38. Akrura's Return Journey and His Visiting of Visnuloka Within the Yamuna River
38 / Akrüra's Return Journey and His Visiting of Viñëuloka Within the Yamunä River
Akrüra was warmly received by Lord Kåñëa and Nanda Mahäräja and offered a resting place for the night. In the meantime, the two brothers Balaräma and Kåñëa went to take Their supper. Akrüra sat on his bed and began to reflect that all the desires which he had anticipated while coming from Mathurä to Våndävana had been fulfilled. Lord Kåñëa is the husband of the goddess of fortune; being pleased with His pure devotee, He can offer whatever the devotee desires. But the pure devotee does not ask anything from the Lord for his personal benefit.
After taking Their supper, Kåñëa and Balaräma came to bid goodnight to Akrüra. Kåñëa asked about His maternal uncle, Kaàsa, "How is he dealing with his friends?" And He asked, "How are my relatives?" He also inquired into Kaàsa's plans. The Supreme Personality of Godhead then informed Akrüra that his presence was very much welcome. He inquired from him whether all his relatives and friends were well and free from all kinds of ailments. Kåñëa stated that He was very sorry that His maternal uncle Kaàsa was the head of the kingdom; He said that Kaàsa was the greatest anachronism in the whole system of government and that they could not expect any welfare for the citizens while he ruled. Then Kåñëa said, "My father has undergone much tribulation simply from My being his son. For this reason also he has lost many other sons. I think Myself so fortunate that you have come as My friend and relative. My good friend Akrüra, please tell Me the purpose of your coming to Våndävana."
After this inquiry, Akrüra, who belonged to the dynasty of Yadu, explained the recent events in Mathurä, including Kaàsa's attempt to kill Vasudeva, the father of Kåñëa. He related the things which happened after the disclosure by Närada that Kåñëa was the son of Vasudeva. Sitting by him in the house of Nanda Mahäräja, Akrüra narrated all the stories regarding Kaàsa. He told how Närada met Kaàsa and how he himself was deputed by Kaàsa to come to Våndävana. Akrüra explained to Kåñëa that Närada had told Kaàsa all about Kåñëa's being transferred from Mathurä to Våndävana just after His birth and about His killing all the demons sent by Kaàsa. Akrüra then explained to Kåñëa the purpose of his coming to Våndävana: to take Him back to Mathurä. After hearing of these arrangements, Balaräma and Kåñëa, who are very expert in killing opponents, mildly laughed at the plans of Kaàsa.
They asked Nanda Mahäräja to invite all the cowherd boys to go to Mathurä to participate in the ceremony known as Dhanur-yajïa. Kaàsa wanted them all to go there to participate in the function. On Kåñëa's word, Nanda Mahäräja at once called for the cowherd boys and asked them to collect all kinds of milk preparations and milk to present in the ceremony. He also sent instructions to the police chief of Våndävana to tell all the inhabitants about Kaàsa's great Dhanur-yajïa function and invite them to join. Nanda Mahäräja informed the cowherd boys that they would start the next morning. They therefore arranged for the cows and bulls to carry them all to Mathurä.
When the gopés saw that Akrüra had come to take Kåñëa and Balaräma away to Mathurä, they became overwhelmed with anxiety. Some of them became so aggrieved that their faces turned black, and they began to breathe warmly and had palpitations of the heart. They discovered that their hair and dress immediately loosened. Hearing the news that Kåñëa and Balaräma were leaving for Mathurä, others who were engaged in household duties stopped working as if they had forgotten everything, like a person who is called forth to die and leave this world at once. Others immediately fainted due to separation from Kåñëa. Remembering His attractive smile and His talks with them, the gopés became overwhelmed with grief. They all remembered the characteristics of the Personality of Godhead, how He moved within the area of Våndävana and how, with joking words, He attracted all their hearts. Thinking of Kåñëa and of their imminent separation from Him, the gopés assembled together with heavy beating hearts. Completely absorbed in thought of Kåñëa, tears fell from their eyes. They began to converse as follows.
"O Providence, you are so cruel! It appears that you do not know how to show mercy to others. By your arrangement, friends contact one another, but without fulfilling their desires you separate them. This is exactly like children's play that has no meaning. It is very abominable that you arrange to show us beautiful Kåñëa, whose bluish curling hair beautifies His broad forehead and sharp nose, who is always smiling to minimize all contention in this material world, and then arrange to separate Him from us. O Providence, you are so cruel! But most astonishingly you appear now as 'Akrüra,' which means 'not cruel.' In the beginning we appreciated your workmanship in giving us these eyes to see the beautiful face of Kåñëa, but now, just like a foolish creature, you are trying to take out our eyes so we may not see Kåñëa here again. Kåñëa, the son of Nanda Mahäräja, is also very cruel! He must always have new friends; He does not like to keep friendship for a long time with anyone. We gopés of Våndävana, having left our homes, friends, and relatives, have become Kåñëa's maidservants, but He is neglecting us and going away. He does not even look upon us, although we are completely surrendered unto Him. Now all the young girls in Mathurä will have the opportunity. They are expecting Kåñëa's arrival, and they will enjoy His sweet smiling face and will drink its honey. Although we know that Kåñëa is very steady and determined, we are threatened that as soon as He sees the beautiful faces of the young girls in Mathurä, He will forget Himself. We fear He will become controlled by them and will forget us, for we are simple village girls. He will no longer be kind to us. We therefore do not expect Kåñëa to return to Våndävana. He will not leave the company of the girls in Mathurä."
The gopés began to imagine the great functions in the city of Mathurä. Kåñëa would pass through the streets, and the ladies and young girls of the city would see Him from the balconies of their respective houses. Mathurä City contained different communities, known then as Daçärha, Bhoja, Andhaka and Sätvata. All these communities were different branches of the same family in which Kåñëa appeared, namely the Yadu dynasty. They were also expecting the arrival of Kåñëa. It had already been ascertained that Kåñëa, who is the rest of the goddess of fortune and reservoir of all pleasure and transcendental qualities, was going to visit Mathurä City.
The gopés then began to condemn the activities of Akrüra. They stated that he was taking Kåñëa, who was more dear than the dearest to them and who was the pleasure of their eyes. He was being taken from their sight without their being informed or solaced by Akrüra. Akrüra should not have been so merciless but should have taken compassion on them. The gopés went on to say: "The most astonishing feature is that Kåñëa, the son of Nanda, without consideration, has already seated Himself on the chariot. From this it appears that Kåñëa is not very intelligent. Yet He may be very intelligent--but He is not very civilized. Not only Kåñëa, but all the cowherd men are so callous that they are already yoking the bulls and calves for the journey to Mathurä. The elderly persons in Våndävana are also merciless; they do not take our plight into consideration and stop Kåñëa's journey to Mathurä. Even the demigods are very unkind to us; they are not impeding His going to Mathurä."
The gopés prayed to the demigods to create some natural disturbance, such as a hurricane, storm or heavy rainfall, so that Kåñëa could not go to Mathurä. They then began to consider: "Despite our elderly parents and guardians, we shall personally stop Kåñëa from going to Mathurä. We have no other alternative than to take this direct action. Everyone has gone against us to take away Kåñëa from our sight. Without Him we cannot live for a moment." The gopés thus decided to obstruct the passage through which the chariot of Kåñëa was supposed to pass. They began to talk among themselves: "We have passed a very long night--which seemed only a moment--engaged in the räsa dance with Kåñëa. We were looking at His sweet smile and were embracing and talking. Now, how shall we live even for a moment if He goes away from us? At the end of the day, in the evening, along with His elder brother Balaräma, Kåñëa would return home with His friends. His face would be smeared with the dust raised by the hooves of the cows, and He would smile and play on His flute and look upon us so kindly. How shall we be able to forget Him? How shall we be able to forget Kåñëa, who is our life and soul? He has already taken away our hearts in so many ways throughout our days and nights, and if He goes away, there is no possibility of our continuing to live." Thinking like this, the gopés became more and more griefstricken at Kåñëa's leaving Våndävana. They could not check their minds, and they began to cry loudly, calling the different names of Kåñëa, "O dear Dämodara! Dear Mädhava!"
The gopés cried all night before the departure of Kåñëa. As soon as the sun rose, Akrüra finished his morning bath, got on the chariot and began to start for Mathurä with Kåñëa and Balaräma. Nanda Mahäräja and the cowherd men got up on bullock carts, after loading them with milk preparations, such as yogurt, milk, and ghee, filled in big earthen pots, and began to follow the chariot of Kåñëa and Balaräma. In spite of Kåñëa's asking them not to obstruct their way, all the gopés surrounded the chariot and stood up to see Kåñëa with pitiable eyes. Kåñëa was very much affected upon seeing the plight of the gopés, but His duty was to start for Mathurä, for this was foretold by Närada. Kåñëa, therefore, consoled the gopés. He told them that they should not be aggrieved; He was coming back very soon after finishing His business. But they could not be persuaded to disperse. The chariot, however, began to head west, and as it proceeded, the minds of the gopés followed it as far as possible. They watched the flag on the chariot as long as it was visible; finally they could see only the dust of the chariot in the distance. The gopés did not move from their places but stood until the chariot could not be seen at all. They remained standing still, as if they were painted pictures. All the gopés decided that Kåñëa was not returning immediately, and with greatly disappointed hearts, they returned to their respective homes. Being greatly disturbed by the absence of Kåñëa, they simply thought all day and night about His pastimes and thus derived some consolation.
The Lord, accompanied by Akrüra and Balaräma, drove the chariot with great speed towards the bank of the Yamunä. Simply by taking a bath in the Yamunä, anyone can diminish the reaction of his sinful activities. Both Kåñëa and Balaräma took Their baths in the river and washed Their faces. After drinking the transparent crystal clear water of the Yamunä, They took Their seats again on the chariot. The chariot was standing underneath the shade of big trees, and both brothers sat down there. Akrüra then took Their permission to also take bath in the Yamunä. According to Vedic ritual, after taking bath in the river, one should stand at least half submerged and murmur the Gäyatré mantra. While he was standing in the river, Akrüra suddenly saw both Balaräma and Kåñëa within the water. He was surprised to see Them there because he was confident that They were sitting on the chariot. Confused, he immediately came out of the water and went to see where the boys were, and he was very surprised to see that They were sitting on the chariot as before. When he saw Them on the chariot, he began to wonder whether he saw Them in the water. He therefore went back to the river. This time he saw not only Balaräma and Kåñëa there, but many of the demigods and all the Siddhas, Cäraëas, and Gandharvas. They were all standing before the Lord, who was lying down. He also saw the Çeña Näga with thousands of hoods. Lord Çeña Näga was covered with bluish garments, and His necks were all white. The white necks of Çeña Näga appeared exactly like snowcapped mountains. On the curved lap of Çeña Näga, Akrüra saw Kåñëa sitting very soberly, with four hands. His eyes were like the reddish petals of the lotus flower.
In other words, after returning, Akrüra saw Balaräma turned into Çeña Näga and Kåñëa turned into Mahä-Viñëu. He saw the fourhanded Supreme Personality of Godhead, smiling very beautifully. He was very pleasing to all and was looking towards everyone. He appeared beautiful with His raised nose, broad forehead, spread-up ears and reddish lips. His arms, reaching to the knees, were very strongly built. His shoulders were high, His chest very broad and shaped like the conchshell. His navel was very deep, and His abdomen was marked with three lines. His waist was broad and big, resembling the hips of a woman, and His thighs resembled the trunks of elephants. The other parts of His legs, the joints and lower extremities, were all very beautiful, the nails of His feet were dazzling, and His toes were as beautiful as the petals of the lotus flower. His helmet was decorated with very valuable jewels. There was a nice belt around the waist, and He wore a sacred thread across His broad chest. Bangles were on His hands and armlets on the upper portion of His arms. He wore bells on His ankles. He possessed dazzling beauty, and His palms were like the lotus flower. He was still more beautiful with different emblems of the Viñëu-mürti, the conchshell, club, disc and lotus flower, which He held in His four hands. His chest was marked with the particular signs of Viñëu, and He wore fresh flower garlands. All in all, He was very beautiful to look at. Akrüra also saw His Lordship surrounded by intimate associates like the four Kumäras, Sanaka, Sanätana, Sananda and Sanatkumära, and other associates like Sunanda and Nanda, as well as demigods like Brahmä and Lord Çiva. The nine great learned sages were there, and devotees like Prahläda and Närada were engaged in offering prayers to the Lord with clean hearts and pure words. After seeing the transcendental Personality of Godhead, Akrüra immediately became overwhelmed with great devotion, and all over his body there was transcendental shivering. Although for the moment he was bewildered, he retained his clear consciousness and bowed down his head before the Lord. With folded hands and faltering voice, he began to offer prayers to the Lord.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Thirty-eighth Chapter of Kåñëa, "Akrüra's Return Journey and His Visiting of Viñëuloka Within the Yamunä River."