Rohini Devi's Anger

BY: SUN STAFF - 10.11 2021

Krsna and Balaram with Mother Yasoda, Rohini, Lalita, Visakha, and Duti
Calcutta Woodcut, 19th c.

Today we consider one aspect of Damodar's binding-lila that took place at the close of the pastime -- that is, the reaction of Mother Rohini when she discovered that Damodar had been tied to the grinding mortar. The transcendental nature of Rohini Devi's anger is described in Nectar of Devotion Chapter 47, which compares three pastimes that demonstrate dissatisfaction and anger in devotional service, or irsyu. The first of these three examples is Rohini Devi's anger during the Damodar-lila:

"Similar ecstatic love for Krsna in anger was expressed by Rohini-devi when she heard the roaring sound of the two falling arjuna trees to which Krsna had been tied. The whole neighborhood proceeded immediately toward the place where the accident had taken place, and Rohini-devi took the opportunity to rebuke mother Yasoda as follows: "You may be very expert in giving lessons to your son by binding Him with rope, but don't you look to see if your son is in a dangerous spot? The trees are falling on the ground, and He is simply loitering there!" This expression of Rohini-devi's anger toward Yasoda is an example of ecstatic love in anger caused by Krsna.

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 47)

There are various other pastimes in which Mother Yasoda and Mother Rohini, while caring for Krsna and Balarama, exhibit various motherly emotions like anger, anxiety, etc. This is described in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.8.25:

krida-parav aticalau sva-sutau niseddhum
grhyani kartum api yatra na taj-jananyau
sekata apatur alam manaso 'navastham

"When mother Yasoda and Rohini were unable to protect the babies from calamities threatened by horned cows, by fire, by animals with claws and teeth such as monkeys, dogs and cats, and by thorns, swords and other weapons on the ground, they were always in anxiety, and their household engagements were disturbed. At that time, they were fully equipoised in the transcendental ecstasy known as the distress of material affection, for this was aroused within their minds.

All these pastimes of Krsna, and the great enjoyment exhibited by the mothers, are transcendental; nothing about them is material. They are described in the Brahma-samhita as ananda-cinmaya-rasa. In the spiritual world there is anxiety, there is crying, and there are other feelings similar to those of the material world, but because the reality of these feelings is in the transcendental world, of which this world is only an imitation, mother Yasoda and Rohini enjoyed them transcendentally."

The familial positions of Mother Yasoda and Rohini Devi in relationship to Krsna are very interesting. In Vrindavan-lila, each one is serving as a mother to the two brothers. The relationship of the divine children is mentioned by Srila Prabhupada in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 1.11.16-17:

"Baladeva: He is the divine son of Vasudeva by his wife Rohini. He is also known as Rohini-nandana, the beloved son of Rohini. He was also entrusted to Nanda Maharaja along with His mother, Rohini, when Vasudeva embraced imprisonment by mutual agreement with Kamsa. So Nanda Maharaja is also the foster father of Baladeva along with Lord Krsna. Lord Krsna and Lord Baladeva were constant companions from Their very childhood, although They were stepbrothers."

In Krsna Book Chapter 2, 'Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krsna in the Womb', is a description of the complex family circumstances and genealogy of Krsna and Balarama, and their parents and adoptive parents. This is further elaborated in Krsna Book Chapter 8, in the narrative about Vasudev's request that Garga Muni visit Nanda, to astrologically determine the future of Krsna.

While in Vrindavan-lila, Yasoda Ma is the mother of Krsna, in Dvaraka, Rohini is also one of Krsna's mothers. This is described in Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila:

"At Dvaraka, You keep sixteen thousand queens in sixteen thousand palaces. Also, there are eighteen mothers and numerous friends and relatives of the Yadu dynasty. (240)

"In Vrndavana You also have Your father's elder brothers, Your father's younger brothers, maternal uncles, husbands of Your father's sisters and many cowherd men. There are also cowherd boy friends, and You eat twice a day, morning and evening, in the house of each and every one. (241)

In Dvaraka, Lord Krsna had eighteen mothers like Devaki, Rohini and others. Besides these was. His foster mother Yasoda in Vrndavana. Lord Krsna also had two uncles, who were brothers of Nanda Maharaja."

(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 15.240-241)

While the mood of vatsalya-rasa is uniquely different when expressed in the Vrindavan and Dvaraka pastimes, it's interesting to consider that Rohini is Krsna's mother in Dvaraka, but in Damodara-lila she is also expressing a motherly mood of anger when discovering that Damodar has been tied to the mortar, and has used it to up-end the Yamalarjuna trees.

Rohini's position in relationship to the mothering of Krsna is also mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.19, in a description of the Putana-lila. After Putana was dispatched, Mother Yasoda and Rohini, along with the other elderly gopis, waved about the switch of a cow in a ritual of protection for Krsna. In his purport, Srila Prabhupada states:

"When Krsna was saved from such a great danger, mother Yasoda and Rohini were principally concerned, and the other elderly gopis, who were almost equally concerned, followed the activities of mother Yasoda and Rohini. Here we find that in household affairs, ladies could take charge of protecting a child simply by taking help from the cow. As described here, they knew how to wave about the switch of a cow so as to protect the child from all types of danger. There are so many facilities afforded by cow protection, but people have forgotten these arts."

So in Sri Krsna's extended household, Yasoda and Rohini are described as being equally, or principally concerned, and the other women followed suit, with slightly less sense of concern.

Elsewhere we find descriptions of the similarly of the moods of motherly pleasure and affection enjoyed by Yasoda and Rohini. In his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 10.8.23, Srila Prabhupada writes:

"As the mothers cared for their respective babies, by the arrangement of yogamaya the babies thought, "Here is My mother," and the mothers thought, "Here is my son." Because of affection, milk naturally flowed from the mothers' breasts, and the babies drank it. When the mothers saw small teeth coming in, they would count them and be happy, and when the babies saw Their mothers allowing Them to drink their breast milk, the babies also felt transcendental pleasure. As this transcendental affection continued between Rohini and Balarama and Yasoda and Krsna, they all enjoyed transcendental bliss."

While there are aspects of great similarity between the mothering moods of Yasoda and Rohini Devis, still there is a distinct difference in how they relate to Sri Damodar. This is described in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.11.12-13, in a narrative describing a pastime just after the Damodar binding-lila:


sarit-tira-gatam krsnam
bhagnarjunam athahvayat
ramam ca rohini devi
kridantam balakair bhrsam

"Once, after the uprooting of the yamala-arjuna trees, Rohinidevi went to call Rama and Krsna, who had both gone to the riverside and were playing with the other boys with deep attention.

Mother Yasoda was more attached to Krsna and Balarama than Rohinidevi was, although Rohinidevi was the mother of Balarama. Mother Yasoda sent Rohinidevi to call Rama and Krsna from Their play, since it was the right time for lunch. Therefore Rohinidevi went to call Them, breaking Their engagement in play.


nopeyatam yadahutau
krida-sangena putrakau
yasodam presayam asa
rohini putra-vatsalam

Because of being too attached to playing with the other boys, Krsna and Balarama did not return upon being called by Rohini. Therefore Rohini sent mother Yasoda to call Them back, because mother Yasoda was more affectionate to Krsna and Balarama.

Yasodam presayam asa. These very words show that since Krsna and Balarama did not care to return in response to the order of Rohini, Rohini thought that if Yasoda called They would have to return, for Yasoda was more affectionate to Krsna and Balarama."

So although both Yasoda and Rohini serve as Krsna's mother (in Vrindavan and Dvaraka), both experience distress of material affection, like Rohini's anger when Krsna is threatened, and both enjoy transcendental pleasure while mothering, the Damodar-lila pastime underscores the fact that Mother Yasoda's vatsalya-rasa is incomparable, and her glorious child, Damodar, is engaged in the binding pastime with His best of Mothers in Vraja.