“In Vrindavan, there were great illustrations of the power of being attached to Krishna’s devotees.”- Radhanath Swami
One example was Aghasura. He was the younger brother of Putna and Bakasura, who were both killed by Krishna. So he was very vengeful. He had to get revenge. He had so much hate in his heart; he didn’t want to just kill Krishna. He wanted to kill every single resident of Vraj Bhumi. Killing Krishna was not enough. He was really blood-thirsty. So, he assumed the form of this massive snake, and opened his mouth so wide, so that he could eat all the children. And his strategy was – “If Krishna and all the gopas are swallowed by me and I kill them, then all the parents will die. The calves, if they are killed, the cows and the bulls will die, because they can’t live without their calves. And without Krishna and all the children, all the adults will die.” It was serious genocide. He literally wanted to exterminate the entire race of Brijwasis forever. That was his motive. And he wasn’t just thinking it. He had a plan. And it was being executed.
He opened his mouth and the little gopas were playing and they said, “Oh! Look at that! It looks like Krishna must have made this. It’s a playground for us to play. So then let’s go play in it”. So, they started going in and somebody said, “Is this a statue?” And somebody said, “But it feels like its breathing. This is a giant snake. Its tongue is like a highway; his bottom lip is on the ground and upper lip is in the clouds. It has come to devour us. This is a giant demon. It has come to devour us.”
And the children were so happy, they were laughing and playing. They said, “Oh! Let’s go inside, Krishna will save us! And some of the little boys started running away. And the others said, “You are so afraid, we won’t play with you anymore. Krishna will protect us. Let’s go!” So, they were all clapping and laughing and playing as they ran right into his mouth. And Krishna was looking at them. And meanwhile they were just looking at Krishna going like this – “We are going in. We are going in the snake’s mouth.”
Krishna said, “What are you doing?” He didn’t have time to stop them. Everything happened so fast. At least, this is how his lila went. And Aghasura was waiting with his mouth open, waiting for Krishna. And when Krishna entered, the mouth closed. It was pitch dark. All the boys – there was no air, no ventilation, no oxygen – they all died actually. But for a while they were playing inside. They were exploring it before he closed his mouth. They were actually having a good time.
And usually this is the one time Krishna expanded himself in a special way. Otherwise, in Vrindavan he never used weapons. With Putana, he just remained a little tiny baby. Not that all of a sudden Sudarshan chakra came out. He just had his little baby hands. All the demons in Vrindavan – Kalia, he just danced. Narsingha Dev, he had big weapons, his nails; Varaha Dev, had his weapons; Ramchandra had his bow and arrow. But Krishna just liberated all these asuras just as a little boy playing. Bakasura swallowed him and Krishna was just inside and he just radiated some heat.
The reason he did that is because he didn’t want to interfere with anyone’s loving relationship with him. Because he wanted to just be seen as a friend, or a son, or a lover, and let all the Brijwasis think that Narayan is saving me, to not interfere with our loving relationship. But now nobody could see because he was inside the snake. So, he expanded himself bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger… until Aghasura suffocated. And his atma burst from the top of his head as light and went into the sky as mouth opened. Krishna glanced at all his friends and calves and brought them back to life.
Then he came out and the devas saw something remarkable. Sukhadev Goswami explains that Aghasura didn’t get impersonal liberation. He got personal liberation, to actually go to the spiritual world to have a loving relationship with the Lord. Why did he get that? And our Acharyas explain, because somehow or other those little gopas were so happy going in his mouth. And he appreciated their happiness for a moment, and because there was that slight little attachment to these cowherd boys, he was given this liberation in Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. To become attached to devotees, to become attached to giving pleasure by serving devotees is the path by which Krishna reveals himself to us.
– Radhanath Swami