An excerpt from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Accompanied by the cowherd boys and Balarama, Krishna brought forward the cows and played on His flute throughout the forest of Vrindavan, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrindavan forest was as sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee and was full of bees, flowers and fruits. There were chirping birds and clear lakes with waters that could relieve one of all fatigue. Sweet-flavored breezes blew always, refreshing the mind and body. Krishna, with His friends and Balarama, entered the forest and, seeing the favorable situation, enjoyed the atmosphere to the fullest extent. Krishna saw all the trees, overloaded with fruits and fresh twigs, coming down to touch the ground, as if welcoming Him by touching His lotus feet. He was very pleased by the behaviour of the trees, fruits and flowers, and He began to smile, realizing their desires.
Krishna then spoke to His elder brother Balarama as follows: ” My dear brother, You are superior to all of us, and Your lotus feet are worshiped by the demigods. Just see how these tress, full with fruits, have bent down to worship Your lotus feet ! It appears that they are trying to get out of the darkness of being obliged to accept the form of trees. Actually, the trees born in the land of Vrindavan are not ordinary living entities. Having held the impersonal conception of God in their past lives, they are not put into this stationary condition of life. But now they have the opportunity of seeing You in Vrindavan, and they are praying for further advancement in spiritual life through your personal association. Generally, trees are living entities in the mode of darkness. The impersonalist philosophers are in that darkness, but they eradicate it by taking full advantage of Your presence. I think the drones that are buzzing all around You must have been Your devotees in their past lives. They cannot leave Your company because no one can be a better, more affectionate master than You. You are the supreme and original Personality of Godhead, and the drones are just trying to spread Your glories by chanting every moment. I think some of them must be great sages, devotees of Your Lordship, and they are disguising themselves in the form of drones because they are unable to give up Your company even for a moment. My dear brother, You are the Supreme worshipable Godhead. Just see how the peacocks are dancing before You in great ecstasy. The deer , whose behaviour is just like the gopis [young cowherd girls], are welcoming You with the same affection. And the cuckoos who are residing in this forest are receiving You with great joy because they consider that Your appearance in their home is so auspicious. Even though they are trees and animals, these residents of Vrindavan are glorifying You. They are prepared to welcome You to their best capacity, as is the practice of great souls in receiving another great soul at home. As for the land, it is so pious and fortunate that the footprints of Your lotus feet are marking its body.
“It is quite natural for these Vrindavan inhabitants to thus receive a great personality like You. The herbs, creepers and plants are also so fortunate to touch Your lotus feet. And by Your touching the twigs with Your hands, these small plants are also made glorious. As for the hills and the rivers, they too are now glorious because You are glancing at them. Above all, the damsels of Vraja, the gopis, attracted by Your beauty, are the most glorious, because You embrace them with Your strong arms.”
In this way, both Lord Krishna and Balarama began to enjoy the residents of Vrindavan to their full satisfaction, along with the calves and cows on the bank of the Yamuna. In some places both Krishna and Balarama were accompanied by Their friends. The boys were singing, imitating the humming sound of the drones and accompanying Krishna and Balarama, who were garlanded with forest flowers. While walking, the boys sometimes imitated the quacking sound of the swans in the lakes, or when they saw the peacocks dancing, they imitated them before Krishna. Krishna also moved His neck, imitating the dancing and making His friends laugh.
” … Balarama immediately caught hold of the legs of the ass with one hand and, wheeling him around, threw him into the treetops.”
The cows taken care of by Krishna had different names, and Krishna would call them with love. After hearing Krishna calling, the cows would immediately respond by mooing, and the boys would enjoy this exchange to their hearts’ content. They would all imitate the sound vibrations made by the different kinds of birds, especially the cakoras, peacocks, cuckoos and bharadvajas. Sometimes, when they would see the weaker animals fleeing out of fear of the sounds of tigers and lions, the boys, along with Krishna and Balarama, would imitate the animals and run away with them. When they felt some fatigue, they would sit down, and Balarama would put His head on the lap of one of the boys just to take rest, and Krishna would immediately come and begin massaging the legs of Balarama. And sometimes He would take a palm fan and fan the body of Balarama, causing a pleasing breeze to relieve Him of His fatigue. Other boys would sometimes dance or sing while Balarama took rest, and sometimes they would wrestle amongst themselves or jump. When the boys were thus engaged, Krishna would immediately join them, and catching their hands, He would enjoy their company and laugh and praise their activities. When Krishna would feel tired, He would sometimes take shelter of the root of a big tree, or the lap of a cowherd boy, and lie down. When He would lie down with a boy or a root as His pillow, some of the boys would come and massage His legs, and some would fan His body with a fan made from leaves. Some of the more talented boys would sing in very sweet voices to please Him. Thus very soon His fatigue would go away. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, whose legs are tended by the goddess of fortune, shared Himself with the cowherd boys as one of them, expanding His internal potency to appear exactly like a village boy. But despite His appearing just like a village boy, there were occasions when He proved Himself to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes men pose themselves as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and cheat innocent people, but they can only cheat; they cannot exhibit the potency of God.
While Krishna was thus engaged in exhibiting His internal potency along with the supermost fortunate friends, there occurred another chance for Him to exhibit the superhuman powers of Godhead. His most intimate friends Sridama, Subala and StokaKrishna began to address Krishna and Balarama with great love and affection thus: “Dear Balarama, You are very powerful; Your arms are very strong. Dear Krishna, You are very expert in killing all kinds of disturbing demons. Will You kindly note that just near this place there is a big forest of the name Talavana. This forest is full of palm trees, and all the trees are filled with fruits. Some fruits are falling down, and some of them are very ripe, even in the trees. It is a very nice place, but because of a great demon, Dhenukasura, it is very difficult to go there. No one can reach the trees to collect the fruits. Dear Krishna and Balarama, this demon is present there in the form of an ass, and he is surrounded by similar demon friends who have assumed the same shape. All of them are very strong, so it is very difficult to approach this place. Dear brothers, You are the only persons who can kill such demons. Other than You, no one can go there for fear of being killed. Not even animals go there, and no birds are sleeping there; they have all left. One can only appreciate the sweet aroma that is coming from that place. It appears that up until now, no one has tasted the sweet fruits there, either on the trees or on the ground. Dear Krishna, to tell You frankly, we are very attracted by this sweet aroma. Dear Balarama, let us all go there and enjoy these fruits. The aroma of the fruits is now spread everywhere. Don’t You smell it from here?”
When Balarama and Krishna were thus petitioned by Their smiling, intimate friends, They were inclined to please them, and They began to proceed toward the forest, surrounded by all Their friends.
Immediately upon entering the Talavana, Balarama began to yank the trees with His arms, exhibiting the strength of an elephant. Because of this Jerking, all the ripe fruits fell down on the ground. Upon hearing the sound of the falling fruits, the demon Dhenukasura, who was living there in the form of an ass, approached with great force, shaking the whole field so that all the trees moved as if there were an earthquake. The demon appeared first before Balarama and began to kick His chest with his hind legs. At first, Balarama did not say anything, but then, with great anger, the demon kicked Him again more vehemently. This time Balarama immediately caught hold of the legs of the ass with one hand and, wheeling him around, threw him into the treetops. While he was being wheeled around by Balarama, the demon lost his life. Balarama threw the demon into the biggest palm tree about, and the demon’s body was so heavy that the palm tree fell upon other trees, and several fell down. It appeared as if a great hurricane had passed through the forest, and all the trees were falling down, one after another. This exhibition of strength is not astonishing because Balarama is the Personality of Godhead known as Ananta Sesanaga, who is holding all the planets on the hoods of His millions of heads. The whole cosmic manifestation is maintained by Him, exactly as two threads hold the weaving of a cloth.
After the demon was thrown into the trees, all the friends and associates of Dhenukasura immediately assembled and attacked Balarama and Krishna with great force. They were determined to retaliate and avenge the death of their friend. But Krishna and Balarama caught each of the asses by the hind legs and, exactly in the same way as before, wheeled them around. Thus They killed all of them by throwing them into the palm trees. Because of the dead bodies of the asses, there was a panoramic scene. It appeared as if clouds of various colors were assembled in the trees. Hearing of this great incident, the demigods from the higher planets showered flowers on Krishna and Balarama and beat their drums and offered devotional prayers.
A few days after the killing of Dhenukasura, people began to come into the Talavana forest to collect the fruits, and animals began to return without fear to feed on the nice grasses growing there. Just by chanting or hearing these transcendental activities and pastimes of the brothers Krishna and Balarama, one can amass pious activities.
When Krishna, Balarama and Their friends entered the village of Vrindavan, They played Their flutes, and the boys praised Their uncommon activities in the forest. Their faces were decorated with tilaka and smeared with the dust raised by the cows, and Krishna’s head was decorated with a peacock feather Both He and Balarama played Their flutes, and the young gopis were joyous to see Krishna returning home. All the gopis in Vrindavan remained very morose on account of Krishna’s absence. All day they were thinking of Krishna in the forest or of Him herding cows in the pasture. When they saw Krishna returning, all their anxieties were immediately relieved, and they looked at His face the way drones hover over the honey of the lotus flower. When Krishna entered the village, the young gopis smiled and laughed. Krishna, while playing the flute, enjoyed the beautiful smiling faces of the gopis.
Then Krishna and Balarama were immediately received by Their affectionate mothers, Yasoda and Rohini, and, according to the time’s demands, they began to fulfill the desires of their affectionate sons. Simultaneously, the mothers rendered service and bestowed benediction upon their transcendental sons. They very nicely took care of their children by bathing and dressing Them. Krishna was dressed in yellowish garments, and Balarama was dressed in bluish garments, and They were given all sorts of ornaments and flower garlands. Being relieved of the fatigue of Their day’s work in the pasturing ground, They looked refreshed and very beautiful.
They were given palatable dishes by Their mothers, and They pleasantly ate everything. After eating, They were seated nicely on clean bedding, and the mothers began to sing various songs of Their activities. As soon as They sat down on the bedding, They very quickly fell fast asleep. In this way, Krishna and Balarama used to enjoy Vrindavan life as cowherd boys.