Tinkling of Bells

Lord Krishna“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.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 8 )

The two luckiest women in the world, Mother Yashoda and Mother Rohini, made sure to care for their newfound bundles of joy, providing them the most wonderful ornaments, ensuring that the delights of Vrindavana would be all the more enchanting to everyone around. These two boys were already quite enthralling to begin with, but now that they were maturing, the care and attention paid to them by their mothers only increased. Correspondingly, the joy they returned to their parents only increased with the more attention that was paid to them.

Krishna and BalaramaWho were these two youths? The younger one was named Krishna because of His attractiveness and bluish complexion. Picture the dark raincloud that is about to pour down its nectar onto the crops that badly need it. Rain is not immediately appreciated by those looking to play outside or those hoping to avoid traffic on the roads. For the farmers, however, the rain is the necessary ingredient to maintain their way of life. Without the regular occurrence of showers, the crops could not be nourished, which would then leave the farmer without his source of income. More importantly, the food supply itself would be depleted. In this way, the young child’s complexion was perfectly suited to His personality, for He would generously donate life-giving elixir to everyone who viewed Him with love and affection.

The dark clouds in the sky can appear blackish, and the ones about to pour rain have a bluish color mixed in. We’ve never seen anyone with this bodily complexion, but the statements of the sacred Vedic texts like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Mahabharata describe young Krishna’s appearance through this apt comparison. Photographic technology was not available five thousand years ago when the young Krishna roamed this earth. Neither are there any paintings that have been preserved from that time. Nevertheless, Krishna’s name and appearance are accepted as fact based on the statements of authority figures and those who delighted in His company. There are many things in life we haven’t witnessed personally, but if a trusted source describes them to us, we have no trouble accepting the information. 

The elder son, the beloved of Mother Rohini, was fair in complexion. The two boys together thus resembled a raincloud coupled with a streak of lightning. They spent all of their time together as well. Though seemingly appearing from the wombs of different mothers in Vrindavana, Krishna and Balarama were really full brothers, sharing the same biological parents, Vasudeva and Devaki. Though this wasn’t known to everyone in Vrindavana at the time, the two still spent all of their time together, thus being considered brothers by everyone regardless.

Mother Yashoda with Krishna and BalaramaThere are so many children appearing in different communities who also give delight to their parents and are given names which give pleasure to those who recite them. What then is so unique about Krishna and Balarama? Their divine natures are, of course, the reason for the attention given to them. That the person from whom everything emanates can descend to this temporary world and follow childish, sportive activities takes a lot of faith to accept, but the risk is well worth it. Shri Krishna is the very person we refer to as God; He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Why the lengthy title? Why not just refer to Krishna as God? In the Vedic tradition, the Supreme Lord is described by His different features and also His relationship to the individual souls. Every life form we see is a spirit soul; they exist beyond the current lifetime. They existed prior to their current birth as well. The soul is eternal. It cannot be cut up, made dry, destroyed, or altered in properties.

The eternal soul is related to a more powerful soul, a supreme entity. Since the superior is also spirit in quality, He is referred to as Paramatma, or the supreme soul. God is supreme because He does not assume temporary bodies that become subject to the influence of nature. The living entity, the individual soul, requires a food source to remain in a particular form, but there is no such requirement for God. He can remain alive without any external source of energy, just like the sun, which, as a giver of heat and light, perpetually effuses its energy and doesn’t ask anything in return.

Lord KrishnaThough the soul is not tied to its temporary body, it still has intelligence, bliss and eternality. This means that every soul is a personality, a person. The hands, legs, eyes and other features of the body are impersonal; they do not make up one’s identity. The atma, or soul, is the personality, the identifiable aspect. Similarly, the entire creation, including both the spiritual and material energies, does not directly represent the original Personality of Godhead. Since He is the Supreme Soul, He is also a person.

Since God does not limit Himself to just one spiritual manifestation, He is referred to as the Supreme Godhead. Combining the terms together, we get “Supreme Personality of Godhead”. This is an important address because many spiritual traditions purportedly following Vedic teachings refer to God as the “Supreme Formless Absolute Truth”. This is a dangerous title because if God is formless, He must accept forms when He comes to earth. If both the living entities and God accept material coverings and act under maya‘s jurisdiction, they are essentially equal.

How can man be equal to God? Can man lift a giant hill with one finger and hold it up for seven consecutive days without breaking a sweat? We can’t even go a few hours without eating, and yet somehow we are equal to God? Can man deliver the sublime wisdom of Vedanta philosophy at any second and to any person living in any time period? Can man create a giant land mass and compel it to float in space without any effort?

Krishna with cowsLord Krishna can do all of these things because He is God and superior to the living entities. The devotees, those who understand that God is superior and meant to be loved, don’t run into issues caused by bewilderment. Since they always call out the Lord’s names found in the maha-mantra, "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare", they gain the favor of the Supreme Person. Just as the cow starts pouring milk when she hears her children crying, Krishna gives Himself to the devotee when they chant His name purely just once.

That’s right. It takes just one utterance of the holy name without any motive for personal gain or personal satisfaction to become fully endeared to the Lord. Rather than just trust this principle as part of a theoretical analysis, we can look to the historical example of Krishna’s playing in the holy land of Vrindavana to see practical evidence. Having descended to earth for many different reasons, Krishna gave pleasure to His foster mother while growing up in Vrindavana, which was a farm community.

Mother Yashoda loved Krishna with full affection, not even knowing His true identity. If she knew He was God, it might have checked her outpouring of love. Instead, she made sure her beloved child was treated just perfectly. Mother Rohini acted the same way towards Balarama, Krishna’s brother. Krishna is the fountainhead of all forms of Godhead, and Balarama is the servitor God situated in the spiritual world always alongside the Lord, almost equal to Krishna.

Krishna and BalaramaAs young children not yet knowing how to walk, Krishna and Balarama had ankle bells put on by their mothers. For the bells to make noise, the two children had to move. Whenever the mothers would hear the bells tinkling, they would know that their beloved children were trying to crawl and walk. Thus they derived the most wonderful pleasure from hearing that sound and looking at their children.

When the heart is purified, where it leads the soul given to following it will also be pure. Mother Yashoda had not a hint of sin in her. She remains today the embodiment of chastity, virtue and motherly affection. Her caretaking of young Krishna is the model to follow for all parents, whose duty it is to see that their children grow up safe and protected and end up healthy and intelligent. Most important of all, the parent’s duty is to ensure that the child ends up being devoted to God.

Why is this last piece the most important? How can we ensure that anyone will like any particular thing? Fathers are known for wanting to have their sons grow up to be just like them only to be disappointed in the end. How can we force young children, who have their own natural tendencies, into surrendering unto the Supreme Lord? If we force, how can the resulting relationship be considered a loving one? Without pure love for Shyamasundara, the sweetheart with a dark complexion, who wears a peacock feather in His hair, stands tall holding His flute in His soft hands, and whose smile defeats the pride of thousands of cupids, the aim of life is not met.

Lord KrishnaParents can’t force their children to become God conscious, but they can set up the environment where that end can be best achieved. It’s similar to how we ensure that our children get a good education and live in an environment conducive to acquiring knowledge so that they’ll grow up to be intelligent. We can’t actually do the homework for the children, for then they wouldn’t learn anything that way. The parents can create the proper surroundings, provide some encouragement, and see what happens from there.

Mother Yashoda’s example shows how to remain Krishna conscious yourself, which in turn rubs off on others. While she was working hard during the day, Yashoda would compose songs about the glorious pastimes of her beloved son and then sing them. She was a stay-at-home mom, but this didn’t mean that her life was empty or that she had nothing to do. Rather, the women in Vrindavana all worked very hard during the day – churning butter, taking care of the house, and sometimes even going into the city to sell their surplus supply of milk products. The gopis, headed by Krishna’s beloved Shrimati Radharani, were career women, except their occupations were aimed at satisfying the community and their family, not necessarily themselves. As Krishna was the heart of Vrindavana, everyone worked for Him.

Any parent who follows Mother Yashoda’s example of singing Krishna’s glories and tending to the Lord’s every need will be doing the greatest service for themselves and their family members. Though the Lord may not be in front of us directly, His name can rest within our heart and His deity can remain visible before our eyes. The heart’s business is to love, so when that prema is directed at Krishna, a pool of nectar soon appears. The mind that is given to bhakti-rasa, or devotional service, can then swim in that pool, relishing the sweetness at every step. Someone who is perpetually in mental bliss will have the right attitude in life and thus be able to share their experiences with others. Mother Yashoda’s bliss came not only from thinking about Krishna, but from also hearing His wonderful ankle bells that tinkled as He moved here and there.

Krishna and BalaramaKrishna did not explicitly give Vrindavana tremendous opulence, knowledge of Vedanta, protection from being sent to hell, or any other reward not related to the foremost properties of the soul. He gave the residents pleasure, bliss and happiness not found through any other exchange. Krishna’s pastimes were so wonderful that they thrilled anyone who heard about them. Moreover, descriptions of His childhood play give pleasure to people hearing about them today, many thousands of years after the fact.

The newspapers become outdated in terms of relevance very quickly. The information they contain is thus not very important. On the other hand, something as simple as crawling on the ground and jingling bells can continue to be heard about, learned from, and relished many thousands of years later. In this way the mercy of Krishna and Balarama can never be properly measured. Just sit back, enjoy, and make sure to never turn your back on the wonderful duo, who are the spiritual rainclouds pouring down the life-giving nectar to the devotees.

In Closing:

Mothers relish the charming bells as they tinkle,

Carefully wrapped were they around each ankle.

Their beloved Krishna and Balarama so precious,

In sacred land of their presence all are conscious.

Their every pastime proves to be supremely delightful,

For the onlookers, they hang on every move that is playful.

That these events took place in ancient times of no concern,

From play of Supreme Lord there is always much to learn.

Keep Krishna always in mind like did Yashoda the mother,

In providing bliss to the heart like Krishna there is no other.

Charming are He and His brother’s movements, even their sleep,

That divine vision of the duo in the mind always keep.

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Categories: krishna pastimes

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