Krishna’s Expansions Into Individual Calves And Cowherd boys by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Therefore in order to satisfy the mothers of His friends, as well as to convince Brahma of the His supremacy as the Personality of Godhead, Krishna immediately expanded Himself as the missing cowherd boys and calves. In the Vedas it is said that the Supreme Personality of Godhead has already expanded Himself into the many living entities by His energy. Therefore it was not very difficult for Him to expand Himself again to become the various boys and calves.
Krishna expanded Himself to become exactly like the boys, who were of all different features, facial and bodily construction, and who were different in their clothing, ornaments and in their behavior and personal activities. In other words, although each boy, being an individual soul, had entirely different tastes, activities and behavior, Krishna expanded Himself to perfectly take up all the different positions of the individual boys. He also became the calves, who were also of different sizes, colors, activities, etc,. This was possible because everything is an expansion of Krishna’s energy. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa it is said, parasya brahmaṇaḥ śaktiḥ. Whatever we actually see in the cosmic manifestation—be it matter or the activities of the living entities—is simply an expansion of the energies of the Supreme Lord, as heat and light are the different expansions of fire.
Thus expanding Himself as the boys and calves in their individual capacities, and surrounded by such expansions of Himself, Krishna returned to the village of Vrindavana. After entering the village of Vrindavana, all the calves entered their respective cowsheds, and the boys went to their respective mothers and homes. The residents of Vrindavana had no knowledge of what had happened.
The mothers of the boys heard the vibration of their flutes before their return, and to receive them, they came out of their homes and embraced them. Out of maternal affection, milk was flowing from their breasts, and they allowed the boys to drink it. However, their offering was not exactly to their sons but to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who had expanded Himself into the forms of their sons. This was a chance for all the mothers of Vrindavana to feed the Supreme Personality of Godhead with their own milk. Therefore not only did Lord Krishna give Yashoda the opportunity to feed Him, but this time He also gave the same opportunity to all the other elder gopi’s .
All the cowherd boys dealt with their mothers as usual, and the mothers, on the approach of evening, bathed their respective children, decorated them with tilaka and ornaments and gave them necessary food after the day’s labor. The cows also, who had been away in the pasturing ground, returned in the evening and called their respective calves. The calves immediately came to their mothers, and the mothers began to lick the bodies of the calves. These relations of the cows and the gopis with their calves and boys remained unchanged, although actually the original calves and boys were not there. Actually the cows’ affection for their calves and the elder gopis’ affection for their boys causelessly increased. Their affection increased naturally, even though the calves and boys were not their offspring. Although the cows and elder gopis of Vrindavana had greater affection for Krishna than for their own offspring, after this incident their affection for their offspring increased unlimitedly, exactly as it did for Krishna. For one year continuously, Krishna Himself expanded as the calves and cowherd boys and was present in the pasturing grounds. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, Krishna’s expansion is situated in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. But in this case, instead of expanding Himself as the Supersoul, He expanded Himself as a portion of calves and cowherd boys for one continuous year.
One day, a few days before a year had passed, Krishna and Balarama were maintaining the calves in the forest when They saw some cows grazing on the top of Govardhana Hill. The cows could see down into the valley where the calves were being taken care of by the boys. Suddenly, on sighting the calves, the cows began to run toward them. They leaped downhill with joined front and rear legs. The cows were so melted with affection for the calves that they did not care about the rough path from the top of Govardhana Hill down to the pasturing ground. They hurriedly went to the calves with their udders full of milk, and they raised their tails upwards. When they were coming down the hill, their udders were pouring milk on the ground out of intense maternal affection for the calves, even though they were not their recent calves. These cows had their own newer calves, and the calves that were grazing beneath Govardhana Hill were larger; they were not expected to drink milk from their mothers but were satisfied with eating grass. Yet all the cows came immediately and began to lick their bodies, and the calves also began to suck milk from their udders. There appeared to be a great bond of affection between the cows and calves.
When the cows were running down from the top of Govardhana Hill, the men who were herding them tried to make them stop. Older cows are taken care of by the men, and the calves are taken care of by the boys; and as far as possible, the calves are kept separate from the cows so that the calves do not drink all their milk. Therefore the men who were taking care of the cows on the top of Govardhana Hill tried to stop them running down, but they failed. Baffled by their failure, they were feeling ashamed and angry. They were very unhappy, but when they came down and saw their children who were taking care of the calves, all of a sudden they became very affectionate toward them. It was very astonishing. Although the men came down disappointed, baffled and angry, as soon as they saw their own children, at once their anger, dissatisfaction and unhappiness disappeared and their hearts melted with affection. They began to show paternal love for the boys, and with great affection they lifted them in their arms and embraced them. They began to smell their children’s heads and enjoy their company with great happiness. After embracing their children, the men took the cows back to the top of Govardhana Hill. As they went, they began to think of their children, and affectionate tears fell from their eyes.
When Balarama saw this extraordinary exchange of affection between the cows and the calves and between the fathers and their children—when neither the calves nor the children needed so much care—He began to wonder why this extraordinary thing had happened. He was astonished to see all the residents of Vrindavana so affectionate to their own children, exactly as they had been to Krishna. Similarly, the cows had become very affectionate to the calves—as much as they were to Krishna. Balarama therefore concluded that the extraordinary show of affection was
something mystical, either performed by the demigods or by some powerful man. Otherwise, how could this wonderful change have taken place? He concluded that this mystical change must have been caused by Krishna, whom Balarama considered His worshipable Personality of Godhead. He thought, “This was arranged by Krishna, and even I could not check His mystic power.” Thus Balarama understood that all those boys and calves were simply expansions of Krishna.
Balarama inquired from Krishna about the real situation. He said, “My dear Krishna, in the beginning I thought that all these calves and cowherd boys were either great sages and saintly persons or demigods. However, now it appears that they are actually Your expansions. They are all You. You, Yourself are playing as the calves and boys. What is the mystery behind this ? Where have those other calves and boys gone? And why are You expanding Yourself as the calves and boys? Will You kindly tell Me what is the cause?” At the request of Balarama, Krishna briefly explained the entire thing: how the calves and boys had been stolen by Brahma and how He was concealing the incident by expanding Himself in order that the villagers would not know that the original calves and boys were missing.
—Excerpt from Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead » Chapter 13: The Stealing of the Boys and Calves by Brahma.