Chapter XXXVII - 135 Home | Index | Previous | Next

"By then, it would be time for partaking food. They sat under the trees and untied the cloth bundles, which contained cold rice mixed with curds, cream and milk, and other items according to the taste and need of each. The boys waited until Gopala opened His packet and started eating, to take the first morsel themselves. As soon as Gopala took a mouthful, each boy began eating. Once a while, Gopala used to give His companions a handful of food from His packet and receive from each of them a handful from out of their stock! He went to every one and asked for a share from his packet! The boys were reluctant and even afraid to give Gopala the handful of food He asked for, from their plate, for, it had been rendered ceremonially impure by their eating out of them. Seeing this, Gopala assured them that the one resides in all of them and so, they should not feel He was separate from them; how can ceremonial impurity arise when all are one, He asked. Then, He took the half-bitten pickle-fruit that they had kept aside and bit off a portion, for His own chew. How could the Lord who ate with relish the leavings of Sabari from her plate, in the Rama incarnation, desist from eating the leavings of the cowherd companions? Both were so intimately devoted to Him."

"One day, sitting on the rocks in the shadow of the hills, they ate their meal and washed their hands; Gopala then ran towards the group of cows grazing in the open pasture. His companions wondered what the matter was; they noticed among the herd a huge beautiful calf. Gopala went straight towards that animal; He lifted it, holding both its hind legs, and rotated it fast over His head, until He brought it heavily down on a rock, to smash it; but, it made a terrific noise and turned into a Rakshasa (Ogre), spouting blood and breathed its last. The boys were amazed at this; they ran in hot haste towards Gopala and questioned Him to tell them what the mystery was. Gopala beamed with a radiant smile on His lips; he said, 'A wicked Ogre assumed this form and came here enjoined by Kamsa to kill me. He mingled among our herd of cows and was enacting this role in the drama He had decided on. I have given Him due punishment now.'"

"At this, the boys extolled Gopala's foresight, bravery and strength, and exclaimed, 'Gopala! You have given him what He deserved.' They jumped around him excitedly in great joy. They searched among the herd for any other strange calf or cow, suspecting other Ogres who might have come in that disguise."

"They were also apprehensive that their own cows might have come to harm, or might have been swallowed alive by some wicked Ogre in some shape. They vigilantly examine their own herds, to discover, before it became too late, any sign of danger."

"Meanwhile, they reached a hill rich in pasture, by noon. The cows were driven into the shades, under the overhanging rocks, to be free from the scorching sun, and the boys too rested a while stretching themselves on the grass. It was afternoon soon and when evening came on, one boy rose and approached the herd, to collect the cows for the return to the village. He saw there a giant crane, picking up the animals and gulping them whole into its cavernous stomach. He cried out, 'Krishna, Gopala!' Hearing his desperate cry for help, Gopala reached there in a trice. He caught hold of the beak of that crane, (which He knew was an Ogre, by name Bakasura come in that disguise) and pulling the upper and lower parts apart, He tore the crane in two. The cows inside the stomach were freed."