The stories of Little Krishna and his antics have always enthralled the audience of any age. Today, on the occasion of Janmashtami, we bring you a short collection of his most popular stories as a child.
The stories of Krishna come in myriad shapes and hues. Be it in the form of the adorable laddu Gopal or in the charming pose of playing the flute with Radha or in the form of Arjuna’s charioteer, Krishna manages to enchant all of us.
Each of these images represents different phases of His life- with stories that are both colourful and divine. Let’s begin with the birth of Krishna which was replete with exciting and miraculous events.
1. The Birth of Krishna
Krishna was born in the small town of Mathura, ruled by a very cruel king Kamsa- a man so filled with evil that he had his own father imprisoned to grab the throne. When a divine voice prophesied Kamsa’s doom at the hands of Devaki and Vasudeva’s eighth child on the day of their wedding, Kamsa imprisoned the couple and killed their babies one by one as soon as they were born. Devaki and Vasudeva managed to save their seventh, also a miracle child who got transferred to Rohini’s womb. He was Balarama, the older brother of Krishna.
The eighth child was born on a moonless night. Thunder, lightning, and violent storms witnessed His birth. Immediately after, as if by miracle, Vasudeva found the locked gates open up and the guards deep asleep. Guided by a Divine voice, Vasudeva carried the infant in a wicker basket over his head and waded across the river Yamuna to Nanda’s house in Gokula. The stormy river calmed down as Vasudeva stepped in and the newborn was kept dry and protected from rains by the hood of a large serpent following him!
At Nanda’s palace, Vasudeva placed his child near Nanda’s wife Yashoda and carried their newborn girl back to Kamsa’s prison. When Kamsa came to know of the child born to Devaki, he thundered into the prison and tried to snatch the baby violently. The baby slipped from his grip and, in a bright flash of light, the baby turned into Goddess Durga who announced to Kamsa that the eighth child was indeed safe and his doom was imminent.
The eighth child, none other than Krishna, grew up to become a brave prince, defeating the evil doers one by one. He would later become a guide and mentor to his confused warrior friend Arjuna with words of wisdom which we know as the Bhagavad Gita.
2. Krishna’s childhood or Bala Leela
Leela literally means a light-hearted journey. Every episode of His childhood, while filled with mirth, reveals some divine aspect or the other.
Gokula was a land of simple cowherds; the men being called ‘Gopalas’ and the women, ‘Gopis‘. Krishna was an infant of about three months when his mother had carried him to where the people had assembled with their families for a festival. The afternoon meal had to be cooked by Yashoda and other women and she left the sleeping infant under the shade of a bullock cart. The meal eaten, people were busy dancing. Having slept soundly, Krishna woke up to the sounds of music.
Playfully, wanting to join the fun, the infant started moving his feet to the rhythm and, in the process, kicked the wheel of the cart out of its moorings. The cart came crashing down with a thud and the noise startled everyone and got them to rush to the spot expecting the worst. They lifted the fallen vehicle together and were overjoyed to see the infant, looking as playful as ever, seeming totally unfazed by the accident!!
That was indeed the first evidence of his celestial qualities, but everyone around at that time did not realise this aspect rather passed it off as a miraculous escape.
3. Yashoda discovers more about her own son
As he grew, Krishna, living in Gokula, the land of ‘Gopalas’ or cowherds, saw milk, curds, and butter all around. He always had his fill through the love of the Gopis. He had watched them clean the greasy vessels after they were emptied of the butter using mud and always wondered if his stomach also needed to be similarly cleaned.
He sat and started to put mud into his mouth and started eating it. His brother, Balarama, and other children around saw this strange sight and demanded to know what he had in the mouth. His mouth full, he couldn’t say anything.
They felt that this was indeed a sign of defiance and took him by hand to Yashoda and complained to her that he was not listening to them, who were his elders. When Yashoda asked him if he had eaten more butter, he kept shaking his head. Angrily, she took a stick and demanded that he open his mouth. Krishna opened his mouth wide open and, Yashoda couldn’t believe her own eyes! What she saw was the whole universe, in clear detail, including Gokula and, an image of herself in front of the child Krishna!
She closed her eyes to clear her own mind and, when she opened them, saw the little fellow sitting smiling in front, as though nothing had happened. That was when she realised that her infant was no ordinary being. However, the innocent and amused look of Krishna made her keep this discovery to herself.
4. The stealing of butter
Krishna grew up to be about six years old, and his fondness for butter had grown so strong that he would gang up with his friends to get the creamy goodness whenever he could. Knowing this, Gopis, the mothers of all the children, would hang the pots of butter high up from the ceiling, out of their reach. To reach the pot, Krishna, Balarama- his elder brother and other kids would open the roof tiles to access the pots. At other times, they would climb on each other’s shoulder making a human ladder. If these tricks did not yield results, a stone would be hurled, the pot broken and open mouths would take turns to get the spill. Sometimes, the pot came crashing down on the floor, which was even better! They would just sit down and have a fill.
Thus, he and his friends perfected the system of stealing butter. The Gopis who knew who the main culprit was decided to go in a group and complain to Yashoda. Yashoda was really sorry for them and she promised to discipline Krishna. Little Krishna decided to play more mischief against the Gopis who he felt had treated him unfairly by complaining thus.
Finding an opportunity, he stole the Gopis’ clothes from the banks of the river as they went into the river to bathe and tried to strike a deal with them by agreeing to return their clothes only if they stopped their telltale nature.
The story, however, reached Yashoda’s ears and she resolved to teach Krishna a lesson by tying him to a heavy pounding staff. Knowing that there would be no one release him, little Krishna just carried the heavy and long staff towards the river, where he knew all his friends and older Gopalas would be to help him. He went through the forest on the way and the long staff got stuck between two large trees that were closely spaced. But the force with which he tugged the rope felled the trees flat!
Krishna waited for the news to reach his mother who came rushing to see if he was injured. But the devastation caused to the two big trees only left her bewildered and it confirmed her belief that her infant was really out of the ordinary!