Having saved the cowherd boys from death in the mouth of the demon Agha in the aforesaid manner, the Lord brought them to the sandy bank of the river, and spoke as follows: “Extremely beautiful is this bank of soft, clean, stainless sand, so spacious and suitable for our sports, oh friends! It is encircled by beautiful trees, rendered fascinating by the echoing notes and humming of bees attracted here by the sweet smell of blooming lotuses.Let us have our meal here. It is high time now as the day is considerably advanced and we are oppressed with hunger. Let the calves drink water and leisurely graze the grass nearby.”
Approving of his proposal, (lit. saying ‘so be it’), they led the calves to drink water and set them to graze in the green pasture. Untying their slings (and opening their tiffin boxes), they enjoyed lunch with the Lord in great delight.Sitting together closely round Krspa in a number of circular rows, and all of them facing him with their eyes blooming fully, the boys of Vraja shone (looked brilliant) like lotus-petals grown round the pericarp (of that lotus). Some improvised flowers and leaves as dining plates, some tender leaves and shoots, some fruits, some their wallet slings, some barks and slabs of stones (for plates), and they enjoyed their meals.
Even though each boy shared something of the dishes others had brought, each boy severally showed (by gestures etc.) the special taste of his own dish, laughing at himself and making all others laugh. (In this way) all took their meals with the Lord (who also tasted something of the dish brought by each of them).The presiding Deity and the Enjoyer of sacrifices as he was, he indulged in child-like sports, and with his flute between his belly and his pitambara (silken loin cloth”) and his horn and cane under the left arm (pit), and holding a soft morsel of boiled rice mixed with curds and (choice eatable) fruits held in between his fingers of his left hand, he occupied a central position in the circle of his friends, and made them to laugh by cracking jokes-And gods from the celestial regions simply looked on (envious that they are not lucky enough to participate).
As the cowherd boys whose minds were absorbed in Lord Krsna were having their repast, the calves, being allured by luxuriantly grown pasture, strayed away deep into the woods, oh scion of Bharata. Perceiving that they were overwhelmed with fear (at the straying away of calves), Krspa, the terror to the terrors of the world, reassured them, saying, “Friends, (Don’t worry-lit. cast aside all your fears). Please do not disturb your meal. I shall fetch all the calves here”. With these words, while the morsel of boiled rice. mixed with curds was in his hand, Kṛṣṇa went in search of his calves over the mountains, in caverns, in bushes and thick jungle.
God Brahmå (the lotus-born god) who formerly stood in heaven to witness the release of the cowherd boys and calves from Aghasura and was greatly astonished, desired to see another sweet feat of the Lord who assumed the form of a child through his Maya power, and he lifted up the calves and abducted the cowherd boys, and carried them to some place and vanished himself. Not being able to find the calves, and failing to see the cowherd boys on the sandy bank, Krsna searched for both. of them all round. Not finding either the calves or their protectors cowherd boys anywhere within that forest, Krsna who knows everything in the Universe, understood it to be the work of god Brahmā.
Thereupon, with a view to bring joy to the mothers of the cowherd-boys (by restoring their children and calves), as well as to god Brahma (by allowing the boys and calves to remain in his charge), Krsna, the Maker and the Controller of the Universe, converted himself both (into the cowherd boys. and the calves). Having exactly changed him into the same size and number of small bodies of the cowherd boys and calves, with the same proportion and size of their limbs like hand, feet etc.. taking with them the same (number and size of) sticks, horns, flutes, decorative leaves on the head, slings and wearing the same clothes and ornaments, and assuming the same goodness of nature (or character), accomplishments, name, form and age as well as their ways of sporting etc. (of each individual), the birthless Lord Kṛṣṇa, being thus identical with all forms, shone there as a concrete illustration, proving the veracity of the Vedic text “Everything in the universe is pervaded by Visņu.”
Having converted himself into the form of calves which were tended back by his own self in the form of cowherd boys, and playing with his own forms, Krsna, the self and the self of all, entered Vraja. Having taken the respective calves separately to their own houses, and tying them into their respective stalls, he entered the respective houses of the cowherd boys and stayed there in their form. Rising hurriedly at the sound of the flutes, the mothers (of the cowherd boys) raised them up and hugged them fast in their arms. With their breasts overflowing with milk of motherly affection which was sweet like nectar and inebriating, they suckled the Para Brahman mistaking him for their children.
Observing the time-schedule of games etc., during different parts of the day, and returning in time in the evening at the usual time, Krsna (the consort of Laksmi) in the form of a cowherd boy) was fondled and treated with shampooing, bathing, anointing (with sandal paste, pigments etc.), decorating (with ornaments), evil-warding rites, applying the decorative mark (tilaka) on the forehead, feeding (with dishes) etc. (by the Gopis). He also filled them with great joy by his sportive winsome ways. Thereupon the cows returned hurriedly to their own pens, and inviting their respective calves by their specific lowing-calls, suckled them with milk overflowing from their udders, licking the calves (all over), every now and then.
The maternal affection of the kine and the Gopis towards him (in the form of calves and cowherd boys), was the same as before, except that their affection grew more ardent, and Hari’s behaviour towards them as (their) child was the same as before, but there was no delusion (in Kṛṣṇa’s relation with them, as was in the case of their real children). In this way for one year, the affection of the residents of Vraja towards their children grew gradually every day (as they were the parts amsas of the Lord), but in the case of Krsna it developed in an unprecedented way and became unlimited as he was the amsin-the Lord himself.
In this way, protecting and being tended himself in the form of calves, by himself, in the capacity of cowherd boys, he sported himself for one year, in the forest, as well as in Vraja. One day, while it was some five or six days to complete the period of a year, Krsna, alongwith Balarama entered the forest, while they were tending the calves.The cows which were grazing grass on the top of the Govardhana hill saw from afar their calves pasturing near Vraja. As soon as the herd of cows saw them, they being overpowered with affection for the calves, forgot themselves. They rushed by a path difficult to be followed by their protectors (cowherds). Like bipeds (due to fast running on all fours), with their necks contracted towards their humps and with tails raised up, they dashed on speedily bellowing (all the while), and with milk oozing out of their udders, all the way.
Coming down to the foot of the Govardhana hill, the cows, though they had their own calves, suckled them with the milk from their udders, licking the bodies of the calves (with such intense eagerness) as if they wanted to swallow them. Being extremely angry at their disgrace and inability in restraining and controlling the cows, and making their way with great difficulty through the inaccessible hilly track, they saw their sons, along with the calves. With their hearts submerged in (i.e. overwhelmed with) affection at the sight of their children and with filial love surging in them, they forgot their anger, and raising their children with their arms and embracing them, they smelt on the crowns of their heads and were enraptured.
Then the grown-up Gopas who felt extremely happy at the embrace of their children, withdrew slowly with a heavy heart from that place with tears gushing out at their memory. Observing the intense longing and love growing every moment in the heart of Vraja (people and the cows) for their children (and calves), though weaned away from their mother’s breast, Balarama failed to understand its reason and began to think :”It is really wonderful that the affection of the people of Vraja-and I am no exception to it-towards their children is increasing in intensity by leaps and bounds as never before, ast it did in the case of Vasudeva, the soul of the whole of the universe.
What infatuation is this? Whence has it emerged? Is this delusion caused by gods, men or demons? Most probably it must be the deluding potency of my Lord and of none else, as it enchants even me. No other Maya has this power of deluding me”. Giving deep thought to the matter, Balarama, of the Dasarha clan, saw through his spiritual eye (lit. the eye of knowledge) that all the calves and his cowherd friends were the Lord Krsna himself. Balarama asked Krsna-“These (cowherd boys) are not the rulers of gods. Nor are these (cows) the sages (as I know them to be). It is you who appear in these different forms. Please tell me how all this took place.” The Lord briefly explained which Balarama could grasp correctly.
When Brahma returned after hiding the cows and cowherd boys to Satya loka Even Brahma was disallowed by his own doorkeepers who were deluded by Krsna who assumed the four-faced form and occupied his (Brahma’s) seat in the satyaloka, and he had to go back. When the self-born god (Brahma) returned in a quarter of a moment or half (the time of winking of eyes) according to his measure of time which amounted to one human year, he saw Hari playing as before with all his companions, even at the end of the year.
“Whatever number of children there were in Gokula along with the calves-all of them are stupefied and lying in the bed of my Maya-power and none of them has awakened. Who are these and whence have they come as they are other than those who are under the spell of my deluding power? They are the same in number and have been playing with Kṛṣṇa (Visņu-the all-pervading Lord) for a period of one year. Pondering for a long time on these differences (between children under his spell and those playing with Kṛṣṇa), the self-born god Brahmå could not, even with difficulty, distinguish between those children and calves who were real and who were not.
Thus in his attempt to delude Visņu (Krana) who transcends, all delusion, yet is deluding the whole universe, god Brahma found himself enchanted by his own deluding capacity. Just as the darkness caused by a drop of mist (becomes absorbed in the darkness of night, and like the light emitted by the fire-fly gets merged in the broad day-light, similarly lower type of mayd (deluding power) when used against a superior person loses its effectiveness and is lost to the user. And Lo! While god Brahma was looking on, in a moment all the cowherds appeared dark as clouds in complexion and wearing silken yellow garments.
They were endowed with four arms wielding in each hand a conch, a discus, a mace and a lotus; (they were) wearing crowns, ear-rings. pearl-necklace and wreaths of sylvain. Flowers. (They were) adorned with Sri-vatsa (a curl of golden hair on the right bosom), armlets (angada) and a pair of bejeweled bracelets marked with three lines like conchs, on their wrists. With their chest beautified by Sri-vatsa and with a kaustubha gem-pendant round the neck, they appeared shining with anklets, bangles, girdles and rings. All over their persons, from head to foot, they were beautified with wreaths of tender, fresh Tulasi offered to them by highly meritorious (devotees).
With their smiles bright like the moon-light (the whiteness of which represents the sattva-guna, whose function is the protection and preservation of the world) and with their side-long glances from their reddish eyes (the reddishness of which stands for the rajo-guna the function of which is the creation of the world), they looked like the creators and protectors of the desires of their votaries (they fulfilled whatever desire aroused in the heart of their devotees) with the help of sativa and rajas. They were adored severally by means of dancing, singing and offering many other courses of worship by all embodied beings, mobile and immobile, from Brahma’s own self to a clump of grass, all endowed with a corporeal form.
They were waited upon all around by mystic powers like anima (power of becoming atomic in size) and by potencies such as Mäyä, Vidya and by twenty four principles (enumerated by Sankhyas) beginning with Mahat (all assuming the forms of persons). They were also attended upon by the Time-spirit (which sets in motion the process of creation by disturbing the balance of the gunas of Prakriti), Nature, Samiskāras (latent desires or proclivities), Desire (for enjoyment), Activity, the three gunas-all assuming corporal forms, with their glories eclipsed by the Lord.
All of them were embodiments of the one absolute essence consisting of reality, knowledge and infinite bliss. Their greatness and glory were incomprehensible even to those who have obtained the vision of Upanisadic knowledge. 55. It was only once that Brahma espied that all those forms were identical with the Supreme Brahman by whose light the universe both mobile and immobile, animate and inanimate stands revealed.Thereupon, when god Brahma, out of great curiosity and wonder, directed his eyes elsewhere (towards himself or to his seat on the swan, he was so overwhelmed by the spiritual effulgence of the Lord that all his eleven sense-organs (five conative, five cognitive senses and the mind) became dazed and motionless; And he stood still and silent like a statuette of a secondary deity by the side of the presiding deity of that settlement (Vraja).
When Brahma, the Lord of Sarasvati (the goddess of learning) who was incapable of comprehending Lord Krsna’s (or the Supreme Brahman’s) special glory and greatness, became confused about Brahman which is beyond the reach of logical reasoning, and is thus incomprehensible-Brahman which stands resplendent in its perfect bliss; is far above and beyond Maya, and is unborn, and can be known only through the Vedantic (Upanishadic) texts which describe It in the negative terms (neti, neti-‘It is not so, It is not such’), and he could not even perceive the manifestation at all, Krsna, the Supreme Unborn Lord immediately understood god Brahma’s perplexity, and drew off the curtain of his Māyā.
Thereupon god Brahma whose vision to view the outside world was restored, opened his eyes with difficulties like a person brought back to life from death, and verily saw again this whole universe along with himself. Immediately he cast his eyes around in all directions and found stretched before him the (vista of) Vṛndāvana forest abounding in trees providing the means of subsistence to people, and with desirable objects (necessities of life) in plenty.
In that forest, men, deer and other animals who are (normally) inimical by nature, lived together as friends, and from which hatred, covetousness (and other passions) had disappeared due to the presence of Kṛṣṇa and Brahma, the highest deity in the Universe, perceived the Lord acting before him the part of a child born in the family of cowherd-The Lord who, though without a second, was searching for calves, though absolutely one, was (trying to find) his friends (cowherd boys), though endowed with unfathomable knowledge, was attempting to search them (as if he did not know); though he was Infinite and omnipresent, he was looking around; though he was the Supreme Lord, he was behaving like a child, and though the Brahman himself, he held a morsel of food in his hand.
As soon as he beheld it, Brahmå hastily alighted from his mount (swan) and lay prostrate before him like a stuff of gold on the ground. Touching his pair of feet with the crest of his four crowns, he paid respects to him and bathed his feet with his holy tears of joy. And repeatedly remembering the great glory of the Lord witnessed by him up till now, he rose again and again to lay prostrate at his feet for a long time. Thereupon, rising up gradually, he rubbed his eyes. Looking up intently at Hari but with a bent head, he folded his palms and with great humility and concentration of mind, he, with his body trembling with emotions and in a faltering voice, chanted the praise of the Lord.