛta-maṇi-gaṇaṁ svāṅgam artha-pradīpaṁ
kāle gopyo yarhi gṛha-kṛtyeṣu suvyagra-cittāḥ

hasta-agrāhye—when the destination is out of the reach of His hands; racayati—He arranges to make; vidhim—a means; pīṭhaka—by wooden planks piled together; ulūkhala-ādyaiḥ—and by overturning the stone mortar for grinding spices; chidram—a hole; hi—indeed; antaḥ-nihita—about the contents of the pot; vayunaḥ—with such knowledge; śikya—hanging by a swing; bhāṇḍeṣu—in the pots; tat-vit—expert in that knowledge, or in full knowledge; dhvānta-āgāre—in a very dark room; dhṛta-maṇi-gaṇam—because of being decorated with valuable jewels; sva-aṅgam—His own body; artha-pradīpam—is the light required for seeing in darkness; kāle—after that, in due course of time; gopyaḥ—the elderly gopīs; yarhi—as soon as; gṛha-kṛtyeṣu—in discharging household affairs; su-vyagra-cittāḥ—are busily engaged.


“When the milk and curd are kept high on a swing hanging from the ceiling and Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma cannot reach it, They arrange to reach it by piling up various planks and turning upside down the mortar for grinding spices. Being quite aware of the contents of a pot, They pick holes in it. While the elderly gopīs go about their household affairs, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma sometimes go into a dark room, brightening the place with the valuable jewels and ornaments on Their bodies and taking advantage of this light by stealing.


Formerly, in every household, yogurt and butter were kept for use in emergencies. But Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma would pile up planks so that They could reach the pots and would then pick holes in the pots with Their hands so that the contents would leak out and They could drink it. This was another means for stealing butter and milk. When the butter and milk were kept in a dark room, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma would go there and make the place bright with the valuable jewels on Their bodies. On the whole, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma engaged in stealing butter and milk from the neighborhood houses in many ways.


evaṁ dhārṣṭyāny uśati kurute mehanādīni vāstau
steyopāyair viracita-kṛtiḥ supratīko yathāste
itthaṁ strībhiḥ sa-bhaya-nayana-śrī-mukhālokinībhir
vyākhyātārthā prahasita-mukhī na hy upālabdhum aicchat

evam—in this way; dhārṣṭyāni—naughty activities; uśati—in a neat and clean place; kurute—sometimes does; mehana-ādīni—passing stool and urine; vāstau—in our houses; steya-upāyaiḥ—and by inventing different devices to steal butter and milk; viracita-kṛtiḥ—is very expert; su-pratīkaḥ—is now sitting down here like a very good, well-behaved child; yathā āste—while staying here; ittham—all these topics of conversation; strībhiḥ—by the gopīs; sa-bhaya-nayana—just now sitting there with fearful eyes; śrī-mukha—such a beautiful face; ālokinībhiḥ—by the gopīs, who were enjoying the pleasure of seeing; vyākhyāta-arthā—and while complaining against Him before mother Yaśodā; prahasita-mukhī—they were smiling and enjoying; na—not; hi—indeed; upālabdhum—to chastise and threaten (rather, she enjoyed how Kṛṣṇa was sitting there as a very good boy); aicchat—she desired.


“When Kṛṣṇa is caught in His naughty activities, the master of the house will say to Him, ‘Oh, You are a thief,’ and artificially express anger at Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa will then reply, ‘I am not a thief. You are a thief.’ Sometimes, being angry, Kṛṣṇa passes urine and stool in a neat, clean place in our houses. But now, our dear friend Yaśodā, this expert thief is sitting before you like a very good boy.” Sometimes all the gopīs would look at Kṛṣṇa sitting there, His eyes fearful so that His mother would not chastise Him, and when they saw Kṛṣṇa’s beautiful face, instead of chastising Him they would simply look upon His face and enjoy transcendental bliss. Mother Yaśodā would mildly smile at all this fun, and she would not want to chastise her blessed transcendental child.


Kṛṣṇa’s business in the neighborhood was not only to steal but sometimes to pass stool and urine in a neat, clean house. When caught by the master of the house, Kṛṣṇa would chastise him, saying, “You are a thief.” Aside from being a thief in His childhood affairs, Kṛṣṇa acted as an expert thief when He was young by attracting young girls and enjoying them in the rāsa dance. This is Kṛṣṇa’s business. He is also violent, as the killer of many demons. Although mundane people like nonviolence and other such brilliant qualities, God, the Absolute Truth, being always the same, is good in any activities, even so-called immoral activities like stealing, killing and violence. Kṛṣṇa is always pure, and He is always the Supreme Absolute Truth. Kṛṣṇa may do anything supposedly abominable in material life, yet still He is attractive. Therefore His name is Kṛṣṇa, meaning “all-attractive.” This is the platform on which transcendental loving affairs and service are exchanged. Because of the features of Kṛṣṇa’s face, the mothers were so attracted that they could not chastise Him. Instead of chastising Him, they smiled and enjoyed hearing of Kṛṣṇa’s activities. Thus the gopīs remained satisfied, and Kṛṣṇa enjoyed their happiness. Therefore another name of Kṛṣṇa is Gopī-jana-vallabha because He invented such activities to please the gopīs.


…All the gopī friends of Yaśodā and Rohiṇī enjoyed the naughty childish activities of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma in Vṛndāvana. In order to enjoy further transcendental bliss, they all assembled and went to mother Yaśodā to lodge complaints against the restless boys. When Kṛṣṇa was sitting before mother Yaśodā, all the elderly gopīs began to lodge complaints against Him so that Kṛṣṇa could hear. They said, “Dear Yaśodā, why don’t you restrict your naughty Kṛṣṇa? He comes to our houses along with Balarāma every morning and evening, and before the milking of the cows They let loose the calves, and the calves drink all the milk of the cows. So when we go to milk the cows, we find no milk, and we have to return with empty pots. If we warn Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma about doing this, They simply smile charmingly. We cannot do anything. Also, your Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma find great pleasure in stealing our stock of yogurt and butter from wherever we keep it. When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are caught stealing the yogurt and butter, They say, ‘Why do you charge us with stealing? Do you think that butter and yogurt are in scarcity in our house?’ Sometimes They steal butter, yogurt and milk and distribute them to the monkeys. When the monkeys are well fed and do not take any more, then your boys chide, ‘This milk and butter and yogurt are useless–even the monkeys won’t take it.’ And They break the pots and throw them hither and thither. If we keep our stock of yogurt, butter and milk in a solitary dark place, your Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma find it in the darkness by the glaring effulgence of the ornaments and jewels on Their bodies. If by chance They cannot find the hidden butter and yogurt, They go to our little babies and pinch their bodies so that they cry, and then They go away. If we keep our stock of butter and yogurt high on the ceiling, hanging on a swing, although it is beyond Their reach, They arrange to reach it by piling all kinds of wooden crates over the grinding machine. And if They cannot reach, They make a hole in the pot. We think therefore that you better take all the jeweled ornaments from the bodies of your children.”

On hearing this, Yaśodā would say, “All right, I will take all the jewels from Kṛṣṇa so that He can not see the butter hidden in the darkness.” Then the gopīs would say, “No, no, don’t do this. What good will you do by taking away the jewels? We do not know what kind of boys these are, but even without ornaments They spread some kind of effulgence so that even in darkness They can see everything.” Then mother Yaśodā would inform them, “All right, keep your butter and yogurt carefully so that They may not reach it.” In reply to this, the gopīs said, “Yes, actually we do so, but because we are sometimes engaged in our household duties, these naughty boys enter our house somehow or other and spoil everything. Sometimes being unable to steal our butter and yogurt, out of anger They pass urine on the clean floor and sometimes spit on it. Just see your boy now–He is hearing this complaint. All day They simply makes arrangements to steal our butter and yogurt, and now They are sitting just like very silent good boys. Just see His face.” When mother Yaśodā thought to chastise her boy after hearing all the complaints, she saw His pitiable face, and smiling, she did not chastise Him. (excerpted from Krsna Book Chapter 8)


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