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After this incident, Vasudeva asked his family priest, Garga Muni, to visit the place of Nanda Mahārāja in order to astrologically calculate the future life of Kṛṣṇa. Garga Muni was a great saintly sage who had undergone many austerities and penances and been appointed priest of the Yadu dynasty. When Garga Muni arrived at the home of Nanda Mahārāja, Nanda Mahārāja was very much pleased to see him and immediately stood up with folded hands and offered his respectful obeisances. He received Garga Muni with the feeling of one who is worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He offered him a nice sitting place, and when he sat down, Nanda Mahārāja offered him a warm reception. Addressing him very politely, he said, “My dear brāhmaṇa, your appearance in a householder’s place is only to enlighten. We are always engaged in household duties and are forgetting our real duty of self-realization. Your coming to our house is to give us some enlightenment about spiritual life. You have no other purpose in visiting householders.” Actually, a saintly person or a brāhmaṇa has no business visiting householders, who are always busy in the matter of dollars and cents. The only reason saintly persons and brāhmaṇas go to the place of a householder is to enlighten him. If it is asked, “Why don’t the householders go to a saintly person or a brāhmaṇa for enlightenment?” the answer is that householders are very poor-hearted. Generally householders think that engaging in family affairs is their prime duty and that self-realization or enlightenment in spiritual knowledge is secondary. Out of compassion only, saintly persons and brāhmaṇas go to householders’ homes.
Nanda Mahārāja addressed Garga Muni as one of the great authorities in astrological science. The foretellings of astrological science, such as the occurrence of solar or lunar eclipses, are wonderful calculations, and by this particular science a person can understand the future very clearly. Garga Muni was proficient in this knowledge. By this knowledge one can understand what his previous activities were that are causing him to enjoy or suffer in this life.
Nanda Mahārāja also addressed Garga Muni as “the best of the brāhmaṇas.” A brāhmaṇa is one who is expert in the knowledge of the Supreme. Without knowledge of the Supreme Absolute, one cannot be recognized as a brāhmaṇa. The exact word used in this connection is brahma-vidām, which means those who know the Supreme very well. An expert brāhmaṇa is able to give reformatory facilities to the subcastes—namely the kṣatriyas and vaiśyas. The śūdras observe no reformatory performances. The brāhmaṇa is considered to be the spiritual master or priest for the kṣatriya and vaiśya. Nanda Mahārāja happened to be a vaiśya, and he accepted Garga Muni as a first-class brāhmaṇa. He therefore offered his two foster sons—namely Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma—to him to purify. Nanda stated that not only these boys but all human beings just after birth should accept a qualified brāhmaṇa as spiritual master.
Upon this request, Garga Muni replied, “Vasudeva has sent me to see to the reformatory performances of these boys, especially Kṛṣṇa’s, but if I do so it may incidentally appear that Kṛṣṇa is the son of Devakī, since I am Vasudeva’s family priest.” By his astrological calculation, Garga Muni could understand that Kṛṣṇa was the son of Devakī, which Nanda did not know. Indirectly Garga Muni said that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were both sons of Vasudeva. Balarāma was known as the son of Vasudeva because His mother, Rohiṇī, was present there, but Nanda Mahārāja did not know about Kṛṣṇa. Garga Muni indirectly disclosed the fact that Kṛṣṇa was the son of Devakī. Garga Muni also warned Nanda Mahārāja that if he would perform the reformatory ceremony, then Kaṁsa, who was naturally very sinful, would understand that Kṛṣṇa was the son of Devakī and Vasudeva. According to astrological calculation, Devakī could not have a female child, although everyone thought that the eighth child of Devakī was female. In this way Garga Muni intimated to Nanda Mahārāja that the female child was born of Yaśodā and that Kṛṣṇa was born of Devakī and they were exchanged. Also, the female child, Durgā, had informed Kaṁsa that the child who would kill him was already born somewhere else. Garga Muni stated, “If I give your child a name and if He fulfills the prophecy of the female child to Kaṁsa, then it may be that the sinful demon will come and kill this child also after the name-giving ceremony. But I do not want to become responsible for all these future calamities.”
On hearing the words of Garga Muni, Nanda Mahārāja said, “If there is such danger, then it is better not to plan any gorgeous name-giving ceremony. It would be better for you to simply chant the Vedic hymns and perform the purificatory process. We belong to the twice-born caste, and I am taking this opportunity of your presence. So please perform the name-giving ceremony without external pomp.” Nanda Mahārāja wanted to keep the name-giving ceremony a secret and yet take advantage of Garga Muni’s performing the ceremony.
When Garga Muni was so eagerly requested by Nanda Mahārāja, he performed the name-giving ceremony as secretly as possible in the cowshed of Nanda Mahārāja. He informed Nanda Mahārāja that the son of Rohiṇī would be very pleasing to His family members and relatives and therefore would be called Rāma. In the future He would be extraordinarily strong and therefore would be called Baladeva. Garga Muni said further, "Because your family and the family of the Yadus are so intimately connected and attracted, His name will also be Saṅkarṣaṇa." This means that Garga Muni awarded three names to the son of Rohiṇī—namely Balarāma, Saṅkarṣaṇa and Baladeva. But he carefully did not disclose the fact that Balarāma had also appeared in the womb of Devakī and was subsequently transferred to the womb of Rohiṇī. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are real brothers, being originally sons of Devakī.
Garga Muni then informed Nanda Mahārāja, “As far as your son is concerned, this child has taken different bodily complexions in different yugas [millennia]. First of all He assumed the color white, then the color red, and then the color yellow, and now He has assumed the color black. Besides that, He was formerly the son of Vasudeva; therefore His name should be Vāsudeva as well as Kṛṣṇa. Some people will call Him Kṛṣṇa, and some will call Him Vāsudeva. But one thing you must know: this son has had many, many other names and activities due to His different pastimes.”
Garga Muni further hinted to Nanda Mahārāja that his son would also be called Giridhārī because of His uncommon pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill. Since Garga Muni was an astrologer, he could understand everything past and future, and thus he said, "I know everything about His activities and names, but others do not know. This child will be very pleasing to all the cowherd men and cows. Being very popular in Vṛndāvana, He will be the cause of all good fortune for you. Because of His presence, you will overcome all kinds of material calamities, despite opposing elements."
Garga Muni continued to say, "My dear King of Vraja, in His previous births this child many times protected righteous persons from the hands of rogues and thieves whenever there was political disruption. Your child is so powerful that anyone who will become a devotee of your boy will never be troubled by enemies. Just as demigods are always protected by Lord Viṣṇu, the devotees of your child will always be protected by Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This child will grow in power, beauty, opulence—in everything—on the level of Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore I would advise that you protect Him very carefully so that He may grow without disturbance.” In other words, Garga Muni informed Nanda Mahārāja that because he was a great devotee of Nārāyaṇa, Lord Nārāyaṇa had given Nanda a son equal to Him. At the same time, Garga Muni indicated that this son would be disturbed by so many demons and that Nanda should therefore be careful and protect Him. In this way, Garga Muni convinced Nanda Mahārāja that Nārāyaṇa Himself had become his son. In various ways he described the transcendental qualities of his son. After giving this information, Garga Muni returned to his home. Nanda Mahārāja began to think of himself as the most fortunate person, and he was very satisfied to receive such a benediction in this way.
A short time after this incident, both Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa began to crawl on Their hands and knees. When They were crawling like that, They pleased Their mothers. The bells tied to Their waist and ankles sounded fascinating, and They would move around very pleasingly. Sometimes, just like ordinary children, They would be frightened by others and would immediately hurry to Their mothers for protection. Sometimes They would fall into the clay and mud of Vṛndāvana and would approach Their mothers smeared with clay and saffron. They were actually smeared with saffron and sandalwood pulp by Their mothers, but due to crawling over muddy clay, They would simultaneously smear Their bodies with clay. As soon as They would come crawling to Their mothers, Yaśodā and Rohiṇī would take Them on their laps and, covering Them with the lower portion of their saris, allow Them to suck their breasts. When the babies were sucking their breasts, the mothers would see small teeth coming in. Thus their joy would be intensified to see their children grow. Sometimes the naughty babies would crawl up to the cowshed, catch the tail of a calf and stand up. The calves, being disturbed, would immediately begin running here and there, and the children would be dragged over clay and cow dung. To see this fun, Yaśodā and Rohiṇī would call all their neighborhood friends, the gopīs. Upon seeing these childhood pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs would be merged in transcendental bliss. In their enjoyment they would laugh very loudly.
Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were so restless that Their mothers Yaśodā and Rohiṇī would try to protect Them from cows, bulls, monkeys, water, fire and birds while they were executing their household duties. Always being anxious to protect the children and to execute their duties, they were not very tranquil. In a very short time, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma began to stand up and slightly move on Their legs. When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma began to walk, other friends of the same age joined Them, and together They gave the highest transcendental pleasure to the gopīs, specifically to mother Yaśodā and Rohiṇī.
All the gopī friends of Yaśodā and Rohiṇī enjoyed the naughty childish activities of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma in Vṛndāvana. In order to enjoy further transcendental bliss, they all assembled and went to mother Yaśodā to lodge complaints against the restless boys. When Kṛṣṇa was sitting before mother Yaśodā, all the elder gopīs began to lodge complaints against Him so that Kṛṣṇa could hear. They said, "Dear Yaśodā, why don’t you restrict your naughty Kṛṣṇa? He comes to our houses along with Balarāma every morning and evening, and before the milking of the cows They let loose the calves, and the calves drink all the milk of the cows. So when we go to milk the cows, we find no milk, and we have to return with empty pots. If we warn Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma about doing this, They simply smile so charmingly that we cannot do anything. Also, your Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma find great pleasure in stealing our stock of yogurt and butter from wherever we keep it. When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are caught stealing the yogurt and butter, They say, ‘Why do you charge Us with stealing? Do you think that butter and yogurt are in scarcity in Our house?’ Sometimes They steal butter, yogurt and milk and distribute them to the monkeys. When the monkeys are well fed and do not take any more, then your boys chide, ‘This milk and butter and yogurt are useless—even the monkeys won’t take it.’ And They break the pots and throw them hither and thither. If we keep our stock of yogurt, butter and milk in a solitary dark place, your Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma find it in the darkness by the glaring effulgence of the ornaments and jewels on Their bodies. If by chance They cannot find the hidden butter and yogurt, They go to our little babies and pinch their bodies so that they cry, and then They go away. If out of fear of these naughty boys we keep our stock of butter and yogurt high on the ceiling, hanging on a swing, although it is beyond Their reach They arrange to reach it by piling all kinds of wooden planks over the grinding machine. And if They cannot reach, They make a hole in the pot. We think therefore that you’d better take all the jeweled ornaments from the bodies of your children."
On hearing this, Yaśodā would say, "All right, I will take all the jewels from Kṛṣṇa so that He cannot see the butter hidden in the darkness." Then the gopīs would say, "No, no, don’t do this. What good will you do by taking away the jewels? We do not know what kind of boys these are, but even without ornaments They spread some kind of effulgence so that even in darkness They can see everything." Then mother Yaśodā would inform them, "All right, keep your butter and yogurt carefully so that They may not reach it." In reply to this, the gopīs said, "Yes, actually we do so, but because we are sometimes engaged in our household duties, these naughty boys enter our house somehow or other and spoil everything. Sometimes, being unable to steal our butter and yogurt, out of anger They pass urine on the clean floor and sometimes spit on it. Now just see how your boy is hearing these complaints. All day He simply makes arrangements to steal our butter and yogurt, and now He is sitting just like a very silent good boy. Just see His face." When mother Yaśodā thought to chastise her boy after hearing all the complaints, she saw His pitiable face, and smiling, she did not chastise Him.
Another day, when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were playing with Their friends, all the boys joined Balarāma and complained to mother Yaśodā that Kṛṣṇa had eaten clay. On hearing this, mother Yaśodā caught hold of Kṛṣṇa’s hand and said, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, why have You eaten earth in a solitary place? Just see, all Your friends, including Balarāma, are complaining about You." Being afraid of His mother, Kṛṣṇa replied, "My dear mother, all these boys, including My elder brother, Balarāma, are speaking lies against Me. I have never eaten any clay. My elder brother, Balarāma, while playing with Me today, became angry, and therefore He has joined with the other boys to complain against Me. They have all combined together to complain so you will be angry and chastise Me. If you think they are truthful, then you can look within My mouth to see whether I have eaten clay or not." His mother replied, "All right, if You have actually not eaten any clay, then just open Your mouth. I shall see."
When the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa was so ordered by His mother, He immediately opened His mouth just like an ordinary boy. Then mother Yaśodā saw within that mouth the complete opulence of creation. She saw the entire outer space in all directions, mountains, islands, oceans, seas, planets, air, fire, moon and stars. Along with the moon and the stars she also saw all the elements—water, sky and the extensive ethereal existence, along with the total ego and its products, namely the senses, the controllers of the senses, all the demigods and the objects of the senses like sound and smell. Within His mouth she also saw the three qualities of material nature, all living entities, eternal time, material nature, spiritual nature, activity, consciousness and different forms of the whole creation. Yaśodā could find within the mouth of her child everything necessary for cosmic manifestation. She also saw, within His mouth, herself taking Kṛṣṇa on her lap and having Him suck her breast. Upon seeing all this, she became struck with awe and began to wonder whether she were dreaming or actually seeing something extraordinary. She concluded that she was either dreaming or seeing the play of the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She thought that she had become mad, mentally deranged, to see all those wonderful things. Then she thought, "It may be cosmic mystic power attained by my child, and therefore I am perplexed by such visions within His mouth. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond the expression of consciousness, mind, work and philosophical speculation, and whose different energies produce everything manifested and unmanifested. Under His energy, bodily self and bodily possessions are conceived." She then said, "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Him under whose illusory energy I am thinking that Nanda Mahārāja is my husband and Kṛṣṇa is my son, that all the properties of Nanda Mahārāja belong to me and that all the cowherd men and women are my subjects. All this misconception is due to the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord. So let me pray to Him that He may protect me always."
While mother Yaśodā was thinking in this high philosophical way, Lord Kṛṣṇa again expanded His internal energy just to bewilder her with maternal affection. Immediately mother Yaśodā forgot all philosophical speculation and accepted Kṛṣṇa as her own child. She took Him on her lap and became overwhelmed with maternal affection. She thus began to think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is understood through the processes of cultivating knowledge derived from the Upaniṣads and the Vedānta-sūtra, practicing mystic yoga and studying Sāṅkhya philosophy, as her own begotten child.
Certainly mother Yaśodā had executed many, many pious activities, as a result of which she got the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as her son who sucked milk from her breast. Similarly, Nanda Mahārāja also must have performed many great sacrifices and pious activities for Lord Kṛṣṇa to become his son and address him as "father." But it is surprising that Vasudeva and Devakī did not enjoy the transcendental bliss of Kṛṣṇa’s childhood pastimes, although Kṛṣṇa was their real son. The childhood pastimes of Kṛṣṇa are glorified even today by many sages and saintly persons, but Vasudeva and Devakī could not enjoy such childhood pastimes personally. The reason for this was explained by Śukadeva Gosvāmī to Mahārāja Parīkṣit as follows.
When the best of the Vasus, named Droṇa, and his wife Dharā were ordered to increase progeny by Lord Brahmā, they said unto him, "Dear father, we are seeking your benediction. When we take birth again within the universe, may the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa in His most attractive feature of childhood absorb our whole attention. May our dealings with Him be so powerful that simply by hearing of these childhood activities of His, anyone will very easily cross over the nescience of birth and death." Lord Brahmā agreed to give them the benediction, and as a result the same Droṇa appeared as Nanda Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, and the same Dharā appeared as mother Yaśodā, the wife of Nanda Mahārāja.
In this way, Nanda Mahārāja and his wife, mother Yaśodā, developed their unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, having gotten Him as their son. And all the gopīs and cowherd men who were associates of Kṛṣṇa naturally developed their own different feelings of love for Kṛṣṇa.
Therefore, just to fulfill the benediction of Lord Brahmā, Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared along with His plenary expansion, Balarāma, and performed all kinds of childhood pastimes in order to increase the transcendental pleasure of all the residents of Vṛndāvana.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Eighth Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, "Vision of the Universal Form."