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The Govardhana-pūjā ceremony took place on the new-moon day. After this, there were torrents of rain and hailstorms imposed by King Indra for seven days. Nine days of the waxing moon having passed, on the tenth day King Indra worshiped Lord Kṛṣṇa, and thus the matter was satisfactorily settled. After this, on the eleventh day of the full moon, Ekādaśī, Mahārāja Nanda observed fasting for the whole day, and just early in the morning of the next day, Dvādaśī, he went to take a bath in the river Yamunā. He entered deep into the water of the river, but he was arrested immediately by one of the servants of Varuṇadeva. This servant brought Nanda Mahārāja before the demigod Varuṇa and accused him of taking a bath in the river at the wrong time. According to astronomical calculations, the time in which he took a bath was considered demoniac. The fact was that Nanda Mahārāja wanted to take a bath in the river Yamunā early in the morning before the sunrise, but somehow or other he was a little too early, and he bathed at an inauspicious time. Consequently he was arrested.
When Nanda Mahārāja was taken away by one of Varuṇa’s servants, Nanda’s companions began to call loudly for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Immediately Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma could understand that Nanda Mahārāja had been taken by a servant of Varuṇa. Thus They went to the abode of Varuṇa, for They were pledged to give protection to the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, who were all unalloyed devotees of the Lord. Devotees, having no shelter other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, naturally cry to Him for help, exactly like children who do not know anything but the protection of their parents. The demigod Varuṇa received Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma with great respect and said, “My dear Lord, actually at this very moment, because of Your presence, my life as the demigod Varuṇa has become successful. Although I am the proprietor of all the treasures in the water, I know that such possessions do not make for a successful life. But at this moment, as I look at You, my life is made completely successful because by seeing You I no longer have to accept a material body. Therefore, O Lord, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Supreme Brahman and Supersoul of everything, let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You. You are the supreme transcendental personality; there is no possibility of imposing the influence of material nature upon You. I am very sorry that my foolish man, by not knowing what to do or what not to do, has mistakenly arrested Your father, Nanda Mahārāja. So I beg Your pardon for the offense of my servant. I think that it was Your plan to show me Your mercy by Your personal presence here. My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, be merciful upon me—here is Your father. You can take him back immediately.”
In this way Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, rescued His father and presented him before his friends, bringing them great jubilation. Nanda Mahārāja was surprised that although the demigod was so opulent, he offered such respect to Kṛṣṇa. That was very astonishing to Nanda, and he began to describe the incident to his friends and relatives with great wonder.
Actually, although Kṛṣṇa was acting so wonderfully, Mahārāja Nanda and mother Yaśodā could not think of Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Instead, they always accepted Him as their beloved child. Thus Nanda Mahārāja did not accept the fact that Varuṇa worshiped Kṛṣṇa because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rather he took it that because Kṛṣṇa was such a wonderful child He was respected even by Varuṇa. The friends of Nanda Mahārāja, all the cowherd men, became eager to know if Kṛṣṇa was actually the Supreme Personality and if He was going to give them all salvation. When they were all thus consulting among themselves, Kṛṣṇa understood their minds, and in order to assure them of their destiny in the spiritual kingdom, He showed them the spiritual sky. Generally, ordinary persons are engaged simply in working hard in the material world, and they have no information that there is another kingdom or another sky, which is known as the spiritual sky, where life is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, a person returning to that spiritual sky never returns to this material world of death and suffering.
Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always eager to give information to the conditioned soul that there is a spiritual sky far, far beyond this material sky, transcendental to the innumerable universes created within the total material energy. Kṛṣṇa is, of course, always very kind to every conditioned soul, but, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, He is especially inclined to the pure devotees. Hearing their inquiries, Kṛṣṇa immediately thought that His devotees in Vṛndāvana should be informed of the spiritual sky and the Vaikuṇṭha planets therein.
Within the material world, every conditioned soul is in the darkness of ignorance. This means that all conditioned souls are under the concept of bodily existence. Everyone is under the impression that he is of this material world, and with this concept of life everyone is working in ignorance in different forms of life. The activities of the particular type of body are called karma, or fruitive action. All conditioned souls, being under the impression of the bodily concept, are working according to their particular type of body. These activities are creating their future conditioned life. Because they have very little information of the spiritual world, they do not generally take to spiritual activities, which are called bhakti-yoga. Those who successfully practice bhakti-yoga go directly to the spiritual world after giving up this present body, and there they become situated in one of the Vaikuṇṭha planets. The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana are all pure devotees. Their destination after quitting the body is Kṛṣṇaloka. They even surpass the Vaikuṇṭhalokas. The fact is that those who are always engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and mature, pure devotional service are given the chance, after death, to gain Kṛṣṇa’s association in one of the universes within the material world. Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are continuously going on, either in this universe or in another universe. Just as the sun globe is passing over many places across this earthly planet, so kṛṣṇa-līlā, or the transcendental advent and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, are also going on continuously, either in this or another universe. The mature devotees, who have completely executed Kṛṣṇa consciousness, are immediately transferred to the universe where Kṛṣṇa is appearing. In that universe the devotees get their first opportunity to associate with Kṛṣṇa personally and directly. The training goes on, as we see in the vṛndāvana-līlā of Kṛṣṇa within this planet. Kṛṣṇa therefore revealed the actual features of the Vaikuṇṭha planets so that the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana could know their destination.
Thus Kṛṣṇa showed them the eternal, ever-existing spiritual sky, which is unlimited and full of knowledge. Within this material world there are different grades of forms, and according to the grade, knowledge is proportionately manifested. For example, the knowledge in the body of a child is not as perfect as the knowledge in the body of an adult man. Everywhere there are different grades of living entities—in aquatic animals, in the plants and trees, in the reptiles and insects, in birds and beasts and in the civilized and uncivilized human forms of life. Above the human form of life there are demigods, Cāraṇas and Siddhas on up to Brahmaloka, where Lord Brahmā lives, and among these demigods there are always different grades of knowledge. But past this material world, in the spiritual sky, everyone is in full knowledge, and therefore all the living entities there are engaged in devotional service to the Lord, either in the Vaikuṇṭha planets or in Kṛṣṇaloka.
As it is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, full knowledge means knowing Kṛṣṇa to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Vedas and the Bhagavad-gītā it is also stated that in the brahmajyoti, or spiritual sky, there is no need of sunlight, moonlight or electricity. All the planets there are self-illuminating, and all of them are eternally situated. There is no question of creation and annihilation in the brahmajyoti, or spiritual sky. The Bhagavad-gītā also confirms that beyond the material sky there is another, eternal, spiritual sky, where everything is eternally existing. Direct knowledge of the spiritual sky can be had only by great sages and saintly persons who have already surpassed the influence of the three material modes of nature by engaging in devotional service, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Unless one is constantly situated on that transcendental platform, it is not possible to understand the spiritual nature.
Therefore it is recommended that one should take to bhakti-yoga and keep himself engaged twenty-four hours a day in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which places one beyond the reach of the modes of material nature. One in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can easily understand the nature of the spiritual sky and Vaikuṇṭhaloka. The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, being always engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, could therefore very easily understand the transcendental nature of the Vaikuṇṭhalokas.
Thus Kṛṣṇa led all the cowherd men, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, to the lake where Akrūra would later be shown the Vaikuṇṭha planetary system. They took their bath immediately and saw the real nature of the Vaikuṇṭhalokas. After seeing the spiritual sky and the Vaikuṇṭhalokas, all the men, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, felt wonderfully blissful, and upon coming out of the lake, they saw Kṛṣṇa, who was being worshiped with excellent prayers.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-eighth Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, "Releasing Nanda Mahārāja from the Clutches of Varuṇa."