Kṛṣṇa has now gone out of Nandagrāma with the sakhās and calves and is entering the forest while playing joyously.
Yogamāyā Paurṇamāsī Devī is the giver of good opportunities. She gives everyone potency to serve Kṛṣṇa. For example, if a chief guest or dear relative comes, all necessary arrangements for their pleasure are made in advance. Everything is cleaned, decorated, and nice foodstuffs are prepared. Accommodation is made ready as well as gifts and presentations. In the same way, when Kṛṣṇa goes into the forest, under Vṛndā-devī’s instruction and inspiration all the animate and inanimate beings in Vraja become engaged in loving service.
If orders are merely barked at a servant he will not serve properly. There will be no love in his service. Vṛndā-devī does not force anyone to work. In Vraja Bhūmi, every last plant and creeper has inherent love for Kṛṣṇa and this internal loving mood manifests outwardly as service. Vṛndā-devī does not renew, repair or remind them of their love, but she knows how to properly engage their tendency in service. Even the ants that march in lines, the fireflies, the bumblebees and the honeybees perform loving service to Kṛṣṇa.
In preparation for Kṛṣṇa’s arrival in the forest, the lotuses blossom in the lakes, the bees and birds sing Kṛṣṇa’s glories, the peacocks and parrots sit on the tree branches and welcome Kṛṣṇa with song and prayer. They begin to sing slowly and in low tones, and gradually sing higher, louder and faster. Then again they sing very slowly and sweetly.
There are many fragrant flowers and fruits in the high branches of trees. Large squirrels and monkeys jump tree-to-tree causing these flowers and fruits to fall down in offering to Kṛṣṇa. They also pick ripe fruits and off them to Kṛṣṇa personally.
As Kṛṣṇa proceeds step-by-step into the forest, playing and singing with His friends, the Earth-goddess begins to experience ecstatic symptoms. Grass grows up from the ground as the Earth’s hair standing on end, and the beauty of the forest scenery increases greatly. The air flows in a pleasing breeze and clouds form overhead, giving a cooling shade.
The spring season is prevalent in Vraja. The other seasons have their appearances, but whenever Kṛṣṇa enters the forest, it is spring. Externally, it may be summer and people do not wish to go outside; or it may be deep winter and no one wants to leave their homes, but for Kṛṣṇa in the forest, it is always spring.
The Vrajavāsīs wonder, “How can He go outside in the severe cold and heat?”
But this is the wonderful arrangement of Yogamāyā. When Kṛṣṇa entered the forest, the senses of all His friends became energized.
Kṛṣṇa said, “Vṛnda’s garden is full of potency and when we come here, we all become healthy and strong. He can walk and play without any difficulty.”
The sakhās sometimes climb the trees and jump from branch-to-branch or one tree to the other, just like the monkeys do. Sometimes they catch hold of monkey’s tails swing back and forth.
There are many hills decorated with waterfalls and streams. On the surface of these streams, the reflections of the birds that fly above are visible. The lotus flowers that grow in the waters of the Yamunā attract the presence of the bees. Swans glide atop the water with enchanting grace.
When Kṛṣṇa comes under the shade of the trees that stand on the riverbank it begins to gently rain. The fish become very happy and leap in and out of the water. The lotuses rise up, as if stating, “Dear rain, if you think you can drown us under the water, know that this is not possible. We will always show our faces above the water.”
The Yamunā’s waters begin to form waves and the lotuses rise up even higher. The clouds perform abhiṣeka of Kṛṣṇa and the trees by pouring down rain.
Kṛṣṇa says, “Look, these trees are great sages. They are being bathed by the clouds and their caraṇāmṛta is helpful for everyone.”
As cooling drops of water glide down from the leaves of the many trees, Kṛṣṇa says to His beloved friends, “We are very lucky to be in the forest of Vraja.”
One time as Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās wandered freely and cheerfully through the forest they came to a hill that housed a charming village. The sakhās noted that the land there was very green. There were many flowers and a large amount of kadamba trees. The people that lived in that village were all golden and looked as if they were demigods come down to earth.
This village is called Sunaharā. Sunaharā is graced with the presence of a Devī named Sudevī. She is the reason everyone in the village is bright, fair, and very powerful.
Today this Devī announced, “My dear villagers, today many guests are coming here for lunch. Please make all arrangement for their welcome.”
The villagers prepared many types of preparations like malpuā, halavā, barphi and many other items.
Just outside the village, Kṛṣṇa said to His friends, “The cows can rest here in this kadamba-khaṇḍī, while we go and have something to eat.”
As Kṛṣṇa and His friends approached, dancing, singing and playing all the while, a welcome group came from Sunaharā to greet them.
As a gesture of festive welcome, Sudevī had arranged a competition of song and dance. On one side was Sudevī, Raṅgadevī, Bhūdevī, Citrā, Campakalatā, and other sakhīs and mañjarīs (all in the attire of cowherd boys), and on the other side was Kṛṣṇa and His sakhās. In this type of game the losing team must offer a special gift to the winning team. It was decided that the side that lost would have to give up their richly decorated turbans to the other team.
Then the competition began. Sudevī and her party sang, played many instruments and danced with extraordinary skill. As Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās watched, they were very surprised. They had never heard any kīrtana or singing that beautiful before.
Kṛṣṇa’s side was soundly defeated in the musical competition.
Kṛṣṇa said to His sakhās, “Alright as we agreed. Give your turbans to the Sunaharā team.”
The sakhās all took off their turbans and gave them to the sakhīs and mañjarīs. But Kṛṣṇa’s desire to play was not finished. He declared to the sakhīs, “Now we will play kabaḍi. If we defeat your team, who is clearly a worthy match, then we will get our turbans back. But that is not all. You will also have to give up something. If we win, then you must give us your necklaces.”
“Yes,” the sakhīs agreed, “And if we win, You must give up your necklaces.”
Both sides agreed and they drew up a rectangular in dirt with a line down the middle. In kabaḍi, each team takes turn sending over a member to the other side to try and capture players from the other team. One player runs across the middle line and on one breath of air must try to tag someone and return without getting caught and held back behind the line until he breathes a second time.
While playing Kabadi, Kṛṣṇa ran for the sakhās team. He crossed the middle line, and holding His breath, dashed to tag the sakhīs dressed up as sakhās. Kṛṣṇa grabbed at the front of the sakhīs’ shirts and they shyly covered their chests. He thus easily tagged them and won the game.
The sakhīs gave up their necklaces and returned the sakhās’ turbans. They said, “We will have another match in a weeks time to regain our necklaces.
Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās then entered Sunaharā and were sumptuously fed before they went further into the forest.
Wherever Kṛṣṇa goes, He fills that place and its dwellers with bliss. He visits many villages and makes the people there extremely happy.
One time, He went to Mukharāi and was treated with much affection by the elderly Mukhara Devī, the grandmother of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Mukhara had heard that Kṛṣṇa was coming, so she prepared tilaka, candana, some drinks, flower garlands and many gifts for He and His friends.
Mukhara said to Kṛṣṇa, “My dear boy, this village has many cows but no one takes care of them. They are unhealthy, dry and barren.”
“Do not worry,” Kṛṣṇa said, “I am here. I know how to please the cows and make them very healthy.”
“You can make them healthy?”
“Yes,” Kṛṣṇa said, “Arrange for some servants to come with Me. I will take the cows out to bathe and eat luscious grass in the forest.”
The arrangements were made, and Kṛṣṇa, accompanied by Mukhara’s servants, brought the cows into the forest. When Kṛṣṇa walked and touched the grass with His feet, the cows ate the grass touched by Kṛṣṇa’s feet with great relish. They soon became very strong and their udders filled with milk.
Kṛṣṇa went to each cow, stroked, embraced and kissed her, and she would become very healthy and happy. Before, without getting Kṛṣṇa’s direct love, they had become skinny and weak, but now that they had finally met with Kṛṣṇa, they felt fully nourished.
When Kṛṣṇa returned to Mukharāī, Mukharā Devī and the other villagers brought some drinks for Kṛṣṇa. After accepting their offerings and filling their hearts with bliss, Kṛṣṇa went on His way.
When Kṛṣṇa is out in the forest, in separation from Him, it is as if the Vrajavāsīs are deprived of both body and mind. Their bodies function only by mechanical habit while their minds have followed Kṛṣṇa to the forest. Somehow or another they return to their homes and hardly conscious, they carry out their household duties.
Almost senseless in separation, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is brought back to Yāvaṭa with great care by Kundalatā.
Jaṭilā, who has been awaiting the return of her daughter-in-law, was outside stacking cow-dung patties, when Śrīmatī and Her sakhīs arrive. Kundalatā woke Rādhārānī from Her swoon and said, “We have returned to Jaṭilā’s house.”
To Jaṭilā, the clever Kundalatā says, “O exalted-one, I have brought back the wife of your son. Under my careful guard, even Kṛṣṇa’s shadow couldn’t touch Her. Do not worry. The dark one did not have a chance to come close.”
“O respected lady,” Kundalatā continues, “Yaśodā Mātā was very pleased with Rādhārānī’s cooking and sent Her back with priceless ornaments and dresses as gifts. These jewels and the ornaments are not available anywhere in this world. Their value is unlimited. Even the damsels of heaven do not have these jewels. When you see them, then you will understand.”
Greedy Jaṭilā is always eager to see what valuable gifts Yaśodā Mātā has sent.
Once, when Jaṭilā came forward to see Vrajeśvarī’s gifts, Kundalatā held out a particularly attractive jeweled necklace for her to examine. Jaṭilā marveled at the ornament and looking closely, she saw that many pictures could be seen in the jewels. What pictures did she see? She saw herself chastising Rādhārānī and the other young gopīs and accusing them of tainted character. She then saw herself walking around her house looking to this side and that side with doubtful searching eyes. All of Jaṭilā’s activities were visible in the jewels of this necklace.
Jaṭilā was very surprised. “How do these jewels know all my activities?” she thought, “How are all these pictures here?”
“What have you brought?” Jaṭilā snapped. “These jewels should be here no longer! These stones have a strange magic.”
Nowadays this trick is performed by what we call cameras. Cameras have the power to capture images and then show them to others. It is no surprise that in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes the jewels can capture images and activities if even in the modern, materialistic society of this world it is a common function of technology.
“Get these stones out of my house.” She ordered Kundalatā. “Send them back.”
Jaṭilā said to Kundalatā, “Does this jewel have any picture of Kṛṣṇa?”
Kundalatā laughed and said, “You like Him and think about Him 24 hours of the day. Clearly you wish that Kṛṣṇa will be your step-husband or lover. Why else would you always think about Him?”
Being thus teased by Kundalatā, Jaṭilā’s blood boiled. She clenched her fists and shouted, “I am a chaste and honest woman! Why are you saying this?”
Then Kundalatā turned over one of the jewels on the necklace. Now the image of Jaṭilā lost in thought of Kṛṣṇa could be seen.
“Kundavali!” Jaṭilā roared. “Get out! Don’t come here anymore!”
Before, Jaṭilā was very happy, but the jeweled necklace made Her upset.
“Don’t any of these gems and stones have any useful function?” She said grumpily.
“They do,” said Kundalatā, showing Jaṭilā a single precious stone. “If you, your daughter and your son worship this priceless stone, they will give you great wealth. If you touch this gem to your cows, they will give more milk. If you touch it to a cow that has no calf, then very soon she will have a calf. If you touch it to trees, they will give fruits. If you touch it to a dry well, water will manifest there. Whatever you desire can come true the power of this most precious stone.”
Intrigued, Jaṭilā snatched the stone and touch it to a tree. Immediately, the tree became full of fruits. Jaṭilā was very happy. She thought about how Kundalatā had said that by the power of the stone a calf-less cow would become pregnant. An idea formulated in her mind.
Jaṭilā thought, “I will touch this stone to Kutila. Then she will have a baby.” But the next second she realized that this was a bad idea.
“Everyone knows that may daughter is a widow. If she had a baby it would be an intolerable embarrassment.” Then she thought, “I know, I will touch Rādhārānī, and She will have a child!”
It was one of Jaṭilā’s long-cherished desires that Rādhārānī would have a child. “I have an idea,” Jaṭilā said. “I will touch these stones to Rādhārānī. Then She will have a baby?”
“No,” Kundalatā said, “I am afraid that won’t work.”
“Why not?” asked Jaṭilā.
“Because the stone was given to Rādhā by Yaśodā and will not work directly on who it was once given to.”
Jaṭilā was disappointed but then had an idea, “Kundalatā,” Jaṭilā said, “I am very pleased with you. I will touch the stone you and give you the blessing to have seven sons.”
Kundalatā became disturbed and said, “What are you saying? Seven sons?”
“Yes,” Jaṭilā said, advancing towards Kundalatā, “I will touch you with this stone and give you the boon to have seven sons.”
“That won’t work either,” Kundalatā said hastily. “You see, Rādhārānī gave the jewel to me, so it won’t work on me either.”
Jaṭilā said, “Okay, I will use it on my barren cows. Now, my request to you who are expert in protecting the young girls of Vraja is to quickly accompany Rādhā to Surya-kuṇḍa for worship of the Sun. Please help Her make all arrangements for pūjā and protect Her all the while. If she worships the Sun nicely, then I will be very happy.”
Jaṭilā continued, “Arrange a copper pot, some cow milk, yogurt, ghee, sweets, flowers, miśrī, saffron and a lotus garland. Call the daughter of Garga muni. She knows of a nice brāhmaṇa boy who is expert in performing sūrya-pūjā. Quickly go. I cannot come with you, so you must be my representative. If Rādhārānī pleases the Sun, He will benedict my family. But be careful not to leave Rādhārānī alone for a moment. If you even smell Nanda-nandana, who may be hiding nearby, then go away from that place immediately. Even the smell of His body is very bad and dangerous.”
The sakhīs laughed. They asked, “Dear lady, how do you know the smell of Kṛṣṇa’s body? Have you ever embraced and kissed Him?”
“Don’t speak like that!” said Jaṭilā. “I am honest and old!”
“It seems you know everything there is to know about Nanda’s son.”
“Silence!” cried Jaṭilā. “Just don’t go anywhere near that boy.”
“Oh, you long to see Him, therefore you make a point of speaking about Him.”
“NO! Quickly go for sūrya-pūjā. I am very busy making cow-dung patties and stacking them. Don’t harass me.”
Lalitā, Kundalatā and the rest of the sakhīs and mañjarīs were very happy and said, “Alright, go on and perform you duties without concern, we will protect Rādhā.”
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]