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DAMODARA PANDITA DASA recounts an incident in the life of Yashoda and Krishna that devotees believe happened on Deepavali day
Yashoda hardly slept the night before. Anxious thoughts raced through her mind. “Why is my little Krishna going around stealing butter and yoghurt from neighbours? Is there not enough to eat at home? It’s ruining the reputation of our family!” Her husband, Nanda, was king of Vraja whose goshalas housed 900,000 top breed cows.
Yashoda had a brainwave. She awoke very early one morning. She was determined to make an endless variety of delicious milk preparations with her own hands and feed her mischievous son so that he would once and for all forget about stealing from the neighbours.
Having carefully collected the milk of the two most exquisite padmagandha cows from Nanda’s herd of 900,000, Yashoda set it to boil, whilst churning another portion of it to get butter, yogurt and ghee. Surprisingly, Krishna woke up early that same morning. He was hungry. Yashoda took him on her lap and began to breastfeed him. There was a whole day of endless responsibilities ahead. Nevertheless, her heart was overwhelmed with maternal love by just gazing upon the beautiful moonlike face of her little child. She became oblivious of everything around her. Suddenly, the milk in the pot began to overflow.
She had to put the child down and rush off to take the pot off the fire. Being rudely interrupted from his milk drinking, little Krishna began to cry. An angry Krishna slipped away into another room and began to break butter pots which left the whole place messy. To aggravate matters, Krishna began to liberally distribute the spoils to hundreds of monkeys and birds.
Yashoda took up a small stick just to admonish, not beat, and silently approached her child from behind. Seeing her approach, the monkeys began to disperse, shrieking. Fearing the worst, Krishna began to run for his life. Yashoda seemed incapable of catching the boy who dived and dodged with alarming alacrity. Undaunted, she doubled her efforts and the little child soon gave himself up.
Fearing punishment, Krishna began to sob uncontrollably. Yashoda decided to bind him to a mortar that was used for churning so that the child would stay put in one place.
Yashoda rushed back to the kitchen and got busy there. Restless Damodara — another name for Krishna because of his belly being bound with rope — began to crawl toward the courtyard, dragging the heavy mortar behind him. Suddenly, the mortar got stuck between two giant Yamalarjuna trees. Exerting unimaginable force, the child tugged so hard that the towering trees came crashing to the ground with a deafening sound. Everyone came rushing to witness this catastrophe. Yashoda made a dash from the kitchen, her heart throbbing with guilt and remorse. Nanda appeared, too. Krishna was unhurt! Thank God, what a relief! Nanda quickly untied the child from the mortar, took him in his arms and began to caress him. Yashoda came forward to take Krishna in her arms, but he looked the other way clinging to his father. This broke her heart even more. She kept pleading with the child to come to her, but he refused, again and again, looking away. She was weeping inconsolably.
Nanda said to Krishna, “O Lalla! You have made your mother so sad. Just see how she is crying for you. Go to her. Make her smile.”The child ran to Yashoda calling, “Mother, I am hungry. Feed me.”Her joy knew no bounds. She fed him with mouth-watering sweets to his heart’s content.
KRISHNA SLIPPED AWAY INTO ANOTHER ROOM AND BEGAN TO BREAK BUTTER POTS WHICH LEFT THE WHOLE PLACE MESSY. HE THEN BEGAN TO DISTRIBUTE THE SPOILS TO MONKEYS AND BIRDS
That memorable morning began with a catastrophe. But Yashoda’s affection transformed that nightmare into one of immortal love that moves hearts even today.(The author is a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness).