Here is another explanation of the bewilderment created by the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is the Supreme in all circumstances, as already explained. Here is a specific example of the Lord's being the Supreme and at the same time a plaything in the presence of His pure devotee. The Lord's pure devotee renders service unto the Lord out of unalloyed love only, and while discharging such devotional service the pure devotee forgets the position of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord also accepts the loving service of His devotees more relishably when the service is rendered spontaneously out of pure affection, without anything of reverential admiration. Generally the Lord is worshiped by the devotees in a reverential attitude, but the Lord is meticulously pleased when the devotee, out of pure affection and love, considers the Lord to be less important than himself. The Lord's pastimes in the original abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, are exchanged in that spirit. The friends of Kṛṣṇa consider Him one of them. They do not consider Him to be of reverential importance. The parents of the Lord (who are all pure devotees) consider Him a child only. The Lord accepts the chastisements of the parents more cheerfully than the prayers of the Vedic hymns. Similarly, He accepts the reproaches of His fiancees more palatably than the Vedic hymns. When Lord Kṛṣṇa was present in this material world to manifest His eternal pastimes of the transcendental realm Goloka Vṛndāvana as an attraction for the people in general, He displayed a unique picture of subordination before His foster mother, Yaśodā. The Lord, in His naturally childish playful activities, used to spoil the stocked butter of Mother Yaśodā by breaking the pots and distributing the contents to His friends and playmates, including the celebrated monkeys of Vṛndāvana, who took advantage of the Lord's munificence. Mother Yaśodā saw this, and out of her pure love she wanted to make a show of punishment for her transcendental child. She took a rope and threatened the Lord that she would tie Him up, as is generally done in the ordinary household. Seeing the rope in the hands of Mother Yaśodā, the Lord bowed down His head and began to weep just like a child, and tears rolled down His cheeks, washing off the black ointment smeared about His beautiful eyes. This picture of the Lord is adored by Kuntīdevī because she is conscious of the Lord's supreme position. He is feared often by fear personified, yet He is afraid of His mother, who wanted to punish Him just in an ordinary manner. Kuntī was conscious of the exalted position of Kṛṣṇa, whereas Yaśodā was not. Therefore Yaśodā's position was more exalted than Kuntī's. Mother Yaśodā got the Lord as her child, and the Lord made her forget altogether that her child was the Lord Himself. If Mother Yaśodā had been conscious of the exalted position of the Lord, she would certainly have hesitated to punish the Lord. But she was made to forget this situation because the Lord wanted to make a complete gesture of childishness before the affectionate Yaśodā. This exchange of love between the mother and the son was performed in a natural way, and Kuntī, remembering the scene, was bewildered, and she could do nothing but praise the transcendental filial love. Indirectly Mother Yaśodā is praised for her unique position of love, for she could control even the all-powerful Lord as her beloved child.
This pastime presents another opulence of Kṛṣṇa - His opulence of beauty. Kṛṣṇa has six opulences: all wealth, all strength, all influence, all knowledge, all renunciation, and all beauty. The nature of Kṛṣṇa is that He is greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest (aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān). We offer obeisances to Kṛṣṇa with awe and veneration, but no one comes to Kṛṣṇa with a rope, saying, "Kṛṣṇa, You have committed an offense, and now I shall bind You." Yet that is the prerogative of the most perfect devotee, and Kṛṣṇa wants to be approached in that way.
Thinking of Kṛṣṇa's opulence, Kuntīdevī did not dare take the part of Yaśodā, for although Kuntīdevī was Kṛṣṇa's aunt, she did not have the privilege to approach Kṛṣṇa the way He was approached by Yaśodāmayī, who was such an advanced devotee that she had the right to chastise the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That was Yaśodāmayī's special prerogative. Kuntīdevī was simply thinking of how fortunate was Yaśodāmayī that she could threaten the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is feared even by fear personified (bhīr api yad bibheti (SB 1.8.31)). Who is not afraid of Kṛṣṇa? No one. But Kṛṣṇa is afraid of Yaśodāmayī. This is the superexcellence of Kṛṣṇa.
To give another example of such opulence, Kṛṣṇa is known as Madana-mohana. Madana means Cupid. Cupid enchants everyone, but Kṛṣṇa is known as Madana-mohana because He is so beautiful that He enchants even Cupid. Nonetheless, Kṛṣṇa Himself is enchanted by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and therefore Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is known as Madana-mohana-mohinī, "the enchanter of the enchanter of Cupid." Kṛṣṇa is the enchanter of Cupid, and Rādhārāṇī is the enchanter of that enchanter.
These are very exalted spiritual understandings in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are not fictional, imaginary, or concocted. They are facts, and every devotee can have the privilege to understand and indeed take part in Kṛṣṇa's pastimes if he is actually advanced. We should not think that the privilege given to Mother Yaśodā is not available to us. Everyone can have a similar privilege. If one loves Kṛṣṇa as one's child, then one will have such a privilege, because the mother has the most love for the child. Even in this material world, there is no comparison to a mother's love, for a mother loves her child without any expectation of return. Of course, although that is generally true, this material world is so polluted that a mother sometimes thinks, "My child will grow up and become a man, and when he earns money, I shall get it." Thus there is still some desire to get something in exchange. But while loving Kṛṣṇa there are no selfish feelings, for that love is unalloyed, free from all material gain (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam (Brs. 1.1.11)).
We should not love Kṛṣṇa for some material gain. It is not that we should say, "Kṛṣṇa, give us our daily bread, and then I shall love You. Kṛṣṇa, give me this or that, and then I shall love You." There should be no such mercantile exchanges, for Kṛṣṇa wants unalloyed love.
When Kṛṣṇa saw Mother Yaśodā coming with a rope to bind Him, He immediately became very much afraid, thinking, "Oh, Mother is going to bind Me." He began to cry, and the tears washed the mascara from His eyes. Looking at His mother with great respect, He appealed to her with feeling, "Yes, Mother, I have offended you. Kindly excuse Me." Then He immediately bowed His head. Kuntīdevī appreciated this scene, for this was another of Kṛṣṇa's perfections. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He puts Himself under the control of Mother Yaśodā. In Bhagavad-gītā (7.7) the Lord says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: "My dear Arjuna, there is no one superior to Me." Yet that Supreme Personality of Godhead, to whom no one is superior, bows down to Mother Yaśodā, accepting, "My dear Mother, yes, I am an offender."
When Mother Yaśodā saw that Kṛṣṇa had become too much afraid of her, she also became disturbed. She did not actually want Kṛṣṇa to suffer by her punishment. That was not her purpose. But it is a system, still current in India, that when a child creates too much of a disturbance, his mother may bind him up in one place. That is a very common system, so Mother Yaśodā adopted it.
This scene is very much appreciated by pure devotees, for it shows how much greatness there is in the Supreme Person, who plays exactly like a perfect child. When Kṛṣṇa plays like a child, He plays perfectly, when He plays as the husband of sixteen thousand wives He plays perfectly, when He plays as the lover of the gopīs He plays perfectly, and as the friend of the cowherd boys He also plays perfectly.
The cowherd boys all depend on Kṛṣṇa. Once they wanted to take fruit from a forest of palm trees, but there was a demon named Gardabhāsura who would not allow anyone to enter that forest. Therefore Kṛṣṇa's cowherd boyfriends said to Kṛṣṇa, "Kṛṣṇa, we want to taste that fruit, if You can arrange for it." Kṛṣṇa immediately said yes, and He and Balarāma went to the forest where that demon was living with other demons, who had all taken the shape of asses. When the ass demons came to kick Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma with their hind legs, Balarāma caught one of them and threw him into the top of a tree, and the demon died. Then Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma killed the other demons the same way. Thus Their cowherd friends were very much obliged to Them.
On another occasion, the cowherd boys were surrounded by fire. Not knowing anyone else but Kṛṣṇa, they immediately called for Him, and Kṛṣṇa was ready: "Yes." Thus Kṛṣṇa immediately swallowed the whole fire. There were many demons that attacked the boys, and every day the boys would return to their mothers and say, "Mother, Kṛṣṇa is so wonderful," and they would explain what had happened that day. And the mothers would say, "Yes, our Kṛṣṇa is wonderful." They did not know that Kṛṣṇa is God, the Supreme Person. They only knew that Kṛṣṇa is wonderful, that's all. And the more they perceived Kṛṣṇa's wonderful activities, the more their love increased. "Perhaps He may be a demigod," they thought. When Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa's father, talked among his friends, the friends would talk about Kṛṣṇa and say, "Oh, Nanda Mahārāja, your child Kṛṣṇa is wonderful." And Nanda Mahārāja would respond, "Yes, I see that. Maybe He is some demigod." And even that was not certain - "maybe."
Thus the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana do not care who is God, and who is not. They love Kṛṣṇa, that's all. Those who think of first analyzing Kṛṣṇa to determine whether He is God are not first-class devotees. The first-class devotees are those who have spontaneous love for Kṛṣṇa. How can we analyze Kṛṣṇa? He is unlimited, and therefore it is impossible. We have limited perception, and our senses have limited potency, so how can we study Kṛṣṇa? It is not possible at all. Kṛṣṇa reveals Himself to a certain extent, and that much is sufficient.
We should not be like the Māyāvādī philosophers, who try to find God by speculative deduction. "Neti neti," they say. "God is not this, and God is not that." But what God is they do not know. Materialistic scientists also try to find the ultimate cause, but their process is the same: "Not this, not that." As much as they advance, they will always find "Not this, not that." But what the ultimate cause is, they will never find. That is not possible.
What to speak of finding Kṛṣṇa, materialistic scientists cannot properly understand even material objects. They are trying to go to the moon, but actually they do not know what it is. If they understand what the moon is, why do they come back here? If they knew perfectly what the moon is, they would have resided there by now. They have been trying for the last twenty years to go there and stay, but they are simply seeing, "Not this, not that. There are no living entities, and there is no possibility of our living here." Thus they can report on what is not on the moon, but do they know what is there? No, they do not know. And this is only one planet or one star.
According to the Vedic literature, the moon is regarded as a star. The scientists say that the stars are all suns, but according to Bhagavad-gītā the stars are of the same nature as the moon. In Bhagavad-gītā (10.21) Lord Kṛṣṇa says, nakṣatrāṇām ahaṁ śaśī: "Of stars I am the moon." Thus the moon is just like the many stars. What is the nature of the moon? It is bright because it reflects light from the sun. Therefore although the scientists say that the stars are many suns, we do not agree. According to the Vedic calculation, there are innumerable suns, but in every universe there is only one.
What we see in this universe we are seeing imperfectly, and our knowledge is not perfect. We cannot count how many stars or planets there are. We cannot fully understand the material things existing all around us, and therefore how can we understand the Supreme Lord who created this universe? That is not possible. Therefore in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.34) it is said:
- panthās tu koṭi-śata-vatsara-sampragamyo
- vāyor athāpi manaso muni-puṅgavānām
- so 'py asti yat-prapada-sīmny avicintya-tattve
- govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
Space is unlimited, and the Brahma-saṁhitā suggests: Suppose one travels by spacecraft for millions of years at the velocity of the wind or even the speed of mind. Everyone knows that the mind is so swift that in even one ten-thousandth of a second it can take us millions of miles. If we have seen something millions of miles away, the mind can go there immediately. But even if we can travel at that speed on a spacecraft manufactured by muni-puṅgavānām, the greatest scientists and most thoughtful men, will that be perfection? No. The Brahma-saṁhitā says, so 'py asti yat-prapada-sīmny avicintya-tattve: still this creation will remain inconceivable to our understanding. And Kṛṣṇa has created all these things, so how can we study Kṛṣṇa? If we cannot understand the things Kṛṣṇa has created, how can we understand Kṛṣṇa? It is not possible at all.
Therefore the mentality of Vṛndāvana is the perfect status of mind for devotees. The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana have no concern with understanding Kṛṣṇa. Rather, they want to love Kṛṣṇa unconditionally. It is not that they think, "Kṛṣṇa is God, and therefore I love Him." In Vṛndāvana Kṛṣṇa does not play as God; He plays there as an ordinary cowherd boy, and although at times He proves that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotees there do not care to know it.
Kuntīdevī, however, was not an inhabitant of Vṛndāvana. She was an inhabitant of Hastināpura, which is outside Vṛndāvana. The devotees outside Vṛndāvana study how great the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana are, but the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana don't care to know how great Kṛṣṇa is. That is the difference between them. So our concern should be simply to love Kṛṣṇa. The more we love Kṛṣṇa, the more we shall become perfect. It is not necessary to understand Kṛṣṇa and how He creates. Kṛṣṇa explains Himself in Bhagavad-gītā, and we should not try to understand much more. We should not bother very much to know Kṛṣṇa. That is not possible. We should simply increase our unalloyed love for Kṛṣṇa. That is the perfection of life.