Krishna and the cowherd boys would play to give pleasure to each other because in Vrindavan everything is a reciprocation of pure ecstatic love:

Some distance from here Krishna, Balaram and the cowherd boys were herding their calves. While herding their calves they would play so many wonderful games. In fact Krishna who is Gopal, Govinda who protects and gives pleasures to the cows and calves in one sense He used his occupation as a cowherd boy as a wonderful facility to play all day with the gopas and to meet gopis also. How many games the gopas would play together and all the games ultimately were just to give pleasure to Krishna. And Krishna was playing the games just to give pleasure to all of His friends. In Vrindavan everything is a reciprocation of pure, ecstatic love.


Competitive nature of games in material world:

In this world when we play games sometimes it is competitive or self centered. I want to win and if I win people will know I am very good. Or we play because we are just so agitated and bored and we just want something to do. Children play because they have all this youthful passionate little energy and they just want to beat each other. Boys beat each other, girls they do all nice little things as far as what I see. I don’t know what else they do. But they play.


The games of Krishna and gopas are exchanges of pure loving ecstatic devotion the cannot be found in the material world except in the heart of pure devotes

But in Vrindavan it was the place that is the origin of all play. It is an expression of pure, unalloyed ecstatic love. The gopas play so many games with Krishna just to give pleasure to Krishna and Balaram, just to make them happy. And actually they are having fun because they know that Krishna is happy when they have fun.  Even they are having fun is an offering of love to Krishna and Balaram. And Krishna and Balaram reciprocate and want to exchange and see their devotees happy. So yes in the spiritual world the play of the Krishna and the gopas are exchanges of infinitely pure ecstatic devotion, loving exchanges that cannot be found anywhere in material existence except in the hearts of those who always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. What to speak of the wonderful pastimes of Nanda, Yashoda and Krishna or the Vraj gopis. It is the land of prema.


The games Krishna and cowherd boys would play with amalaki fruit:

So they played so many games. Sometimes they would play their flutes, dance. Sometimes they would take amalaki or bel fruits and throw them very high in the sky and then they take another fruit and try to hit that fruit. That was the game. There was a contest. Who can do? One boy would throw a fruit in the sky and another boy had to take another fruit and hit that fruit and if he missed then the boys would laugh at him. And if he would hit the fruit everyone would cheer and cheer and raise their arms and jump, celebrate. Sometimes they would play football with amalaki or bel fruits. But not the same type of football that you play.


The gopas would disguise themselves as bulls and fight with one another and imitate animals:

Sometimes they would cover themselves two or three or sometimes even four cowherd boys would cover themselves with big big big blankets and pretend to be bulls or cows. And then some other boys would do that and then the bulls would fight with one another, team spirit, very nice. Sometimes they would imitate animals, the cooing of the peacocks, the chirping of the birds, the croaking of the frogs. They would imitate the animals in so many ways. In this way they spent all their day in Supreme enjoyment with Krishna and Balaram.


Krishna kills Vatsasura who disguised himself as a calf:

One day a demon took the form of a calf. How devious? How the most innocent creature is one small calf, with the little eyes their tender limbs. You just want to hold them and do so many things. And this calf came just in such a way that he was completely under Krishna’s protection, completely under Krishna’s protection. But Krishna knew his actual mentality. Then he turned to Balaram. And said did you see that calf.  That is Vatsasura. The demon is here to kill both of us. So Krishna walked very quietly and very softly came behind the little Vatsasura and then grabbed the hind legs and started whirling him around above his head with one hand and whirling him circle after circle. Whirling, whirling, whirling until Vatsasura was so dizzy it died.


Krishna aimed Vatsasura on top of Kapittha tree as the gopas like Kapittha fruits and Krishna is always thinking of pleasing them:

And Krishna is always thinking of pleasing his cowherd boyfriends. So he saw a Kapittha tree and the gopas really like Kapittha fruits. Does anyone know what Kapittha fruits are? The gopas like them a lot. So he saw the Kapittha fruits and all the Kapittha fruits were very high in the tree. So he especially aimed Vatsasura and he landed right on top of the tree and all the Kapittha fruits fell down and the demigods’ showered flowers. And the little boys, gopas cheered well done, well done, well done and embraced Krishna and then they all ate Kapittha fruits.

A devotee should be childlike but at the same time must have sense of discrimination:

Vatsasura represents the childish mentality in which a devotee is easily influenced by bad association. And in that bad association we become greedy for materialistic enjoyment. We have read that a devotee should be very simple; in fact he should be child like. In Bible Jesus said you have to become like a child if you want to enter into the kingdom of God, innocent, simple, child like. But at the same time we must have discrimination. This combination makes a devotee very very pleasing to Krishna.


If we put our faith on materialistic people who don’t have faith in Krishna we start absorbing their consciousness:

Otherwise sometimes in a childlike way we put our trust in so many different types of people. Even materialistic people and in that association very suddenly and gradually we become influenced. Sometimes we find that devotees begin to put their faith in various materialistic people with materialistic processes to have better relations, to have more feeling of self confidence, to do whatever you do to your full potential. Now to learn certain techniques from people if it is to be used in Krishna’s service is alright. But we have to be very careful. We have to have a lot of discrimination. Because if we begin to put our faith in people who don’t have faith in Krishna, who don’t have faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who have a impersonalistic or atheistic conception or basically a sense gratification conception then we not only get their techniques but we also absorb their consciousness. We become polluted. We become contaminated. And although we are learning something to use it for Krishna’s service pretty soon we are not even using it for Krishna’s service anymore.


Story of a devotee who put faith on materialistic people and gradually lost his faith in the holy name:

I remember one devotee. He was a nice devotee. He still is potentially. He had been around for many years. And he went to some group of people who were teaching all these inner development techniques. And he attended all its seminars and he was paying a lot of money and he was going around spreading to other devotees that I have never been so Krishna conscious, I have never had such good rounds, and I have never had such good relationship with the other devotees.  Everybody should take this course. He had to take so many courses, seminar after seminar and the people who were teaching they were very pious but they were very absorbed in sense gratification and they don’t believe in the Personality of Godhead.  I have not seen anything like this that would make you a better devotee, a better Vaishnava. After a couple of years I was on the phone with him and he told me that he had incredible realization that transformed his entire life. He said I have come to the point in my spiritual evolution where whether Krishna is God or not doesn’t matter and whether there is a God or not doesn’t make any difference. That is the level of advancement I have come to. He wasn’t talking about Vrindavan rasa. He lost his faith. He lost his faith in his guru, he lost his faith in parampara, he lost his faith in the Holy name, and he lost his faith in the Srimad-Bhagavatam because of his child like mentality. He wanted to put his faith in someone who was not a devotee and ultimately he divorced his wife, found a young girl and became greedy for materialistic things and considers that he is at a higher platform than the vaishnavas. This is the real story, Vatsasura.


The pastime of Venu-Kup:

Vatsasura appears very innocent, very deceptive, and very childlike but in his heart he simply wants to kill Krishna and Balaram. He wants to kill his faith in Krishna within our heart. So after this happened, it was the gopis. They dint want to be with Krishna. Gopis told Krishna that they dint want to play with him because he killed a calf. So how do I atone for this? You must bathe in all the holy places. So Krishna came here to Bhandirvan. And with the tip of his foot he pushed it in the ground and created a well. And holy places entered into that well. And that well is still here today. Just behind us. It is called Venu-kup. And there is a particular day of the year that the Brijbasis claim if any barren woman drinks the water from that well she will have babies. When Krishna was herding cows he and gopas would often come to Bhandirvan to play wonderful pastimes.


Krishna, Balaram and the cowherd boys enjoyed summer in Vrindavan by singing and dancing together:

Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that in the summer season which is usually a very very difficult time of oppressive heat. But in Vrindavan the summer was just like the spring. So many waterfalls, the waterfalls would make such a beautiful sound that it would cover the cricketing of the crickets. And the wind was like a thief. The wind would take the cooling refreshing waters and carry it to the grass and distribute it. In this way even in the summer when there was no rains every blade of grass was rich green because the wind that carried the waters from the rivers and the waterfalls to the grasses and make beautiful beautiful sweet sounds. With the music of the cuckoo and the bees, the peacocks and the cranes, Krishna and Balaram would enter into the forest playing upon their flutes. The cowherd boys would decorate themselves with leaves and fruits and flowers and peacock feathers and the rich colorful minerals of the Vrindavan soils. And the cowherd boys together would sometimes dance and other times they would wrestle. And other times they would sing. Sometimes Krishna would sing and the cowherd boys would be playing horns and flute to accompany Krishna’s singing. And Krishna would be singing and all the cowherd boys would be playing different instruments to accompany him. And they all would cry out well done Krishna. Well done, well done. In other times Krishna and Balaram they would ask the other boys to sing. And cowherd boys would sing and dance and Krishna and Balaram would be sitting and playing their flutes and buffalo horns and playing different instruments to accompany their devotees. And Krishna Balaram would tell the gopas very excellent, very excellent performance you have given us today. The cowherd boys would whirl in circles together; they would be leaping, and jumping and hurling and slapping and pulling each other’s hair. Sometimes they would play a game where one cowherd boy would go behind another cowherd boy and cover his eyes with his hands and he has to get who it was. And the cowherd boys would not talk, he has to understand who it was just by feeling his hand over his eye. And if he guessed the right everyone would just be leaping well done well done Haribol. And if he did not then everyone would laugh. Sometimes they would make boats and cross the rivers, and they would be playing with the fruits, they would swing from the bind, they would jump like frog and they would imitate kings.


Pralambasura disguised himself as a cowherd boy:

One day while they were herding the cows the most dangerous, deadly of all demons Pralamba came into Krishna’s association. He like Vatsasura thinks in the most deceiving demoniac way. He was very very carefully looking for an opportunity to kill Krishna and Balaram. What a mentality. He took note that one particular cowherd boy who would come out with Krishna everyday was kept at home by his mother that day because he had some duties to perform. Pralambasura disguised himself identical to that innocent little gopa friend of Krishna. And he was just doing all the activities, herding the cows, playing and jumping and throwing balls, jumping like frogs and everything like that and singing and playing flute and buffalo horn. But Krishna knew within his heart that this was a demon that has come to kill us. But Krishna pretended that he did not know. And he accepted him as a friend and said oh I am so happy that you have come today and embraced him. And then Krishna was thinking how to kill this demon. And then he had his plan.


Krishna planned to play the game of hide and seek in order to kill Pralambasura:

He called out to his friends that today we are going to play a game where we are going to divide into two different teams. And all of the gopas can choose who would be the captains of the teams. And the winner would be carried on the shoulder by the losers. Who do you think the gopas chose to be the two captains of the team? Shri Krishna Balaram ki jai! So they were playing. One team would hide from the other and if anybody from the team found one of the boys then the boy who was found had to carry the finder on his shoulders and dance around with him for some time and bring him to these different places.


Pralambasura put Balaram ji on his shoulder under the Bhandirvat tree because he lost the game and started running:

So they played nice games and Balaram’s team was victorious. Pralambasura took side with Krishna. So he lost. And Krishna had to carry Sridama on his shoulders. And Bhadrasena carried vilasi on his shoulder. And Pralambasura chose to carry Balaram ji on his shoulders. Now what is explained is when they were playing this game Krishna brought them all here to Bhandirvan. He actually brought them all to the Bhandirvat tree because this was a good place for them to get on each other’s shoulders. So it was Bhandirvat this tree that we are sitting under today that Krishna brought them that Pralambasura put Balaram ji on his shoulder and he started to run and run and run. And Balaram ji was thinking where my friend is taking me so far away. He has already crossed the border of where we are supposed to go.


Pralambasura assumed his original form as Balaram ji became very heavy to carry:

So Balaram ji became very heavy like Mount Sumeru. And Pralambasura he was becoming so strange trying to keep Balaram on his shoulders and he was trying to run more and more and more. And he assumed his original form of gigantic size. His hair was like flames of fire, his eyes were red like coals, and he had large sharp teeth that were practically touching his very demoniac curved eyebrows. He had a long red beard. He looked like a massive cloud. He had golden ornaments and golden grown, gigantic tridents. Hare Krishna! It says that he looked like a gigantic cloud, his ornaments were like lightning and Balaram on his shoulder was like the full moon.


Balaram ji kills Pralambasura:

So Balaram was thinking that how is it that my friend has changed in every way. Balaram got angry with him. Not because he was a big huge demon but because Balaram ji wanted to play with his friends. They were right in the middle of the game when this rascal was taking him away from his friends. It was intolerable, he became furious. You are taking me; you are separating me from the playful games of Krishna and the gopas. One punch Balaram with his fist on his head and Pralambasura, this gigantic mountainous demons head just split open. He fell to the ground dead. Shri Baladeva ki jai! And all of the gopas cried out well done well done. And then they all were so happy they embraced Balaram as if he had come back from death. And the demigod’s benedicted Balaram ji by showering flowers after flowers and the gopas were giving benedictions to Balaram ji.


Pralambasura represents the inclination to enjoy opposite sex, profit, adoration and distinction which promise us happiness but they kill the inclination for Krishna in our heart:

Pralambasura represents a very dangerous demon that resides within the heart, the inclination to enjoy the opposite sex and the inclination to enjoy profit, adoration and distinction. This means the inclination for gross and subtle sex. This world people think this is the goal of life. Most of the songs, most of the television, most of movies, most of the books, most of the magazines, most of the product you buy in the market are centered on this enjoyment. Such a powerful force Pralambasura is, very difficult to overcome. And it appears like our friend. Like Pralambasura appeared as Krishna’s dear intimate lifelong friend. So similarly these desires appear the desire for profit, adoration and distinction and the desire for other types of physical activities. They promise us happiness. But they cheat us. They kill the inclination for Krishna consciousness within our heart. So we must be very careful.

Example of some Hollywood directors who are compelled to put inappropriate contents in some spiritual movies even though they are not historically correct just to please the audience:

Actually sometimes I go to California to do some service for Srila Prabhupada’s mission. And I meet people from Hollywood. And some producers, some directors and other people like that. And they are sometimes telling me about movies they are making, spiritual movies. But they say in order for people to come to see it we have to put some kind of sexual scene in it. Even if it’s not historically correct. I remember when I was a little boy my parents took me to see the Ten Commandments. And Moses who was supposed to be a great acharya he was having an affair. This is not in the Bible. What is this? But they have to have this. Otherwise people won’t think it as bonafied movies. Just like a purana has to have certain ingredients to be bonafied, Hollywood has to have certain ingredients to be bonafied and this is the very main ingredient because people have such inclination, the promise of happiness, the promise of pleasure. But Prahlad Maharaj says it’s actually the cause of all pain, this attachment it steals away our inclination for Krishna consciousness. So that is Pralambasura.


Bhaktivinod Thakur explains that a devotee should endeavor with all sincerity to overcome the anarthas under the guidance of spiritual master:

And Bhaktivinod Thakur explains there are two demons in Vrindavan that Balaram killed, Dhenukasura and Pralambasura. Dhenukasura he represents ignorance of knowledge of the soul through materialistic intelligence. And Pralambasura represents the inclination to enjoy the opposite sex and profit, adoration and distinction both gross and subtle. And Thakur Bhaktivinod explains that these two anarthas have to be overcome by the endeavor of the devotee under the guidance and instruction of the spiritual master the devotee must endeavor with all sincerity. It’s not just grace. Grace in the sense that grace of Balaram would come, the grace of Balaram through guru tatva will come to exterminate these demons forever providing we really really struggle and endeavor to give up the propensity for profit, adoration, distinction and gross sense gratification. Thus endeavor praying to guru and Krishna and chanting the holy names we can become blessed by the causeless mercy of the Lord.


When we water the seeds of devotion many weeds grow with it and gradually it chokes the devotional creepers unless we discriminate and stop watering it:

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains that when you water the seed of devotion many weeds grow with it. And just like Pralambasura assumed like a trusting loving friend similarly these weeds of profit, adoration, distinction and gross enjoyment appear to be something very wonderful that may even give us happiness and help us in our spiritual life. And we don’t discriminate and we water the weeds. We water the weed until the weed chokes and cripples the devotional creeper.


We must avoid contaminating our heart by following the regulative principles and simultaneously clean our heart by chanting the holy names:

BG chapter 3 verse 37

kāma eṣa krodha eṣa


mahāśano mahā-pāpmā

viddhy enam iha vairiṇam


Krishna tells in Gita it is lust only Arjuna which is the all devouring sinful enemy which is later transformed into wrath when it is unfulfilled which the sinful enemy of the conditioned soul is. We must give it up. Therefore we must under the guru’s instruction follow proper regulative principles. And simultaneously as we are avoiding further contaminating our heart we clean our heart and access grace by our humility and our chanting of the holy name. If we are humble Balaram in the heart and the spiritual master will remove these demons.


In a few minutes we will be going to a place very close by called Vanshivat. We remember we went to Vanshivat in Vrindavan. There was Bhandirvan Vanshivat. Here Krishna would climb that tree and play his flute and call his cows. And also Krishna would call the Vraj gopis here and perform rasa leela, very very holy sacred place near the bank of Yamuna.

The story behind the deity of Sridama at Vanshivat:

When Krishna was leaving Vrindavan with Akrura, Sridama the beloved brother of Shri Radharani, he was in so much distress that Krishna was leaving. He asked Krishna when you are going to return. And Krishna said either tomorrow or day after tomorrow. And Sridama said that I will wait right here until you return. And he waited and waited. One day, two day, three day, one week, two week, three week, one month, two month, three month, one year, two year, three year. He waited and waited and waited. If you go to Vanshivat there is a deity of Sridama who is still waiting, still waiting for Krishna to return. But when Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu roamed through the twelve forest of Vrindavan he came to Bhandirvan and he went to Vanshivat and there he saw deity of Sridama still waiting for him. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu just started running towards him and said Sridama Sridama Sridama I have come, I have come, I have returned, here I am. And he embraced Sridama. Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu ki jai!

So here at Bhandirvan, a place of unlimited beautiful pastimes under the Bhandirvat tree we are assembled. Is it not a beautiful charming place? The place of Sakhya-rasa, Madhurya-rasa, Vatsalya-rasa, all the rasas have taken place here at Bhandirvan.

We can overcome all obstacles by attracting the affection of Shrimati Radharani by pleasing guru and sincerely chanting the holy name:

Let us offer our prayer, our very sincere and humble prayer that we can by our sincere efforts attract the affection of Shrimati Radharani. By pleasing Shri guru and the vaishnavas and sincerely hearing and chanting the glories and the names of the Lord we can attract the affection of Shrimati Radharani. And it is that affection that is the only means by which we can overcome all obstacles. Let us pray for that causeless mercy. And when that mercy comes then the actual taste and realizations for these beautiful pastimes will awaken in our heart and then our eternal occupation will reveal to spontaneously and ecstatically chant the holy names.

And we will now hear from His Grace Dina Bhandu Prabhu. I would like to welcome dear God sister, she is from Germany her wonderful husband Sarvabhauma has translated Chaitanya Bhagvat, Jaiva dharma, Shikshatakam and so many wonderful books of the Goswami and Bhaktivinod. Let us very enthusiastically welcome her to our Yatra.


Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.