top of page

Damodara-lila – Mother Yashoda binds Lord Krishna

Once, seeing that her maidservant was engaged in

different household work, mother Yashoda personally

churned butter. While she churned butter, she sang

the wonderful childhood pastimes of her son Krishna

and relished thinking of Him. At that time Krishna

appeared there and was hungry. He wanted her to

stop churning the butter and feed Him first.

Mother Yashoda took her son on her lap and started

feeding Him. While Krishna was sucking the milk,

mother Yashoda smiled and enjoyed the beauty of

Her child Krishna. Suddenly, the milk which was on

the stove began to boil over. Just to stop the milk

from spilling, mother Yashoda at once put Krishna

aside and went to the stove. Left in that state by His

mother, Krishna became very angry, and His lips and

eyes became red in rage. He pressed His teeth and

lips, and taking up a piece of stone, He immediately

broke the butter pot. He took butter out of it, and with false tears in His eyes, He began to eat the butter in a secluded place.  In the meantime, mother Yashoda returned to the churning place after setting the overflowing milk pan in order. She saw the broken pot, in which the churning yogurt had been kept. Since she could not find her boy, she concluded that the broken pot was His work. She smiled as she thought, “The child is very clever. After breaking the pot He has left this place, fearing punishment.” After she sought all over, she found her son sitting on a big wooden grinding mortar, which was kept upside down. He was taking butter from a pot which was hanging from the ceiling on a swing, and He was feeding it to the monkeys.  She saw Krishna looking this way and that way in fear of her because He was conscious of His naughty behavior. After seeing her son so engaged,

she very silently approached Him from behind. Krishna,

however, saw her coming toward Him with a stick in her

hand, and He immediately got down from the grinding

mortar and began to flee in fear. Mother Yashoda chased

Him to all corners, trying to capture the Supreme

Personality of Godhead, who is never approached even

by the meditations of great yogis. In other words, the

Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is never

caught by the yogis and speculators, was playing just like

a little child for such a great devotee as mother Yashoda.

Mother Yashoda, however, could not easily catch the

fast-running child because of her thin waist and heavy

body. Still she tried to follow Him as fast as possible.

Her hair loosened, and the flowers in her hair fell to the

ground. Although she was tired, she somehow reached

her naughty child and captured Him. When He was caught, Krishna was almost on the point of crying. He smeared His hands over His eyes, which were anointed with black eye cosmetics. The child saw His mother’s face while she stood over Him, and His eyes became restless from fear.


Mother Yashoda could understand that Krishna was unnecessarily afraid, and for His benefit she wanted to allay His fears. Being the topmost well-wisher of her child, mother Yashoda thought, “If the child is too fearful of me, I don’t know what will happen to Him.” Mother Yashoda then threw away her stick. In order to punish Him, she thought to bind His hands with some ropes. She did not know it, but it was actually impossible for her to bind the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mother Yashoda was thinking that Krishna was her tiny child; she did not know that the child had no limitation. There is no inside or outside of Him, nor beginning or end. He is unlimited and all-pervading. Indeed, He is Himself the whole cosmic manifestation. Still, mother Yashoda was thinking of Krishna as her child. Although He is beyond the reach of all senses, she endeavored to bind Him to a wooden grinding mortar. But when she tried to bind Him, she found that the rope she was using was too short—by two inches. She gathered more ropes from the house and added to it, but still she found the same shortage. In this way, she connected all the ropes available at home, but when the final knot was added, she saw that the rope was still two inches too short. Mother Yashoda was smiling, but she was astonished. How was it happening?

In attempting to bind her son, she became tired. She was perspiring, and the garland on her head fell down. Then Lord Krishna appreciated the hard labor of His mother, and being compassionate upon her, He agreed to be bound up by the ropes. Krishna, playing as a human child in the house of mother Yashoda, was performing His own selected pastimes. Of course, no one can control the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The pure devotee surrenders himself unto the lotus feet of the Lord, who may either protect or vanquish the devotee. But for his part, the devotee never forgets his own position of surrender. Similarly, the Lord also feels transcendental pleasure by submitting Himself to the protection of the devotee. This was exemplified by Krishna’s surrender unto His mother, Yashoda.

Krishna is the supreme bestower of all kinds of liberation to His devotees, but the benediction which was bestowed upon mother Yashoda was never experienced even by Lord Brahma or Lord Shiva or the goddess of fortune.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as the son of Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja, is never so completely known to the yogis and speculators. But He is easily available to His devotees. Nor is He appreciated as the supreme reservoir of all pleasure by the yogis and speculators.

After binding her son, mother Yashoda engaged herself in household affairs. At that time, bound up to the wooden mortar, Krishna could see a pair of trees before Him which were known as arjuna trees. The great reservoir of pleasure, Lord Sri Krishna, thus thought to Himself, “Mother Yashoda first of all left without feeding Me sufficient milk, and therefore I broke the pot of yogurt and distributed the stock butter in charity to the monkeys. Now she has bound Me up to a wooden mortar. So I shall do something more mischievous than before.” And thus He thought of pulling down the two very tall arjuna trees.

There is a history behind the pair of arjuna trees. In their previous lives, the trees were born as the human sons of Kuvera, and their names were Nalakuvara and Manigriva. Fortunately, they came within the vision of the Lord. In their previous lives they were cursed by the great sage Narada in order to receive the highest benediction of seeing Lord Krishna. This benediction-curse was bestowed upon them because of their forgetfulness due to intoxication.

The deliverance of Nalakuvara and Manigriva

The story of Nalakuvara and Manigriva and their deliverance by Krishna, under the all-blissful desire of the great sage Narada, is described herein.

The two great demigods Nalakuvara and Manigriva were sons of the treasurer of the demigods, Kuvera, who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. By the grace of Lord Shiva, Kuvera’s material opulence had no limit. As a rich man’s sons often become addicted to wine and women, these two sons of Kuvera were no exception. Once, these two demigods, desiring to enjoy, entered the garden of Lord Shiva in the province of Kailasa on the bank of the Mandakini Ganges. There they drank much and engaged in hearing the sweet singing of the beautiful women who accompanied them in that garden of fragrant flowers.


While they were thus enjoying themselves in the water, all of a sudden Narada, the great sage, happened to pass that way. The two demigod sons of Kuvera were so much intoxicated that they could not appreciate the presence of the sage Narada and therefore did not cover their bodies. On seeing the two demigods so degraded by intoxication, Narada desired their welfare, and therefore he exhibited his causeless mercy by cursing them.

Sage Narada cursed that the two demigods Nalakuvara and Manigriva should remain for one hundred years, in the time of demigods, in the form of trees, and after that they would be fortunate enough to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face, by His causeless mercy. And thus they would be again promoted to the life of the demigods and become great devotees of the Lord.

After this, the great sage Narada returned to his abode, known as Narayanasrama, and the two demigods turned into twin arjuna trees.

Although child Krishna was bound up to the wooden mortar, He began to proceed towards the twin trees in order to fulfill the prophecy of His great devotee Narada. Lord Krishna knew that Narada was His great devotee and that the trees standing before Him as twin arjuna trees were actually the sons of Kuvera. “I must now fulfill the words of My great devotee Narada,” He thought. He then proceeded through the passage between the two trees. Although He was able to pass through the passage, the large wooden mortar got stuck horizontally between the trees. Taking advantage of this, with great strength Lord Krishna began to pull the rope, which was tied to the mortar. As soon as He pulled, the two trees, with all their branches and limbs, fell down immediately with a great sound. Out of the broken, fallen trees came two great personalities, shining like blazing fire. All sides became illuminated and beautiful by their presence. The two purified personalities immediately came before child Krishna and bowed down to offer their respects and prayers.


When the demigods Nalakuvara and Manigriva finished their prayers, the child, Lord Krishna, the master and proprietor of Gokula, bound to the wooden grinding mortar with ropes tied by mother Yashoda, smiled and said, “It was already known to Me that My great devotee Narada Muni had shown his causeless mercy by saving you from the abominable condition of pride due to possessing extraordinary beauty and opulence in a family of demigods. He has saved you from gliding down into the lowest condition of hellish life. All these facts are already known to Me. You are very fortunate because not only were you cursed by him, but you had the great opportunity to see him. If someone is able, by chance, to see face to face a great saintly person like Narada, who is always serene and merciful to everyone, then immediately that conditioned soul becomes liberated. This is exactly like being situated in the full light of the sun: there cannot be any visionary impediment. Therefore, O Nalakuvara and Manigriva, your lives have now become successful because you have developed ecstatic love for Me. This is your last birth within material existence. Now you can go back to your father’s residence in the heavenly planets, and by remaining in the attitude of devotional service, you will be liberated in this very life.”

After this, the demigods circumambulated the Lord many times and bowed down before Him again and again, and thus they left. When the twin arjuna trees fell to the ground, making a sound like the falling of thunderbolts, all the inhabitants of Gokula, including Nanda Maharaja, immediately came to the spot. They were very much astonished to see how the two great trees had suddenly fallen.

The small children who were playing there informed the men that the trees had fallen because Krishna had pulled the wooden mortar with the rope binding Him. Most of the cowherd men did not believe the statement of the children. They could not believe that such things were at all possible. Some of the men, however, believed them and told Nanda Maharaja, “Your child is different from all other children. He just might have done it.” Nanda Maharaja smiled to hear about the extraordinary abilities of his son. He came forward and untied the knot just to free his wonderful child. After being freed by Nanda Maharaja, Krishna was taken onto the laps of the elder gopis. They took Him away to the courtyard of the house and began to clap, praising His wonderful activities. Krishna danced along with their clapping, just like an ordinary child. The Supreme Lord Krishna, being completely controlled by the gopis, sang and danced just like a puppet in their hands


Kartik - Month of Lord Damodara

bottom of page