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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 6

Breaking of Wagon, Namakarana ceremony of Krishna and Balarama

1-7ON one occasion, whilst Madhusūdana was asleep underneath the waggon, he cried for the breast, and kicking up his feet he overturned the vehicle, and all the pots and pans were upset and broken. The cowherds and their wives, hearing the noise, came exclaiming, “Ah! ah!” and there they found the child sleeping on his back. “Who could have upset the waggon?” said the cowherds. “This child,” replied some boys, who witnessed the circumstance; “we saw him,” said they, “crying, and kicking the waggon with his feet, and so it was overturned: no one else had any thing to do with it.” The cowherds were exceedingly astonished at this account; and Nanda, not knowing what to think, took up the boy; whilst Yaśodā offered worship to the broken pieces of pots and to the waggon, with curds, flowers, fruit, and unbruised grain.
8-12The initiatory rites requisite for the two boys were performed by Garga, who was sent to Gokula by Vasudeva for that purpose: he celebrated them without the knowledge of the cowherds[1]; and the wise sage, eminent amongst the wise, named the elder of them Rāma, and the other Kṛṣṇa. In a short time they began to crawl about the ground, supporting themselves on their hands and knees, and creeping everywhere, often amidst ashes and filth. Neither Rohiṇī nor Yaśodā was able to prevent them from getting into the cowpens, or amongst the calves, where they amused themselves by pulling their tails.
13-15As they disregarded the prohibitions of Yaśodā, and rambled about together constantly, she became angry, and taking up a stick, followed them, and threatened the dark-complexioned Kṛṣṇa with a whipping. Fastening a cord round his waist, she tied him to the wooden mortar[2], and being in a great passion, she said to him:
16-18“Now, you naughty boy, get away from hence if you can.” She then went about her domestic affairs. As soon as she had departed, the lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, endeavouring to extricate himself, pulled the mortar after him to the space between two Arjuna trees that grew near together: having dragged the mortar between these trees, it became wedged awry there, and as Kṛṣṇa pulled it through, it pulled down the trunks of the trees.
19-22Hearing the crackling noise, the people of Vraja came to see what was the matter, and there they beheld the two large trees, with shattered stems and broken branches, prostrate on the ground, with the child fixed between them, with a rope round his belly, laughing, and shewing his white little teeth, just budded. It is hence that Kṛṣṇa is called Dāmodara, from the binding of the rope (dāma) round his belly (udara[3]. The elders of the cowherds, with Nanda at their head, looked upon these circumstances with alarm, considering them as of evil omen.
23-25“We cannot remain in this place,” said they; “let us go to some other part of the forest; for here many evil signs threaten us with destruction; the death of Pūtanā, the upsetting of the waggon, and the fall of the trees without their being blown down by the wind. Let us depart hence without delay, and go to Vrindāvana, where terrestrial prodigies may no more disturb us.”
26-31Having thus resolved, the inhabitants of Vraja communicated their intention to their families, and desired them to move without delay. Accordingly they set off with their waggons and their cattle, driving before them their bulls and cows and calves; the fragments of their household stores they threw away, and in an instant Vraja was overspread with flights of crows. Vrindāvana was chosen by Kṛṣṇa, whom acts do not affect, for the sake of providing for the nourishment of the kine; for there in the hottest season the new grass springs up as verdantly as in the rains. Having repaired, then, from Vraja to Vrindāvana, the inhabitants of the former drew up their waggons in the form of a crescent[4].
32-36As the two boys, Rāma and Dāmodara, grew up, they were ever together in the same place, and engaged in the same boyish sports. They made themselves crests of the peacocks’ plumes, and garlands of forest flowers, and musical instruments of leaves and reeds, or played upon the pipes used by the cowherds: their hair was trimmed like the wings of the crow[5], and they resembled two young princes, portions of the deity of war: they were robust, and they roamed about, always laughing and playing, sometimes with each other, sometimes with other boys; driving along with the young cowherds the calves to pasture. Thus the two guardians of the world were keepers of cattle, until they had attained seven years of age, in the cow-pens of Vrindavana.
37-44Then came on the season of the rains, when the atmosphere laboured with accumulated clouds, and the quarters of the horizon were blended into one by the driving showers. The waters of the rivers rose, and overflowed their banks, and spread beyond all bounds, like the minds of the weak and wicked transported beyond restraint by sudden prosperity. The pure radiance of the moon was obscured by heavy vapours, as the lessons of holy writ are darkened by the arrogant scoffs of fools (and unbelievers). The bow of Indra held its place in the heavens all unstrung, like a worthless man elevated by an injudicious prince to honour. The white line of storks appeared upon the back of the cloud, in such contrast as the bright conduct of a man of respectability opposes to the behaviour of a scoundrel. The ever-fitful lightning, in its new alliance with the sky, was like the friendship of a profligate for a man of worth. Overgrown by the spreading grain, the paths were indistinctly traced, like the speech of the ignorant, that conveys no positive meaning.
45-49At this time Kṛṣṇa and Rāma, accompanied by the cowboys, traversed the forests, that echoed with the hum of bees and the peacock’s cry. Sometimes they sang in chorus, or danced together; sometimes they sought shelter from the cold beneath the trees; sometimes they decorated themselves with flowery garlands, sometimes with peacocks’ feathers; sometimes they stained themselves of various hues with the minerals of the mountain; sometimes weary they reposed on beds of leaves, and sometimes imitated in mirth the muttering of the thundercloud; sometimes they excited their juvenile associates to sing, and sometimes they mimicked the cry of the peacock with their pipes.
50-52In this manner participating in various feelings and emotions, and affectionately attached to each other, they wandered, sporting and happy, through the wood. At eveningtide came Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, like two cow-boys, along with the cows and the cowherds. At eveningtide the two immortals, having come to the cow-pens, joined heartily in whatever sports amused the sons of the herdsmen.


[1] The Bhāgavata describes Garga’s interview with Nanda, and the inducements of the latter to keep the former’s celebration of the Sanskāras, or initiatory rites of the two boys, secret from the Gopas. Garga there describes himself as the Purdhit, or family priest, of the Yādavas.
[2] The Ulūkhala, or mortar is a large p. 509 wooden bowl on a solid stand of timber, both cut out of one piece; the pestle is also of wood; and they are used chiefly for bruising or threshing unwinnowed corn, and separating the chaff from the grain. As important agents in household economy, they are regarded as sacred, and even hymned in the Vedas.
[3] Our text, and that of the Hari Vaṃśa, take no notice of the legend of Nalakuvera and Maṇigrīva, sons of Kuvera, who, according to the Bhāgavata, had been metamorphosed, through a curse of Nārada, into these two trees, and for whose liberation this feat of Kṛṣṇa was intended.
[4] The Hari Vaṃśa, not satisfied with the prodigies which had alarmed the cowherds, adds another, not found, it is believed, any where else. The emigration, according to that work, originates, not with the Gopas, but the two boys, who wish to go to Vrindāvana, and in order to compel the removal, Kṛṣṇa converts the hairs of his body into hundreds of wolves, who so harass and alarm the inhabitants of Vraja, that they determine to abandon their homes.
[5] The Kāka-pakṣa, or crow’s wing, implies the hair left on each side of the head, the top being shaved.

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