When the powerful demigod Brahma tried to bewilder Lord Krsna by stealing His friends and calves, Krsna completely mystified him.
To convince Brahma that Krsna’s new calves and boys were not the original ones, They all transformed Into four-armed Visuu forms. All were transcendentally beautiful. Their glancing resembled the sunrise.
One morning Lord Krsna and His cowherd friends went with their calves into the forest. While the boys were enjoying a picnic lunch on the bank of the river Yamuna, the calves started looking for fresh grass and wandered away. When Krsna noticed that the calves were gone, He left His friends and went searching after them. All this time the great demigod Brahma had been watching, and now he decided to test Krsna’s power. He took all the calves and boys and hid them in a cave.
When Krsna was unable to find the calves, He returned to the bank of the river and discovered that the cowherd boys, too, were gone. Immediately Krsna understood that Brahma had taken them away. To hide the loss from their mothers, Lord Krsna expanded Himself and exactly duplicated the missing boys and calves. These expansions were nondifferent from Krsna Himself.
Lord Brahma went away for what he thought was a moment (by our calculation it was a solar year). Then he came back to see the fun he’d caused by stealing Krsna’s calves and friends. But to his great surprise, Brahma saw that they were playing with Krsna in exactly the same way as before he’d stolen them.
Brahma began to think, “The original boys and calves are still sleeping in the cave under the spell of my mystic power, but another set is here playing with Krsna. How has this happened?” Brahma couldn’t grasp what was going on. Which boys were real, and which were not real? He pondered over the matter for a long while, but was unable to come to any definite conclusion. “How can there be two sets of calves and boys at the same time? Have the boys and calves here been created by Krsna, or has Krsna created the ones lying asleep? Or are both merely creations of Krsna?” Brahma thought about the mystery in many different ways.
“After I go to the cave and see that the boys and calves are still there, does Krsna go and take them and put them here so that I come here and see them, and does Krsna then take them from here and put them there?” Brahma could not figure out how there could be two sets of calves and cowherd boys exactly alike. Although he thought and thought, he could not understand at all.
Brahma had wanted to bewilder Krsna, but the result was that Brahma himself was bewildered. During the darkness of night, a glowworm can show some glittering power, but in the daytime it is hardly noticeable. In the same way, Brahma’s limited mystic power became insignificant in the presence of Krsna’s unlimited mystic power.
Then, to convince Brahma that all the calves and boys playing with Krsna were not the original ones, they all transformed into four-armed Visnu forms. (Visnu is Krsna’s expansion for the creation and maintenance of the material universes.) Actually, the original boys and calves were still sleeping under the spell of Brahma’s mystic power, and the present ones were all direct expansions of Krsna, or Visnu. All the Visnu forms were bluish in color and dressed in yellow garments. In Their four hands They held conchshell, disc, mace, and lotus flower. On Their heads They wore glittering, jeweled helmets. All the Visnu forms were bedecked with pearls and garlanded with beautiful flowers. On Their chests was the mark of Srivatsa (a curl of whitish hair), the emblem of the goddess of fortune. Their arms were decorated with armlets, Their legs with bells, and Their fingers with rings. All the Visnu forms were transcendentally beautiful. Their smiling resembled the moonlight, and Their glancing resembled the rising of the sun.
Then Brahma saw that many living entities-from the demigods down to the ants-were dancing around the Visnu forms, accompanied by various kinds of music. And all the living entities were worshiping Lord Visnu. Brahma saw that the Visnu forms possessed all mystic powers, from that of becoming small like an atom to that of becoming infinite like the cosmic manifestation. He saw that the Visnu forms were reservoirs of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.
What’s more, Brahma could see that the calves and boys that had become Visnu forms were Visnu Himself. How was it possible that they weren’t merely reflections? An ordinary material object like the sun may reflect into many water-pots, but we know that the reflections in the pots are not actually the sun. Within the pots we find little of the sun’s heat and light, although the reflection looks like the sun. But each and every one of the Visnu forms was fully Visnu.
His senses jolted by astonishment, Brahma became silent. From the first, he had not understood what he was seeing, and now he was unable to see at all. Although Brahma has full control over the goddess of learning, he was totally bewildered. He couldn’t understand the extraordinary power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Brahma was mystified about Krsna’s opulence, because it was inconceivable. With our limited senses we cannot grasp that which is beyond our conception. Therefore the inconceivable is called acintya—that which is beyond cintya, our thoughts and arguments. Unless we accept the Supreme Lord as acintya, we have not understood what “God” means. Actually, the only way we can have knowledge of God is to accept the words of sastra, scripture. And we should take these words as they are, unchanged. Generally people like to argue and theorize about the nature of God, but they would do better to accept the Vedic knowledge as it is.
This path of acceptance is called avaroha-pantha. The word avaroha is related to the word avatara, which means “that which descends.” The materialist, on the other hand, wants to understand everything by the aroha-pantha-the ascending path of argument and reason. But no one can understand Krsna in this way. One must follow the avaroha-pantha, the descending path of knowledge. Avaroha-pantha means knowledge that comes down to us through parampara, through a disciplic succession of spiritual masters. And the best parampara is that which extends from Krsna, for what the Supreme Lord says we can accept as perfect.
Brahma, however, adopted the aroha-pantha. He wanted to understand Krsna’s mystic power by his own limited intelligence, and therefore he was baffled. Everyone wants to take pleasure in his own knowledge and think, “I know something.” But no one can bring
Krsna within the limits of his tiny mental powers.
Though he is the most Intelligent creature in the universe, four-headed Brahms was baffled by Krsna.
Seeing Brahma so bewildered, Krsna took compassion upon him. Suddenly the Lord pulled the curtain of His spiritual potency (yogamaya) over the Visnu forms, so that Brahma would not become still more perplexed.
Quickly, Brahma’s external consciousness revived, and he stood up just like a dead man coming back to life. Opening his eyes with great difficulty, Brahma saw all around him the peaceful land of Vrndavana, filled with trees.
Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was again playing the part of a small cowherd boy. The Visnu forms were gone, and under the spell of yogamaya, Brahma saw Krsna as a little child with a lump of food in His hand, searching out His friends and calves, just as He had been doing one year before.
Astonished, Brahma hastily got down from his huge swan carrier and let his body fall to the earth. Usually, the demigods never touch the ground, but voluntarily giving up his prestige, Brahma bowed down before Krsna. Brahma has four heads, and he brought all of them to the ground and let the tips of his helmets touch Krsna’s feet. Although Brahma’s intelligence works in every direction, he surrendered himself before the boy Krsna. Even though Krsna was not demonstrating His power, Brahma could understand that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Overjoyed, Brahma washed the Lord’s lotus feet with his tears. Again and again he fell at Krsna’s feet, remembering the manifestation of the Lord’s greatness that he had just witnessed.
Brahma had considered himself absolute. He had thought himself the most powerful being in the universe. But now his pride was subdued, and again he became merely one of the demigods-an important demigod, to be sure, but a demigod and nothing more.
Now Brahma could see that he was simply a creation of Krsna’s material energy. He was just like a puppet. A puppet has no independent power to dance, but dances according to the direction of the puppet master. And in the same way, the demigods and all other living entities are subordinate to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Sri Caitanya-caritamrta informs us, the only master is Krsna, and all others—even Lord Brahma—are His servants.
To Be Continued Next Issue
[Adapted from the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, translation and commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.]