“A friend of Mother Yashoda told her, ‘My dear Yashoda, your son has very cunningly stolen a lump of butter from my home. And to make me blame my own son for His mischief, He has smeared some of the butter on my son’s face while he was sleeping!’ Upon hearing this, Mother Yashoda shook her curved eyebrows. She could only look at her friend with a smiling face. May Mother Yashoda bless everyone with this smiling attitude.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 49)
Friend1: Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is supposed to be dharma personified, correct?
Friend2: Hmm. Not sure about that. First, what is your understanding of dharma?
Friend1: The definition varies based on the context, but the general meaning is the same. Religion, religiosity, righteousness, piety, etc. Basically, if someone is following dharma, they are doing things the right way.
Friend2: Karma can also refer to prescribed duty, but you have the right idea. Dharma is like an obligation. When accompanied by the terms artha, kama and moksha, the meaning is religion. It is basically piety or pious behavior.
Friend1: Therefore, I am saying that God the person should be pious behavior personified. Is that not right?
Friend2: Ehh, not to get too technical…
Friend1: You always get too technical! You are “getting too technical” personified.
Friend2: The reason I hesitate to give you confirmation is that dharma does not really apply to the Supreme Lord. He does not require religious principles. There is no such thing as right and wrong for Him.
Friend1: What about the incarnation as Shri Rama? Dharma was everything to Him. Upholding righteousness, in maintaining the tradition of leadership established by past generations of rulers in the Ikshvaku dynasty, was paramount.
Friend2: Let me finish, please. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are for us. Both pious and impious behavior have consequences, specifically related to a temporary body. None of these apply to Bhagavan, since He is not subject to reincarnation. Therefore, the dharma/adharma dichotomy has no meaning to Him.
Friend2: Since He knows how important it is to us, to society at large, He generally exhibits behavior that keeps in line with dharma. There are notable exceptions, but again, no sin is incurred. You could say that God’s behavior is always pious. I think it would be more accurate to say that Yudhishthira Maharaja is dharma personified.
Friend1: Well, he was born of Dharmaraja, the god of justice. Maybe I don’t have the term right, but more or less God’s behavior is exemplary.
Friend2: Krishna is the object of dharma. He is the ultimate objective to following pious behavior.
Friend1: Alright. I had this incident from childhood that still bothers me on occasion.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: I was playing with another child who lived in the neighborhood. Around the same age, we were standing around, kind of bored. He was tossing these small rocks, pebbles perhaps. On an errant throw, he happens to strike a window on one of the parked cars nearby.
Friend2: Did the window break?
Friend2: Oh no, what did you guys do?
Friend1: Obviously, we were a little scared. I fled the scene, darting straight home.
Friend1: What is interesting is that the next day I ran into another child in the neighborhood. They told me they had heard about me breaking the window on someone’s car.
Friend2: What? But it wasn’t you?
Friend1: Exactly. I later confronted the culprit about it, and they hemmed and hawed. “Well, you were nearby. It could have been either of us.”
Friend2: Were you throwing rocks?
Friend2: So, it couldn’t have been you.
Friend1: Nope. Not a chance. I was flabbergasted. He eventually came clean. The other child told me to never be friends with that kid again. I don’t know. I was just confused. Why would he do that?
Friend2: Make a false accusation? He was probably scared. We’re talking children here. They are known to do things like that.
Friend1: Transitioning to the spiritual side of things, I’ve read where Shri Krishna used to steal butter from the homes of the neighbors in Gokula and then sometimes try to frame the other children.
Friend2: Oh yeah? That is hilarious.
Friend1: Apparently mother Yashoda shared your sentiment. She heard the complaint from one of the neighboring mothers and her only response was a smile.
Friend2: It is kind of endearing. There is this, “That’s my boy,” kind of attitude.
Friend1: Because of being clever. I get that, but isn’t it mean to frame someone else? Wouldn’t that go against dharma?
Friend2: Come on. We’re talking about butter, here. This isn’t grand larceny or anything. Krishna’s childhood is endearing for so many reasons. Whatever field He enters, Krishna is the best. When the role is to play a naughty child, no one is superior to the Supreme Lord. He delights everyone, including the victims. Contemplate that for a day or two and then get back to me.
Yashoda a smile only reaction,
When hearing of son’s infraction.
That to neighbors’ home for butter dear,
Then at exit innocent’s face to smear.
Not against dharma for others to frame,
A transgression for any other the same?
At childish play even Krishna the best,
All participants eternally blessed.