“When the butter and milk were kept in a dark room, Krishna and Balarama would go there and make the place bright with the valuable jewels on Their bodies. On the whole, Krishna and Balarama engaged in stealing butter and milk from the neighborhood houses in many ways.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.30 Purport)
Darkness can never remain strong when the Supreme Personality of Godhead is around. Add to the mix His dedicated supporter who is practically identical to Him in qualities and you get a shining and soothing light to remove all doubts and fears. These are facts nicely presented in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, and they remain true regardless of the circumstance. Accept Vedic wisdom through the ears and shine a bright torchlight of knowledge internally, dissipating the darkness of ignorance. Take a look at a beautiful picture of the origin of matter and spirit and bring a soothing light to your eyes. In addition to the person, pay attention to the ornaments on that form of the Supreme Divine Being. Transcendental light emanates from them as well.
What do we mean by this? God as an abstract concept can be endlessly debated. You have your God and I have mine. If we throw the term “God” around, He can be utilized for many different scenarios. One person prays to God to have their team win a big game, while members of the other team pray to the Lord for their own victory. If there is a God, He must go beyond duality, and thus He can’t personally takes sides, though whatever outcome follows is due to His influence. The singular Supreme Personality influences results that are beneficial and fair to all parties. Just because one prayer isn’t answered and one is doesn’t necessarily mean that there is favoritism.
Confusion over these issues and more is resolved when there is a more clearly defined picture of the abstract. In the Vedas the Supreme Lord is described as Bhagavan, which means that He is a personality possessing all opulences to the highest degree and at the same time. He is the smartest, the strongest, the most renounced, the most famous, the most beautiful, and the wealthiest. These features can only exist in a person who has defined attributes. A formless spirit cannot be wealthy. An aged man who only punishes “sinners” cannot be the most renounced person.
To paint an even clearer picture, Bhagavan appears on earth every so often, giving exalted personalities a chance to see His features. Miscreants also get a look at Bhagavan, but seeing alone doesn’t bring knowledge. If I look at a complex math equation, to my eyes the text might as well be written in a foreign language. If, on the other hand, through proper training and a specifically focused consciousness, I see the same math equation, it will have meaning to me. In both cases there is seeing, but only in one of them does the vision have the effect intended.
With seeing God, if someone is clouded by nescience and the feverish pursuit to top the Supreme Lord in any of the aforementioned opulences, the divine vision will have no beneficial effect. The people of Vrindavana some five thousand years ago were qualified through past austerities and the proper implementation of religious principles in their present lives. The spirit soul does not take birth, nor does it die. Thus the soul continues in existence through the constantly falling hourglass of time allotted for the creation. A particular birth represents a splice of that timeline, wherein one accepts a particular form that goes through the gradual change from birth to death.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
A particular birth is considered auspicious if one can practice Krishna consciousness. Thus the residents of Vrindavana were all within auspicious conditions, as Krishna consciousness was brought to them by Bhagavan Himself. The Lord did not waste His time, as everyone He saw in that delightful community appreciated His vision and derived transcendental pleasure from it. They may not have known that Krishna was Bhagavan, but that didn’t matter. They noted His features and delighted in them regardless of the exact circumstance.
For instance, when Krishna would do something bad, the effect was the same as when He would do something good. Would God ever do something bad? Isn’t that contradictory? If you’re above duality, how can the opposites of piety and sin apply to you? The “bad” in this case was with respect to social conventions. Krishna came to Vrindavana as the newborn child to Yashoda and Nanda. He had originally appeared from the womb of Devaki, but due to the plot designed to kill the evil king Kamsa, Krishna was transferred to Vrindavana, where He would spend His childhood years.
God as a child played the role perfectly. He was not always on His best behavior. He would sometimes pinch children in the neighboring homes and cause them to cry. Other times He would let loose the calves to drink the milk from their mothers. The town survived on cow protection, so the milk products were their livelihood. By allowing the calves to drink milk and empty the milk bags of the mother cows before others could milk them, Krishna in essence threatened the economic wellbeing of the town.
His most famous acts related to stealing. Of course the origin of matter can never be guilty of taking something that doesn’t belong to Him, as there is no property on which Krishna doesn’t hold the original deed. Though mother Yashoda worked hard to churn sweet butter for Krishna’s satisfaction, the Lord would still go into the neighbors’ homes and steal their supplies. Knowing that He had this tendency, the mothers in the neighboring homes would hide their pots of butter in closed rooms and even place them up high towards the ceiling, areas normally not accessible to children.
Ah, but no one can outsmart the smartest person. He and His elder brother Balarama would hatch elaborate plots to grab the butter. If it was situated high up, they would pile mortars and planks together and climb. What was interesting to note was that the rooms were quite dark, but the jewels placed on the two boys by their mothers provided the light necessary to see in the room. We know that the jewels alighted the rooms because sometimes the neighbors would peek in to see the fun.
Think about it. They knew what Krishna was up to, and yet they still took joy in watching Him. Krishna is the most beautiful and that beauty is evident in His transcendental form. The ornaments He wore on His body increased in beauty because of Him, and not the other way around. Krishna’s features are not limiting in the way that they are with ordinary human beings. Krishna’s hands can talk, His eyes can eat, and His jewels can even provide more light than a lamp.
“My dear sir, Krishna's form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments' beautifying Krishna, Krishna's beauty enhanced the ornaments.” (Uddhava speaking to Vidura, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.12)
The same light which brightened the dark room for the two darling brothers shines forth from the pages of the Shrimad Bhagavatam and the mouths of the devotees who recite its stories. The same light can also brighten your day when you recite the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The light from the jewels helped the boys steal the butter stashed in the neighbors homes, and the light produced from the sounds of the holy names helps to steal the mind back towards the devotional side, its original home, where it will only think of the darling of Vrindavana and His dedicated brother, the saviors of the fallen souls.
In a dark room difficult to get sight,
No fear, jewels on boys to provide the light.
Were in these rooms for butter to steal,
Shouldn’t be hidden, thus no remorse to feel.
Krishna and Balarama on mortars to climb,
To reach high pots, Bhagavan’s sacred pastime.
Transcendental features bring soothing light to shine,
Paints clearer picture of God for pleasure of the mind.
Chant holy names for to feel same energy that is bright,
Steal your mind back from ignorance and into the light.