An Eventful Tour
By Gauranga Darshan Das
“The self-satisfied Lord eagerly reciprocates with the earnest offerings
of fortunate people who get the rare privilege of serving Him.”
It was almost evening when Krsna, Balarama and the cowherd boys went to tour the splendorous city of Mathura. Krsna was born in Mathura, but on that very day, his father Vasudeva took Him to Gokula. Since then, Krsna lived in Vraja with mother Yasoda, Nanda Maharaja, the cows, cowherd boys and girls. Now, Krsna came to Mathura upon the invitation of wicked Kamsa, His maternal uncle. Having taken permission from Nanda Maharaja, Krsna went to see the city.
Intense Eagerness Satisfied
Krsna gives His darsana to the Mathura-vasis
More than Krsna wanting to see the city, the city longed to see Krsna. Madhuradhi-pater akhilam madhuram: Everything is sweet about Krsna, the Emperor of Sweetness, the real Lord of Mathura. The people of Mathura often heard about Krsna’s sweet and valorous deeds in Vrndavana and had developed a deep attraction for Him. To the extent one feels attraction towards an object, to that extent, one is eager to see it.
Now, the eagerness of the residents of Mathura is fulfilled, as they got to personally see Krsna’s charming form. They were overwhelmed with happiness. With their lotus like faces blooming with affection, they showered Krsna with the flowers of their loving glances and smiles. Many people offered Krsna various presentations. They appreciated the great fortune of Vrajavasis who would daily see Krsna to their heart’s content.
Great Arrogance Punished
Krsna Delivers the Wicked Washerman
On the way, Krsna and Balarama came upon a washerman who was carrying colorful clothes for King Kamsa. Krsna, who is complete in all respects, politely requested him for some garments, promising him a great benefit in return. What a fortune! While millions of devotees eagerly wait for an opportunity to render some service to the Supreme Lord even indirectly, that same Lord voluntarily came to this washerman asking for some cloth.
Glorious are those devotees who eagerly look forward to serve the Lord. Unfortunate people, however, miss such chances that come on their own accord. Instead of recognizing his fortune of offering cloth to Krsna, this wicked washerman rejected Krsna’s request and ridiculed Him with angry, loud, harsh and insulting words in public.
There are many washermen in Mathura, but this person happened to be the King’s washerman and thus he was very arrogant. One’s connection with superior or influential people could make one so proud that they deride others and look down upon those who don’t have such privilege.
The washerman said that Krsna and His associates, being uncivilized cowherds, forest dwellers and mountain wanderers, do not deserve the fine cloths meant for the royal order. He cautioned Krsna that the King’s soldiers would beat, loot and kill them if they asked for the clothes.
In his previous birth also, he was a washerman in Ayodhya, the kingdom of Lord Ramacandra. He commented on Rama for accepting Sitadevi who stayed in Ravana’s place for an year. Rama considered that just as this washerman had remarked now, the lusty kings in future also might quote Rama’s accepting Sita as an example and maintain illicit connections with women. To avoid any such misunderstanding, Rama banished Sita, although He and His dear devotees knew beyond doubt the chastity and purity of glorious Sitadevi.
Hearing the sinful washerman’s malicious words, Krsna effortlessly beheaded him merely with His fingertips. The Lord doesn’t have to exert Himself to punish the wicked. For instance, Lord Narasimha killed Hiranyakasipu merely with His nails, Lord Varaha killed Hiranyaksa with just a slap, Lord Rama attacked the son of Indra merely with a blade of grass.
The washerman’s assistants, seeing his untimely end, dropped their bundles of clothes on the spot and ran in different directions. An effulgence came from the washerman’s body and entered Lord Krsna. Thus the Lord delivered him. Then Krsna, Balarama and the cowherd boys took the garments that suited them.
No mortal being can stop things from reaching the Lord and His devotees. For instance, Lord Rama took the kingdom of Ravana and gave to Vibhisana, Mohini Murti took the nectar from the demons and gave to the demigods, Lord Narasimha took the throne of Hiranyakasipu and gave it to Prahlada, Lord Krsna took kingdoms from Duryodhana and Kamsa and gave to Yudhistira Maharaja and Ugrasena respectively and so on.
Cherished Desire Fulfilled
Krsna Benedicts the Weaver
Thereupon a weaver came in front of Krsna and Balarama. This weaver did not come to Vrndavana earlier out of fear of Kamsa, but he had heard of the great happiness of Vraja from his companions who had gone there. Thus he was anxious to see Krsna. The heart’s longing of a sincere devotee will surely be fulfilled by the Lord.
Feeling great affection for Krsna and Balarama, the weaver personally dressed Them in soft silk cloth of gold color embedded with jewels, and offered Them cloth armlets, bracelets and earrings that looked just like jewels, just suitable to Their bodily complexions. The ornaments are suitable to the occasion too, because Krsna and Balarama will soon fight with the wrestlers of Kamsa and these ornaments wouldn’t hurt their bodies as they are made of soft cloth.
The brothers looked resplendent. Pleased with the weaver’s selfless service, Krsna blessed him that he would attain a cowherd boy form like the Lord’s (sarupya mukti), and would enjoy opulence, physical strength, influence, memory and sensory vigor.
The weaver, in his past life, lived in Mithila. He was a great devotee and an expert weaver. He made very fine garments for Rama and Laksmana to wear for the wedding day. Seeing Rama and Laksmana, more handsome than millions of cupids, the noble-hearted weaver desired to place the garments on the two Lords with his own hands. All-knowing Lord Rama blessed his desire in His heart, and thus the weaver took birth in Mathura. Now he made garments for Krsna and Balarama and personally dressed Them, and also attained a transcendental form like Theirs.
Sincere Service Attitude Rewarded
Krsna blesses Sudama, The Florist
While several Mathura-vasis eagerly came out to see Krsna on the street, a florist named Sudama stayed in his house. Sudama used to go to Vrndavana regularly for getting rare flowers. He used to see Krsna wearing rustic dress. On the pretext of collecting flowers, he would go to where Krsna played and offer Him flowers as a gift. Now he was engrossed in making garlands for the Lord with beautiful, fragrant soft and colorful flowers, while all his assistants went out.
Just as a devotee is eager to serve the Lord, the Lord is eager to receive that service and bless the devotee. Thus Krsna and Balarama inquired people about Sudama’s house and personally went there. Seeing Krsna suddenly, Sudama was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude and considered himself blessed to receive Him at his home. He offered Them obeisances, bathed Their feet and worshiped Them with pure paraphernalia. Being a lover of the Lord, he was aware of scriptural conclusions and thus praised the Lord eloquently in various ways and said,
tav ajnapayatam bhrtyam
kim aham karavani vam
pumso ‘ty-anugraho hy esa
bhavadbhir yan niyujyate
“Please order me, Your servant, to do whatever You wish. To be engaged by You in some service is certainly a great blessing for anyone.” (10.41.48)
Love for the Lord is visible in one’s eagerness to serve Him. And such service opportunity is the highest attainable benediction. Being a first class servant, Sudama understood what Krsna wanted, and immediately offered fresh garlands to the Lords and Their associates. Krsna expects us to offer the best we have, and not those we cannot afford. Ultimately our ability to serve Him is also coming from Him, thus He empowers different servants to render different types of service.
What we offer may not be the greatest and the most expensive thing in a material sense, but if it is offered with pure love and devotion, the Lord adores it. For instance, Lord Rama was so pleased with the simple service of the squirrel in the making of the stone bridge across the ocean. Krsna is more attracted to our service attitude and mood of gratitude than the magnitude of our service. Thus there is no scope for scarcity, insecurity and unhealthy competition or comparison in the Lord’s service as every devotee can render the best service he or she can.
Krsna has been dressed and ornamented splendidly so far and was enchanting to the onlookers. Now with Sudama’s garlands His body emanated most pleasant fragrance. Krsna then told Sudama to ask for a benediction. Intelligent Sudama prayed as follows:
so ‘pi vavre ‘calam bhaktim
tad-bhaktesu ca sauhardam
bhutesu ca dayam param
Sudama chose – (i) unshakable devotion for Krsna, the Supreme Soul of all existence; (ii) friendship with His devotees; and (iii) transcendental compassion for all living beings. (10.41.51)
Krsna offered what Sudama prayed for and also bestowed upon him strength, long life, fame, beauty and ever-increasing prosperity for his family and departed.
In his previous life, Sudama was a florist named Hemamali in Kuvera’s Caitraratha gardens. He was peaceful, generous, respectful to saints, and devoted of the Supreme Lord. He worshiped Lord Siva daily with 300 lotuses, for 5000 years. Lord Siva was pleased to offer him a boon. Hemamali asked Siva to bless him with the opportunity of personally seeing Lord Krsna enter his home. Lord Siva said that his desire would be fulfilled at the end of Dvapara-yuga, in Mathura. To keep Lord Siva’s promise, Krsna and Balarama now entered Sudama’s home and blessed him.
Heart’s Longing Reciprocated
Krsna Revives Kubja and Bestows Love
As Krsna walked further, He saw a young hunchback woman carrying some fragrant ointments. She was Trivakra, also known as Kubja. Krsna requested her for some ointments. Kubja introduced herself as a maidservant of Kamsa, who likes her ointments very much. Her mind overwhelmed by Krsna’s beauty, charm, sweetness, smiles, words and glances, Trivakra gave both Krsna and Balarama generous amounts of ointment that contrasted Their complexions. She ignored her current position as a servant of Kamsa and publicly decorated Krsna with various patterns on the cheeks, chest and arms, without disturbing the ornaments and garlands.
Pleased with Trivakra, Krsna wanted to straighten her back. He stepped on her toes with His lotus feet, took hold of her chin with the index and middle fingers of His right hand facing upward, supported her back with his left hand and pulled up her body, thus straightening her spine. By Krsna’s touch, Trivakra was suddenly transformed into an exquisitely beautiful woman with straight, evenly proportioned limbs. If one has bhakti for Krsna, one’s heart will shine with straightness or honesty. If there is no bhakti, straightness is only an external show.
Kubja represents the earth, which was bent down by the great burden of countless wicked rulers. Krsna straightening Kubja’s back represents His rectifying the burdened condition of the earth by punishing the demoniac people.
In her past life Kubja was Surpanakha, the sister of demoniac king Ravana. When Lord Rama was in Pancavati forest during His exile, she fell in love with Him. However, Rama had vowed to accept only one wife and didn’t accept Surpanakha. So, Surpanakha tried to devour Sita-devi. But Laksmana quickly cut away her ears and nose. Her love refused, disappointed Surpanakha went to Puskara-tirtha. Wishing to get Lord Rama as her husband, she stayed underwater and meditated on Lord Siva for ten thousand years. When Siva appeared before her, she asked him to grant Sri Rama as her husband. Lord Siva said that her desire would be fulfilled at the end of Dvapara-yuga, in Mathura City. By Lord Siva’s blessing she now became Lord Krsna’s beloved.
Thus Krsna also awarded Trivakra a conjugal relationship with Himself. The now beautiful and charming Trivakra asked Krsna to come to her house grabbing his upper cloth. Krsna promised her a visit after He had finished certain duties and continued His tour.
Krsna then went to the sacrificial bow of Kamsa and broke it causing terror in the heart of Kamsa. He and Balarama killed the wicked soldiers who tried to attack Them. Then the Lords concluded Their eventful tour and returned to Their residence and rested for the day.
The Lord is the ultimate proprietor of everything, as this entire universe manifested from Him. One who voluntarily offers things to the Lord with love, like ascetic Sabari and the aborigine lady offered fruits to Lord Rama and Lord Krsna respectively, receives all blessings from Him. But if one arrogantly holds back things for one’s own selfish interests, the things anyway will leave him and ultimately reach the Lord and His devotees. Yet His reciprocation, whether with the noble ones or the wicked ones, ultimately causes them great fortune.
Gauranga Darshan Das, a disciple of His Holiness Radhanath Swami, is dean of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha (www.vidyapitha.in) at ISKCON Govardhan Eco Village (GEV), outside Mumbai. He has written study guides, including Bhagavata Subodhini and Caitanya Subodhini, and teaches Bhagavatam courses at several places in India.