NoD 43: Parenthood
When ecstatic love develops into the relationship of parenthood and becomes steadily established, the relationship is called vātsalya-rasa. The exhibition of this vātsalya-rasa standard of devotional service can be found in the dealings of Kṛṣṇa with His devotees who represent themselves as superior personalities like father, mother and teacher.
Learned scholars have described the impetuses for parental love for Kṛṣṇa, existing in the elderly personalities who are in relation with Him, as follows: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose bodily complexion is just like a bluish, new-grown lotus flower, whose body is very delicate and whose lotus eyes are surrounded by scattered hair as black as bees, was walking on the streets of Vṛndāvana when mother Yaśodā, the beloved wife of Nanda Mahārāja, saw Him. Immediately the milk began to flow from her breasts, soaking her body." Some specific provocations for parental love of Kṛṣṇa are listed as His blackish bodily hue, which is very attractive and pleasing to see, His all-auspicious bodily features, His mildness, His sweet words, His simplicity, His shyness, His humility, His constant readiness to offer respect to the elderly and His charity. All of these qualities are considered ecstatic provocations for parental love.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Eighth Chapter,
There is a similar prayer by a brāhmaṇa who says, "Let others worship the Vedas and the Upaniṣads, and let others worship the Mahābhārata if they are afraid of material existence and want to become liberated from that condition. But as far as I am concerned, I wish only to worship Mahārāja Nanda, because the supreme absolute Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is crawling in his courtyard as his own child."
Following is a list of respectful personalities who enjoy parental affection toward Kṛṣṇa: (1) mother Yaśodā, the Queen of Vraja, (2) Mahārāja Nanda, the King of Vraja, (3) mother Rohiṇī, the mother of Balarāma, (4) all the elderly gopīs whose sons were taken away by Lord Brahmā, (5) Devakī, the wife of Vasudeva, (6) the other fifteen wives of Vasudeva, (7) Kuntī, the mother of Arjuna, (8) Vasudeva, the real father of Kṛṣṇa and (9) Sāndīpani Muni, Kṛṣṇa's teacher. All these are considered respectable elderly personalities with parental love for Kṛṣṇa. This list is in order of superior importance, and thus we can see that mother Yaśodā and Mahārāja Nanda are considered to be the supermost of all elderly personalities.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Ninth Chapter,
There is another description of mother Yaśodā in a devotee's prayer: "Let me be given protection by mother Yaśodā, whose curly hairs are bound with thread, whose hair is very brightly beautified by the vermilion placed in the part and whose bodily frame derides all her ornaments. Her eyes are always engaged in seeing the face of Kṛṣṇa, and thus they are always filled with tears. Her complexion, which resembles the bluish lotus flower, is enhanced in beauty by her dressing herself with many colorful garments. Let her merciful glance fall on all of us so that we may be protected from the clutches of māyā and smoothly progress in our devotional service!"
There is the following description of mother Yaśodā's affection for Kṛṣṇa. After rising early in the morning, mother Yaśodā first of all offered her breast milk to Kṛṣṇa, and then she began to chant various mantras for His protection. Then she would decorate His forehead very nicely and bind His arms with protective talismans. By all of these activities, it is definitely understood that she is the emblem of all maternal affection for Kṛṣṇa.
The description of Nanda Mahārāja's bodily features is as follows. The hairs on his head are generally black, but some of them are gray. His garments are of greenish color, like the new-grown leaves of a banyan tree. His belly is fatty, his complexion is exactly like the full moon, and he has a beautiful mustache. When Kṛṣṇa was a baby, one day He was walking in the courtyard, capturing the finger of His father, and because He could not walk steadily He appeared to be almost falling down. While Nanda Mahārāja was giving protection to His transcendental son in this way, all of a sudden there were drops of tears in his eyes, and he became overwhelmed with joy. Let us all offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of King Nanda!
Childhood age, childish dress, movements by the child, sweet words spoken by the child, nice smiling and various forms of childish play are considered provocations for increasing parental love for Kṛṣṇa. The childhood ages of Kṛṣṇa are divided into three periods: the beginning of kaumāra age, the middle of kaumāra age and the end of kaumāra age. During the beginning and middle of the kaumāra age, Kṛṣṇa's thighs are fatty, and the inner part of His eyes are whitish. There are signs of teeth coming out, and He is very mild and gentle. He is described as follows: "When Kṛṣṇa had only three or four teeth coming out of His gums, His thighs were fatty, His body was very, very short, and He began to enhance the parental love of Nanda Mahārāja and mother Yaśodā with the activities of His childish body. He was sometimes stepping with His legs again and again, sometimes crying, sometimes smiling, sometimes sucking His thumb and sometimes lying down flat. These are some of the different activities of the child Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa was lying down flat, sometimes sucking the toes of His feet, sometimes throwing His legs upward, sometimes crying and sometimes smiling, mother Yaśodā, seeing her son in such pastimes, did not show any sign of restricting Him, but rather began to watch her child with eagerness, enjoying these childhood pastimes." In the beginning of Kṛṣṇa's kaumāra age, the nails of tigers were set in a golden necklace about His neck. There was protective tilaka on His forehead, black mascara around His eyes and silk thread around His waist. These are the descriptions of Kṛṣṇa's dress at the beginning of the kaumāra age.
When Nanda Mahārāja saw the beauty of child Kṛṣṇa, with tiger nails on His chest, a complexion like the new-grown tamāla tree, beautifully decorated tilaka made with cow's urine, arm decorations of nice silk thread, and silk clothes tied around His waist—when Nanda Mahārāja saw his child like this, he never became satiated by the child's beauty.
In the middle kaumāra age, the upper portion of Kṛṣṇa's hair falls around His eyes. Sometimes He is covered with cloth around the lower part of His body, and sometimes He is completely naked. Sometimes He tries to walk, taking step by step, and sometimes He talks very sweetly, in broken language. These are some of the symptoms of His middle kaumāra age. He is thus described when mother Yaśodā once saw Him in His middle kaumāra age: His scattered hairs were touching His eyebrows, and His eyes were restless, but He could not express His feelings with proper words; still, when He was talking, His talk was so nice and sweet to hear. When mother Yaśodā looked at His little ears and saw Him naked, trying to run very quickly with His little legs, she was merged into the ocean of nectar. Kṛṣṇa's ornaments at this age are a pearl hanging from the septum of His nose, butter on His lotuslike palms, and some small bells hanging from His waist. It is stated that when mother Yaśodā saw that the child was moving, ringing the bells on His waist, smiling at her with a pearl between His nostrils and with butter on His hands, she became wonderfully pleased to see her little child in that fashion.
While Kṛṣṇa was in the middle of His kaumāra age, His waist became thinner, His chest became broader, and His head was decorated with His curly hairs, resembling the falling of the wings of a crow. These wonderful features of Kṛṣṇa's body never failed to astonish mother Yaśodā. At the end of His kaumāra age, Kṛṣṇa carried a small stick in His hand, His clothing was a little longer, and He had a knot around His waist, resembling the hood of a snake. In that dress He used to take care of the calves near the house, and sometimes He played with cowherd boys of about the same age. He had a slender flute and a buffalo-horn bugle, and sometimes He played on a flute made from the leaves of trees. These are some of the symptoms of the end of Kṛṣṇa's kaumāra age.
When Kṛṣṇa was a little grown up and was taking care of the small calves, He would often go near the forest. And when He was a little bit late returning home, Nanda Mahārāja would immediately get up on the candra-śālikā (a small shed built on the roof for getting a bird's-eye view all around), and he would watch for Him. Worrying about the late arrival of his little son, Nanda Mahārāja would remain on the candra-śālikā until he could indicate to his wife that Kṛṣṇa, surrounded by His little cowherd friends, was coming back with the calves. Nanda Mahārāja would point out the peacock feather on his child's head and would inform his beloved wife how the child was pleasing his eyes.
Mother Yaśodā would then address Nanda Mahārāja, "See my dear son, whose eyes are white, who has a turban on His head, a wrapper on His body and leg bells which tinkle very sweetly on His feet. He is coming near, along with His surabhi calves, and just see how He is wandering upon the sacred land of Vṛndāvana!"
Similarly, Mahārāja Nanda would address his wife, "My dear Yaśodā, just look at your offspring, Kṛṣṇa! See His blackish bodily luster, His eyes tinged with red color, His broad chest and His nice golden neck lace! How wonderful He looks, and how He is increasing my transcendental bliss more and more!"
When Kṛṣṇa, the beloved son of Nanda Mahārāja, steps into His kaiśora age, although He becomes more beautiful, His parents still consider Him to be in the paugaṇḍa age—even though He is between the ages of ten and fifteen. When Kṛṣṇa is in His paugaṇḍa age, some of His servants also accept Him as being in the kaiśora age. When Kṛṣṇa performs His childish pastimes, His general practice is to break the milk and yogurt pots, throw the yogurt in the courtyard and steal the cream from the milk. Sometimes He breaks the churning rod, and sometimes He throws butter on the fire. In this way, He increases the transcendental pleasure of His mother, Yaśodā.
In this connection mother Yaśodā once told Mukharā, her maidservant,"Just look at Kṛṣṇa looking stealthily toward all sides and slowly stepping forward from the bushes. It appears that He is coming just to steal the butter. Don't expose yourself or He may understand that we are looking toward Him. I want to enjoy the sight of His eyebrows moving in this cunning way, and I want to see His fearful eyes and beautiful face."
In enjoying Kṛṣṇa's attitude of stealing butter very stealthily, mother Yaśodā experienced the ecstasy of maternal love by smelling His head, sometimes patting His body with her hand, sometimes offering blessings, sometimes ordering Him, sometimes gazing at Him, sometimes maintaining Him and sometimes giving Him good instructions not to become a thief. Such activities are in maternal ecstatic love. An important point to be observed in this connection is that the childish propensity of stealing is there even in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore this propensity is not artificial. However, in the spiritual relationship there is no inebriety to this stealing propensity, as there is in the material world.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter,
The general activities of all the mothers of the cowherd boys were to kiss them, to embrace them, to call them by their names and sometimes to chastise them mildly for their stealing habits. These manifestations of parental love are called sāttvika ecstasy, wherein manifestations of eight kinds of ecstatic symptoms are visible in full. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter,
In the Lalita-mādhava, compiled by Rūpa Gosvāmī, Kṛṣṇa is addressed as follows: "My dear Kṛṣṇa, when You are engaged in herding the animals, the dust caused by the hooves of the calves and cows covers Your nice face and artistic tilaka, and You appear very dusty. But when You return home, the milk flowing out of the breasts of Your mother washes Your face of its dust covering, and You appear to be purified by this milk, just as when the Deity is washed during the performance of the abhiṣeka ceremony." It is the custom in the temples of Deities that if there have been some impure activities, the Deity has to be washed with milk. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He was washed by the milk from the breast of mother Yaśodā, which purified Him from the dust covering.
Sometimes there are examples of mother Yaśodā's becoming stunned in ecstasy. This was exhibited when she saw her son lifting Govardhana Hill. When Kṛṣṇa was standing, raising the hill, mother Yaśodā hesitated to embrace Him and became stunned. The dangerous position that Kṛṣṇa had accepted by lifting the hill brought tears to her eyes. With her eyes filled with tears she could not see Kṛṣṇa anymore, and because her throat was choked up by anxiety she could not even instruct Kṛṣṇa as to what He should do in that position. This is a symptom of becoming stunned in ecstatic love.
Mother Yaśodā sometimes enjoyed transcendental ecstasy in happiness when her child was saved from a dangerous situation, such as being attacked by Pūtanā or some other demon. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Seventeenth Chapter,
The parental love of mother Yaśodā for Kṛṣṇa steadily increases, and her love and ecstasy are sometimes described as intense affection and sometimes as overwhelming attachment. An example of attachment for Kṛṣṇa with overwhelming affection is given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Sixth Chapter,
When Kṛṣṇa arrived at Kurukṣetra in pilgrimage, all the people assembled there began to say that Kṛṣṇa, the son of Devakī, had arrived. At that time, Devakī, just like an affectionate mother, began to pat Kṛṣṇa's face. And again when people cried that Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva, had come, both King Nanda and mother Yaśodā became overwhelmed with affection and expressed their great pleasure.
When mother Yaśodā, the Queen of Gokula, was going to see her son Kṛṣṇa at Kurukṣetra, one of her friends addressed her thus: "My dear Queen, the milk flowing out of your breast-mountain has already whitened the River Ganges, and the tears from your eyes, mixed with black mascara, have already blackened the color of the Yamunā. And as you are standing just between the two rivers, I think that there is no need for your anxiety to see your son's face. Your parental affection has already been exhibited to Him by these two rivers!"
The same friend of mother Yaśodā addressed Kṛṣṇa as follows: "My dear Mukunda, if mother Yaśodā, the Queen of Gokula, is forced to stand on fire but is allowed to see Your lotus face, then this fire will appear to her like the Himalaya Mountains: full of ice. In the same way, if she is allowed to stay in the ocean of nectar but is not allowed to see the lotus face of Your Grace, then even this ocean of nectar will appear to her like an ocean of arsenic poison." Let the anxiety of mother Yaśodā of Vraja, always expecting to see the lotus face of Kṛṣṇa, be glorified all over the universe!
A similar statement was given by Kuntīdevī to Akrūra: "My dear brother Akrūra, my nephew Mukunda is long absent from us. Will you kindly tell Him that His Aunt Kuntī is sitting among the enemy and would like to know when she will be able to see His lotus face again?"
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Forty-sixth Chapter,
As far as mother Yaśodā's anxieties are concerned, when Kṛṣṇa was out of the house in the pasturing ground, a devotee once told her, "Yaśodā, I think your movements have been slackened, and I see that you are full of anxieties. Your two eyes appear to be without any movement, and I feel in your breathing a kind of warmth, which is bringing your breast milk to the boiling point. All these conditions prove that out of separation from your son you have a severe headache." These are some of the symptoms of mother Yaśodā's anxiety for Kṛṣṇa.
When Akrūra was present in Vṛndāvana and was narrating the activities of Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā, mother Yaśodā was informed that Kṛṣṇa had married so many queens and was very busy there in His householder affairs. Hearing this, mother Yaśodā lamented how unfortunate she was that she could not get her son married just after He passed His kaiśora age and that she therefore could not receive both her son and daughter-in-law at her home. She exclaimed, "My dear Akrūra, you are simply throwing thunderbolts on my head!" These are signs of lamentation on the part of mother Yaśodā in separation from Kṛṣṇa.
Similarly, mother Yaśodā felt frustration when she thought, "Although I have millions of cows, the milk of these cows could not satisfy Kṛṣṇa. Therefore let a curse be on this milk! And I also am condemned, because although I am so opulent in material prosperity, I am now unable to smell the head of my child and feed Him with my breast milk as I used to do when He was here in Vṛndāvana." This is a sign of frustration on the part of mother Yaśodā in separation from Kṛṣṇa.
One friend of Kṛṣṇa's addressed Him thus: "My dear lotus-eyed one, when You were living in Gokula You were always bearing a stick in Your hand. That stick is now lying idle in the house of mother Yaśodā, and whenever she sees it she becomes motionless just like the stick." This is a sign of becoming stunned in separation from Kṛṣṇa. In separation from Kṛṣṇa, mother Yaśodā became so humble that she prayed to the creator of the universe, Lord Brahmā, with tears in her eyes, "My dear creator, won't you kindly bring my dear son Kṛṣṇa back to me so that I can see Him at least for a moment?" Sometimes, in restlessness like a madwoman, mother Yaśodā used to accuse Nanda Mahārāja, "What are you doing in the palace? You shameless man! Why do people call you the King of Vraja? It is very astonishing that while being separated from your dear son Kṛṣṇa, you are still living within Vṛndāvana as a hardhearted father!"
Someone informed Kṛṣṇa about the madness of mother Yaśodā in the following words: "In madness mother Yaśodā has addressed the kadamba trees and inquired from them, 'Where is my son?' Similarly, she has addressed the birds and the drones and inquired from them whether Kṛṇa has passed before them, and she has inquired if they can say anything about You. In this way, mother Yaśodā in illusion was asking everybody about You, and she has been wandering all over Vṛndāvana." This is madness in separation from Kṛṣṇa.
When Nanda Mahārāja was accused by mother Yaśodā of being "hardhearted," he replied, "My dear Yaśodā, why are you becoming so agitated? Kindly look more carefully. Just see, your son Kṛṣṇa is standing before you! Don't become a madwoman like this. Please keep my home peaceful." And Kṛṣṇa was informed by some friend that His father Nanda was also in illusion in this way, in separation from Him.
When all the wives of Vasudeva were present in the arena of Kaṁsa, they saw the most pleasing bodily features of Kṛṣṇa, and immediately, out of parental affection, milk began to flow from their breasts, and the lower parts of their sārīs became wet. This symptom of ecstatic love is an example of the result of fulfillment of desire.
In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Chapter,
There is a similar statement in the Lalita-mādhava: "How wonderful it is that Yaśodā, the wife of King Nanda, out of her parental affection for Kṛṣṇa, mixed her tears and the milk from her breasts and thus bathed her dear son Kṛṣṇa." In Vidagdha-mādhava, a devotee addresses Lord Kṛṣṇa as follows: "My dear Mukunda, just after seeing Your face, which was full with the scent of the lotus flower, mother Yaśodā, being attracted by the moonlight of Your face, became so overjoyed in her affection that immediately from the nipples of her waterpotlike breasts, milk began to flow." She was thus constantly engaged in supplying milk to Kṛṣṇa after wetting the covering cloth over the jug.
These are some of the signs of parental love for Kṛṣṇa by His mother, His father and elderly persons. Symptoms of ecstatic love in parental affection are expressed when Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the son. These constant transcendental emotions for Kṛṣṇa are called steady ecstasy in parental love.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī states herein that according to some learned scholars, the three kinds of transcendental mellow so far described—namely servitude, fraternity and parental affection—are sometimes mixed. For example, the fraternal feelings of Balarāma are mixed with servitude and parental affection. Similarly, King Yudhiṣṭhira's attraction for Kṛṣṇa is also mixed with parental affection and servitude. Similarly, the transcendental mellow of Ugrasena, Kṛṣṇa's grandfather, is mixed with servitude and parental affection. The affection of all the elderly gopīs in Vṛndāvana is a mixture of parental love, servitude and fraternity. The affection of the sons of Mādrī-Nakula and Sahadeva—as well as the affection of the sage Nārada, is a mixture of friendship and servitude. The affection of Lord Śiva, Garuḍa and Uddhava is a mixture of servitude and fraternity.