vrajasya rāmaḥ premardher

vīkṣyautkaṇṭhyam anukṣaṇam

mukta-staneṣv apatyeṣv apy

ahetu-vid acintayat

(SB 10.13.35)


Because of an increase of affection, the cows had constant attachment even to those calves that were grown up and had stopped sucking milk from their mothers. When Baladeva saw this attachment, He was unable to understand the reason for it, and thus He began to consider as follows.


The cows had younger calves who had started sucking milk from their mothers, and some of the cows had newly given birth, but now, because of love, the cows enthusiastically showed their affection for the older calves, which had left off milking. These calves were grown up, but still the mothers wanted to feed them. Therefore Balarāma was a little surprised, and He wanted to inquire from Kṛṣṇa about the reason for their behavior. The mothers were actually more anxious to feed the older calves, although the new calves were present, because the older calves were expansions of Kṛṣṇa. These surprising events were taking place by the manipulation of yogamāyā. There are two māyās working under the direction of Kṛṣṇa — mahāmāyā, the energy of the material world, and yogamāyā, the energy of the spiritual world. These uncommon events were taking place because of the influence of yogamāyā. From the very day on which Brahmā stole the calves and boys, yogamāyā acted in such a way that the residents of Vṛndāvana, including even Lord Balarāma, could not understand how yogamāyā was working and causing such uncommon things to happen. But as yogamāyā gradually acted, Balarāma in particular was able to understand what was happening, and therefore He inquired from Kṛṣṇa.

We are about to read in the next several verses something so wonderful. Try to imagine that Srila Vedavyas is giving us an entrance into understanding the very intimate thoughts of the Supreme personality of Godhead.In Bhagvad Gita, we read of Krishna’s words.Here in Bhagvatam we are about to read of the personal confidential silent thinking of the Supreme absolute truth.And very unique because we are about to read how the Lord, in his intimate process of thought, is in a state of bewilderment.A state were he doesnot understand why things are happening the way they are.He is actually in a state of confusion.Now how is this possible?

Source of material world’s bewilderment – Yoga Maya potency:

Krishna explains in the Gita

mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ

sūyate sa-carācaram

hetunānena kaunteya

jagad viparivartate

He said that this whole material nature is working under my direction,daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā”. This means that the divine energy of the Lord is my energy always under my control.

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo

mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate

iti matvā bhajante māṁ

budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

That both the material and the spiritual roles are emanating from Krishna. They are all completely under the control of Krishna. He is the master of all the divine energies. Parasaya Shaktir vividhaya suyate. All the various energies both material and spiritual in all their categories are directly or indirectly been controlled by the Supreme personality of Godhead. And here we find Sri Balaramji who is none other than Krishna. In fact Srila Prabhupada would tell us that Balaramji and Krishna are identical.The only difference between Balaram and Krishna is that Krishna has beautiful complexion of a newly formed monsoon rain cloud and Balaramji has the beautiful complexion of a newly formed spring rain cloud. One is Bluish and one is pure white. Other than that there is no difference, even in bodily features. Krishna expands himself simply for the sake of loving pastimes. So how is it possible that the Supreme knower of everything, the knower of past, present and future, the knower of every living entity, someone without whose sanction not even a blade of grass can move could never understood what was happening? On the day Brahma stole the calves and the cowherd boys, it was Balaram’s birthday hence he was not there on that day else He would have been stolen too. But when Krishna went looking for the Cowherd boys, on that very eventful day, you don’t read anything about Balaramji. The reason was His birthday, Mother Yashoda wanted to keep Him home to give Him all gifts and give Him nice abhishek and all nice offerings. But Balaram wasn’t there. When Krishna came home with all of His friends and all of His calves, Balaram was also there to greet them with all the other Vrajavasis. And then, the next day, every single day for the next year, Balaram was out herding the calves directly personally. How he heard of the calves with such love, with such personal intimacy. Krishna, Balaramji and the Cowherd boys they had such love for these calves. They would play with them, they would wash them, they would greet them for drinking water, they would feed them, caress them with so many offerings and exchanges of love. And with His friends for one full year, every day, they were playing together, they were wrestling together, they were joking together, they were embracing together, singing together and this whole year Balaramji, who is the all knowing Supreme personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the source of all material and spiritual existence, he never even suspected that they weren’t really His friends? That they weren’t really His calves? They were all expansions directly of Krishna. How are we to understand this? We understand with the wonderful answer that Yoga Maya is very powerful.

Voluntary surrender to Yoga Maya Potency:

But actually we can understand that it is simply Lila. It is simply the pastime of the Lord. Yoga Maya is an expansion of Srimati Radharani. Radharani is the source of all divine energy. Even Krishna is eternally under the control of Radharani. In Vraja Lila, the love of Krishna, which is the energy of Krishna, is Bhakti. His energy, His highest purest energy, is that of pure Bhakti which within its absolute completeness is personified in Sri Radharani. And we read how Krishna is Madan Mohan Mohini. That is Radharani. That means she is always attracting the mind of Krishna. By her love, she always keeps Krishna under her control. How is that possible? Radha and Krishna are the same person expanded for the sake of pastimes. But in this divine Lila of love, the love conquers the beloved not because of strength, like the material sense of conquering but because the lover finds the greatest enjoyment, finds the greatest pleasure by accepting the position willingly of being bewildered and being sub-ordinate and being controlled by the beloved. Therefore, although, Balaramji is the Supreme personality of Godhead because He is in the role of a servant of Krishna, so for the sake of giving pleasure to Krishna, He is willing to sub-ordinate himself to His own power, to His own energy. He is willing to be actually confused. It’s not He is pretending. He is actually confused. But not because some power has overcome Him but because out of pure love in the service of Krishna, to just make His pastimes that much more exciting. You can imagine Krishna, when He was every calf and every cowherd boy; He was the only one in all of existence who knew what was happening. He completely spell bound all the Vrajavasis and Balaram did not want to be the exception. He wanted to say for Krishna, to have the Supreme pleasure of bewildering everybody even Him. Therefore out of love and service to the Supreme Lord, He agrees willfully, out of love, to come out of subordination of His own energy, His own bewildering energy. So these are the pastimes of love of Vrindavan. When we read even in Srimad Bhagvatam, Krishna was fighting with Shalva and Shalva wanted to somehow or other make Krishna disheartened so he could defeat Him in battle. So he created by his mystic illusory power a false image of Vasudev. and he brought him before Krishna and said your father is here. And then right in front of Krishna, he cut off Vasudev’s head and Krishna began to lament, “O my father is dead!” And everyone was thinking, “O no he is disheartened!” But then He realized that this is all an illusion. So how is it that Krishna momentarily appears to fall under the influence of a demon? Simply for the pleasure of his devotees, to make his pastime more exciting.

Creating suspense – an art to be learned from Krishna:


We also find so many demons, when they fight the Lord, they get all the energy from the Lord Himself. How is it that during the battle Hiranyaksha appears to be defeating Varaha dev? How is it possible? Simply for the pleasure of His devotee. The Lord comes to this world for one reason only; to perform such wonderful incredible pastimes of love, that they capture the mind, capture the attention of all the devotees. Although we know Krishna is going to win everyone, knows the end of the story before it begins still Krishna is so incredible that He stages His lila in such a way that at a certain point you forget who is going to win. And you are thinking, “O my God who is going to win? Right?” If you read the Bhagvatam you find this. For instance, we are giving the example of Lord Varahadev. When he is fighting with Hiranyaksha, the demigods, they all know He is Vishnu. He is the Supreme, all powerful. He is eternal. He is immortal. He is the source of everything. He is the master of everyone and yet when they see Hirankaysha is getting the upper hand they become worried like anything. And they pray to Varaha dev please kill him now because in few minutes the sun is going to set and after it becomes dark the demons get more power. And if he gets more power, we don’t know what will happen to you. But they know He is going to win. But Krishna is so expert, even though they know He makes the fight so exciting that they get so caught up in the lila that they forget that He is going to win. And they start thinking maybe He will lose. And this only increases their attachment to Him, increases the intensity. After all if He just knows everything is going to happen there’s not much intensity in that Right? Just like if I am sure non of you go to cinemas so much but you know if somebody says there is a good cinema let me tell you about it, he says no don’t tell me the end because if you know the end everything is ruined. We already know the end of all Krishna’s Lila, He is going to win when He is fighting with the demons. But Krishna makes us so incredibly exciting. He is the Supreme dramatic performer, performing for the pleasure of His devotees to attract all the minds of His devotees. During this performance, we get so caught up in the drama, in love for Krishna that we become afraid. Krishna is in danger. Of course the Vrajavasis, they are so completely covered over by Yoga Maya for the sake of increasing their love, that Krishna really never gives them the understanding that He is God. Even after Krishna kills Trinavarta, that horrible horrible demon, the residents of Vrindavan they were thinking it is due to their previous pious activities that God saved their little baby Krishna. Even though they saw what he did right before their eyes and before that they saw Him kill Putana. How is it possible? Krishna just for the sake of preserving the intimacy of love He doesnot give them that understanding and these are his eternal associates. He even does that to himself. This is the Supreme lila of the Lord.

The Supreme perfect complete manifestation of the absolute truth:

Krishna is unlimited and He can do anything. So when they ask if Krishna can do anything? Can he bewilder himself? If Krishna cannot bewilder himself that means He cannot do everything. But here we see that Krishna can even bewilder self literally. But the difference between Krishna’s bewilderment and the difference between our bewilderment is we are bound by illusion and Krishna by His own sweet free will accepts His own bewilderment. This is the infinite unlimited existence of God and this is why we understand Krishna is the complete whole. If there is anything Krishna could not do He would not be the complete whole. So really, in this beautiful chapter, we are reading such a wonderful exhibition of the Supreme power, the Supreme opulence of God. How He can do absolutely anything. In this chapter, He is completely defeating all of these mundane logicians who ask all these questions, word jugglery questions. If Krishna can do anything can He put himself in illusion? If Krishna can do anything can He not know something? If we cannot not know something that means there is something we can do. Do you understand? How many times have philosophers asked these crazy questions? They ask these questions. Just trying to juggle the mind in such a way because they say God is not perfect and complete. But Krishna is so perfect and complete He can forget but his forgetfulness is based on complete knowledge of everything that exists. Everything is included within Krishna’s personality. Krishna has all the qualities of the world, all those attributes but they are all perfect. They are all built upon the foundation of pure love and that is really what we call Lila. Lila means pastimes, means they are divine and they are all wonderful. This is the Supreme goal of the Bhakta’s, to enter in to this loving Lila of the Lord. It is the most complete, the most perfect manifestation of God’s grace. It is the ultimate realization of the absolute truth. To enter in to the almighty, all pervasive Brahman is perfect but it is incomplete because there are so many limitations within the Brahman. There is no limitation as far as eternality but there are so many things you cannot do when you are in impersonal Brahman. You can’t play with somebody, you can’t dance with somebody right? And even God in that manifestation, there is so many things He doesn’t do. So therefore Paramatma is within everyone, everywhere but He is localized, He is situated as the witness. And even in the various incarnations, there is the Supreme personality of Godhead reciprocating, in his Divine eternal transcendental form of his devotees, which is perfect. But still when we talk about the complete whole, we are speaking about unlimited infinite; there is nothing He cannot do. Narayan is never bewildered by His own potencies. But Krishna in Vrindavan; is the Supreme perfect complete manifestation of the absolute truth because absolutely everything goes on in Vrindavan. But it is all perfect. It is all the exhibition of Lila which is all based on promise of the highest loving exchanges for the pleasure of one another.

Awakening attraction for the Lord’s Lila:

Therefore this is how we understand that the Supreme goal of the Bhaktas is simply to hear and chant the glories of the Lord. One who understands the transcendental nature of the appearance and activities of the Lord never has to take birth in this material world again, Krishna says, but attains my Supreme abode. So by hearing these wonderful pastimes from the proper sources, from the purports and the bonafied spiritual master, we can really and truly awaken our attraction for the lila of the Lord. We cannot understand in full but we can understand in principal. Krishna says the more we understand the more we realize we cannot understand. But in this process our love develops, our love awakens more and more and more and more and more. This is the beauty of Krishna, wonderful Krishna. The Supreme personality of Godhead, the ultimate source of all pleasures and how does He manifest His pleasure through His divine pastimes, his pastimes of love. Balaram is about to ask Krishna what’s happening I don’t understand. The older calves have no desire to drink milk from their mother and the mother has no desire to give milk to them, the younger calves are present. In the phenomenal world, it’s an impossibility. It’s never been seen before where the mother is attracted to giving milk to the older calves when the younger one is present. It’s just impossible. It’s against the nature of cow. So Balaram is witnessing this and He is saying, “Krishna, I don’t understand how this is happening”. This is Krishna’s lila. This means Krishna we want to surrender everything to you. We don’t care for anyone else.

Question and Answer session:

Question: Why does Lord put Himself in this state of illusion for a Lila?

Answer: If God does things mechanically it will be boring for Him. The love of Radharani is so great that Krishna, out of love for Her, willingly puts Himself in a situation were He cannot understand the power of Her love and what it is about Himself that attracts Her. And the happiness, the joy, He derives upon seeing! He is the reservoir of all pleasures and yet He sees She is experiencing more pleasure than Him. If He wanted to understand He could because He is Radharani but for the sake of lila He doesn’t want to understand. It increases the sweetness of the love. Therefore He wants to understand it in another way. What I am saying is He wants to understand, that’s why He comes as Lord Chaitanya. He willingly puts Himself, by His own desire, in state were He cannot understand so that He appears as Lord Chaitanya to understand. That’s why we consider that Lord Chaitanya is the Supreme most of all avatars because it is that form, the only time were Krishna can understand the sweetness of the love of Radha is in the incarnation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Question: Why weren’t Krishna and the cowherd boys around when rituals were performed for Balaram’s birthday?

Answer: You see throughout the day, parents were doing all wonderful preparations for Balaram, giving Him special baths and having Brahmans chanting special mantras. You know cowherd boys, when it is someone’s birthday and Brahmans start chanting all mantras around the child none of the friends want to be there for that part right? They come when there is birthday cake and the dancing and everything. But all the preparatory rituals of the Vedas, which Nanda Maharaj followed, they were not interested in. They were interested only in playing with the cows, calves like that.

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.