“Because of the features of Krishna's face, the mothers were so attracted that they could not chastise Him. Instead of chastising Him, they smiled and enjoyed hearing of Krishna's activities. Thus the gopis remained satisfied, and Krishna enjoyed their happiness. Therefore another name of Krishna is Gopi-jana-vallabha because He invented such activities to please the gopis.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.31 Purport)
There He stood, pretending to be afraid of the punishment about to come His way. The accusations lodged against Him weren’t things one would typically be proud of. It was said that He had gone into the homes of the neighbors, found certain areas that were nice and clean, and then passed urine and stool there. As if to leave a nice surprise for the people to come home to, Yashoda’s young son was always causing some kind of trouble. He was a small child, so for accidents like this to happen isn’t out of the ordinary, but still it seemed like He was doing it on purpose. But something amazing happened. When the women would complain to His mother, none of them could remain angry at the delight of Vrindavana for long. If anything, their attachment to Him grew, and they further realized that He was their life and soul.
The young Krishna protested when accused of being a thief and a mischief maker. He certainly had stolen butter from the neighbors’ homes, but in reality everything in this world belongs to Him. To complain about His activities is like going up to the clerk in a courtroom and complaining about the way the judge is running the case. The judge is the final arbiter in matters pertaining to courtroom jurisprudence. He is to settle disputes and issues with relation to conduct. There is no point in going up to someone else in the courtroom and pointing out flaws in the judge’s conduct because he is the ultimate authority figure in the room.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead owns everything in Vrindavana and the rest of the world for that matter. He appeared in that holy land some five thousand years ago due to His causeless mercy. Though He is the cause of all causes, whatever He does is without cause. Wrap your mind around that. Every reaction that we see in life has an initial action, which is instigated by a spark of life. Birth is the result of the union of the male and female and the nurturing of the child within the womb. The safe emergence from the womb isn’t guaranteed either, especially during times where abortion is both legal and sometimes promoted under the veil of proper health.
The birth of the individual is but one result, but take the sum collection of results currently visible and you get a better idea of how many causes there are. There are the past results, those occurring right now, and those that will arrive in the future. If you analyzed the nature of the reactions, even when something appears to happen randomly, there is always an initial cause. This was the point raised by a devoted younger brother a long time ago.
Shri Lakshmana, who is also addressed as Raghava because he appeared in the ancestral line of King Raghu, once had to give a pep talk to his elder brother Rama. The Supreme Lord was in the form of a warrior prince and when His wife went missing He became a little despondent. Not sure about what to do next, Rama accepted unsolicited advice from His younger brother. Though this wasn’t standard protocol, the kind Lakshmana made sure to remind Rama that the advice was something he previously had heard from Rama Himself. In this way Lakshmana proved to be a good student, an intelligent teacher, and a supportive younger brother.
“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)
Lakshmana noted that no matter what type of result you see, either good or bad, pious or impious, there is an initial action. If Rama wanted to get Sita back, He had to take action. One way or another some action will take place, so might as well make it your action to see if that can effect the change you want.
If you ascend the chain of causes, climbing towards the more powerful forces, you eventually reach a starting point. That initial cause is known as God to most of the world, but in the Vedic tradition He is assigned thousands of names and descriptions to boot. As He is all-attractive, He is known as Krishna. Because He is the cause of every cause, He is described as sarva karana-karanam. Yet there is no cause to His whims; He does whatever He wants. If He feels like it, He can appear in Vrindavana as a young child and steal butter from the neighbors. He never has to explain Himself.
The veil of yogamaya creates a beneficial illusion for the devotees, as was seen with the gopis. They didn’t know that Krishna was God, and because of this they complained about Him to His mother. Though Krishna is aja, or unborn, He accepts parents during His descents to earth because of their specific desire. In past lives, the famous King Manu and his wife asked to have the Supreme Lord appear as their son, and He then did so as Lord Rama, the son of King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya. Later on, in the form of Krishna He appeared as the son of Vasudeva and mother Devaki.
Mother Yashoda had the special benediction of having Krishna grow up as her foster son, though she wasn’t aware that He hadn’t specifically appeared from her womb, for He had been transferred to Vrindavana from Mathura after appearing from Devaki’s womb. For all intents and purposes, based on the affection and protection she offered, Yashoda was Krishna’s mother. She was responsible for His behavior, so the neighbors thought that if she heard what He was doing in their homes, perhaps she could get Him to change His ways.
Yet she was quite amused by her son’s behavior. It’s almost as if the mother and son had conspired to carry out these acts. Though that wasn’t the case, she knew that Krishna was delightful, that He was so charming wherever He went. The gopis who lodged the complaints couldn’t stay angry at Krishna either. While reviewing His activities, essentially giving a discourse of the transcendental features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the process, the mothers had some disappointment and anger in their voices in the beginning, but when they would turn their eyes towards Krishna those feelings would vanish.
What would the feelings be replaced with? Bliss, of course. The living being seeks ananda at every turn. You sleep at night to feel the blissful relief of having completed a hard day of work. You then get up the next morning to feel the bliss that comes from carrying out your activities, which help to avoid painful situations as well. With Krishna, since everything directly relating to Him is absolute, just looking at His smiling face is enough to bring pleasure.
If we take the analysis a little further, we see that it was Krishna’s naughty behavior that caused the gopis to complain, which then led them to look at the young child’s face as He was being chastised. If not for the initial behavior, the bliss of looking at His sweet smiling face may not have come. That pleasure is enhanced when it arrives as a relief from tension that immediately preceded it. In this way Krishna knows how to pull just the right strings, how to manipulate the situation so that the best feelings can be extracted from the kind-hearted souls, who have no other desire than to cherish His company.
Is it any mystery, then, what the spiritual masters of the Vedic tradition would recommend to be the topmost activity in life? Just regularly chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and bring to mind that sweet vision of Krishna smiling while the gopis were angry. You can lodge as many complaints as you want against the chief, but since they make the rules there is nothing that can be done to change things without their sanction. As Krishna is the chief living entity, any direct approach towards Him will be to our benefit.
This also explains why the modes of spiritual activity devoid of bhakti are considered inferior. Through the study of the impersonal Brahman, there is no direct approach made to Krishna. If you don’t look to connect with Him directly, if your desire is to associate with something else, which at the same time denies God’s existence as a personality, why should you expect to see lasting benefits? The material energy is the object of worship for the atheists and the religionists in name only, who follow spirituality through a rubberstamp system. That energy is also an impersonal force, and it cannot provide shelter to anyone. Absent devotion, material nature only produces temporary rewards that keep consciousness fixed on mistaken identifications.
In bhakti-yoga, there is no insulting denial of Krishna’s existence. On the contrary, there is a direct attempt made to bask in the sweetness of His smiling face. The ears feel the pleasure of hearing of Krishna’s activities, the eyes the nectar of the vision of the deity, and the mouth the transcendental taste of foodstuff first offered to Krishna. In the purest exchanges of emotion, Krishna even accepts criticism offered His way. To the sender He then returns those complaints in the form of an enchanting smile, a vision the entire world is searching after.
Lodging complaints against the chief, what can that do?
They are in power, in charge of rules too,
The Supreme Chief does everything at His own will,
Causes planets to rotate and makes trees stand still.
In Vrindavana, the chasing gopis Shri Krishna dodged,
They then went to His mother and complaints lodged.
His acts of stealing butter and other pranks they dwelt upon,
But He returned them a charming smile and their anger was gone.
Thus know that Krishna’s misdeeds had a higher purpose,
Ensured that the devoted gopis His presence not to miss.