Jumping in the bed of Shyam, they shake him and wake him up, making fun out of him and saying that he is still sleeping. They climb on him, they feed him prasad that they were already eating, they wrestle with him and defeat him, thinking him to be one of their own and showing off as if they are stronger and smarted than him even. Sri Krishna’s dear cowherd friends play with him, the Lord of the entire spiritual and material universes, just as ordinary friends. These fortunate cowherd friends are divided into four groups, namely Suhrit, Sakha, Priya Sakha, and Priya-narma Sakha.
Desiring to always protect Krishna from all dangers, the Suhrit Sakhas are Cowherd boys older than Sri Krishna. They carry sticks, clubs and other weapons, and accompany Krishna in the forest to protect him. Subhadra, Kundala, Dandi, Mandala and others are Sri Krishna’s elder cousins who wield weapons for his protection. Mahabhima, Ranasthira, Gobhata etc. are other Suhrit Sakhas. There is a description that seeing a dark cloud over a Govardhna peak, the Suhrit sakhas took up their weapons and where breathing heavily with anger, thinking the cloud to be the demon Arishtasura. They decided to go and fight the demon and thus protect Krishna, when one of their friends told them that it was just a cloud and they need not be unnecessarily concerned.
The younger cowherd boys such as Vishal, Vrishabh, Ojasvi, Devaprastha and others are known as Sakhas and are always eager to serve Sri Krishna. They go pick flowers, make garlands and offer them to Krishna. When he is tired, they massage his feet, fan him with a palm leaf and so forth, to relieve his fatigue. In this way, they are always eager to serve Krishna.
The Priya sakhas of Krishna are all his age and are extremely dear to him. They play various games like tug-of-war, football and other such games with him; boasting about their strength, they challenge him to fight with them; they imitate the various animals and paint each other with the minerals from the Govardhan hill. In this way they enjoy many wonderful pastimes together. Sridama, Sudama, Dama, Vasudama, Stoka Krishna, Kinkini, Priyankara, Vitankaksha, Vilasi and others are the Priya Sakhas of Shyam.
Subal once said to Krishna that you are looking so beautiful today that I am also being attracted to you, then how is it that the Vraja Gopis are still able to compose themselves. On another occasion, understanding the separation that Krishna was feeling from Radharani, Subal arranged for her to be able to come and meet him. When Sri Krishna goes to the temple of Suryadev disguised as a Brahmana to see the Gopis coming there to perform Surya Puja, Madhumangal accompanies him and assists in the pastimes. Such is the glory of the Priya-narma Sakhas of Sri Krishna, that there is nothing what so ever that is hidden from them. Being the dear most friends of Krishna, they are fully aware of all Krishna’s pastimes with the Gopis and often assist in them by taking messages and arranging meetings. Subala, Arjun, Gandharva, Vasant, Madhumangal, Ujjval, Kokila, Vidagdha and others are Priya-narma Sakhas of Sri Krishna.
Let us offer our respects at the lotus feet of all these friends of Sri Krishna, who are all as splendid and wonderful as Krishna himself, and engage in such wonderful pastimes with him.