5. Meeting of Nanda and Vasudeva
5 / Meeting of Nanda and Vasudeva
Although Kåñëa was the real son of Vasudeva and Devaké, because of Kaàsa's atrocious activities Vasudeva could not enjoy the birth ceremony of his son. But Nanda Mahäräja, the foster father, celebrated the birth ceremony of Kåñëa very joyfully. The next day, it was declared that a male child was born of Yaçodä. According to Vedic custom, Nanda Mahäräja called for learned astrologers and brähmaëas to perform the birth ceremony. After the birth of a child, the astrologers calculate the moment of the birth and make a horoscope of the child's future life. Another ceremony takes place after the birth of the child: the family members take baths, cleanse themselves and decorate themselves with ornaments and garlands; then they come before the child and the astrologer to hear of the future life of the child. Nanda Mahäräja and other members of the family dressed and sat down in front of the birthplace. All the brähmaëas who were assembled there on this occasion chanted auspicious mantras, according to the rituals, while the astrologers performed the birth ceremony. All the demigods are also worshiped on this occasion, as well as the forefathers of the family. Nanda Mahäräja distributed 200,000 well decorated, dressed and ornamented cows to the brähmaëas. He not only gave cows in charity, but hills of grains, decorated with golden-bordered garments and many ornaments.
In the material world we possess riches and wealth in many ways, but sometimes not in very honest and pious ways, because that is the nature of accumulating wealth. According to Vedic injunction, therefore, such wealth should be purified by giving cows and gold in charity to the brähmaëas. A newborn child is also purified by giving grains in charity to the brähmaëas. In this material world it is to be understood that we are always living in a contaminated state. We therefore have to purify the duration of our lives, our possession of wealth and ourselves. The duration of life is purified by taking daily bath and cleansing the body inside and outside and accepting the ten kinds of purificatory processes. By austerities, by worship of the Lord, and by distribution of charity, we can purify the possession of wealth. We can purify ourselves by studying the Vedas, by striving for self-realization and by understanding the Supreme Absolute Truth. It is therefore stated in the Vedic literature that by birth everyone is born a çüdra, and by accepting the purificatory process one becomes twice-born. By studies of the Vedas one can become vipra, which is the preliminary qualification for becoming a brähmaëa. When one understands the Absolute Truth in perfection, he is called a brähmaëa. And when the brähmaëa reaches further perfection, he becomes a Vaiñëava or a devotee.
In that ceremony, all the brähmaëas assembled began to chant different kinds of Vedic mantras to invoke all good fortune for the child. There are different kinds of chanting known as süta, mägadha, vandé and virudävalé. Along with this chanting of mantras and songs, bugles and kettledrums sounded outside the house. On this occasion, the joyous vibrations could be heard in all the pasturing grounds and all the houses. Within and outside of the houses there were varieties of artistic paintings, done with rice pulp, and scented water was sprinkled everywhere, even on the roads and streets. Ceilings and roofs were decorated with different kinds of flags, festoons and green leaves. The gates were made of green leaves and flowers. All the cows, bulls and calves were smeared with a mixture of oil and turmeric and painted with minerals like red oxide, yellow clay and manganese. They wore garlands of peacock feathers, and were covered with nice colored dresses and gold necklaces.
When all the ecstatic cowherd men heard that Nanda Mahäräja, father of Kåñëa, was celebrating the birth ceremony of his son, they became spontaneously joyful. They dressed themselves with very costly garments and ornamented their bodies with different kinds of earrings and necklaces and wore great turbans on their heads. After dressing themselves in this gorgeous way, they took various kinds of presentations and thus approached the house of Nanda Mahäräja.
As soon as they heard that mother Yaçodä had given birth to a child, all the cowherd women became overwhelmed with joy, and they also dressed themselves with various kinds of costly garments and ornaments and smeared scented cosmetics on their bodies.
As the dust on the lotus flower exhibits the exquisite beauty of the flower, all the gopés (cowherd girls) applied the dust of kuìkuma on their lotus-like faces. These beautiful gopés took their different presentations and very soon reached the house of Mahäräja Nanda. Overburdened with their heavy hips and swollen breasts, the gopés could not proceed very quickly towards the house of Nanda Mahäräja, but out of ecstatic love for Kåñëa they began to proceeded as quickly as possible. Their ears were decorated with pearl rings, their necks were decorated with jewel padlocks, their lips and eyes were decorated with different kinds of lipstick and ointment, and their hands were decorated with nice golden bangles. As they were very hastily passing over the stone road, the flower garlands which were decorating their bodies fell to the ground, and it appeared that a shower of flowers was falling from the sky. From the movement of the different kinds of ornaments on their bodies, they were looking still more beautiful. In this way, they all reached the house of Nanda-Yaçodä and blessed the child: "Dear child, You live long just to protect us." While they were blessing child Kåñëa in this way, they offered a mixture of turmeric powder with oil, yogurt, milk and water. They not only sprinkled this mixture on the body of child Kåñëa but on all other persons who were present there. Also on that auspicious occasion, there were different bands of expert musicians playing.
When the cowherd men saw the pastimes of the cowherd women, they became very joyful, and in response they also began to throw yogurt, milk, clarified butter and water upon the bodies of the gopés. Then both parties began to throw butter on each other's bodies. Nanda Mahäräja was also very happy to see the pastimes of the cowherd men and women, and he became very liberal in giving charity to the different singers who were assembled there. Some singers were reciting great verses from the Upaniñads and Puräëas, some were glorifying the family ancestors, and some were singing very sweet songs. There were also many learned brähmaëas present, and Nanda Mahäräja, being very satisfied on this occasion, began to give them different kinds of garments, ornaments, and cows in charity.
It is very important to note in this connection how wealthy the inhabitants of Våndävana were simply by raising cows. All the cowherd men belonged to the vaiçya community, and their business was to protect the cows and cultivate crops. By their dress and ornaments and by their behavior, it appears that although they were in a small village, they still were rich in material possessions. They possessed such an abundance of various kinds of milk products that they were throwing butter lavishly on each other's bodies without restriction. Their wealth was in milk, yogurt, clarified butter and many other milk products, and by trading their agricultural products, they were rich in various kinds of jewelry, ornaments and costly dresses. Not only did they possess all these things, but they could give them away in charity, as did Nanda Mahäräja.
Thus Nanda Mahäräja, the foster father of Lord Kåñëa, began to satisfy the desires of all the men assembled there. He respectfully received them and gave them in charity whatever they desired. The learned brähmaëas, who had no other source of income, were completely dependent on the vaiçya and kñatriya communities for their maintenance, and they received gifts on such festive occasions as birthdays, marriages, etc. While Nanda Mahäräja was worshiping Lord Viñëu on this occasion and was trying to satisfy all the people there, his only desire was that the newborn child Kåñëa would be happy. Nanda Mahäräja had no knowledge that this child was the origin of Viñëu, but he was praying to Lord Viñëu to protect Him.
Rohiëédevé, mother of Balaräma, was the most fortunate wife of Vasudeva. She was away from her husband, yet just to congratulate Mahäräja Nanda on the occasion of the birth ceremony of his son, Kåñëa, she dressed herself very nicely. Wearing a garland, a necklace and other bodily ornaments, she appeared on the scene and moved hither and thither. According to the Vedic system, a woman whose husband is not at home does not dress herself very nicely. But although Rohiëé's husband was away, she still dressed herself on this occasion.
From the opulence of the birth ceremony of Kåñëa, it is very clear that at that time Våndävana was rich in every respect. Because Lord Kåñëa took birth in the house of King Nanda and mother Yaçodä, the goddess of fortune was obliged to manifest her opulences in Våndävana. It appeared that Våndävana had already become a site for the pastimes of the goddess of fortune.
After the birth ceremony, Nanda Mahäräja decided to go to Mathurä to pay the annual tax to the government of Kaàsa. Before leaving, he called for the able cowherd men of the village and asked them to take care of Våndävana in his absence. When Nanda Mahäräja arrived in Mathurä, Vasudeva got the news and was very eager to congratulate his friend. He immediately went to the place where Nanda Mahäräja was staying. When Vasudeva saw Nanda, he felt that he had regained his life. Nanda, overwhelmed with joy, immediately stood up and embraced Vasudeva. Vasudeva was received very warmly and offered a nice place to sit. At that time Vasudeva was anxious about his two sons who had been put under the protection of Nanda without Nanda's knowledge. With great anxiety, Vasudeva inquired about them. Both Balaräma and Kåñëa were the sons of Vasudeva. Balaräma was transferred to the womb of Rohiëé, Vasudeva's own wife, but Rohiëé was kept under the protection of Nanda Mahäräja. Kåñëa was personally delivered to Yaçodä and exchanged with her daughter. Nanda Mahäräja knew that Balaräma was the son of Vasudeva, although he did not know that Kåñëa was also Vasudeva's son. But Vasudeva was aware of this fact and inquired very eagerly about Kåñëa and Balaräma.
Vasudeva then addressed him, "My dear brother, you were old enough and very anxious to beget a son, and yet you had none. Now by the grace of the Lord you are fortunate to have a very nice son. I think that this incident is very auspicious for you. Dear friend, I was imprisoned by Kaàsa, and now I am released; therefore this is another birth for me. I had no hope of seeing you again, but by God's grace I can see you." Vasudeva then expressed his anxiety about Kåñëa. Kåñëa was sent incognito to the bed of mother Yaçodä, and after very pompously celebrating His birth ceremony, Nanda went to Mathurä. So Vasudeva was very pleased and said, "This is a new birth for me." He never expected that Kåñëa would live because all his other sons were killed by Kaàsa.
Vasudeva continued, "My dear friend, it is very difficult for us to live together. Although we have our family and relatives, sons and daughters, by nature's way we are generally separated from one another. The reason for this is that every living entity appears on this earth under different pressures of fruitive activities; although they assemble together, there is no certainty of their remaining together for a long time. According to one's fruitive activities, one has to act differently and thereby be separated. For example, many plants and creepers are floating on the waves of the ocean. Sometimes they come together and sometimes they separate forever: one plant goes one way and another plant goes another. Similarly, our family assembly may be very nice while we are living together, but after some time, in the course of the waves of time, we are separated."
The purport of this expression by Vasudeva is this: although he had eight sons born in the womb of Devaké, unfortunately they were all gone. He could not even keep his one son Kåñëa with him. Vasudeva was feeling His separation, but he could not express the real fact. "Please tell me about the welfare of Våndävana," he said. "You have many animals--are they happy? Are they getting sufficient grass and water? Please also let me know whether the place where you are now living is undisturbed and peaceful." This inquiry was made by Vasudeva because he was very anxious about Kåñëa's safety. He knew that Kaàsa and his followers were trying to kill Kåñëa by sending various kinds of demons. They had already resolved that all children born within ten days of the birthday of Kåñëa should be killed. Because Vasudeva was so anxious about Kåñëa, he inquired about the safety of His residence. He also inquired about Balaräma and His mother Rohiëé, who were entrusted to the care of Nanda Mahäräja. Vasudeva also reminded Nanda Mahäräja that Balaräma did not know His real father. "He knows you as His father. And now you have another child, Kåñëa, and I think you are taking very nice care for both of Them." It is also significant that Vasudeva inquired about the welfare of Nanda Mahäräja's animals. The animals, and especially the cows, were protected exactly in the manner of one's children. Vasudeva was a kñatriya, and Nanda Mahäräja was a vaiçya. It is the duty of the kñatriya to give protection to the citizens of mankind, and it is the duty of the vaiçyas to give protection to the cows. The cows are as important as the citizens. Just as the human citizens should be given all kinds of protection, so the cows also should be given full protection.
Vasudeva continued to say that the maintenance of religious principles, economic development and the satisfactory execution of meeting the demands of the senses depend on cooperation among relatives, nations and all humanity. Therefore, it is everyone's duty to see that his fellow citizens and the cows are not put into difficulty. One should see to the peace and comfort of his fellow man and the animals. The development of religious principles, economic development and sense gratification can then be achieved without difficulty. Vasudeva expressed his sorrow due to not being able to give protection to his own sons born of Devaké. He was thinking that religious principles, economic development and the satisfaction of his senses were therefore all lost.
On hearing this, Nanda Mahäräja replied, "My dear Vasudeva, I know that you are very much aggrieved because the cruel king Kaàsa has killed all your sons born of Devaké. Although the last child was a daughter, Kaàsa could not kill her, and she has entered into the celestial planets. My dear friend, do not be aggrieved; we are all being controlled by our past unseen activities. Everyone is subjected to his past deeds, and one who is conversant with the philosophy of karma and its reaction is a man in knowledge. Such a person will not be aggrieved at any incident, happy or miserable."
Vasudeva then replied, "My dear Nanda, if you have already paid the government taxes, then return soon to your place, because I think that there may be some disturbances in Gokula."
After the friendly conversation between Nanda Mahäräja and Vasudeva, Vasudeva returned to his home. The cowherd men headed by Nanda Mahäräja, who had come to Mathurä to pay their taxes, also returned.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fifth Chapter of Kåñëa, "Meeting of Nanda and Vasudeva."