“Not only does a devotee become one in quality with the Supreme Lord, but he sometimes becomes the father, mother or master of the Lord. Arjuna also, by his devotional service, made Lord Krishna his chariot driver; he ordered the Lord, ‘Put my chariot here,’ and the Lord executed his order. These are some examples of how a devotee can acquire the exalted position of conquering the unconquerable.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.12.42 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
Achyuta. This Sanskrit word means “one who does not fall down.” In its use for addressing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the meaning doesn’t have to be taken literally. What goes up must come down. Rise and fall. Heat and cold. Happiness and sadness. These are conditions of duality in the material world. When the Supreme Lord appears in that world, He goes through the different experiences.
He is Achyuta because He is infallible. No one is able to point to a defect in Him. He has the most of every opulence a person can imagine. Take attractiveness. The flower is attractive. So is the member of the opposite sex. The meadow full of trees and bushes on a sunny day looks amazing.
God is the most attractive; hence His name of Krishna. There is no way to measure the greatness of His various features; hence the name of Adhokshaja. Still, there are times where it does look like He falls, or at least diminishes Himself to some degree.
This is done at the will of the devotees. They do not wish to merge into the attribute-less spiritual light known as Brahman. They do not seek to become one with God and then lose their identity. Rather, they are always identical to Him in quality, and the oneness achieved is in terms of both interest and the eternal relationship. The devotees are so exalted that sometimes they are able to conquer the unconquerable.
Vasudeva started out taking orders from Krishna. As the loving father, He happily obliged when Krishna, still an infant, asked to be taken from Mathura to Gokula. Though Krishna proved that He is God Himself through the vision of the four-handed form of Narayana, Vasudeva was in the superior position. He held baby Krishna above his head as he waded through the Yamuna River. The serpent Shesha Naga provided shelter from the pouring rain.
In Gokula there was the foster father, Nanda Maharaja. Krishna would sometimes bring Nanda’s slippers, having a difficult time with the weight. The child had small hands, after all. One time Krishna tried to imitate the adults by exchanging grain for fruit. He brought as much grain as He could fit in His hands, but most of it was lost in transit. The vendor was so touched by the gesture that she gave Krishna as many fruits as He could hold. The Lord then reciprocated by transforming the contents of her fruit basket into valuable jewels.
Krishna accepts the subordinate position out of love for the devotee. He knows that more love is offered through the parents, for they think the child will not survive without their care and attention. Nanda was pretty liberal with Krishna, agreeing even to large requests like shifting the puja for Indra one year towards Govardhana Hill instead.
Yashoda was known to punish Krishna. As the loving mother, she did not want to harm her child. But sometimes He acted up. He broke a pot of yogurt in anger and then ran away. She desperately tried to catch Him. When she finally did, she tied Him to a mortar as punishment. This adorable pastime earned Krishna the name Damodara, which means “one who is bound by the belly.”
Krishna was the beautiful son to Yashoda and Nanda. He accepted their parental affection through the subordinate position. The bow-warrior Arjuna one time acted as the master. Krishna was like a menial servant. Arjuna would tell Krishna where to place the chariot. This was for a very important war, which was to see millions die.
When Arjuna got into trouble, he consulted Krishna for guidance. The Lord then briefly departed from the inferior position to become the acknowledged teacher, the guru. Arjuna was so awestruck by both Krishna’s presentation and the revelation of His divine identity. Arjuna asked for forgiveness for previously addressing Krishna in friendly terms.
Awe and reverence qualifies as bhakti, or devotion, but the Supreme Lord prefers a higher relationship. There was greater transcendental sweetness for both sides when Arjuna was directing Krishna where to go. In the same way, the eternal consort, Shrimati Radharani, chastises Krishna like anything. It is said that He enjoys those harsh words more than the hymns of the Vedas which glorify Him.
Through His many opulences shown,
As highest being Krishna is known.
Still subordinate position accepting,
Like with Arjuna for chariot directing.
Vasudeva across river to Gokula transposing,
And Yashoda rope punishment imposing.
Interactions appreciated by Him more,
Than even hymns of Vedas that adore.