When you are chanting Kṛṣṇa’s name, what should you remember? You should always remember the pastimes related to Kṛṣṇa — how he attracted peacocks, kokilas (cuckoo birds), deer, all the creepers, trees, rivers, mountains, gopas, gopīs, cows, and charmed them with his sweet voice and flute. So when chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, we should remember all these things. But instead, what is in our minds? We are thinking, “Where am I going in this world? How can I control this situation?” No, no, we should never chant with this mentality. Always remember the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa when you are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, and follow this process. Gradually we must train the mind to always remember Kṛṣṇa. The high-class devotees can do this.
Remember and chant Kṛṣṇa’s name in the right process. Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. The eyes are closed, and the mind is concentrated. Automatically a pastime comes. Kṛṣṇa is in Keśī-ghāṭa in Vṛndāvana with lākhas and lākhas of cows and cowherd boys, playing on his flute and doing śṛṅgāra with his sakhās (decorating each other), and playing so many different games. Sometimes the sakhās play like monkeys, putting on tails like Hanumān. When they catch hold of the tail of one big Hanumān, he jumps from this tree to the next one. Holding onto that tail very tightly, they also go jumping from one tree to the next, here to there. All are clapping and laughing. In so many ways they are joking and playing and passing the time. Sometimes they are making jokes and imitating frogs. They squat down and jump, and again jump, and all are jumping like this and sounding like frogs. Sometimes Kṛṣṇa suddenly goes far away and all run after him. Who will catch Kṛṣṇa first? So they are doing all these pastimes.
One time Madhumaṅgala came to Kṛṣṇa and said, “You are very svārthī, selfish, very selfish You are. All the gopīs come with so many preparations. They give all these things and so much honour to You, and give nothing to us. Everything is always only for You. I know why. Because You have a pītāmbara, You have a sweet vaṁśī, and a peacock feather on Your head. But anyone can take these things and appear more beautiful and more honourable to all others. It is only because of these three things that You look so beautiful and attract everyone. You can take my cloth and give me Yours. Give me Your vaṁśī and You take my śṛṅgāra. You should also give me Your peacock feather. Then we will see that all gopīs will love me more, and give me rasagula, pera, burfi and everything. They will give me so many things, makkhana and miśrī also. No one will ask for You and everyone will come to me.” Kṛṣṇa began to smile and said, “We should test this. Let us change our clothes!” A devotee is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, and all these moods are coming in his mind. he sees them exchanging their clothes. Kṛṣṇa gave his flute and peacock feather to Madhumaṅgala, and he himself took Madhumaṅgala’s clothes. At that time a very big horse, the Keśī demon, came. He was whinnying so loudly that the whole of Vraja was upset. Everyone was afraid and wondering whether a storm had come or what? All the dust of Vraja went up in the sky. Everything was covered by deep darkness, like andhakāra, and everyone was so afraid. They could not imagine what was happening and Kṛṣṇa was now nowhere to be found. Only Madhumaṅgala was there. Keśī was searching for Kṛṣṇa, who had gone some distance away. Kaṁsa had told him, “You should go and at once kill Kṛṣṇa.”
Keśī said, “I don’t know what Kṛṣṇa looks like. How can I recognize him?”
“Oh, very easily you will know him. If someone is wearing a pītāmbara-vastra around his neck and a pītāmbara-dhoti below, a flute on his lips, a peacock feather on his head, and having a somewhat blackish complexion, you should know that he is Kṛṣṇa.” Madhumaṅgala was also somewhat blackish. He had exchanged his dress with Kṛṣṇa and was looking just like him, with the flute, peacock feather and pītāmbara. From very far off Keśī spotted him and thought, “Oh, there is Kṛṣṇa.” But Madhumaṅgala was not that Kṛṣṇa. Keśī saw him and began to whinny and jump very high. He jumped from far away and reached that brāhmaṇa boy, wanting to kill him. Just the air moving from Keśī’s tail caused Madhumaṅgala to fall flat on the earth! He was rolling down on the ground and calling out, “Are bābā!” Do you know the expression ‘are bābā’? It means, “O father, father, father.” Like this. “O mother, save me! O God, save me!” Madhumaṅgala threw his vaṁśī far away, he dropped the peacock feather here and the pītāmbara there, and he fell down and was rolling about. It was Madhumaṅgala’s greatest fortune that Keśī’s legs could not reach him. Otherwise what would be his destination? He started to fly away from there, but luckily Kṛṣṇa was very nearby. He caught hold of that brāhmaṇa boy and said, “You should keep My clothes for one or two days more.”
“No, no, I don’t want. Take all Your things.” He gave everything back to Kṛṣṇa. “And give me my belongings.”
Kṛṣṇa said, “No, no. I will not give them to you.”
“Oh, you must give them to me. Otherwise I will be killed. I was practically finished, but luckily just in the nick of time I was saved. God has saved me. So I will take my things. I don’t want any lāḍḍus or anything else!” He is remembering and smiling. Who? That devotee chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare. Why is he laughing? No one knows why he is laughing, but he had gotten some taste in seeing these pastimes.
I have told only one pastime but Kṛṣṇa has performed lākhas and lākhas of various kinds of pastimes. I am giving another very little sample.
Once Kṛṣṇa was in Govardhana. He had gone there with his cowherd friends for cow grazing. Lākhas and lākhas of friends were there with him. The cows were peacefully taking grass, and Kṛṣṇa was playing with his friends. He was at Dāna Ghātī. Do you know Dāna Ghātī in Govardhana? It is a narrow passage between two mountains. So he was playing there, and suddenly he heard a very sweet voice. He asked, “Who is coming? Oh, the gopīs are coming. They are going somewhere.” Kṛṣṇa told his friends, “Today, we will have to collect a tax from them. Otherwise, we will not let them pass.” The devotee is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, and this whole pastime is coming automatically like a chain of pictures on the cinema reel. He sees that Śrīmatī Rādhikā was with her gopī friends, and she was coming very close to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa asked, “Who are You?” She would not answer. Again he asked, “Who are You?”
Śrīmatī Rādhikā spoke very gently, but Kṛṣṇa harshly repeated, “Who are you?” Like some men have a habit of speaking harshly. She said very gently, “You don’t know who I am?”
“No, I don’t know who You are.”
“You don’t know?”
“Why are you not answering My question? Instead You are asking Me a question. You don’t know who I am?” She was silent. Again Kṛṣṇa spoke, “Daily I am seeing that My Vṛndāvana garden is being ruined. You are crushing so many plants. I didn’t know where all the flowers were going or who was stealing them, but now I have caught You red-handed, and I will punish You for trespassing. I am a very dharmika-puruṣa.” Do you know dharmika puruṣa? “I am a religious person. Do You know that I am the owner of this garden?”
Śrīmatī Rādhikā very sweetly and gently answered, “Have You planted any of the plants here, ever? And You have become the master?”
The sādhaka is hearing this exchange. The taste is very sweet and he becomes very absorbed in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. And in a chain all these images are coming.
Then Śrīmatī Rādhikā asked, “Have You planted any plant? Any very little plant?”
Kṛṣṇa was silent.
“Have You given water to any of these plants?” “No,” Kṛṣṇa answered in a low voice.
“But with lākhas and lākhas of cows You come and destroy all the plants Yourself. We provide the plants and water. My sakhī Vṛndā-devī is always planting and planting and serving Vṛndāvana. So it is named Vṛndāvana, not Kṛṣṇavana. How can You be the master of this Vṛndāvana? Your forefathers, Your father, Your father’s father, grand-father—were they the masters of this Vṛndāvana? How can You claim this? So You are ruining Vṛndāvana, not protecting and nursing it or doing anything productive.”
“Oh, don’t tell Me this,” Kṛṣṇa answered. “I am the owner of this place. I am a very sādhu-puruṣa, religious person.” Śrīmatī Rādhikā said, “What is Your name, please?”
Kṛṣṇa told, “My name is Kṛṣṇa.”
“Oh, Kṛṣṇa is always a very irreligious person. I have heard that there was a boy named Kṛṣṇa. He killed a lady when he was only six days old, still an infant. Oh, is this the sign of being a religious person—to kill someone’s wife, a lady? I also know of a boy named Kṛṣṇa, who from his boyhood used to enter others’ houses and steal curd, milk and butter. Are You that very same Kṛṣṇa? Oh, he was so religious! He always spoke the truth! I’ve heard that he had eaten some earth, and Yaśodā maiyā asked him, ‘Have You taken earth?’ ‘No, mother, I have not taken.’ ‘Then, why are Baladeva and all others complaining to me?’ Are You that same liar Kṛṣṇa?
“I once heard of one boy who was not satisfied with his lies. He was such a religious person that when the girls of Vṛndāvana were taking bath and had put their clothes on the bank nearby, that boy Kṛṣṇa took all their cloth and climbed up on the branches of a high tree. Then he told the girls, ‘You should come naked and offer praṇāma to Me.’ Oh, are You this religious person, Kṛṣṇa? Very religious, very religious! But still that religious person was not satisfied. Next he played on his flute and called all the gopīs and told them, ‘You should dance with Me and join My rāsa.’ Oh, are You that religious person? And after that he left all the gopīs, his mother and father also, Nanda-Yaśodā, and went to search for another father, mother, and 16,000 wives, and even then he was not satisfied. He wanted more and more new ladies. Are you that very Kṛṣṇa, so religious?” All the gopīs were clapping and Kṛṣṇa became embarrassed.
The sādhaka is still chanting and smiling a little, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare.” This sādhaka was Rūpa Gosvāmī. A lame devotee came by and saw that he was smiling. He thought, “Oh, perhaps he has seen that I am lame, and that is why he is laughing.” But actually, why was he laughing? Because he had witnessed this līlā. He had been chanting for about three, four hours, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma Hare Hare, and was quite absorbed. Anyone can see these pastimes. Those who are in a higher stage of devotion will automatically witness these līlās. When chanting they will never think, “I should go to the shoe shop because my shoes have become dirty. I need a new pair.” Or, “I will have to purchase a very beautiful golden chain for my wife and my elder daughter.” And then while chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, the neophyte devotee goes marketing and enters a very opulent gold shop. No, we should not do harināma like this. Instead we should be absorbed in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. All our senses and especially the mind must be absorbed in chanting. That is what Rūpa Gosvāmī is telling, and Svāmījī is repeating the same thing.
―Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja