STEALING OF BOYS AND CALVES BY BRAHMA:
After the killing of the demon Aghasura, Krishna and his friends sat down on the banks of River Yamuna to have their lunch. They set free the calves to forage for green grass. The calves went deep into the forest and did not return for some time. Afraid of some mishap to their animals, the cowherd-boys wanted to go in search of the calves but Krishna told them to continue with their lunch and volunteered himself for the search. In the forest, Krishna was unable to find the calves; when he returned he saw that his friends had also vanished. In fact, Lord Brahma had stolen these calves and the cowherd boys, took them to a cave and made them asleep under the spell of his mystic power. He wished to see what Lord Krishna would do without the calves and cowherd boys. Through his divine powers, Krishna understood that this was the work of Lord Brahma. He decided to play a trick upon Lord Brahma himself.
Krishna made no effort to release his friends and the calves. Instead, he multiplied himself into the cowherd boys and calves duplicating their original forms and minds. Down to the minutest details he copied their dress, behavior, mannerism, color, voices and other characteristics. These divine forms of the Lord were so perfectly matched the original that no one could even sense a change. As the sun went down, these Krishna-gopas and Krishna-calves wended their way home along with Krishna. On entering the village, each Krishna-gopa bid farewell to Krishna and entered his house along with the Krishna-calves. Krishna had so perfectly copied each boy’s characteristics that not even their own mothers could find anything strange. The Krishna-calves too went straight to the mother-cows.
Krishna continued to sustain this Leela so that the people of Vrindavana were not aware that the original boys and calves were missing. Every morning the Krishna-gopas and Krishna-calves would go as usual to the pastures. The calves would graze and the Krishna-gopas would play together all the games that Krishna and the cowboys used to play. In the evening they would return home again. Except for one strange thing, life was normal at Vrindavana. Day by day the mothers began to feel an overwhelming love for their children caring for them lovingly in the evenings. They were reluctant to send them to the pastures in the morning. The cows too began to adore their calves more. They could not stop muzzling them and could not seem to stop licking them.
In this way Krishna enjoyed the lavish love and tender care of so many parents and animals at the same time and gave immeasurable happiness to all the mothers. All the other gods and celestial beings watched with wonder at these Supreme impersonifications and envied those fortunate enough to enjoy Krishna's divine manifestations.
One-day, as usual, Krishna, Balarama and the other Krishna-gopas took their calves to graze in the pastures. The cows were already grazing on the hill slopes of Goverdhana. Seeing their beloved calves they came rushing down the mountain to caress them and lick them with great joy. Balarama, who was watching all this, said to Krishna: "Krishna, do you know the reason why everybody has become more loving towards their children? Why even the cows cannot bear to be separated from their calves. And the strangest thing is that they all look like you to me." Krishna then narrated to Balarama the entire incident of Brahma hiding the boys and the animals.
By now a year was almost over. It was one year of our solar calculation but only a moment in Brahma’s calculation. When he came again after a moment, he saw all the boys and calves playing with Krishna as usual. He was greatly puzzled at this since he was certain that all the boys and calves taken away by him were still sleeping in the cave. Very soon Brahma realized that his mystic power was almost nothing as compared to the mystic power of Krishna – the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Just like the light of a candle which pales into insignificance in the face of the sun, so did the mystic of Lord Brahma become insignificant in front of Lord Krishna’s mystic. As soon as he acknowledged this, like a mist clearing he saw the dark-complexioned beloved face of Krishna in each of the boys and calves. To his eyes wherever he looked he could only see the four-armed Lord Vishnu in each one’s form.
Getting down from his vehicle, the swan, Brahmaji went thrice around Krishna and bowed low. "My Lord, your mystic is infinitely great and divine" he said and sang in praise of the Lord. He then released the cowherd boys and calves. Then seated on his swan he disappeared. The divine duplicates also vanished when the originals came back!.
The real cowherd boys (gopas) were now sitting in the same place from where Brahmaji had whisked them away. But he had cast a spell on them as a result of which they could not remember anything that had happened. The original calves also were grazing peacefully. To them, Krishna also appeared as he had been a year previously. Although he returned after one year, the cowherd boys thought that he had returned in a moment. While enjoying his lunch with the other boys, Krishna chuckled to himself about their not realizingt for one year they had all been involved in the mystic activities of Lord Brahma.
That evening the cowherd boys returned home and told the others how Krishna had saved them yet again from the jaws of death. They related how he had killed the demon Aghasura. The boys actually spoke of the event which had taken place a year ago but which they thought was only a few hours earlier. Day by day the people of Vrindavana spoke lovingly of the deeds of Krishna even though they continued to be unaware of his divine nature.