Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
One day, Vanamali Krishna left His brother Rama at home and went out with His friends to tend the cows and play beside the Yamuna.
At that time, the serpent Kaliya, the son of Kadru, lived in a lake within the river Yamuna. Kaliya had taken shelter in the Yamuna, the daughter of Surya-deva, to hide from his enemy Garuda. This venomous snake, the embodiment of the mellow of fear (bhaya rasa), existed in Vrndavana like an incurable heart disease. He was like death waiting as a helpful friend to engage one, or Rudra’s fire of devastation that destroys the three worlds.
The burning venom of the great serpent Kaliya constantly heated and boiled the waters of the Yamuna. Yamuna-devi felt like she had a black ball of fire within her belly. Indeed, the poisonous vapors thus created polluted the air, and caused birds flying overhead to fall down into the water. The entire atmosphere was contaminated by the inauspicious presence of Kaliya, who continually harassed the inhabitants of Vrndavana.
The forceful exhalation of fiery poison from his nostrils illuminated the Yamuna’s waves with a crimson golden radiance. The beauty of this scene resembled the waves of the salt ocean glittering under the moonlight. The dense black smoke lingering above the Yamuna indicated the presence of a raging fire within.
Nothing could live in the Yamuna except Kaliya’s wives and sons due to the calamitous situation caused by the burning poison of that crooked serpent. As one takes shelter under an umbrella, Kaliya stayed safely in a deep lake within the Yamuna.
The cowherd boys and cows sipped some water from the Yamuna to quench their thirst. Although the gopas have eternal transcendental bodies, by the supreme will of Krishna they fell unconscious immediately after drinking. Krishna, the destroyer of demons, worried for a moment about His friends and then He quickly revived them with a sidelong glance.
It appeared that life-giving nectar dripped from Krishna’s lotus eyes. Returning to consciousness, the boys felt astonished and smiled gently. They warmly embraced each other and talked among themselves in great happiness. One cowherd boy said, “Krishna is wonderful. He rescued us just like He did when we wandered into the cave-like mouth of Aghasura. We almost died from drinking that poisonous water but Krishna mercifully saved us. It seems that He has given sanjivani rasa to revive us.” After speaking thus, all the gopas looked lovingly at their dearest friend.
Since Krishna had descended from the spiritual world specifically to subdue envious demons, He immediately climbed to the top of a very high kadamba tree beside the Yamuna. That tall kadamba touched the clouds and kissed the sky. With a desire to crush the pride of Kaliya, the incomparable and inconceivable Lord Krishna prepared Himself for a fight.
He gathered His locks of hair, retied His turban, tightened His belt, and clenched His lotus hand into a fist eager for victory. Krishna’s tender body and slender waist displayed the prime of His joyful youth. Totally relaxed, Krishna glanced gently toward the cowherd boys and said, “Do not be afraid My friends. My transcendental effulgence will dispel all misfortune. Just wait here and watch the cows.”
His face illuminated by a row of radiant teeth, Krishna beamed a confident smile. With His fathomless intelligence and charming characteristics Krishna easily removes the pride and arrogance of materialistic people. Krishna enthusiastically leaped into the Yamuna, just as a kingfisher dives into a river to catch its prey.
Krishna’s forceful plunge pushed the Yamuna over her banks. The deadly poison from the serpent rose up into a mass of foam cresting on the high waves of the river. The cows and cowherd boys ran away in fear upon seeing these ominous waves rushing toward the banks.
Krishna dove so deeply into the River Yamuna that it seemed He went to trample the Patala region of the universe. Krishna sported in Kaliya’s lake like a lordly elephant—swirling His mighty arms and making the water resound in various ways. This agitation caused the poisonous water to burst into flames. Unable to bear the vigorous vibrations, Kaliya felt as if his life was being thrashed out of him.
Kaliya saw Krishna’s beauty surpassing the sublime elegance of a tamala tree. Krishna’s eyes looked peaceful and pleasing, and His handsome effulgent form easily defeated the sweetness of Kandarpa. Seeing Krishna’s body covered with fragrant yellow sandalwood pulp easily destroys one’s false pride.
Despite beholding this wonderful darsana, the envious Kaliya felt Krishna to be the source of an intolerable fever. Shaking with anger, Kaliya furiously lunged at Krishna, bit Him on the chest, and attempted to squeeze Krishna to death by completely enveloping Him in his mighty coils.
Kaliya considered how this person had so brazenly violated his watery domain. Beset with doubt and suspicion about the identity of Krishna, who removes the power of the best of snakes, Kaliya pondered, “Who is this unknown person who has created such a disturbance? And where has He come from?”
The proud, impudent, materially attached Kaliya wondered how Krishna—a mere boy, blissful and beautiful with blooming youth—could have so effortlessly subdued the massive Aghasura. Finally he concluded that Krishna must have the ability to expand Himself to any unlimited size. Nevertheless, Kaliya tried to smother and crush Krishna by expanding his own body to monstrous proportions. Failing in his endeavor, Kaliya succumbed to exhaustion.
On one level the supremely independent Lord created an inauspicious atmosphere of impending death just to see how much love the Vrajavasis had for Him, and to make them impatient to run to Him. But on another level Krishna, His handsome chest adorned with the glistening kaustubha gem, performed this pastime of being bound by Kaliya just to satisfy His desire to dance on the hoods of the serpent. He merely awaited the approval of His Vrajavasi friends and relatives standing on the shore of the River Yamuna.
Observing the lord of their hearts trapped in the snake’s coils and submerged under the water, the cows and cowherd boys filled with fear and lamentation. Paralyzed by grief, the cowherd boys froze in place, held their palms on their foreheads, and wept profusely while crying out piteously to Krishna, “How painful! How painful! We cannot bear to live!”
Seeing the whole world as void and nearing destruction, they collapsed on the ground. Feeling they had entered an ocean of poison, the cowherd boys nearly died from the devastating inundation of simultaneously experiencing the eight symptoms of transcendental ecstasy.
Viewing the Vrajavasis enduring such misfortune, the demigods, their hair loosened and clothing disheveled, felt their hearts pierced with flaming arrows. In great distress they called out, “Alas! Alas!”
Excerpt: Sri Kavi Karnapura’s Ananda Vrindavana Campu ki jai!
Krishna Nectar Lilas ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!
All parts of Krishna Nectar Lilas can be found here.