Dhanurdhara Swami January 2nd, 2003
A friend once suggested to me that a good class is where you learn at least one new thing. Today, during my afternoon class on Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, I came across something I had never heard before–that Nanda Maharaja achieved the position of Krishna’s father because of his compassion for the fallen souls.
This point was brought to light in reference to a Dwaraka pastime where Devaki defends the Queens of Dwaraka from the verbal abuse of the Padmavati, the mother of Kamsa and the wife of Ugrasena. Padmavati, along with Krishna’s Queens, observed Krishna in an ecstatic trance, where He revealed his unparalleled love for the gopis. Taking advantage of this scene, the envious Padmavati berated the Queens as poor and wretched in comparison to the simple cowherd girls of Vraja.
Devaki, however, spoke up to give support to the Queens. They need not feel humiliated, she argues, for the Vrajavasi’s love for Krishna is so superb that it is an unmatched category of love and cannot be envied. She humbly submits the example of Nanda and Yasoda, whose parental affection for Krishna is more intimate and pure than hers. Since she and her husband (as Prsni and Sutapa) prayed to get the Lord as their son in their previous lives, her intention was somewhat self-serving. But the motives of Nanda Maharaja for becoming Krishna’s father were pure in comparison.What were his intentions?
Nanda, in the role of the Vasu Drona, expressed the unconditional purity of his love when he prayed to Brahma:
jatayor nau maha-deve
bhuvi vivesvare barau
bhaktih syat paprama loko
yayanjno durgatim taret
“Please permit us to be born on the planet Earth so that after our appearance the Supreme Lord, the Personality Godhead, the Supreme Controller and master of all planets, will also appear and spread devotional service, the ultimate goal of life. Thus those born in this material world may very easily be delivered from miserable materialistic life by accepting devotional service.” (Bhag. 10.8.49)
“Nanda was concerned for the upliftment of the unhappy conditioned souls. He wanted Krishna to exhibit His childhood pastimes so that the world would hear and recite them and regain the taste of love of Godhead. (BB 7.79, commentary)
It was not only a new point for us, but a comforting one, confirming Srila Prabhupada’s conviction that the foundation of braja-bhakti is tenderness of heart, or compassion, which develops from selflessly dedicating oneself to the sankirtan movement.
It also corroborates a similar point I just read in Srila Bhaktivinoda’s Jaiva-dharma, where the similarity between the mood of bhakti and true compassion is described. Bhakti is defined as the tenderness of heart for Krishna, while compassion is described as the tenderness of heart for the living entities. The self-evident conclusion: Without compassion for the living entity’s suffering from forgetfulness of God, it is difficult to cultivate the tenderness of heart required for bhakti.