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After five thousand years, people all over India still cherish the memory of Lord Krishna stealing butter from the ladies of Vrindavan village. Here we see Mother Yasoda about to catch Krishna in the act. (See “Binding the Butter Thief,” page 13.) “Why would God steal?” we might wonder. “He’s supposed to be perfect. Why would He do something like that?” But we learn from Vedic literatures like the Srimad-Bhagavatam (“The Beautiful Story of the Personality of Godhead”) that everything comes from God–including stealing. Whatever we find in ourselves. including stealing. we’ll find in Krishna–except that Krishna’s stealing, like everything else about Him, is perfect.
Still, how can stealing be so obnoxious when we do it and so charming when Krishna does it? For one thing, when we steal we’re taking something that doesn’t belong to us, but when the Supreme Lord Krishna steals He’s taking what is already His. And more importantly. while an ordinary thief brings only grief to the people he steals from, Krishna steals just to bring pure transcendental pleasure to His devotees. And though the village ladies went to Mother Yasoda and her son and lodged “complaints,” they were actually bringing pure transcendental pleasure to Krishna; “Dear Mother Yasoda!, why don’t you restrict your naughty Krishna? He finds great pleasure in stealing our stock of yogurt and butter from wherever we keep it. Sometimes (as in this painting by Muralidhara dasa) Krishna steals butter, yogurt, and milk and distributes them to the monkeys.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness