After the birth ceremony, Nanda Mahārāja decided to go to Mathurā to pay the annual tax to the government of Kaṁsa. Before leaving, he called for the able cowherd men of the village and asked them to take care of Vṛndāvana in his absence. When Nanda Mahārāja arrived in Mathurā, Vasudeva got the news and was very eager to congratulate his friend. He immediately went to the place where Nanda Mahārāja was staying. When Nanda saw Vasudeva, he felt that he had regained his life. Nanda, overwhelmed with joy, immediately stood up and embraced Vasudeva. Vasudeva was received very warmly and offered a nice place to sit. Anxious about his two sons, who had been put under the protection of Nanda without Nanda’s knowledge, Vasudeva inquired about Them with great anxiety. Both Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa were the sons of Vasudeva. Balarāma was transferred to the womb of Rohiṇī, Vasudeva’s own wife, but Rohiṇī was kept under the protection of Nanda Mahārāja. Kṛṣṇa was personally delivered to Yaśodā and exchanged with her daughter. Nanda Mahārāja knew that Balarāma was the son of Vasudeva, but he did not know that Kṛṣṇa was also Vasudeva’s son. Vasudeva, of course, was aware of this fact and inquired very eagerly about both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.
Vasudeva then addressed Nanda, “My dear brother, you were old and very anxious to beget a son, and yet you had none. Now by the grace of the Lord you are fortunate to have a very nice son. I think that this incident is very auspicious for you. Dear friend, I was imprisoned by Kaṁsa, and now I am released; therefore this is another birth for me. I had no hope of seeing you again, but by God’s grace I can see you.” In this way, Vasudeva indirectly expressed his anxiety about Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa was sent incognito to the bed of mother Yaśodā, and after Nanda very pompously celebrated Kṛṣṇa’s birth ceremony, he went to Mathurā. So Vasudeva was very much pleased and said, “This is a new birth for me.” He never expected that Kṛṣṇa would live, because all his other sons had been killed by Kaṁsa.
Vasudeva continued: “My dear friend, it is very difficult for us to live together. Although we have our family and relatives, sons and daughters, by nature’s way we are generally separated from one another. The reason for this is that every living entity appears on this earth under different pressures of fruitive activities; although they assemble together, there is no certainty of their remaining together for a long time. According to one’s fruitive activities, one has to act differently and thereby be separated. For example, many plants and creepers are floating on the waves of the ocean. Sometimes they come together, and sometimes they separate forever: one plant goes one way, and another plant goes another. Similarly, our family assembly may be very nice while we are living together, but after some time, in the course of the waves of time, we are separated.”
The purport of this expression by Vasudeva is this: although he had eight sons born in the womb of Devakī, unfortunately they were all gone. He could not even keep his one son Kṛṣṇa with him. Vasudeva was feeling His separation, but he could not express the real fact. “Please tell me about the welfare of Vṛndāvana,” he said. “You have many animals—are they happy? Are they getting sufficient grass and water? Please also let me know whether the place where you are now living is undisturbed and peaceful.” This inquiry was made by Vasudeva because he was very anxious about Kṛṣṇa’s safety. He knew that Kaṁsa and his followers were trying to kill Kṛṣṇa by sending various kinds of demons. They had already resolved that all children born within ten days of the birthday of Kṛṣṇa should be killed. Because Vasudeva was so anxious about Kṛṣṇa, he inquired about the safety of His residence. He also inquired about Balarāma and His mother, Rohiṇī, who were entrusted to the care of Nanda Mahārāja. Vasudeva also reminded Nanda Mahārāja that Balarāma did not know His real father. “He knows you as His father. And now you have another child, Kṛṣṇa, and I think you are taking very nice care of both of Them.” It is also significant that Vasudeva inquired about the welfare of Nanda Mahārāja’s animals. The animals, and especially the cows, were protected exactly in the manner of one’s children. Vasudeva was a kṣatriya, and Nanda Mahārāja was a vaiśya. It is the duty of the kṣatriyas to give protection to the citizens, and it is the duty of the vaiśyas to give protection to the cows. The cows are as important as the citizens. Just as the human citizens should be given all kinds of protection, so the cows also should be given full protection.
Vasudeva continued to say that the maintenance of religious principles, economic development and the satisfactory execution of meeting the demands of the senses depend on cooperation among relatives, nations and all humanity. Therefore, it is everyone’s duty to see that his fellow citizens and the cows are not put into difficulty. One should see to the peace and comfort of his fellow man and the animals. The development of religious principles, economic development and sense gratification can then be achieved without difficulty. Vasudeva expressed his sorrow due to not being able to give protection to his own sons born of Devakī. He was thinking that religious principles, economic development and the satisfaction of his senses were therefore all lost.
Upon hearing this, Nanda Mahārāja replied, “My dear Vasudeva, I know that you are very much aggrieved because the cruel king Kaṁsa has killed all your sons born of Devakī. Although the last child was a daughter, Kaṁsa could not kill her, and she has entered into the celestial planets. My dear friend, do not be aggrieved; we are all being controlled by our past unseen activities. Everyone is subjected to his past deeds, and one who is conversant with the philosophy of karma and its reactions is a man in knowledge. Such a person will not be aggrieved at any incident, happy or miserable.”
Vasudeva then replied, “My dear Nanda, if you have already paid the government taxes, then return soon to your place, because I think that there may be some disturbances in Gokula.”
After the friendly conversation between Nanda Mahārāja and Vasudeva, Vasudeva returned to his home. Nanda Mahārāja and the other cowherd men, who had come to Mathurā to pay their taxes, also returned home.