Oh Krishna - Why did You steal butter
The little blue boy Krishna has been a heartthrob of millions, since ages, mesmerizing them with His mischievous and prankish pastimes. Of all pranks, what has won Him the greatest fame is, the adventure of stealing butter, for which His devotees very fondly call Him ‘butter thief’ or ‘maakhan chor’, and even mollycoddle Him for this mischief. Yet there is another horde of His well wishers who are not much amused with this adventure. For their own obvious reasons they maintain that Krishna shouldn’t have done so…whatever was the matter.
Some supporters of Mother Yashoda sympathize with her, “She fed her special cows with flavorful grasses so that their milk was delicious. She personally collected the milk, made it into yoghurt and then churned it into butter with great attention. Mother Yashoda thought that her child didn’t like milk and yoghurt ordinarily prepared so, she personally involved into all these activities hoping that He won’t go to the neighborhood houses to steal butter. Despite all such wonderful arrangements by His affectionate mother, why did Krishna steal butter?”
Some logicians argue, “Krishna is the Supreme Lord and the source of all the spiritual and material worlds. He creates millions of universes, maintains them and annihilates them by His mere desire. He is the bestower of all magnificent benedictions. Then, just by His wish alone couldn’t He have created mountains and mountains of butter for Himself, and then eaten and distributed as much He liked? Then what occurred to Krishna that He had to take the pain of stealing butter?”
The experts counter this argument with a still better one, “Because Krishna was playing the part of an ordinary human child.” But then they get trapped in another loop, “Even if Krishna was playing the role of a human child, He was born as son of Vasudeva, a mighty Kshatriya ruler, and brought up by Nanda Maharaja, the lord of millions of cows. Either by His birth or by His upbringing He was always opulent… fabulously opulent. Then why did Krishna steal butter?”
Many worldly-wise, question, “Of all the available things around, couldn’t Krishna find something better to steal? Leaving aside gold and diamonds, He took the risk of stealing paltry butter? What was the dearth of milk and butter in His land? It was so abundantly available that the residents of Vraja played with it during festivals. They threw it at one another in a sportive mood and smeared on other’s faces, without restriction. Then where was the need for Him to steal it at all?”
Yet there are the moralists who question, “Krishna claims that He appears in this world to re-establish the religion. Being a protector of religion is this what He is expected to do? Where have all the religious principles and morality gone? Whatever actions great men perform, common men follow. What kind of example is He setting for others to follow? Being a leader of the entire world, why did He steal butter?
Unable to find the real answer to this transcendental mystery some give up in frustration, while others speculate the answer based on their limited mundane knowledge believing it to be true. But in fact they remain millions of miles away from the truth, which is a prerogative reserved by Krishna for His pure devotees.
Srila Prabhupada explains:
‘In His village of Vrindavana He enjoyed Himself with His mother, brother and friends, and when He played the role of a naughty butter thief, all His associates enjoyed celestial bliss by His stealing. The Lord's fame as a butter thief is not reproachable, for by stealing butter the Lord gave pleasure to His pure devotees. Everything the Lord did in Vrindavana was for the pleasure of His associates there. The Lord created these pastimes to attract the dry speculators and the acrobats of the so-called hatha-yoga system who wish to find the Absolute Truth.’ The pastimes performed by Lord Krishna in the material world are prototypes of His activities in the spiritual world which are simply full of never-ending spiritual bliss. These are meant to attract the conditioned living entities to the spiritual world where they can also get a chance to associate with Krishna and eternally enjoy with Him.
Stealing in this material world is abominable. But in the spiritual world, that stealing by Krishna is worshippable. Just as Lord Krishna is worshipable, in the same way His activities are also worshippable. When devotees hear about and glorify these divine pastimes they become purified and their love for Krishna intensifies. Devotees’ mind constantly dwell on these nectarean pastimes and this very meditation is the perfectional stage of Yoga. His devotees merrily and lovingly meditate upon those pastimes and come back to Him very soon.
Krishna being the Supreme Lord is supremely independent. He is beyond all laws. His actions are beyond judgment and justification. The envious can never understand His mysticism. This truth can be understood only by those upon whom He bestows His mercy. While others ever remain mystified as to “Why did Krishna steal butter?”
Virupaksha Dasa joined as a full time missionary in 2005 and is serving at Hare Krishna Movement Ahmedabad. He serves as a Bhagavad-gita teacher and Executive Editor for HKM's Hare Krishna Darshan Magazine.