KB 38: Akrūra’s Arrival in Vṛndāvana
Nārada Muni did not mention Kṛṣṇa’s killing Vyomāsura, which means that he was killed on the same day as the Keśī demon. The Keśī demon was killed in the early morning, and after that the boys went to tend the cows on Govardhana Hill, and it was there that Vyomāsura was killed. Both demons were killed in the morning. Akrūra was requested by Kaṁsa to arrive in Vṛndāvana by evening. After receiving instruction from Kaṁsa, Akrūra started the next morning via chariot for Vṛndāvana. Because Akrūra himself was a great devotee of the Lord, while going to Vṛndāvana he began to pray to the Lord. Devotees are always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, and Akrūra was constantly thinking of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus eyes.
He did not know what sort of pious activities he must have performed to gain an opportunity to go see Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma in Vṛndāvana on that day. A pure Vaiṣṇava always thinks himself unfit to serve Kṛṣṇa. So Akrūra began to think within himself that he was unfit for gaining the transcendental opportunity of seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He considered himself as unfit for seeing Kṛṣṇa as a materialistic person is for understanding the science of God or as a fourth-class person (a śūdra) is for studying the Vedas. But then Akrūra began to think, “By the grace of Kṛṣṇa everything is possible, and thus if He likes, I will be able to see Him. Just as a blade of grass floating on the waves of a river may by chance come near the shore and gain shelter, a conditioned soul carried away by the waves of material existence may sometimes be saved by the grace of Kṛṣṇa.” Akrūra thus thought that if Kṛṣṇa willed, he would be able to see Him. Akrūra considered himself most fortunate that he was going to see Kṛṣṇa, whom great mystic yogīs desire to see. He was confident that on that day all the sinful reactions of his past life would be finished and his fortunate human form of life would be successful. Akrūra also considered that he was very much favored by Kaṁsa, who was sending him to bring back Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma and thus enabling him to see the Lord. Akrūra continued to consider that formerly great sages and saintly persons were liberated from the material world simply by seeing the shining nails of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
“That Supreme Personality of Godhead has now come just like an ordinary human being, and it is my great fortune to be able to see Him face to face,” Akrūra thought. He was thrilled with expectations of seeing the very lotus feet which are worshiped by great demigods like Brahmā, Nārada and Lord Śiva, which traverse the ground of Vṛndāvana, and which touch the breasts of the gopīs, covered with tinges of kuṅkuma. He thought, “I am so fortunate that I will be able to see those very lotus feet on this day, and certainly I shall be able to see the beautiful face of Kṛṣṇa, which is marked on the forehead and the nose with tilaka. And I shall also see His smile and His curling black hair. I can be sure of this opportunity because I see that today the deer are passing on my right side. Today it will be possible for me to actually see the beauty of the spiritual kingdom of Viṣṇuloka because Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Viṣṇu and He has advented Himself out of His own good will. He is the reservoir of all beauty; therefore today my eyes will achieve perfection.”
Akrūra knew beyond a doubt that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Viṣṇu. Lord Viṣṇu glances over the material energy, and thus the cosmic manifestation comes into being. And although Lord Viṣṇu is the creator of this material world, He is free, by His own energy, from the influence of the material energy. By His internal potency He can pierce the darkness of the material energy. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa, the original Viṣṇu, by expanding His internal potency, created the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is confirmed that the paraphernalia and the abode of Kṛṣṇa are expansions of His internal potency. The same internal potency Kṛṣṇa exhibits in Goloka Vṛndāvana is exhibited in the earthly Vṛndāvana, where He enjoys Himself with His parents and in the company of His friends, the cowherd boys and gopīs. By the statement of Akrūra it is clear that, since Kṛṣṇa is transcendental to the modes of material nature, the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, who are always engaged in loving service to the Lord, are also transcendental.
Akrūra also considered the necessity of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. He thought that the transcendental activities, instructions, qualities and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa are all for the good fortune of people in general. The people can remain constantly in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by discussing the Lord’s transcendental form, qualities, pastimes and paraphernalia. By doing so, the whole universe can actually live auspiciously and advance peacefully. But without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, civilization is but a decorated dead body. A dead body may be decorated very nicely, but without consciousness such decorations are useless. Human society without Kṛṣṇa consciousness is useless and lifeless.
Akrūra thought, “That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, has now appeared as one of the descendants of the Yadu dynasty. The principles of religion are His enacted laws. Those who are abiding by such laws are demigods, and those who are not abiding are demons. He has advented Himself to give protection to the demigods, who are very obedient to the laws of the Supreme Lord. The demigods and the devotees of the Lord take pleasure in abiding by the laws of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa takes pleasure in giving them all sorts of protection. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā
“Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the spiritual master of all spiritual masters; He is the deliverer of all fallen souls and the proprietor of the three worlds. Anyone who is able to see Him by eyes smeared with love of Godhead enjoys a festival of seeing. Today I shall be able to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who by His transcendental beauty has attracted the goddess of fortune to live with Him perpetually. As soon as I arrive in Vṛndāvana, I will get down from this chariot and fall prostrate to offer my obeisances to the Supreme Lord, the master of material nature and all living entities. The lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa are always worshiped by great mystic yogīs, so I shall also worship His lotus feet and become one of His friends in Vṛndāvana like the cowherd boys. When I bow down before Lord Kṛṣṇa in that way, certainly He will place His fearless lotus hand on my head. His hand is offered to all conditioned souls who take shelter under His lotus feet. Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate goal of life for all people who fear material existence, and certainly when I see Him He will give me the shelter of His lotus feet. I am aspiring for the touch of His lotuslike hand on my head. When that hand touched the presentations of King Indra and King Bali, these two became qualified to be lords of the universe, and when that hand touched the gopīs as they danced with Kṛṣṇa in the rāsa-līlā, it relieved all their fatigue.”
In this way Akrūra expected blessings from the hand of Kṛṣṇa. He knew that Indra, who is the King of heaven and the master of the three worlds—the upper, middle and lower planetary systems—was blessed by the Lord simply for his offering a little water which Kṛṣṇa accepted. Similarly, Bali Mahārāja gave only three paces of land in charity to Vāmanadeva, and he also offered a little water which Lord Vāmanadeva accepted, and thereby Bali Mahārāja attained the position of Indra. When the gopīs were dancing with Kṛṣṇa in the rāsa dance, they became fatigued, and Kṛṣṇa wiped His hand, which is as fragrant as a lotus flower growing in Mānasa-sarovara Lake, over the pearllike drops of perspiration on the faces of the gopīs, and immediately the gopīs became refreshed. Thus Akrūra was expecting benediction from that supreme hand of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa’s hand is capable of bestowing benediction upon all kinds of men if they take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one wants material happiness like that of the King of heaven, he can derive that benediction from the hand of Kṛṣṇa; if one wants liberation from the pangs of material existence, he can also get that benediction from the hand of Kṛṣṇa; and if one in pure transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa wants personal association and the touch of His transcendental body, he can also gain that benediction from His hand.
Akrūra was afraid, however, because he had been deputed by Kaṁsa, the enemy of Kṛṣṇa. He thought, “I am going to see Kṛṣṇa as a messenger of the enemy.” At the same time, he thought, “Kṛṣṇa is in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul, so He must know my heart.” Although Akrūra was trusted by the enemy of Kṛṣṇa, his heart was clear. He was a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. He risked becoming Kaṁsa’s deputy just to meet Kṛṣṇa. He was certain that although he was going as a representative of Kaṁsa, Kṛṣṇa would not accept him as an enemy. “Even though I am on a sinful mission, being deputed by Kaṁsa, when I approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I shall stand before Him with all humility and folded hands. Surely He will be pleased with my devotional attitude, and maybe He will smile lovingly and look upon me and thereby free me from all kinds of sinful reactions. I shall then be on the platform of transcendental bliss and knowledge. Since Kṛṣṇa knows my heart, certainly when I approach Him, He will embrace me. Not only am I a member of the Yadu dynasty, but I am His relative and an unalloyed, pure devotee. By His merciful embrace, surely my body, heart and soul will be completely cleansed of the actions and reactions of my past life. When our bodies touch, I will immediately stand up with folded hands, with all humility. Certainly Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma will call me ‘Akrūra, Uncle,’ and at that time my whole life will be glorious. Unless one is recognized by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his life cannot be successful.”
It is clearly stated here that one should try to be recognized by the Supreme Personality of Godhead by one’s service and devotion, without which the human form of life is condemned. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, is equal to everyone. He has no friends and no enemies. But He is inclined to a devotee who renders Him service with devotional love. The Bhagavad-gītā also declares that the Supreme Lord is responsive in proportion to the devotional service rendered by the devotee. Akrūra thought that Kṛṣṇa was like the desire tree in the heavenly planets, which gives fruit according to the desire of the worshiper. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is also the source of everything. A devotee must know how to render service unto Him and thus be recognized by Him. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is therefore explained that one should serve both the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa simultaneously and in that way make progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Service rendered to Kṛṣṇa under the direction of the spiritual master is bona fide service because the spiritual master is the manifested representative of Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that when one satisfies the spiritual master, he satisfies the Supreme Lord. It is exactly like service in a government office. One has to work under the supervision of the departmental head. If the supervisor of the department is satisfied with the service of a particular person, a promotion and increase in pay will automatically come.
Akrūra then thought, “When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are pleased with my behavior, certainly They will take my hand, receive me within Their home and offer me all kinds of respectable hospitalities, and They will surely ask me about the activities of Kaṁsa and his friends.”
In this way, Akrūra, the son of Śvaphalka, meditated on Śrī Kṛṣṇa on his journey from Mathurā. He reached Vṛndāvana by the end of the day. Akrūra passed the whole journey without knowing how long it took. When he reached Vṛndāvana, the sun was setting. As soon as he entered the boundary of Vṛndāvana, he saw the hoofprints of the cows and Lord Kṛṣṇa’s footprints, impressed with the signs of His soles—the flag, trident, thunderbolt and lotus flower. These symbols on the soles of the Lord’s transcendental lotus feet are worshiped by all the demigods and other great personalities throughout the three worlds. Upon seeing the footprints of Kṛṣṇa, Akrūra immediately jumped down from the chariot out of respect. He became overwhelmed with all the symptoms of ecstasy; he wept, and his body trembled. Out of extreme jubilation upon seeing the dust touched by the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, Akrūra fell flat on his face and began to roll on the ground.
Akrūra’s journey to Vṛndāvana is exemplary. One who intends to visit Vṛndāvana should follow the ideal footsteps of Akrūra and always think of the pastimes and activities of the Lord. As soon as one reaches the boundary of Vṛndāvana, he should immediately smear the dust of Vṛndāvana over his body without thinking of his material position and prestige. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung in a celebrated song, viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha habe mana: “When my mind will be purified after leaving the contamination of material sense enjoyment, I shall be able to visit Vṛndāvana.” Actually, one cannot go to Vṛndāvana by purchasing a ticket. The process of going to Vṛndāvana is shown by Akrūra.
When Akrūra entered Vṛndāvana, he saw Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma engaged in supervising the milking of the cows. Kṛṣṇa was dressed in yellow garments and Balarāma in bluish. Akrūra also saw that Their eyes were exactly like the beautiful lotus flower that grows during the autumn season. He saw Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma in the spring of Their youth. Although They had the same bodily features, Kṛṣṇa was blackish in complexion, whereas Balarāma was whitish. Both were the shelter of the goddess of fortune. They had well-constructed bodies, beautiful hands and pleasing faces, and They were as strong as elephants. Now, after seeing Their footprints, marked with flag, trident, thunderbolt and lotus, Akrūra actually saw Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma face to face. Although They were the most influential personalities, They were glancing at him with smiling faces. Akrūra could understand that both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma had returned from tending cows in the forest; They had taken Their baths and were dressed with fresh clothing and garlanded with flowers and with necklaces made of valuable jewels. Their bodies were smeared with the pulp of sandalwood. Akrūra greatly appreciated the aroma of the flowers and sandalwood and Their bodily presence. He considered himself very fortunate to see Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His plenary expansion, Balarāma, face to face, for he knew that They were the original personalities of the creation.
As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā, Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead and the cause of all causes. Akrūra could understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead had appeared personally for the welfare of His creation, to reestablish the principles of religion and to annihilate the demons. With Their bodily effulgence the brothers were dissipating all the darkness of the world, as if They were mountains of sapphire and silver. Without hesitating, Akrūra immediately got down from his chariot and fell flat, just like a rod, before Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Upon touching the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he became overwhelmed with transcendental bliss; his voice choked up, and he could not speak. Due to his transcendental pleasure, incessant torrents of tears fell from his eyes. He remained stunned in ecstasy, as if devoid of all powers to see and speak. Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is very kind to His devotees, raised Akrūra with His hand and embraced him. It appeared that Lord Kṛṣṇa was very much pleased with Akrūra. Balarāma also embraced Akrūra. Then the two Lords took him by the hand and brought him to Their sitting room, where They offered him a very nice sitting place and water for washing his feet. They also worshiped him with a suitable presentation of honey mixed with other ingredients. When Akrūra was thus comfortably seated, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma offered Him a cow in charity and then brought very palatable dishes, and Akrūra accepted them. When Akrūra finished eating, Balarāma gave him betel nut and spices, as well as pulp of sandalwood, just to make him more pleased and comfortable. The Vedic system of receiving a guest was completely observed by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself to teach all others how to receive a guest at home. It is a Vedic injunction that even if a guest is an enemy he should be received so well that he does not apprehend any danger from the host. If the host is a poor man, he should at least offer a straw mat as a sitting place and a glass of water to drink. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma welcomed Akrūra in a way just befitting his exalted position.
After Akrūra was thus properly received and seated, Nanda Mahārāja, the foster father of Kṛṣṇa, said, “My dear Akrūra, what shall I inquire from you? I know that you are being protected by Kaṁsa, who is most cruel and demoniac. His protection is just like the slaughterhouse keeper’s protection of animals he will kill in the future. Kaṁsa is so selfish that he has killed the sons of his own sister, so how can I honestly believe that he is protecting the citizens of Mathurā?” This statement is most significant. If the political or executive heads of the state are simply interested in themselves, they can never look after the welfare of the citizens.
As Nanda Mahārāja spoke to Akrūra with pleasing words, Akrūra forgot all the fatigue of his day’s journey from Mathurā to Vṛndāvana.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Thirty-eighth Chapter of