“In order to convince Brahma that all those cows, calves and boys were not the original ones, the cows, calves, and boys who were playing with Krishna transformed into Vishnu forms. Actually, the original ones were sleeping under the spell of Brahma’s mystic power, but the present ones, seen by Brahma, were all immediate expansions of Krishna, or Vishnu.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 13)
There is the saying that with every convenience there is an inconvenience. As a simple example, if you have the advancement in technology which allows you to make phone calls from any place and to connect with others separated by a significant physical distance, there are the accompanying burdens of carrying a charger and dealing with potential failure of the device, which becomes greatly relied upon.
In the more general sense, there is a consequence to every action. Nothing takes place in a vacuum, but when succumbing to the enemies of intense desire, hatred and envy, it is easy to overlook the impact of a specific choice. This was the case with Lord Brahma many years ago. As the creator receiving the kripa of Bhagavan Vishnu at the beginning of the creation, he should have known better.
1. The elderly gopis in Vrindavana
The incident in question is the stealing of the cowherd boys and the cows under their care. This took place in the rural area known as Vrindavana. The four-faced creator took interest in the place not due to any personal threat. The asuras of the world have been empowered by him before. The creator does not discriminate when distributing material rewards, as even great strength and wealth do not alone lead a person to peace and happiness.
Brahma became interested in the attention Shri Krishna was drawing. He decided to play an innocent trick. At least this was the characterization in his eyes. He would sneak into the forest area and take the cowherd boys and cows from Krishna. They would not know what was going on.
The idea was to see how Krishna would react, if He indeed could provide rescue as He had done countless times before. Brahma did not consider the feelings of the elderly gopis. They were the mothers to these children, after all. They would eventually come looking for their darlings. There would be tremendous grief upon failure, thinking that the worst had happened.
2. Shri Krishna
These were His friends, after all. The jewel of Vrindavana had done nothing to deserve such punishment. He was there enchanting everyone in the town, especially the parents, Nanda and Yashoda. The saintly people of this world delight so much in the pastimes of Bhagavan that simply hearing about the activities after the fact brings a level of joy impossible to match.
Brahma could have derived the same enjoyment, but something got a hold of him. He overlooked the impact his actions would have on others. Indeed, Krishna was already the closest with Brahma. It was the creator who had originally petitioned Vishnu to take an avatara and descend to earth. Brahma’s gratefulness was exhibited in this ill-advised plan that could have gone terribly wrong.
3. The friends and the cows
Would you like to remain unconscious for an entire year? No way to see your friends and family. No way to further progress in life. No connection with the outside world.
This was the punishment Brahma inflicted on the victims of his joke. They did not get to see Krishna, who was the center of their daily lives. The calves were separated from their mothers. They could have been drinking the precious milk, but due to Brahma’s interference they were denied that opportunity.
Another name for Bhagavan is Ajita. He is unconquerable. The dastardly tricks of the creator were not significant. Krishna simply expanded Himself to display forms identical to the children and the animals stolen. The parents and the cows were none the wiser. They had the opportunity to worship Krishna as their dependent.
Eventually, the game came to an end. Brahma realized the folly of his ways. The idea is that sometimes even a powerful administrator of the material world can become an enemy. Their desires can get in the way of your service to the Supreme Lord, but Bhagavan is always there to provide sufficient protection.
Just a simple trick playing,
Potency of creator displaying.
That friends and cows to take,
Whereby Krishna baffled to make.
But Lord higher potency commanding,
Replicas through own form expanding.
Idea that even creator can succumb,
A well-wisher enemy can become.
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