“She gathered more ropes from the house and added to it, but at the end she found the same shortage. In this way, she connected all the ropes available at home, but when the final knot was added, she saw that it was still two inches too short. Mother Yashoda was smiling, but she was astonished. How was it happening?” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 9)Download this episode (right click and save)
Trinavarta tried. Putana tried, too. Of course, they wanted to go one step further. They weren’t interested in merely holding on for a few seconds. They were to be instruments of death instigated by the king of the neighboring town. Kamsa sent them to Vraja with a purpose. Prolonging was too risky. The prophecy said that Devaki’s eighth child would kill Kamsa. News got out to the king that the child was in the world and alive, though in the form of a baby.
These wicked creatures wanted to kill baby Krishna, but they failed at even binding Him. Putana held Krishna in her lap for a few brief moments, but she did not have a complete hold. Trinavarta took Krishna high into the air, making use of his ability to turn into a whirlwind. Yet this was not like binding the boy. While in the sky the child suddenly increased His weight to a level that Trinavarta could no longer tolerate.
Later on in life, when Krishna was an adult, the leader of the Kurus on a whim came up with a plan to bind Him. Duryodhana thought that if Krishna, who had come as a messenger in peace, were bound, then the opposing side would lose hope. The Pandavas would see their ever well-wisher captured and realize that the impending war would bring the same fate.
Fortunately for Duryodhana, the attempt wasn’t even made. He wouldn’t have succeeded, as Shri Krishna is no ordinary person. Yet in that same Vraja, when Krishna was a child, one person did succeed at binding Him. Her name was Yashoda, and her special circumstances reveal why she was successful in an area where even meditational yogis have failed.
1. She was sinless
In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna refers to Arjuna by different names. One of them is anagha. This means “sinless.” The easiest way to understand sin is to know that it is doing something the wrong way. There are many different objectives in the course of a lifetime, so in the broadest sense sin is what brings a person away from their true calling, which is linking with the Supreme Lord. This link is known as yoga, and sin is what either breaks the bond or prevents a person from securing it.
Yashoda was the foster mother to Krishna in Vrindavana. There was not a hint of sin in her. She did not violate the etiquette of the Vedic culture she knew since birth. Her only desire was to be a good mother, to love her child with all her heart. Being sinless was one reason she received the boon of having Krishna grow up in her home. It also played a role in her success at binding Him one time.
2. She was not going to show off her accomplishment
Duryodhana wanted to bind Krishna and then show off to others. He wanted to keep the origin of the creation as a sort of trophy, a symbol of victory. Similarly, the demons who went to Vraja at the command of Kamsa were ready to come back victorious. They wanted to show their leader that they could carry out orders.
Yashoda had no such desires. Krishna one time broke a pot of yogurt in anger. Yashoda had been feeding Him, but she got up to tend to a pot in the kitchen. When she returned to see what Krishna had done, she chased after Him. When she eventually caught Him, she wanted to bind Him to a mortar as punishment. Yet the desire was not to let others know. It was simply a way to keep the darling child within her sight.
3. Krishna had done something wrong
The Supreme Lord arrived to the assembly of Duryodhana on a mission of peace. He wanted to at least give the Kurus the chance at avoiding a war in which they would lose everything. As He is time itself, Krishna knows past, present and future. Therefore He knew that Duryodhana would not accept the peace deal. Duryodhana was set on keeping the kingdom that wasn’t rightfully his.
“O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.26)
It is common decency to treat a messenger with respect. You’re not supposed to take them as an enemy. Duryodhana wanted to harm the messenger who hadn’t done anything wrong. Why would Krishna encourage such motive in people? Why would He sanction sinful behavior?
In the interaction with Yashoda, the Supreme Lord knew He did something wrong. He broke the pot on purpose. If He believed He was in the right, He wouldn’t have scampered away, leaving adorable footprints made of butter.
4. She did not want anything from Krishna
There is bhakti-yoga, and there is pure bhakti-yoga. The distinction is subtle, but tangible nonetheless. Pure devotional service is where there is no outside motive. It’s understandable to approach God with some interest in mind. After all, He is the Almighty. Simply by desiring it, He can make anything happen.
Duryodhana had the desire to embarrass Krishna and break the will of the Pandavas. There are those who want material advancement. Others want renunciation. The meditational yogis seek to merge with the Supreme Lord in some way. In each case there is a desire. They are asking something from the Supreme Lord.
Yashoda was different. She was not looking to bind Krishna as a way to improve her standing in life. In addition to being sinless, she was desireless. She had no personal desire. Yashoda simply wanted the beautiful child to always stay with her.
5. She had love for Krishna
The Supreme Lord will do anything for His devotees. He will go to the home of the enemies to give them a chance at peace. He will act as charioteer during the ensuing battle. He will act as guru should they ask for guidance. He will lift a massive hill if they should be on the receiving end of the wrath of a jealous demigod.
In Yashoda’s case, He allows a loving mother to bind Him as punishment. Indeed, we know from the verses of the Shrimad Bhagavatam that success only came after Krishna sanctioned it. The first attempt failed, as the rope used by the loving mother was too short. Then she added more ropes. The simplest laws of mathematics say that the adjoining ropes should have been long enough. But each time they were two finger-widths short.
Just because it looks like you are close to capturing the elusive Supreme Lord, it doesn’t mean that you’re actually any further along than the next person. A small distance becomes insurmountable when dealing with Shri Krishna. Knowing the love she has in her heart, and seeing her dedicated effort, Krishna allowed her to finally succeed. She tied Him to the mortar, and because of that incident mother Yashoda earned the distinction of giving the Supreme Lord the name Damodara.
Chasing after Him to go,
Wrong to break pot to know.
After Krishna was caught,
Many adjoining ropes were brought.
But still Yashoda not able to succeed,
Every time two widths short indeed.
Because love was pure and never proud,
That loving pastime Supreme Lord allowed.