Was Krsna's Promise Broken?

Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Badger June 11, 2010

walkinguphillWe know from Srimad-Bhagavatam that Akrura went to Vrndavana and invited Krsna and Balarama to come to Mathura. He told Krsna, "Your father and mother, Vasudeva and Devaki, are being tortured. You must go to Mathura." Moreover before this, after Krsna performed His rasa-lila pastimes, Sri Narada had approached Him and said, "Prabhu, I want to see all of Your sweet pastimes, not only those in Vrndavana. Why not perform pastimes in Mathura; and after Mathura, why not in Dvaraka? One of the main causes of Your appearance in this world is to relieve the burden of the Earth, so You will have to go there." 

Vrndavana is the place of love and affection, and therefore it is not possible for Krsna to give it up. The gopis, Nanda Baba, and Mother Yasoda love Krsna from the core of their hearts, so how can Krsna give them up and go to Mathura and Dvaraka? Why would He go there?

Krsna is described in the Vedic scriptures as satya-sankalpa, which means that whatever He promises He fulfills; His words come true. When Krsna left Vrndavana and went to Mathura, He sent a messenger with the promise, "I must return, I must return, I must return. After killing Kamsa, I will return to Vrndavana; no one will be able to check Me." For someone to be described as satya-sankalpa, there can be no discrepancy between his words and his actions. Krsna's promise to return to Vrndavana, therefore, must have been fulfilled; so how did He fulfill it?

In his commentary to this section of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura asks the question, "Was the purpose of Krsna's promise – sent through the messenger – only to pacify the residents of Vrndavana?" If so, He is not satya-sankalpa."

Let us see how Krsna fulfilled His promise to return to Vrndavana.

Kamsa had been thinking, "If Krsna remains in Vrndavana, it is not possible for me to kill Him," and for that reason he sent Akrura to bring Krsna to Mathura. Sri Krsna and Balarama thus went to Mathura, where They killed the elephant Kuvalyapida and broke into three pieces the worshipable bow of Sankara.

And then what happened? Sri Krsna and Balarama killed the demonic wrestlers Canura and Mustika. Then, when Krsna looked up at Kamsa sitting on the high platform, He became very angry, thinking, "Oh, you wanted to kill My mother, Devaki. All right, now I will see to you." He very quickly jumped up onto the platform where Kamsa was sitting, and without giving him any chance to fight, grabbed him by the hair, threw him on the ground, jumped on his chest, and finished him.

Some persons in the audience were wondering if Kamsa was alive or dead. Therefore, to make it clear that Kamsa was dead, Krsna dragged him across the floor. Everyone began crying, "Alas, Alas! The King is dead!" and Kamsa's wives wept bitterly. Krsna Himself performed the funeral ceremony of Kamsa Maharaja, and then also arranged the subsequent events. When the Yadus, who had been forced to scatter here and there due to Kamsa's atrocities, heard that Kamsa had been killed, all of them came together and congregated in Mathura.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary to this section of Srimad-Bhagavatam takes the form of purva-paksa, which means that he himself is presenting the questions and also giving the answers. Why? He is doing this because it is not possible for ordinary persons like us to reconcile this inconceivable pastime that is full of apparent contradictions.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura raises the question: A person will always stay where he gets the most affection. Although it is true that Vasudeva and Devaki have immense prema for Sri Krsna, their prema cannot equal or supersede the prema of Nanda and Yasoda, what to speak of the prema of the Vraja-gopis. Considering this, how is it possible that Krsna left Vrndavana and went to Mathura? How could He leave the place where He receives the most prema?

Another question is this: At the time of leaving Vrndavana and going to Mathura, Krsna promised the Vrajavasis, "I will come back. I will definitely come back. I promise I will come back." If Krsna had fulfilled His word and gone back to Vrndavana, that would be okay. But it seems that He did not. It seems that there is a discrepancy between Krsna's words and His actions. This raises another doubt.

Another question: If in one night Krsna transferred all the residents of Mathura to Dvaraka, why could He not bring the gopis from Vrndavana to Mathura? After all, He is Bhagavan and nothing is impossible for Him; so why did He not do so?

After Krsna and Balarama killed Kamsa, They approached Vasudeva and Devaki, who were wondering how it had been possible for Krsna to kill such a powerful hero like Kamsa. They considered He could not be an ordinary human being, but that He must be the Supreme Lord Himself. Thus they became filled with feelings of awe and reverence; they could not even bow to the ground; they simply stood with their hands joined and prayed to Krsna.

Krsna was thinking, "They cannot give Me full affection, because they think I am Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord." Being slightly dissatisfied with this, He called His yogamaya potency, which made Vasudeva and Devaki forget that Krsna was the Supreme Lord.

Krsna then told them, "A mother and father give so much affection to their child, and by so doing, they get great happiness. But, alas, because We went to Vrndavana We denied you that happiness." Because Krsna's yogamaya potency enabled Vasudeva and Devaki to forget their feelings of awe and reverence for Sri Krsna, and now being filled with a new mood of parental affection, they took Krsna and Balarama on their laps and began talking to Them with great affection.

After Krsna killed Kamsa, the residents of Mathura began saying that Krsna and Balarama were actually the sons of Vasudeva and Devaki, and that Nanda and Yasoda were simply step-parents. The Mathuravasis all began telling Krsna and Balarama, "You are really the sons of Vasudeva and Devaki. Because Kamsa was causing so much disturbance to your parents, and because they loved You so much, they sent You to Vrndavana where You were put under the very affectionate care of Nanda and Yasoda. But Nanda and Yasoda are not Your real parents. Your real parents are Devaki and Vasudeva."

On that same day, Sri Krsna told his maternal grandfather, Kamsa's father, Ugrasena, "Because I have come in the Yadu dynasty, I cannot become the king. [Because of the ancient curse of Yayati,] no one in our dynasty can become king. I will thus establish you as king." When Ugrasena objected and said, "I am old and weak; I have no power to be king," Krsna replied, "He to whom I am paying obeisances, all the demigods will also worship. Don't be worried that anyone will disobey you. Because even I will follow your instructions, all the demigods in the universe will pay you tribute." In this way, in only one day, Krsna established Ugrasena as the king.

This political arrangement transpired while Nanda Baba was waiting at his camp outside the city and weeping, thinking, "When will Krsna and Balarama come back to me? They have not yet come." Finally, on the next night Krsna and Balarama came back to Nanda Baba. Embracing Them, he took Them both on his lap and began speaking to Them with great affection. "Oh, I have been waiting so long for You."

Krsna is very tricky. When He was with Devaki and Vasudeva, He had told them, "I am your son;" and when He was with Nanda Baba He said, "O Father, I am definitely your son."

As Krsna and Balarama sat on the lap of Nanda Baba, Krsna said, "Father, Vasudeva and Devaki are saying to Me, 'You are our son. You are our son.' And all the Mathuravasis are saying likewise. I wanted to come to you earlier, but all the residents of Mathura obstructed Me from coming to meet you."

Balarama said, "Listen, Father, those parents who give up their baby cannot be called real parents. Rather, those persons who look after the child, like the eye-lids protect the eyes, are the real parents. One who merely gives birth is not the real parent, but one who protects and nourishes like a parent is the real parent. You are certainly My real father, and Yasoda is My real mother."

In the course of the conversation, Nanda Baba said, "What do You want? What is Your decision?"

"You were saying that I should stay here in Mathura alone, without Krsna, but that is completely impossible," Balarama replied. "Even if Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, comes to Me thousands of times with the instruction, 'Be without Krsna. Be without Krsna,' I cannot be without Him."

"And there is another problem," said Nanda Baba. "Vasudeva and Devaki were tortured by King Kamsa for so many years."

Nanda Baba never thought of Krsna as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki. He was thinking, "No one will ever criticize me for taking my own son away from here. However, if I take Balarama as well, I will be considered very selfish for taking Vasudeva and Devaki's son. I will be considered very unfair."

[At this time, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja requested that Radhika dasi lead a kirtana that would be appropriate to the mood he wanted the devotees to imbibe – the mood of separation. If you like, you can listen to that kirtana (Tuhu Se Rohili Madhupura) here.]

The essence of this pastime is very difficult to understand, and most confidential. Externally, Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that after hearing the arguments of Krsna and Balarama, Nanda Baba was pacified by Them. They gave him many of their golden ornaments, and Nanda Baba, with tears of affection in his eyes, returned to Vrndavana.

But how could this have possibly happened? Did Nanda Baba sell Krsna and Balarama? Did he travel all the way from Vraja to Mathura to collect wealth? This is quite impossible, because prema, pure devotion, never takes; it always gives. Therefore, the hidden meaning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam statements, as revealed to us in the commentary of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, should also be understood.

Krsna had promised at the time of going with Akrura from Vrndavana to Mathura that He would definitely return. Sri Krsna is satya-sankalpa; He always speaks the truth. However, we cannot see any direct evidence in Srimad-Bhagavatam that Krsna did indeed return to Vrndavana. We hear that Balarama returned for two months, but we don't hear that Sri Krsna ever returned.

Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that many years later, at the time of the solar eclipse, Krsna went to Kuruksetra with His sixteen thousand one hundred and eight queens, and He met the Vrajavasis there. The Bhagavatam describes only that Sri Krsna went back to Vrndavana by being carried in the minds of the Vraja-gopis, but not that He Himself directly returned. So, was Krsna's promise broken?

There is a Padma Purana reference, which we accept as true, which states that after Krsna killed Dantavakra, when there were no more enemies of Krsna left on the Earth planet, Krsna took all the Vrajavasis back to Goloka Vrndavana, but that He simultaneously stayed on Earth in His form as Dvarakadisa-Krsna, the Lord of Dvaraka. But this Padma Purana reference does not prove Krsna's words true – that He honored His promise – because it does not say that He personally returned to Vraja. Therefore the question remains: Was Krsna's promise broken?

How are we to reconcile this? Krsna is the Supreme Lord. Everything is possible for Him. He performs all His pastimes under the direct shelter of His yogamaya potency, His trancendental spiritual deluding potency. So how should we understand this pastime?

What the Bhagavatam describes must be true – that Krsna and Balarama came at night to meet Nanda Baba, who, after converstions with Them, took the golden ornaments from Them; and, weeping and weeping, returned alone to Vraja, leaving Krsna and Balarama in Mathura.

But Krsna and Balarama each manifested two forms, and thus there were two prakosts, or chambers, of Their pastimes. Like two different rooms in a house, there were two different sections of Their pastimes. In another prakost, another section or manifestation of Their pastimes, They accompanied Nanda Baba back to Vrndavana on the bullock cart, in great ecstasy.

Two manifestations were in play at that time; that is how we understand this pastime. Both these pastimes happened simultaneously. In this way, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has reconciled the apparent inconsistency.

In truth, Krsna cannot give up Vrndavana for even a moment, as it is said in sastra: Vrndavanam parityajya padam ekam na gacchati. He never takes one step out of Vrndavana; He is always there. This being so, who went to Mathura and Dvaraka? In one prakost – as Vasudeva-nandana – Krsna went there; Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna did not go.

Here is another, very important point which supports Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's explanations: When Krsna instructed Uddhava to go to Vrndavana to console Nanda Baba, Mother Yasoda, and the gopis, Uddhava asked Him, "How can I live without You? I cannot live without You." Krsna replied, "I am partly here in Mathura, but I am always fully in Vrndavana."

When Uddhava entered Vrndavana, he saw some bulls fighting over some cows; and he saw that the gopis had burnt ghee lamps emanating a very beautiful fragrance. He saw Krsna herding the cows, and he saw that the cows' hooves had kicked up the Vrndavana dust which now covered his golden chariot. It was as if Krsna was fully there in Vrndavana.

Thus, in one pastime manifestation Nanda Baba returned to Vraja alone and weeping; and in another, overjoyed, he returned to Vraja with Krsna and Balarama. In this way Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has reconciled the apparent contradictions and revealed the hidden pastimes.

Gaura premanande!

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja sometimes spoke in English and sometimes in his mother tongue, Hindi. After each Hindi segment, he called upon Sripad Damodara Maharaja to translate his words.]

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