Krishna’s Childhood Pastimes

B.G. Sharma1

So…continuining our month long attempt to stay focused on the childhood pastimes of Krsna, during this month of Damodara (Kartika), we bring you another exciting chapter from; Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Today we are posting the chapter entitled “Killing the Demons Vatsāsura and Bakāsura”.

…All the cowherd boys would daily go to the bank of the river Yamunā to water their calves. Usually, when the calves drank water from the Yamunā, 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 Bakāsura, and he was a friend of Kaṁsa’s. He appeared on the scene suddenly and immediately attacked Kṛṣṇa with his pointed, sharp beaks and quickly swallowed Him up. When Kṛṣṇa was thus swallowed, all the boys, headed by Balarāma, became almost breathless, as if they had died. But when the Bakāsura demon was swallowing up Kṛṣṇa, he felt a burning fiery sensation in his throat. This was due to the glowing effulgence of Kṛṣṇa. The demon quickly threw Kṛṣṇa up and tried to kill Him by pinching Him in his beaks. Bakāsura did not know that although Kṛṣṇa was playing the part of a child of Nanda Mahārāja, He was still the original father of Lord Brahmā, the creator of the universe. The child of mother Yaśodā, 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 cāmeli, 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.

This description of Krishna killing the demon Bakasura by bifurcating his mouth, has always intriged me, and after years of hearing and reading this story I finially decided to look up the word bifurcate.

bi·fur·cate
verb
past tense: bifurcated; past participle: bifurcated
ˈbīfərˌkāt/
divide into two branches or forks.
“just below Cairo the river bifurcates”
(from Merriam Webster dictionary)

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The Childhood Pastimes of Kṛṣṇa

Krsna & Balarama Hiding from Mother Yasoda

Today is Rama Ekadasi (fast from grains and beans), so on this auspicious day, in the auspicious month of Damodara, we wanted to do a special post. The following is the entire 11th chapter of the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam entitled “The Childhood Pastimes of Kṛṣṇa”.

The following two verses are just an example of the nectar one will find in the following chapter…

…The gopīs would say, “If You dance, my dear Kṛṣṇa, then I shall give You half a sweetmeat.” By saying these words or by clapping their hands, all the gopīs encouraged Kṛṣṇa in different ways. At such times, although He was the supremely powerful Personality of Godhead, He would smile and dance according to their desire, as if He were a wooden doll in their hands. Sometimes He would sing very loudly, at their bidding. In this way, Kṛṣṇa came completely under the control of the gopīs.(Text 7)

To pure devotees throughout the world who could understand His activities, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, exhibited how much He can be subdued by His devotees, His servants. In this way He increased the pleasure of the Vrajavāsīs by His childhood activities. (Text 9)

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 10, Chapter 11

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Wonderful Kṛṣṇa

“O Lord, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to You for liberation, nor eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor any other boon. My only prayer is that Your childhood pastimes may constantly appear in my mind. O Lord, I do not even want to know Your feature of Paramatma. I simply wish that Your childhood pastimes may ever be enacted in my heart.” (Sri Damodarastakam, verse 4)

KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead – 1970 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Vol 1, Chapter 26

Wonderful Kṛṣṇa

Without understanding the intricacies of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and without knowing His uncommon spiritual opulences, the innocent cowherd boys and men of Vṛndāvana began to discuss the wonderful activities of Kṛṣṇa which surpass the activities of all men.

One of them said, “My dear friends, considering His wonderful activities, how is it possible that such an uncommon boy would come and live with us in Vṛndāvana? It is really not possible. Just imagine! He is now only seven years old! How was it possible for Him to lift Govardhana Hill in one hand and hold it up just like the king of elephants holds a lotus flower? To lift a lotus flower is a most insignificant thing for an elephant, and similarly Kṛṣṇa lifted Govardhana Hill without exertion. When He was simply a small baby and could not even see properly, He killed a great demon, Pūtanā. While sucking her breast, He also sucked out her life-air. Kṛṣṇa killed the Pūtanā demon exactly as eternal time kills a living creature in due course. When He was only three months old, He was sleeping underneath a hand-driven cart. Being hungry for His mother’s breast, He began to cry and throw His legs upwards. And from the kicking of His small feet the cart immediately broke apart and fell to pieces. When He was only one year old, He was carried away by the Tṛṇāvarta demon disguised as a whirlwind, and although He was taken very high in the sky, He simply hung on the neck of the demon and forced him to fall from the sky and immediately die. Once His mother, being disturbed by His stealing butter, tied Him to a wooden mortar, and the child pushed it towards a pair of trees known as yamala arjuna and caused them to fall. Once, when He was engaged in tending the calves in the forest along with His elder brother, Balarāma, a demon named Bakāsura appeared, and Kṛṣṇa at once bifurcated the demon’s beaks. When the demon known as Vatsāsura entered among the calves tended by Kṛṣṇa with a desire to kill Him, He immediately detected the demon, killed him, and threw him into a tree. When Kṛṣṇa, along with His brother, Balarāma, entered the Tālavana forest, the demon known as Dhenukāsura, in the shape of an ass, attacked Them and was immediately killed by Balarāma, who caught his hind legs and threw him in a palm tree. Although the Dhenukāsura demon was assisted by his cohorts, also in the shape of asses, all were killed, and the Tālavana forest was then open for the use of the animals and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana. When Pralambāsura entered amongst His cowherd boy friends, He caused his death by Balarāma. Thereafter, Kṛṣṇa saved His friends and cows from the severe forest fire, and He chastised the Kāliya serpent in the lake of Yamunā and forced him to leave the vicinity of the Yamunā River; He thereby made the water of the Yamunā poisonless.”

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Killing the Demons within the Heart

Killing the Demons within the Heart

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Sri Caitanya Siksamrita describes the demons Krishna killed in His Vrndavana pastimes and the anarthas (unwanted things) with which they may be associated.

Putana (the witch) – the pseudo guru.

Sakatasura (the cart demon) – carrying the burden of a cart-load of old and new bad habits, lethargy and vanity.

Trinavarta (the whirlwind demon) – false pride which comes from material scholarship, which leads to bogus philosophies.

Deliverance of Nalakuvara and Manigriva (breaking the twin arjuna trees) – Arrogant pride which comes from puffed-up prestige, which is rooted in a madness for wealth.

Vatsasura (the calf demon) – a childish type of mentality which gives rise to a type of greediness which results in a wicked type of mischievousness.

Bakasura (stork demon) – Cunning duplicity, deceptiveness and false types of behavior.

Aghasura (the snake demon) – Cruelty and violence.

Brahma-vimohana Pastime (Lord Brahma steals the cowherd boys and calves) – mundane activities and speculative scholasticism.

Dhenukasura (the ass demon) – gross materialistic intelligence, ignorance of spiritual knowledge.

Kaliya (chastising the Kaliya serpent) – brutality and treachery.

Extinguishing the Forest Fire – inter-communal discord among Vaishnavas.

Pralambasura (killing the Pralamba demon) – lusty inclinations; desire for personal gain and honor.

Second Forest Fire – disturbance of religious principles and interference with religious people by those who are atheist.

Brahmanas Performing Sacrifice – indifference toward Krishna caused by pride because of one’s status (position) in varnasrama.

Overcoming the Pride of Indra – demigod worship, and the tendency to think “I am Supreme.”
Nanda Maharaja Captured by Varuna – thinking that spiritual life can be enhanced by intoxication.

Nanda Maharaja Swallowed by Vidyadhara (the snake) – rescuing the truth of Krishna consciousness from being swallowed by the impersonalists.

Sankhacuda (killing the conch-shell demon and getting the jewel that was stolen by him) – proneness toward acquiring name and fame, and desire for sensuous enjoyment, under the plea of devotion.

Aristasura (the bull demon) – pride arising from indulging in false religions invented by cheaters which causes neglect of devotional service (bhakti).

Kesi (the horse demon) – The feeling that “I am a great devotee and spiritual master.”

Vyomasura (the demon in the sky) – associating with thieves and other rascals, and with people who put themselves forward as avataras.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: “The devotee who worships the holy name should first petition the Lord for the strength to cast out all these unfavorable tendencies and should pray thus before Lord Hari on a daily basis. By doing this regularly, the devotee’s heart will eventually become purified. Sri Krishna has killed a number of demons which may arise in the kingdom of the heart, so in order to destroy these problems, a devotee must cry very humbly before the Lord and admit defeat then the Lord will nullify all contaminations.”

Pasted from: http://www.harekrsna.de/divine-message.htm

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