Bal Gopal – A bundle of mischief
I must be three or four years old when I would see my grandfather religiously performing puja every morning. He would start with offering water to the Sun God, then chant incomprehensible mantras and burn incense sticks in front of a cute picture of a blue-coloured child on his knees with hands full of butter.
Whenever I sat in front of the puja dais, I would look at all the pictures but such was the attractiveness of the cute little child with curly hair, that my gaze would come back to him. Radiant smile, flute tucked in the side of his pitambar, and a peacock feather on his headgear, I was left mesmerised.
As I grew up, I had nearly read all storybooks and comics on Krishna that I could lay my hands on. The best part was reading about the mischiefs of the blue-complexioned tot.
Nand and Yashoda’s foster-son, Krishna was the naughtiest child in the entire village of Gokul. This bundle of joy enchanted one and all with his naughty lilas.
He has many names but the ones with his pastoral upbringing are Govinda (finder of cows) and Gopala (protector of cows). He was also known as Maakhan Chor (butter thief) due to his habit of stealing butter from the neighbourhood houses.
Like every child, whenever little Krishna felt a punishment coming in his way, he would pout and promise not to repeat it, but just moments later the village would see him back to his pranks.
As baby Krishna learnt to trot around the house, his attention was always fixed on the butter urns that were stashed away in corners of all homes in Gokul. He would trot, fall and again strut to the pot containing butter and relish it. As he grew up a little, he would steal milk, curd and butter from the homes of the Gopis and share them with his friends and monkeys. Soon, almost the entire village was complaining about him to Yashoda.
The women folk of the village came across an idea to save their hard-churned butter from the Makhan Chor. They began storing it in earthen pots that was suspended from the roof by a rope. Krishna, with his friends learnt the trick that was played on them and they devised a solution by climbing on top of each other to reach the delicious blubber.
With each passing year the white delicacy became dearer and the methods of reaching it became even more daring.
Krishna may have been naughty but the divine boy was a cynosure of everyone’s eyes. Gopis would wait for hours to have a glimpse of him, his friends would always be hanging around to have their share of playtime with the leader of herd.
Mischief apart, the natives of Gokul were realising the ultimate bliss of being in contact with the divine himself.
Krishna, who is considered as the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was yet to present himself to mankind in full glory as the Supreme. Instead, he maintained a low profile till his teens.
While his real mother, Devaki knew that she had given birth to the supreme form himself to eliminate the cruel king Kansa, his foster mother Yashoda was unaware of his power.
Kansa had sent the demoness Putana to kill Gopal. Putana transformed herself into a beautiful woman and went to Yashoda’s house to see the baby. Once she found she was alone with the baby, she decided to kill him by making him suckle her poisonous milk. Little Krishna suckled her to death, thus foiling Kansa’s plan. But granted her salvation because she had come to him in the form of a mother, even if she was ill-willed.
But Yashoda was yet to see the Lord himself.
Once, she caught Krishna eating mud. Being a protective mother, she asked him to open his mouth. Lo! The whole universe, the celestial bodies were visible in the tiny mouth. Yashoda was mesmerised with the sight, while Krishna smiled.
Apart from the slaying of Putana, another story tells us how little Krishna who was gradually showing his divine side to the world, lifted Govardhana Mountain on his little finger, thus protecting the entire Gokul from incessant rains caused by Indra. Indra was furious and bent on destroying the village as the Gopas had refused to worship him during the harvest season on Krishna’s instigation.
Truly said, no other divine form is as attractive as Bal Krishna. His mischiefs are still enacted in plays, cute little children take their first photo-ops dressed like Gopal.
If I remember correctly, I had last seen that small photo of Krishna a little faded, but he still looked cute with that twinkle in big, round, black eyes.
Happy Birthday Bal Gopal!
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