1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: One day the cowherd men, eager to take a trip to worship Lord Siva, traveled by bullock carts to the Ambika forest.
2. O King, after arriving there, they bathed in the Sarasvati and then devotedly worshiped with various paraphernalia the powerful Lord Pasupati and his consort, goddess Ambika.
3. The cowherd men gave the brahmanas gifts of cows, gold, clothing and cooked grains mixed with honey. Then the cowherds prayed, “May the lord be pleased with us.”
4. Nanda, Sunanda and the other greatly fortunate cowherds spent that night on the bank of the Sarasvati, strictly observing their vows. They fasted, taking only water.
5. During the night a huge and extremely hungry snake appeared in that thicket. Slithering on his belly up to the sleeping Nanda Maharaja, the snake began swallowing him.
6. In the clutches of the snake, Nanda Maharaja cried out, “Krsna, Krsna, my dear boy! This huge serpent is swallowing me! Please save me, who am surrendered to You!”
7. When the cowherd men heard the cries of Nanda, they immediately rose up and saw that he was being swallowed. Distraught, they beat the serpent with blazing torches.
8. But even though the firebrands were burning him, the serpent would not release Nanda Maharaja. Then the Supreme Lord Krsna, master of His devotees, came to the spot and touched the snake with His foot.
9. The snake had all his sinful reactions destroyed by the touch of the Supreme Lord’s divine foot, and thus he gave up his serpent body and appeared in the form of a worshipable Vidyadhara.
10. The Supreme Lord Hrsikesa then questioned this personality, who was standing before Him with his head bowed, his brilliantly effulgent body bedecked with golden necklaces.
11. [Lord Krsna said:] My dear sir, you appear so wonderful, glowing with such great beauty. Who are you? And who forced you to assume this terrible body of a snake?
12-13. The serpent replied: I am the well-known Vidyadhara named Sudarsana. I was very opulent and beautiful, and I used to wander freely in all directions in my airplane. Once I saw some homely sages of the lineage of Angira Muni. Proud of my beauty, I ridiculed them, and because of my sin they made me assume this lowly form.
14. It was actually for my benefit that those merciful sages cursed me, since now I have been touched by the foot of the supreme spiritual master of all the worlds and have thus been relieved of all inauspiciousness.
15. My Lord, You destroy all fear for those who, fearing this material world, take shelter of You. By the touch of Your feet I am now freed from the curse of the sages. O destroyer of distress, please let me return to my planet.
16. O master of mystic power, O great personality, O Lord of the devotees, I surrender to You. Please command me as You will, O supreme God, Lord of all lords of the universe.
17. O infallible one, I was immediately freed from the brahmanas’ punishment simply by seeing You. Anyone who chants Your name purifies all who hear his chanting, as well as himself. How much more beneficial, then, is the touch of Your lotus feet?
18. Thus receiving the permission of Lord Krsna, the demigod Sudarsana circumambulated Him, bowed down to offer Him homage and then returned to his heavenly planet. Nanda Maharaja was thus delivered from peril.
19. The inhabitants of Vraja were astonished to see the mighty power of Sri Krsna. Dear King, they then completed their worship of Lord Siva and returned to Vraja, along the way respectfully describing Krsna’s powerful acts.
20. Once Lord Govinda and Lord Rama, the performers of wonderful feats, were playing in the forest at night with the young girls of Vraja.
21. Krsna and Balarama wore flower garlands and spotless garments, and Their limbs were beautifully decorated and anointed. The women sang Their glories in a charming way, bound to Them by affection.
22. The two Lords praised the nightfall, signaled by the rising of the moon and the appearance of stars, a lotus-scented breeze and bees intoxicated by the fragrance of jasmine flowers.
23. Krsna and Balarama sang, producing the entire range of musical sounds simultaneously. Their singing brought happiness to the ears and minds of all living beings.
24. The gopis became stunned when they heard that song. Forgetting themselves, O King, they did not notice that their fine garments were becoming loose and their hair and garlands disheveled.
25. While Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama thus played according to Their own sweet will and sang to the point of apparent intoxication, a servant of Kuvera named Sankhacuda came upon the scene.
26. O King, even as the two Lords looked on, Sankhacuda brazenly began driving the women off toward the north. The women, who had accepted Krsna and Balarama as their Lords, began to cry out to Them.
27. Hearing Their devotees crying out “Krsna! Rama!” and seeing that they were just like cows being stolen by a thief, Krsna and Balarama began to run after the demon.
28. The Lords called out in reply, “Do not fear! “Then They picked up logs of the sala tree and quickly pursued that lowest of Guhyakas, who swiftly ran away.
29. When Sankhacuda saw the two of Them coming toward him like the personified forces of Time and Death, he was filled with anxiety. Confused, he abandoned the women and fled for his life.
30. Lord Govinda chased the demon wherever he ran, eager to take his crest jewel. Meanwhile Lord Balarama stayed with the women to protect them.
31. The mighty Lord overtook Sankhacuda from a great distance as if from nearby, my dear King, and then with His fist the Lord removed the wicked demon’s head, together with his crest jewel.
32. Having thus killed the demon Sankhacuda and taken away his shining jewel, Lord Krsna gave it to His elder brother with great satisfaction as the gopis watched.
Chapter Thirty-Five The Gopis Sing of Krsna as He Wanders in the Forest
1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: Whenever Krsna went to the forest, the minds of the gopis would run after Him, and thus the young girls sadly spent their days singing of His pastimes.
2-3. The gopis said: When Mukunda vibrates the flute He has placed to His lips, stopping its holes with His tender fingers, He rests His left cheek on His left arm and makes His eyebrows dance. At that time the demigoddesses traveling in the sky with their husbands, the Siddhas, become amazed. As those ladies listen, they are embarrassed to find their minds yielding to the pursuit of lusty desires, and in their distress they are unaware that the belts of their garments are loosening.
4-5. O girls! This son of Nanda, who gives joy to the distressed, bears steady lightning on His chest and has a smile like a jeweled necklace. Now please hear something wonderful. When He vibrates His flute, Vraja’s bulls, deer and cows, standing in groups at a great distance, are all captivated by the sound, and they stop chewing the food in their mouths and cock their ears. Stunned, they appear as if asleep, or like figures in a painting.
6-7. My dear gopi, sometimes Mukunda imitates the appearance of a wrestler by decorating Himself with leaves, peacock feathers and colored minerals. Then, in the company of Balarama and the cowherd boys, He plays His flute to call the cows. At that time the rivers stop flowing, their water stunned by the ecstasy they feel as they eagerly wait for the wind to bring them the dust of His lotus feet. But like us, the rivers are not very pious, and thus they merely wait with their arms trembling out of love.
8-11. Krsna moves about the forest in the company of His friends, who vividly chant the glories of His magnificent deeds. He thus appears just like the Supreme Personality of Godhead exhibiting His inexhaustible opulences. When the cows wander onto the mountainsides and Krsna calls out to them with the sound of His flute, the trees and creepers in the forest respond by becoming so luxuriant with fruits and flowers that they seem to be manifesting Lord Visnu within their hearts. As their branches bend low with the weight, the filaments on their trunks and vines stand erect out of the ecstasy of love of God, and both the trees and the creepers pour down a rain of sweet sap. Maddened by the divine, honeylike aroma of the tulasi flowers on the garland Krsna wears, swarms of bees sing loudly for Him, and that most beautiful of all persons thankfully acknowledges and acclaims their song by taking His flute to His lips and playing it. The charming flute song then steals away the minds of the cranes, swans and other lake-dwelling birds. Indeed they approach Krsna, close their eyes and, maintaining strict silence, worship Him by fixing their consciousness upon Him in deep meditation.
12-13. O goddesses of Vraja, when Krsna is enjoying Himself with Balarama on the mountain slopes, playfully wearing a flower garland on the top of His head, He engladdens all with the resonant vibrations of His flute. Thus He delights the entire world. At that time the nearby cloud, afraid of offending a great personality, thunders very gently in accompaniment. The cloud showers flowers onto his dear friend Krsna and shades Him from the sun like an umbrella.
14-15. O pious mother Yasoda, your son, who is expert in all the arts of herding cows, has invented many new styles of flute-playing. When He takes His flute to His bimba-red lips and sends forth the tones of the harmonic scale in variegated melodies, Brahma, Siva, Indra and other chief demigods become confused upon hearing the sound. Although they are the most learned authorities, hey cannot ascertain the essence of that music, and thus they bow down their heads and hearts.
16-17. As Krsna strolls through Vraja with His lotus-petal-like feet, marking the ground with the distinctive emblems of flag, thunderbolt, lotus and elephant goad, He relieves the distress the ground feels from the cows’ hooves. As He plays His renowned flute, His body moves with the grace of an elephant. Thus we gopis, who become agitated by Cupid when Krsna playfully glances at us, stand as still as trees, unaware that our hair and garments are slackening.
18-19. Now Krsna is standing somewhere counting His cows on a string of gems. He wears a garland of tulasi flowers that bear the fragrance of His beloved, and He has thrown His arm over the shoulder of an affectionate cowherd boyfriend. As Krsna plays His flute and sings, the music attracts the black deer’s wives, who approach that ocean of transcendental qualities and sit down beside Him. Just like us cowherd girls, they have given up all hope for happiness in family life.
20-21. O sinless Yasoda, your darling child, the son of Maharaja Nanda, has festively enhanced His attire with a jasmine garland, and He is now playing along the Yamuna in the company of the cows and cowherd boys, amusing His dear companions. The gentle breeze honors Him with its soothing fragrance of sandalwood, while the various Upadevas, standing on all sides like panegyrists, offer their music, singing and gifts of tribute.
22-23. Out of great affection for the cows of Vraja, Krsna became the lifter of Govardhana Hill. At the end of the day, having rounded up all His own cows, He plays a song on His flute, while exalted demigods standing along the path worship His lotus feet and the cowherd boys accompanying Him chant His glories. His garland is powdered by the dust raised by the cows’ hooves, and His beauty, enhanced by His fatigue, creates an ecstatic festival for everyone’s eyes. Eager to fulfill His friends’ desires, Krsna is the moon arisen from the womb of mother Yasoda.
24-25. As Krsna respectfully greets His well-wishing friends, His eyes roll slightly as if from intoxication. He wears a flower garland, and the beauty of His soft cheeks is accentuated by the brilliance of His golden earrings and the whiteness of His face, which has the color of a badara berry. With His cheerful face resembling the moon, lord of the night, the Lord of the Yadus moves with the grace of u regal elephant. Thus He returns in the evening, delivering the cows of Vraja from the heat of the day.
26. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: O King, thus during the daytime the women of Vrndavana took pleasure in continuously singing about the pastimes of Krsna, and those ladies’ minds and hearts, absorbed in Him, were filled with great festivity.