“Without disturbing the ecstasy of His mother's affection, Krishna opened His mouth and displayed His own natural opulences.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.36 Purport)
Why not give up the ruse and tell Your mother who You really are? Why carry on with the charade any longer? Wouldn’t she be happy knowing that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the singular entity from whom this and numerous other creations have sprung? Wouldn’t she love knowing that she daily tends to the needs of the person who is served by countless goddesses of fortune in the spiritual sky? Wouldn’t she run to tell her husband Nanda that their darling little boy is the person who has granted them favor in times of trouble, the very same Narayana that they always pray to?
To better understand, let’s reverse the situation. Let’s say that your child brings something to you that they produced. It is something childish, like maybe a drawing they made in school. Since they are quite young, they aren’t very skilled in arts and crafts. They have trouble cutting paper in a straight line, let alone accurately depicting real life-scenes with their crayons. Yet they come up to you on this particular day with a drawing they made in school. They present it to you as a gift, noting that they made the drawing especially for you. They dedicate their hard work for your pleasure. It is a difficult task for them because they don’t know how to draw.
What should your reaction be? Should you tell them, “Oh my dear child, you should know that this drawing isn’t very good. I can hardly make out what it is. You have not drawn the items to proper scale, nor have you used enough colors. Your drawing is essentially a waste of time to me because I can draw much better than this. Moreover, I could take a picture of the scene with my digital camera and thus have a much more accurate rendering. If I need a painting , I could hire a real artist who is a professional in the field. Therefore you should cease from making such drawings in the future.”
Obviously such an attitude would be considered harsh and also unwise for many reasons. The sentiment is what counts and not necessarily the ability. The child is young after all, so through applying enough determination, which is best strengthened through enthusiasm, they may develop into a fine artist. In addition, you, as the superior figure, have a duty to uphold high standards of conduct. You know that you were once a child and that if you were in the same situation, you would be bitterly disappointed if an elder crushed your spirit of devotion towards your parents. You now have a responsibility as a loving parent to understand your child’s needs and guide them in the proper direction.
In a similar manner, the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, is everyone’s parent. Though He appeared in Vrindavana some five thousand years ago as an innocent and helpless young boy, He still maintained His supreme standing. The body is like a holding cell for the individual spirit soul. Spirit is immutable, unchangeable, and non-decaying. It is bursting with potential for great things, but depending on the type of covering assumed, abilities can be masked. Think of it like putting a shade on a lamp or a brace on a particular joint. The shade covers the intense illumination of the lamp and the brace keeps the particular joint from moving in the complete range of motion. Both coverings have a purpose to fulfill, but they naturally have an inhibiting effect.
The material body, which is composed of the gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, along with the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and false ego, has varying degrees of limitation. In the lower animal species, the sparkling qualities of the spirit soul are masked much more so than they are in the human species. We see that cats and dogs also eat, sleep, mate and defend, but they cannot think rationally. They cannot communicate effectively either. Therefore it is to be understood that their coverings are of a different mode of nature, whereas the human being’s covering is in the higher modes, which allow for the spirit soul to have a freer range of motion.
As Shri Krishna is the origin of matter and spirit, no form that He accepts has any debilitating influence. In addition, His different spiritual body parts can carry out any function. He can see with His ears and hear with His eyes, for example. He can lift tall mountains while in the body of a small boy, and He can accept an endless amount of food offered to His incarnation as the archa-vigraha, or deity. Thus in Vrindavana as Yashoda’s son, Krishna was the same Supreme Lord, though He didn’t always reveal His opulences.
Why not tell His parents that He was God? Well, what good would that have done? The mother loved Him so much that she couldn’t stop thinking about Him. That sentiment indicates the height of existence. The human form allows for that end to be achieved, thus the Vedas consider the human to be the most auspicious species. A human birth is not something to be taken lightly, as we know from the ability to read and hear that we can expand our knowledge. If that hearing is directed towards the transcendental sound vibrations coming down from Krishna Himself, then the highest state of consciousness achieved by mother Yashoda can be reached.
Her love for Krishna was in the transcendental mood of vatsalya, which is parental affection. This mood is higher than awe and reverence, which is the mood that exists when we only know of God as an immensely powerful figure. If Krishna were to tell everyone that He was the Almighty Lord, the devotees in Vrindavana could not reach the higher devotional mellows. The more advanced rasas equate to more pleasure, so by revealing His true identity Krishna would actually decrease the pleasure of the residents of Vrindavana.
The incident where Krishna purportedly ate dirt nicely illustrates why the Lord maintains the mood of devotional affection chosen by the sincere devotee. One day Krishna’s friends and brother Balarama approached mother Yashoda to complain that Krishna had eaten dirt while playing in the field. Though this can be a serious error committed by a child, it is not something out of the ordinary. It is the parent’s duty to make sure that their children don’t eat things that they shouldn’t. There is an added emphasis to make sure that non-food items don’t get placed into the mouth.
Krishna is God, so eating dirt is not that big a deal for Him. But to the mother, the accusation was very serious. She was worried enough about her child already. Before He would go out to play every day, she would chant various mantras for His protection. She would pray to Lord Narasimhadeva to keep her son safe while He roamed the forests barefoot, taking the young calves with Him. This is ironic because Krishna is the very same Narasimhadeva, who appeared on the scene many ages prior to protect the five-year old devotee named Prahlada from the attacks of his wicked father Hiranyakashipu. Ever since that time it has been the tradition for parents in Vedic culture to daily recite mantras in honor of Narasimhadeva to protect their children.
Yashoda approached Krishna about the accusation, and if Krishna had said that He was God and that it didn’t matter if He ate something that He created, would that have been to Yashoda’s benefit? She was in the mood of vatsalya-rasa, so would the receiver in this case reject the kind offerings of love? Her affection would do no harm to anyone. If anything, it would increase her attachment to Him more. Thus Krishna responded by saying that His friends were lying. If she wanted proof, she could look in His mouth. This, of course, was a playful trap to lure Yashoda into seeing the cosmic manifestation, the opulence owned by her beloved son. In this way she could see a beautiful and unique vision given by God and still maintain her parental affection.
The worthwhile target of a devotional consciousness is reached by the fortunate human being when they regularly chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Know that whatever is learned about God only scratches the surface of His true potencies. The subordinate living entities can never be all-knowing, but they can be all-loving when they head towards the transcendental realm. In that sacred place, the proprietor takes charge in maintaining conditions auspicious for divine love to flourish.
To say that He’s God, what would that do?
That He is powerful, owner of everything too?
Yashoda in love of her son did live,
Undivided attention to Him would give.
Like when His friends an accusation did make,
That Krishna in His mouth dirt did take.
Yashoda loved in the mood of a parent caring,
Everyday dangers with her son bearing.
But this incident to a higher state to lead,
Krishna’s play devotional hunger to feed.