After the shock and surprise over the incident of wild beasts lurking around Krishna had subsided, Nanda wondered if it would not be wise for him to leave Gopa and settle down at some other place. As days passed, Yashoda and Rohini found it impossible to exercise any control over Krishna and Balarama. When the two decided to be playful, they proved swift as the wind. They knew every nook and corner of the palace. The granary, the garden, the vast orchards with the bushes behind them which sheltered the jackals, mongooses, and rabbits, the stone steps descending into the pond where the turtles floated amidst the water lilies – were familiar places.
There was nothing much to worry if their world was confined to Nanda’s house and its sprawling compound. But they thought themselves to be the masters over all the neighbouring houses as well! If a potful of fresh butter was missing from one kitchen, the thick paste of cream would have disappeared from the milk-pot in the adjacent household too! And not only would the two little princes never betray each other, but no one in the village would implicate them in these escapades. Such was the hold the two brothers had on all the boys of Gopa!
Alas, by and by the gang of ‘enfant terrible’ became a menace for the kitchens and the storerooms of the sweet sleepy village. One day, while Queen Yashoda stood in the hall; she saw a number of women from the neighbourhood approaching her. She thought they had come as usual to chitchat with her. But this time the visitors looked troubled, they hesitated to tell what was in their minds. “Come, my sisters, something serious seems to have brought you here!” said their queen. “Well, yes, it is something unusual, we must admit. It is about Balarama and Krishna rather it is about Krishna. He seems to be master-minding all the mischief,” said one of them. “Mischief?” asked Yashoda looking surprised while in reality she knew that the boys were upto no good. Several voices started their litany of complaints at once. “Yes, mischief…” “Mischief, nothing but mischief…” “And mischief to no end…”
“I understand, I quite understand. The two naughty boys are playing havoc with milk, butter, cream, and curd. But can’t you hang your pots high enough – beyond their reach?” demanded Yashoda. “We’ve tried that, O queen! We have, but to no avail!” again several of them spoke together. “You surprise me!” remarked the queen. “We are surprised ourselves!” said the women.
“Here comes Krishna. I’ll punish him in front of you,” said the queen, looking at the smiling child emerging from behind the door. “Now, will you please guard the doors of the hall so that he can’t escape?” Krishna, with a peacock-feather stuck to his bejeweled coronet and gold trinkets hanging from his waist, came running towards Yashoda. He raised his arms to be lifted by his mother. But Yashoda stood tense; her hands resting on her waist, glaring at him. At once a dozen arms extended towards the child, each woman guarding the doors eager to take him into her arms. Krishna advanced towards one of them, but giggled and jumped out of the way as she was about to take hold of him, and ran towards another. All burst into peals of laughter and each became an enthusiastic and enchanted party to the play. Krishna would touch them and run away. This went on for quite some time.
Yashoda stood aloof, witness to the drama, amused and amazed. What had happened to these women? Where was their anger? But the joy of the women folk overwhelmed her. She did not know when she stepped forward and took Krishna in her arms. After more joyous laughter, the women dispersed. They were unable to explain why they had come to Yashoda. Indeed, they dispersed beaming with joy and happiness!
It took another day for Queen Yashoda to find out the mystery of the missing cream from the pots suspended above the reach of the boys. It was evening. She returned from the river earlier than usual. She heard some noises from the room next to the kitchen. Taking soft and slow steps, she peeped in through the window. It was a sight she would never forget. There were four or five boys, one kneeling on the other. On the top stood Krishna scooping a lump of cream. Yashoda stood speechless. But as soon as Krishna saw her, he jumped down. The startled boys scrambled to get down, and then made a beeline for the door.
A little later Balarama came running to Yashoda. “Krishna has swallowed up a whole handful of earth because he could not get any cream!” he reported, quite excited. Yashoda went out into the verandah behind the kitchen and found Krishna. “You naughty boy! Open your mouth!” she commanded, kneeling down and holding Krishna by his arms. Krishna kept his mouth shut – his cheeks puffed up. “How much earth does your mouth contain?” asked the mother, pressing the child’s tender cheeks. Krishna opened his mouth. The queen peered inside Krishna’s mouth and the sight took her breath away. For, she saw the whole universe in her child’s gaping mouth – the stars and the sun and the clouds and the whirling planets behind them! It happened just for a twinkle of an eye. Still holding on to Krishna’s arms, Yashoda fainted and slumped to the floor.