The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Exodus from Gokula—Destruction of demons Vatsa and Baka which is chapter 11 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the eleventh chapter of the Tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 11 - Exodus from Gokula—Destruction of demons Vatsa and Baka

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Śuka said:

1. Hearing the crashing sound of the falling (Arjuna) trees, cowherds headed by Nanda (thinking it to be a roar of thunder) rushed to the spot, afraid as they were of a thunderbolt, Oh prominent Kuru.

2. They saw the twin Arjuna trees fallen to the ground They were bewildered as they could not guess the cause of that fall which was quite obvious.

3. It was the child who was dragging the wooden mortar tied to it with a cord. (But not believing in it) they got distressed as to who did it, what could be the cause of that wonder or whether it is an evil portent.

4. The boys (who were present there) reported, “It (the uprooting of the trees) has been done by him (Kṛṣṇa) who going between the trees dragged the mortar, which lay athwart the trees. We also saw two divine figures (rising from the fallen trees)

5. They did not believe in the report of the boys. The sceptics reasoned with themselves the impossibility of uprooting the two big trees by the child, while a few others had some reservations in their minds (as they remembered Kṛṣṇa’s previous feats).

6. It is traditionally reported that seeing his own child tethered with a cord and dragging the mortar, Nanda with his countenance beaming with a smile, set him free.

7. Glorious Lord (of the Universe) though he was, he sometime danced like a child, sometimes sang loudly and behaved like a wooden doll under the control of the Gopīs (cowherd women), when they encouraged him with their clapping of hands and coaxings.

8. Commanded by them, sometimes he would bring articles like a wooden stool, a measure or a pair of wooden sandals, and sometimes he would swing up his arms bringing delight and affection to his own people (his devotees).

9. To the people who recognize him (as God), he, thereby demonstrates his subservience to (the will of) his servants. The glorious Lord thus brought great joy to (i.e. in the life of) people in Vraja through his child-like playful activities.

10.[1] Hearing the vendor’s cry, “Oh people, purchase fruits”, Kṛṣṇa rushed to him quickly with food grains (in the hollow of his palms to give in exchange of fruit), desirous of getting the fruits, though he himself is the bestower of fruits (of actions, prayers, etc.) to all.

11. The fruit-seller-woman filled with fruits (the hollow of the) palms of his hands from which grains were slipping down (through the gap between them) and the basket of fruits was filled with precious stones.

12. On one occasion, queen Rohiṇī called (Bala-) Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, the uprooter of the Arjuna trees, who were engrossed in playing with children on the bank of the river.

13. When both the sons being deeply interested in play did not come back despite her calling, Rohiṇī sent Yaśodā who was so much affectionate to her child.

14. Yaśodā, with her breasts overflowing with affection for her child, repeatedly shouted for her child who along with his elder brother was playing with the children beyond the (usual) time-limit.

15. “Oh Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa of lotus-eyes! Child! Come up and suck at my bosom. Enough of playing. You must be feeling fatigued with hunger and exhausted with exertions in playing, my sonny.

16. Oh Rāma! Come quickly with your younger brother. Oh child. It is very early in the morning that you had a breakfast. You must take food now, Oh delight of the family.

17. Oh Dāśārha! Nanda, the head of this Vraja who is about to take his meals is waiting for you. Do come and bring joy to us both. Oh boys! You return to your houses.

18. Your body has been covered with dust, Oh child! Go and take your bath. The star, presiding over your birth, is in the ascent. Get purified by bath, and give cows to Brāhmaṇas.

19. Behold your play-mates. They have been washed and well-adorned by their mothers. You also take your bath, have your meals, and after getting well-adorned, go to play.”

20. In this way, Yaśodā whose mind was bound with the ties of maternal affection, regarded, Kṛṣṇa, the crown of all as her child. She took both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa by hand, and brought them to her house, and made them perform the auspicious rites.

Śuka said:

21. Observing extremely ominous portents in the Bṛhadvana (Gokula), elderly Gopas (cowherds) like Nanda and others met in a conference and deliberated the measures to be adopted in the interest of Vraja.

22. Out of them, a cowherd called Upananda, who was senior to others in wisdom and age, and who was endowed with a penetrating insight into the exigencies of the time, place and things (situation), and a well-wisher of Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa advised as follows:

23. “We, the well-wishers of Gokula should now migrate from this place; for, terrible portents of an evil nature forboding destruction of our children are visiting this place.

24. This child Kṛṣṇa certainly had a miraculous escape with great difficulty from the ogress (Pūtanā), the slayer of children. It was surely through the grace of Lord Hari, that the cart did not fall on Kṛṣṇa.

25. He was carried away to the skies, the region of birds, by a demon in the form of a whirlwind. He fell on a rock, but was protected by great gods (our deities).

26. It is sheerly due to the protection afforded by Lord Acyuta that this child or any other boy should not die on getting in between the (Arjuna) trees (as they crashed).

27. Before Vraja is not overtaken by any calamity indicated by these evil portents, let us repair to some other place along with our children and followers and attendants.

28. There is a virgin forest tract called Vṛndāvana which along with its sacred hills, pasturage, trees and plants, is suitable to our cattle and fit to be a happy settlement to our milkmen, women and cattle.

29. Let us, therefore, shift there, this very day. Get our carts and vehicles ready. Be quick (No delay please). If you so approve of it, let our wealth, the herds of cattle, go ahead in advance.”

[Padaratnāvalī’s text adds:]

29(A). Having heard the speech of Upananda with concentration of mind (and attentively), all the cowherds of which Nanda was the leader, approved of it, and repaired to their houses, Oh King.

29(B). Then Nanda summoned together all the Gopas and directed (spoke) as follows:

“Tomorrow we shall go from this place to Vṛndāvana. Be prepared. Don’t delay.”

30. Unanimously approving his speech, all Gopas exclaimed “That’s right! Very good”. They got their respective conveyances ready with their effects, packed and loaded.

31. Having put into their carriages the aged persons, young children and their women-folk along with utensils and other accessories, the Gopas who were all alert carried bows already strung, in their hands.

32. Keeping their wealth of cattle in their front in advance, accompanied by their family priests, they started on their journey with a flourish of blowing horns and sounding trumpets on all sides.

33. Mounted on chariots, the Gopa women of lovely complexion, with fresh application of saffron-paint to their breasts, wore strings of gold coins round their necks, and put on excellent garments, they felt supremely happy and sang the sportive acts of Kṛṣṇa.

34. So also Yaśodā and Rohiṇī occupied the same carriage, and were eager to hear the sportive acts of their dear children, shone (brightly) with Kṛṣṇa and Rāma (on their laps).

35. Entering Vṛndāvana which was pleasant in all seasons, they, with a crescent-shaped formation of their vehicles, set up the habitation (for them and the cattle), semicircular like unto the half disc of the moon.

36. Beholding the forest of Vṛndāvana, the Govardhana hill (nearby), and the sand-banks of the Yamunā, the hearts of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa surged with great joy.

37. In this way, giving delight to the inhabitants of Vraja with their child-like sportive activities and sweet lisping, they, in due course, began to tend calves.

38. In the vicinity of their habitation, and in the company of cowherd boys, they tended the calves, taking with them various articles of play.

39-40. Sometimes they played on flutes. Sometimes they used fruits of the Bilva tree or of the Emblic myrobalan (āmalaka) for throwing as balls; sometimes they played kicking those with their feet, making a tinkling noise of small bells (of the anklets); sometimes they imitated the cattle with two- three boys as the tender of cattle, sometime they played the part of bellowing and fighting bulls. Sometimes they imitated the cries of birds like swans and peacocks. In this way they roved simulating ordinary children.

41. On one occasion, while both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa were pasturing the calves along with their friends, a demon came there, with the intention of killing Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.

42. On seeing him assume the form of a calf and mix with the herd of calves, he (Kṛṣṇa) pointed him out to Balarāma, and slowly approached the demon, posing as if he knew nothing about him.

43. Catching hold of him by his hind legs and tail, and whirling him round, he hurled him lifeless to the top of the wood-apple (Kapittha) tree. The huge-bodied demon (who assumed his demonic form at the time of death) fell down along with wood-apples which were made to fall (with the impact of the huge dead body).

44. Astonished to see him fall, all children cried out, “Bravo! Well-done!” Gods being highly delighted, showered flowers.

45. The sole protectors of all the worlds became the two tenders of calves, and with the breakfast in their wallet, roamed about leading the calves in their charge to pasture.

46. On one occasion, all the cowherd boys wanted to take their respective herd of calves to water. They went to a tank[2] of water, made the calves to drink and they also drank of it.

47. The boys saw there standing a monstrous creature like unto a peak of a mountain sundered by (Indra’s) thunderbolt, and slipped (of the mountain) and they got terrified.

48. It was verily a powerful demon called Baka who assumed the form of a stork. Swooping down suddenly, the powerful monster with a sharp beak, swallowed up Kṛṣṇa.

49. Perceiving Kṛṣṇa swallowed up by a big crane, children like Balarāma (but not Balarāma) became stupefied like organs and senses of the body in the absence of the vital breath.

50. But Baka had to vomit out Kṛṣṇa, the son of a cowherd (Nanda), but (as a matter of fact) the father of god Brahmā, the creator of the world, as Kṛṣṇa burnt like fire the root of his palate. Finding him unhurt, Baka again attacked Kṛṣṇa with his bill, to kill him.

51. As Baka, the friend of Kaṃsa, rushed at him, Kṛṣṇa, the protector of the righteous[3], caught hold of him by the two halves of the bill, and while the children were looking on, tore him up like a blade of grass in a sportive way, and brought delight to residents of the celestial world.

52. The denizens of heaven then showered the slayer of the demon Baka with jasmine and other flowers from the celestial garden Nandana, and praised him, expressing delight by blowing of conchs, and sounding of drums, beholding which the cowherd boys stood agape with amazement.

53. On finding Kṛṣṇa safely released from the mouth of Baka and return to the playground, children like Balarāma and others, like unto senses would do to the vital breath, embraced ṃm and felt relieved and happy. Collecting their calves together, they returned to Vraja and reported (sang) that exploit (of Kṛṣṇa).

54. Astonished to hear it, Gopa men and women, who had an intensely loving regard for him, gazed him with eager (lit. thirsty) eyes, as if he had returned from the land of the dead.

55. They said, “how wonderful yet pitiable that this child should have so many mortal enemies. However, it is they who suffered the evil consequences, as they spelt terror to others previously.

56. Howsoever terrible-looking the demons be, they dare not and cannot overpower him at all. Approaching him with a desire to kill, they themselves get destroyed like moths in fire.

57. Oh! The words of those who are conversant with the Brahman, never prove to be untrue. What the worshipful Garga predicted has been exactly found to be true (by experience)

58. In this way, recounting with joys the stories of Kṛṣṇa and Rāma, Nanda and other cowherds passed their time happily and did not experience the agonies of saṃsāra.

59. In this way, they (Kṛṣṇa and Rāma) passed their childhood at Vraja in child-like sports such as hide-and-seek, constructing dams in play, jumping like monkeys and the like.

Footnotes and references:


Verses 10-20, both inclusive, are not commented upon by Bhāvāratha Dīpikā and Subodhinī (as they obviously do not recognize them as a part of the text), but Bhāgavata Candrikā, Padaratnāvalī, VT., Kramasandarbha., VC. have recognized them as an integral part of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and have annotated on them. VT. notes that though there are variations in the order of these verses, the Gauḍīya Sampradāya text is followed.

Though it is not possible to present a concordance of the various text-traditions of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the complexity of the problem can be indicated by comparing Bhāvāratha Dīpikā and Padaratnāvalī’s text here. Ch. XI in Bhāvāratha Dīpikā is Ch. XII in Padaratnāvalī In this Chapter after the 9th verse, the order of vv in Padaratnāvalī is as follows:

I. Vv 10-18.

21-29 (in Bhāvāratha Dīpikā): From gopa-vṛddhā mahot-pātān...upto bhavatāṃ yadi rocate /

II. 19(A). (extra verse)

tac chrutvaika-dhiyo gopāḥ sarve nanda purogamāḥ /
upa-nanda-vaco rājan pratinandya gṛhān yayuḥ // 19.—Vs. 20-28

III. 12-20 (in Bhāvāratha Dīpikā):

sarit-tīragataṃ kṛṣṇaṃ kṛtavatyath?d0?y?m (?)

IV. 29A. (Additional verse):

atha śandaḥ samāhūya gopānidam abhāṣata /
śveto vṛndāvanaṃ yāmo yatā bha?atha mā????m /

V. The remaining 30 verses from tac chruttvaikadhiyā gopāḥ sādhu sādhviti vādinaḥ / etc. are common to Bhāvāratha Dīpikā & Padaratnāvalī This is the XII ch. in Padaratnāvalī


VT. locates it to the east of the Nandīśvara hill, near the spot now known as baka-sthala.


v.l. satām gatiḥ ‘The final abode of the righteous’—VT.

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