sametya gāvo ‘dho vatsān

vatsavatyo ‘py apāyayan

gilantya iva cāńgāni

lihantyaḥ svaudhasaḿ payaḥ

  (SB 10.13.31)


The cows had given birth to new calves, but while coming down from Govardhana Hill, the cows, because of increased affection for the older calves, allowed the older calves to drink milk from their milk bags and then began licking the calves’ bodies in anxiety, as if wanting to swallow them.

gopās tad-rodhanāyāsa-


durgādhva-kṛcchrato ‘bhyetya

go-vatsair dadṛśuḥ sutān

(SB 10.13.32)


The cowherd men, having been unable to check the cows from going to their calves, felt simultaneously ashamed and angry. They crossed the rough road with great difficulty, but when they came down and saw their own sons, they were overwhelmed by great affection.


Everyone was increasing in affection for Kṛṣṇa. When the cowherd men coming down from the hill saw their own sons, who were no one else than Kṛṣṇa, their affection increased.

Brahma guru of our parampara

We are reading from Canto ten, chapter thirteen of the Srimad Bhagvatam. In this beautiful chapter we read of the illusion of Lord Brahma. This story has such great significance to all great Vaishnavas who are aspiring on the path of pure devotional service.

People ask, “Lord Brahma is a paramhamsa. He is a pure devotee of the Lord. In fact he is the first guru of our parampara.” Krsna at the very beginning of creation- ‘tene brahma hådä ya ädi-kavaye’. He spoke to Lord Brahma from within the heart and that knowledge and the revelations that Brahma received from the message of Sri Krsna is the seed of all transcendental wisdom. Brahma instructed his son Narada. Narada instructed Sri Vedavyasa who was the author of the Vedas. Later on Sri Madhvacharya on his celebrated pilgrimage to Badrinath, he received the same knowledge from Sri Vyasadeva in that parampara of Sri Madhva, Madhavendra Puri, Iswara Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And of course all of those great acaryas who have so kindly passed down this divine knowledge to the present day and ourselves. We are all the disciples of Lord Brahma. He is the guru of all of us.

Actually in one sampradaya, in fact the Brahma Sampradaya, one commentator, in his commentary of the Srimad Bhagvatam specifically, omitted this chapter because he considered it too bewildering for people. If Brahma is the supreme Guru of our whole parampara, if he can fall into illusion, then what is the credibility of our parampara.

Mahamay and Yogamaya

But there are two types of maya. There is yogamaya and mahamaya. Mahamaya is the type of maya that we fall into. Due to our separate interest from Krsna’s, due to our unwillingness to utterly surrender everything, to the degree we are not surrendered to Krsna we are under the influence of the mahamaya. And mahamaya covers our true inherent knowledge, bewilders us and invokes us to act according to the material laws of nature and thus incriminate our selves in the laws of karma.

Yogamaya increases affection and service for Krsna

But in the spiritual world, yogamaya is a covering potency also. And what is that covering potency? The Supreme Personality of Godhead personally covers the completely surrendered soul from a particular type of understanding of Him just to increase the affection and increase the love, which means ultimately to give that devotee the opportunity to increase his or her service. Because after all, on the spiritual platform of Goloka Vrindavan, there is no pride. No body cares that I am very advanced and I never make mistakes and I know everything. In the spiritual world everyone is simply thinking how can I best serve Krsna? Whatever way I can best serve, whatever way I can please Him most. That’s all. That’s everything for me. And in this world those who are of the Vaikuntha consciousness they have no pride they, have no prestige. They simply want to please Krsna.

Arjuna’s bewilderment is his service

We read in the Bhagavad Gita how Arjuna, he was factually bewildered. From the spiritual point of view he was speaking all non sense. He was coming down to the material platform of philanthropy and logic. He was speaking karma kanda philosophy to Krsna. And Krsna smashed him.

aśocyān anvaśocas tvaḿ

prajñā-vādāḿś ca bhāṣase

(BG 2.11)

You are a fool Arjuna. Now how is it possible? Arjuna, the most intimate friend and relative, he was the cousin of Krsna. And he was the confidential friend of Krsna. Krsna would lay in bed with him, joke with him and play with him and discuss revealing His mind to him. He was the devotee of the highest order of purity. Arjuna was not bewildered. But Krsna by His yogamaya potency put him in the spell of bewilderment, just so that he could increase his service. And what was that service? To facilitate Krsna speaking the Gita.

Lord Brahma’s bewilderment as his service

So in the same way the great acaryas, they understand that Lord Brahma, he is pure and spotless in every respect. But, Krsna personally knowing My Brahma, he is surrendered, he will do anything for Me. He will even embarrass himself and be misunderstood and appear to be proud. In fact I will make him become proud. Just to show that even greatest of all personalities can become proud. Just to show how Krsna, Bhagawan, is the supreme controller of all the controllers, Sarvesvaresvara. Brahma is the controller of the entire universe. Krsna wanted to show the world that even the father, the guru, of all living beings is under My control. So therefore it was out of love, pure love,that Brahma was willing to be utterly bewildered by Krsna and even become proud.

The Gaudia Siddhanta: to be enjoyed by Krsna not enjoy

So what happened is this: Brahma saw how Krsna killed Aghasura. And he was covered over to not really know- Is this God? Who is this? If it is, I am going to really glorify Him. If it isn’t, we will find out who it really is? So Krsna and His friends, one day, the gopas they were all herding the cows. And as they were out herding the cows, I am sorry the calves. This is when they were very young. They were herding the calves and they came to a place on bank of Yamuna in the forest and they began to eat there prasad and distributed and everyone was sitting around Krsna and they were having wonderful wonderful experience simply looking at Krsna, simply enjoying Krsna.

Actually simply being enjoyed by Krsna. No one in the spiritual world wants to enjoy Krsna. Everyone simply wants to be enjoyed by Krsna. And this is the difference between the Gaudia siddhanta and the siddhanta of many other Vaishnavas who some12.00 want to enjoy the ecstasy of Krishna Consciousness. But a devotee, he follows in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu

ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam

adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va

which means ‘Krsna if You want, You can embrace me. If You want You can, You can trample on me. If You want You can make me broken hearted by not being present before me. You are free to do anything and everything because I am Your servant unconditionally.’

Krsna Enjoys By Seeing His Devotees Enjoying 

The devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are taught simply to be enjoyed by Krsna. This is the Vrindavan lila in it’s purest sense. Bhakti Vinod Thakur prayed, “My dear Lord, the inconveniences and suffering I go through in Your service is the greatest pleasure of my life.” To simply be enjoyed by Krsna. And of course in Vrindavan what enjoy, what does Krsna enjoy? Krsna enjoys seeing His devotees enjoying. So even when the devotees enjoy, they don’t enjoy for themselves. They enjoy only to give Krsna enjoyment. This is Goloka.

Devotee’s attitude in front of deities and vaishnavas

Just like when we come before the deities even if we feeling miserable, we should act joyful for Krsna’s enjoyment. In class, even if you are tired, we should stay awake for Krsna’s enjoyment. We are simply presenting ourself before Radha and Krsna. And whatever we do is simply for Their enjoyment. Even if it’s terribly suffering to look happy, we will do it for Their enjoyment. It’s not artificial. It’s a sacrifice. It’s bhakti. And not only for Krsna but amongst the Vaishnavas. As far as our capacity we should bring joy to the Vaishnavas. You think you are going to bring joy to the Vaishnavas by looking completely bored with life? If you want to bring joy to the Vaishnavas, you have to be enthusiastic even if you feel outright miserable.  That’s the austerity. “Hari Bol Prabhu!” But in your heart you are thinking, “God! I just wish I could go to sleep.” But still “Hari Bol Prabhu! How can I serve you?” It’s not artificial. It’s called service attitude. We are simply dedicating our lives for the enjoyment of Krsna, for the enjoyment of our Guru Maharaj and for the enjoyment of his devotees. This is Vrindavan.

Krsna Loves to Serve His Devotees

So they were all enjoying with Krsna. And the calves, they were eating the grasses and they were going little by little into the forest deeper, deeper. And the children, they all looked upon one another, “where is our calves? We should go find our calves. This is our duty to Nanda Maharaj, to take care of these calves, to protect them.” Krsna, Krsna loves to serve His devotees. If Krsna loves to serve His devotees, we should also love to serve His devotees. Doesn’t that make sense? Krsna is so humble that He says to His friends, “No, no, no you sit, you enjoy your prasad. I am going to go find the calves.”

So Krsna went Himself to do the work while His friends were just sitting and enjoying. And He went deeper and deeper following the footprints. And He couldn’t find them anywhere and then He came back and all of His friends were gone, the gopas. And He was thinking, “Everyone’s gone and it’s becoming late. And the elderly gopis and the elderly cows, they are all waiting for their children and their calves. And they will be too much in anxiety for not home on time.”

Cowherd men/cows feel same love for their sons/calves as for Krsna

So Krsna simply expanded Himself, expanded Himself to an identical form with each calf and each boy. And then they all dancing, playing their flutes, laughing, they all went back to the town of Vrindavan. And in this way the parents greeted their children. The cows greeted their calves and just like normal. The only thing that was not normal was the parents and the calves and the cows could not understand ‘why is it, we never loved our children so much? We are feeling the same type of love for our children as we feel for Krsna. How is this possible?’ They were just in ecstatic love.

Of course we know that Lord Brahma by his great great mystic power, he stole the calves and he stole the cowherd boys. And he put them in secret place and he put them in a mystic slumber. They were sleeping. So meanwhile a whole year passed and Krsna was playing the part of all the children and all the calves.

Wonderful ways of how Krsna fulfills His devotee’s desire

Of course during that time, Krsna knew that the gopis, they had just performed the Katyayani puja, Katyani puja. They all wanted Krsna to be their husband. So Krsna decided, “I will fulfill their desire.” And He said to Nanda Maharaj, “You know this year is very very auspicious to get all the young cowherd boys married to the young gopis. I think you should do that.”

So Nanda Maharaj talked to the other cowherd men and he made this decision and they made all the matches. And the cowherd boys and the cowherd girls, young gopis and gopas they were married. Now all these unmarried gopis they were praying for Krsna to be their husband and actually they all married Krsna. Because every one of those boys was Krsna. See how wonderfully Krsna fulfills His devotee’s desire. There is no limit for Krsna. There is no moral principle. There is no physical barrier that can come between Krsna and the fulfillment of His devotee’s desire. This is God.

So Krsna married them all. And in His form of Abhimanyu, He even married Sri Radharani. But actually it wasn’t Abhimanyu. He was Krsna disguised. And the great acarya Viswanath Chakravarty Thakur, he explains, that after that year expired, when the original cowherd boys returned, they accepted these gopis as their wives simply to protect them, not to touch them so much, but just to protect them, so that they would facilitate Krsna’s parakiya rasa. They were doing it as a service.

Why We Consider The Cow So Holy?

Anyways during that year, the very end of the year, we are reading here, Balaram and Krsna are standing with the calves and the older calves which they were taking care of, they came near the cows. Actually, no they were at the bottom of the hill and the cows from the top of the hill upon seeing them, they just became so overwhelmed with motherly affection and factually mother cows don’t give milk to their older calves. They give to the younger calves. This is a completely unnatural phenomena but they were so stricken with prema, with love that they started galloping down the hill, Govardhan Hill. And as they were galloping, their milk bags just going to and fro and their tails were up in the air. And they were kicking the dirt.

And the cowherd men their business is to take care of the cows, bring them to nice grasses so that they would be pleased. And if they are pleased they will give the lot of milk. But when they saw the cows running down to their calves to give them the milk, they were very much in anxiety. Their whole occupational duty was being spoilt. So they started running down after the cows. And here it is explained in this verse today that the calves were just drinking and drinking and drinking the mother’s milk. And the cows were just licking their bodies as if they were trying to swallow them. They were in such ecstasy because They were all Krsna.

namo brahmanya devaya

go brahmana hitaya ca.

How dear Krsna is to the cows! And how dear the cows are to Krsna! This is such a beautiful example ‘go brahmana hitaya ca.’ Krsna loves the cows so much that He personally, He personally expanded Himself as calves to drink their milk. Just to give them pleasure.

And this is why we consider the cow so holy. There are eco, there are economic reasons. There are helpful 2348 reasons but for the Vaishnavas the real reason is- Krsna. He is drinking their milk directly. He is becoming their calf. He is reciprocating such intimate love with them just to give them pleasure.’

Therefore for the devotees of Krsna the cow is such a sacred and holy creature of the Lord’s personality. Meanwhile the cowherd men they were running down that hill. And they were in so much anxiety, that “look what’s happening! Everything is ruined. The cows are losing all their milk.” But then when they saw their little children, the gopas who were all Krsna in disguise, they became so overwhelmed with parental affection. The tears just started flowing from their eyes. And they just started to embrace their children and smelling their heads and rubbing them. And just, their hearts were so much overflowing with love that they just forgot all the anxieties of this world.

Mukti versus Bhakti. Suffering doesn’t matter in service

In the path of bhakti we must understand that this is the type of libration we are looking for. Mukti means no more suffering. But in bhakti how do we free ourself from suffering? Not just by transcending the modes of material nature alone as the impersonal class of men aspire for. But the devotees like these cowherd men, they become just so engrossed in serving Krsna and loving Krsna that they just forget all the anxieties of this world. And even if they don’t forget it, it just doesn’t matter anymore. I have Krsna. I have my service.

Srila Prabhupada used to tell us that, “This is the definition of being transcendental.” It’s not that sometimes you are not diseased and sometimes you are not in pain. And sometimes you are not having difficulties and impediments in your spiritual life but you are so fixed in your service that you just don’t care about these things. That is the beginning of transcendental consciousness-to simply remain so steady in our devotional service under any circumstance that these things whatever they are, we don’t have time, we don’t have time for them.

Krsna as pivot-ultimate goal

Srila Prabhupada is explaining here that everyone was increasing in affection for Krsna. When the cowherd men coming down from the hill saw their own sons who are none other than Krsna their affection increased. Krsna means ‘the all attractive’. Krsna means ‘the reservoir of all pleasure.’ Krsna means as Srila Prabhupada explains in the Bhagavatam, second chapter that ‘He is the central pivot for all intimate loving relationships’. That is Krsna. To always fix our mind on Krsna, to always keep our affection directed toward Krsna. That is our aspiration. That is our goal.

As queen Kunti prayed, “As the Ganges flows to the sea, Oh Lord, let my attract, without any hindrance, let my attraction, let my affection, flow only to You without being diverted to anything or anyone else.” That is Krishna consciousness. And this is what we are aspiring for, for this realization. Therefore in the neophyte state of consciousness, we simply try to always remember Krsna by keeping service to Krsna as the goal, the motive of everything we do.

yat karosi yad asnasi

yaj juhosi dadasi yat

yat tapasyasi kaunteya

tat kurusva mad-arpanam

(BG 9.27)

Whatever we do, our aim should be to do it for Krsna. And of course Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught, that there is no offering of service, more pleasing to Krsna than to deeply aspire on the path of purification by coming together to chant the holy name.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.

We Are Servants of The Holy Name

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu explains that the path of attaining this realization of the cowherd men and the cows of utter affection and love for Krsna takes place. This path is to learn to repose our affection, our attraction in the name of God.

kali kale nama rupe krsna avatara

Krsna has descended within His name. Just as the cows were just trying to just lick up the calves, with the same enthusiasm we should be just trying to just lick up the name of Krsna.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Cows teach us how to lick up Krsna’s holy name

The cows were using their tongue to try to lick up Krsna. So in this way they were showing us the process. With our tongue, to try to lick up Krsna, through His name. Completely repose all our attention in only that. Not for our pleasure but for His pleasure. We are servants of the holy name. The name is our master. We are the eternal servant. So in this mood, with this enthusiasm, with this determination and with this goal in mind, this is how we should chant the holy name. In kirtan, in japa, in bhajan through out the day this is how we should approach the holy name.

Is there any questions? Speak loudly please.

Question : Lord Brahma is our original guru of our sampradaya and Krsna has bewildered Lord Brahma through His Yogamaya. But doubt is coming in our mind, that when Lord Brahma has been bewildered of course he was under Yogamaya, same thing can happen to our guru also. And Krsna will bewilder him by Yogamaya way, but because we are neophyte devotee, we will not be able understand if our guru is in Yogamaya altogether and we will be also bewildered. And we will not be able to follow very very …fearful/faithful 3217 condition that we might be doing. So how to see things that we completely discriminate ?

Guru is not God But Guru is perfect

Answer : Sri Radha Gopinath Ki Jay! He also bewildered Lord Shiva in the form of Mohini murti.  He also bewildered Brahma several occasions. If the spiritual master is maintaining the principles of Krishna consciousness even if he apparently makes mistakes, it is an offense to see it materially. If a spiritual master falls down, that is another thing. Then we are not to, at least for the time, whether it’s Mahamaya or Yogamaya, that we may not understand, it may be Yogamaya, but as long as the spiritual master is in the fallen condition, we cannot follow him. We should pray for him, be grateful what he has done for us, and follow someone who is in the capacity to lead us.

But if Gurudev is not in a fallen condition which God forbid such a thing could ever happen. We don’t even think about those things. But in his practical mission in devotional service, he appears to make mistakes. We should know that the guru is not God. He never was and he never will be. He can make mistakes. But all his mistakes are perfect because his motivation is simply pure service to the Lord. And those mistakes what may appear to be as mistake is not a mistake at all. It may be a mistake by our logical thought process. But ultimately Krsna has a purpose that He is using His intimate associates within everything that they do. So we should see it like that.

When Lord Brahma did that, it’s not that because of this, the demigods rejected him. They were just wondering, what’s happening!! What is Krsna trying to do this time? What is He trying to teach us? And sure enough in the end, it was revealed. Krsna had a divine lesson to teach all of us.

Srila Prabhupada used to say ‘if guru, if guru makes a mistake that mistake is perfect.” Why?  Because it’s offered out of love.

What is a mistake? Mistake is our material conception of what, how things should be. Bhisma was shooting arrows at the Pandavas but it all was always out of love. It was mistake for him to be on the side of Kurus but it was out of love. So therefore we should not evaluate advanced devotees by the material conception of mundane managerial ideals. We should understand that one who is simply giving his life for this purpose of Krsna. Krsna has a plan through everything that the guru and the advanced Vaishnavas do. He has the very special plan in every instance.

What does it mean when we say Guru is perfect? Doesn’t mean he is perfect that it means… it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect according to the material calculations. It means everything he is doing is offered with love. That is perfect on the spiritual platform. And a mature devotee understands that. And his faith only increases by seeing how Krsna is working through his spiritual master in the most incredible, inconceivable, wonderful ways.

Is there any other questions?

Question : Maharaj you said Prabhupada quoted even if the guru is wrong he is right. Please elaborate.

Answer : Yes. Prabhupada said even if the guru is wrong he is right. Materially he may be wrong. We have not come here for material ideas. We have come here for spiritual ideas. Even if he is materially wrong. If his motive is out of love he is right. And if you follow him materially you might get embarrassed by following him. But spiritually you will attain the supreme perfection of life. And why do we come through a guru? For  that reason only.

Is there any questions?

Shigalim 3910 Prabhu, would you like to add anything? No. He is a great pandit. I am just simple field worker from New Vrindavan. He is the great pandit. He was, he was travelling and preaching when I was digging ditches and milking cows.

Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.

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.