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Who Is the Winner of the Diwali Contest of Love?

by Gauranga Darshan Das

“Why is my son stealing butter and milk from our neighbours’ homes? Doesn’t He like the taste of the milk products at my home?” Mother Yashoda thought to herself.

She had been hearing so many complaints from the neighbouring gopis about Krishna’s stealing. As a responsible mother, she was worried about her son’s manners and discipline. She thought, “My maidservants might not be making good butter at home. Sometimes, they even end up burning milk. Therefore, Krishna is stealing butter from elsewhere. So, I must do something to improve the quality of butter at my home.”

Even the most exalted devotees of Krishna constantly desire and endeavor to improve the quality of their service. This zeal and longing to please Krishna with their service reserves a special seat for them in Krishna’s heart.

Love Entails Attention to Details  

Among the many cows in King Nanda’s Goshala, there were a few special ones called the Padma-gandha cows. They were known to give the most delicious and fragrant milk. Mother Yashoda took it upon herself to personally care for these special cows. She fed them tender and fragrant grass, and she milked them with her own hands. Driven by her deep motherly affection, Yashoda decided that only she could make butter that was as good as her son deserved. Devotees who intensely love Krishna are meticulous in their services and do not leave any minute aspect of a service unattended.

Love often involves paying close attention to the small details and nuances in an activity meant for the beloved, which can strengthen the relationship.

Seva & Smaranam in Separation

On the day of Diwali, mother Yashoda rose early in the morning, much before Krishna was awake. She wanted to finish making butter before He woke up, knowing that His playful nature might interrupt her task. Engaging her maidservants in various chores, she personally took up the task of churning yogurt.

kauma vāsa pthu-kai-tae bibhratī sūtra-naddha

putra-sneha-snuta-kuca-yuga jāta-kampa ca subhrūḥ

rajjv-ākara-śrama-bhuja-calat-kakaau kuṇḍale ca

svinna vaktra kabara-vigalan-mālatī nirmamantha

“Dressed in a saffron-yellow sari, with a belt tied about her full hips, mother Yashoda pulled on the churning rope, laboring considerably, her bangles and earrings moving and vibrating and her whole body shaking. Because of her intense love for her child, her breasts were wet with milk. Her face, with its very beautiful eyebrows, was wet with perspiration, and malati flowers were falling from her hair.” (SB 10.9.3)

As mother Yashoda churned, she sang songs about her dear son’s charming activities. The sweet moments and adventures of little Krishna inspired these songs. With each turn of the churning rod, her heart poured out its love for Krishna. She also felt a deep separation from her son, who was sleeping in the next room, and to mitigate her feelings of separations, she was absorbed in singing while churning.

It is the service and remembrance of the Lord that keeps devotees in His presence, despite a physical separation.

Vrindavan’s Perfect Harmony

Churning butter while thinking of Krishna and singing His glories, mother Yashoda sets a perfect example of a devotee who dedicates one’s body, mind, and words to Krishna’s service. With each pull of the churning rope, Mother Yashoda’s eyebrows moved expressively along with her songs about Krishna’s exciting stories. As she churned the butter, her earrings, ankle bells, and waist belt jingled together, making a musical sound like tiny kartalas. The churning rod’s movements in the pot sounded like a mridanga. All these sounds blended with her sweet singing, creating a mesmerizing melody that attracted the heart of Krishna. And this scene continues to attract the heart of all those who hear about it and meditate on it.

Vrindavan is a place of perfect harmony, where every living and non-living entity comes together in perfect sync to give pleasure to Krishna.

Endearing Reciprocation for Enthusiastic Service

While mother Yashoda was busy churning butter, little Krishna woke up in the next room. Feeling hungry just like any other child, He longed for His mother’s comforting presence and nourishing milk. When He couldn’t find His mother beside him, He started crying and came to where His mother was churning.

Krishna cleverly grabbed the churning rod, stopping mother Yashoda’s activity. Yashoda saw Krishna and His actions, and joy filled her heart; she realized He was growing more intelligent each day. Krishna’s face lit up with pride as He playfully interrupted mother Yashoda’s churning, making His already adorable cheeks even more charming.

When a devotee is wholeheartedly eager to serve Krishna, Krishna himself eagerly embraces the opportunity to receive that service. He personally approaches the devotee, reciprocating with their profound devotion and dedication in serving Him.

A Loving Competition

Krishna climbed onto Mother Yashoda’s lap—the place that rightfully belonged to Him. Pausing her churning, mother Yashoda lovingly fed Him her milk, gazing at His sweet face with boundless love. Her milk was nothing but a transformation of her deep motherly affection, and Krishna’s hunger was a reflection of His eagerness to experience her love.

Mother Yashoda’s love knew no bounds, and as a result, her milk flowed endlessly like monsoon rains. And Krishna’s appetite for her love was insatiable, so He sipped the milk eagerly, much like a thirsty Chataka bird. The feeding continued for a long time. In other words, the competition between the mother’s love (Yashoda’s milk) and the son’s ability to taste that love (Krishna’s hunger) continued for a long time! Both relished each other’s association as they lost all sense of time.

The Winner of the Divine Contest

In this transcendental contest, Mother Yashoda emerged as the victor. The surge of her milk that represents the power of her love, overpowered the hungry Krishna. Unable to contain the abundance, Krishna’s mouth allowed the milk to overflow, creating tiny rivulets of droplets on His adorable cheeks. These delicate milk droplets gracing His bluish cheeks resembled glistening pearls, declaring Mother Yashoda as the winner of this sweet competition of love.

In the enchanting episode of Damodara-lila, there were many more such moments, where caring Mother Yashoda gets an upper hand over naughty Krishna’s desires. When Krishna was hungry for more milk, Yashoda would leave Him; When Krishna wanted to run away, Yashoda would catch Him; When Krishna wanted to play, Yashoda would bind Him.

In the enchanting episode of Damodara-lila, there were many more such moments where the caring Mother Yashoda successfully defeated naughty Krishna and His desires and plans. When Krishna yearned for more milk, Yashoda would gently depart; when Krishna aimed to escape, Yashoda would skillfully capture Him; and when Krishna sought play, Yashoda would tenderly bind Him.

The all-conquering Lord loves to be conquered by the love of His devotees, who dedicate their body, mind and words for His loving service. He eagerly agrees to be defeated by the loving affection, considering it to be His true victory.

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