The charming village, Gopa was surrounded by vast meadows marked by lush green grass and a range of hills on the horizon. The River Yamuna cut through the valley and crept into a forest not far from the village. While the cowherds of Gopa freely moved about in the meadows with their cattle, the elders often went into the forest for gathering wood or fruit.
It was a quiet dusky hour. All of a sudden, a shriek was heard and several people came out to the streets. They found a boy screaming that a tiger had pounced on one of his cows and had dragged it away into the forest. The villagers decided to inform the king immediately. Before long, the chieftain Nanda , armed with a sword and accompanied by several men carrying bows and arrows reached the spot. From the paw-marks left on the sands, they knew that the beast was big indeed!
The dense forest was spread over a large area and it was difficult to trace the beast. In a few days, it became clear that not one but a number of tigers were stalking the cattle of Gopa. There was nothing surprising in a leopard or a hyena straying into the village. But a pack of tigers marking the locality was unheard of.
Before Vasudev left Devaki ?s eighth child with Yashoda , his other wife, Rohini, and her son had come over to Nanda?s house. On the auspicious day when the two sons were to be named, Vasudev sent his priest to Gopa. The priest studied the horoscopes of the boys and named Rohini?s son Balarama , and Devaki?s son Krishna . He knew the elder boy would be endowed with unusual strength, bala, and the younger one would charm all ? Krishna . The priest also confidentially revealed to Nanda that the boys were destined to accomplish great and difficult missions. In fact, he hinted that Krishna was none other than an incarnation of Lord Vishnu .
Nanda now understood the mystery of the tigers attacking Gopa. Whenever the divine took a human birth, the evil forces grew restless and tried their best to harm the incarnation. The tigers were spurred by such forces to fall upon Gopa ? the home of the Godchild. Nanda?s apprehension was strengthened by an incredible event.
Baby Krishna was growing very naughty. He would crawl into the kitchen and thrust his hands into the pots containing cream and butter and empty them in no time.
The child seemed to be absolutely fearless! One day, he was seen hanging on to the horns of a fierce bull which everybody feared. On another day, he was seen playing with an unsheathed sword with dangerously sharp edges!
Could such a child be left unwatched? Queen Yashoda, who had to visit a neighbour for a moment, tied Krishna to a wooden rod, used for churning milk, with a silken thread since she could not find a maid to guard him. The rod itself was hooked to a pillar and she was sure the child would never be able to break away from it.
Moments after the queen left the palace, some servants heard a loud thud. To their amazement they saw Krishna crawling away fast, dragging along the rod which had got detached from the pillar! Before they could react, the little one crossed the courtyard of the palace leading to its backyard. He tried to cross into the garden through two huge trees, but the rod that he was towing got stuck against them. The child stopped and with his two tiny hands, he tried to push the trees apart to make way for the rod. Those who saw him doing so laughed.
But to their surprise, the trees shook violently and crashed to the ground! Meanwhile Queen Yashoda came back and questioned the bewildered servants as to where her child had gone. From between the trees, she heard a giggle. Like the moon emerging from the clouds, the sweet face of Krishna emerged from the bushy leaves of the fallen trees. Yashoda made a dash for the child and took him into her arms. The maids came running and removed the rope and the rod from the child?s waist. How had the two gigantic trees fallen down?
One of the boys of Gopa had seen something astonishing and spectacular. When the trees began to shake, their leafy tops took the form of two serene faces. They seemed to be looking at the child below with gratitude and delight. They fell as if they wished to prostrate before Krishna .
Only the sages understood the mystery of the two fallen trees: once, two young Gandharvas had been rude to Sage Narada . For their folly, the sage had cursed them to be born as two trees and spend a hundred years as silent witnesses to human follies. They could only be freed from the curse by Lord Krishna. However, Nanda, who did not know all this, thought that the strange collapse of the trees was perhaps yet another trick of some wicked elements intent on harming Krishna .