Godhuli Kala

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Every day in Kṛṣṇa’s eternal Vraja pastimes, the wish-fulfilling cows are led home from their pasturing in the late afternoon and early evening. This period is called go-dhūli-kāla (cow-dust time), since the many herds of cows all moving at once stir up quite a bit of dust. That divine dust is wholly transcendental and is itself said to fulfil all desires.

Here is an old Sanskrit verse that has been attributed to the medieval poet, Śrīla Bilvamangala Ṭhākura:


                gopāla-bālaka-śatair anugamyamanam

                sāyantane prati-gṛhaṁ paśu-bandhanārthaṁ

                gacchantam acyuta-śiśuṁ praṇato ‘smi nityam

          “I eternally prostrate myself before the Infallible Lord, who

comes in the guise of an ordinary cowherd child. His soft, tender limbs are covered in the dust upraised by the hooves of all the cows He herds, and He is accompanied by hundreds of cowherd boys as He returns every evening to each house in Vraja to tether the cows into their sheds.”

This verse depicts the early evening, when Kṛṣṇa comes home after grazing His father’s cows. This is always an exciting time for all the residents of Vṛndāvana, even though it happens daily, for the appearance of the Lord is always a festive occasion (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 9.24.65). The Vrajavāsīs, especially all the gopīs, have been anxiously thinking of Kṛṣṇa all day long, worrying that His tender, pinkish lotus feet may be bruised by sharp rocks and thorns in Vṛndāvana’s pastures. 

Kṛṣṇa’s foster parents Nanda and Yaśodā even send some of the taller gopīs up to the candra-śāla (a small structure on the roof wherein one can view the moon) to look for Kṛṣṇa, so that the girls might inform them as soon as Kṛṣṇa has been spotted (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.35.23, Purport). 

In general, everyone is very anxious for the Lord’s speedy and safe return home. As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in his purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam,10.2.38:

The gopīs always thought of the Lord’s lotus feet when He was walking in the pasturing grounds, and, as described in the previous verse, simply by thinking of the Lord’s lotus feet, the gopīs were fully absorbed in transcendence (aviṣṭa-cetā na bhavāya kalpate). Like the gopīs, one who is always absorbed in thought of the Lord is beyond the material platform and will not remain in this material world. It is our duty, therefore, always to hear, chant and think about the Lord’s lotus feet, as actually done by Vaiṣṇavas who have decided to live in Vṛndāvana always and think of the Lord’s lotus feet twenty-four hours a day.

In Kṛṣṇa book, in Chapter 15, the Killing of Dhenukāsura, Srila Prabhupada describes Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma’s return home as follows:

When Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, and Their friends entered the village of Vṛndāvana, They played Their flutes, and the boys praised Their uncommon activities in the forest. Their faces were decorated with tilaka and smeared with the dust raised by the cows, and Kṛṣṇa’s head was decorated with a peacock feather. Both He and Balarāma played Their flutes, and the young gopīs were joyous to see Kṛṣṇa returning home. All the gopīs in Vṛndāvana remained very morose on account of Kṛṣṇa’s absence. All day they were thinking of Kṛṣṇa in the forest or of Him herding cows in the pasture. When they saw Kṛṣṇa returning, all their anxieties were immediately relieved, and they began to look at His face the way drones hover over the honey of the lotus flower. When Kṛṣṇa entered the village, the young gopīs smiled and laughed. Kṛṣṇa, while playing the flute, enjoyed the beautiful smiling faces of the gopīs. Then Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were immediately received by Their affectionate mothers, Yaśodā and Rohinī, who, according to the time’s demands, began to fulfill the desires of their affectionate sons. Simultaneously, the mothers rendered service and bestowed benediction upon their transcendental sons. They took care of their children by bathing Them and dressing Them very nicely. Kṛṣṇa was dressed in yellowish garments, and Balarāma was dressed in bluish garments, and They were given all sorts of ornaments and flower garlands. Being relieved of the fatigue of Their day’s work in the pasturing ground, They looked refreshed and very beautiful. They were given palatable dishes by Their mothers, and They pleasantly ate everything. After eating, They were seated nicely on clean bedding, and the mothers began to sing various songs of Their activities. As soon as They sat down on the bedding, They very quickly fell fast asleep. In this way, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma used to enjoy Vṛndāvana life as cowherd boys.

Thus, when it is time to milk the cows, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma,

accompanied by their gopa friends, return home at this go-dhūli-kāla. The Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, His form covered with the divine dust of the hooves of the cows in Vraja, is bathed affectionately by His mother, who then dresses Him comfortably in clean clothes and ornaments. Some temples therefore also do this for the Deity form of the Lord every evening. The two transcendental brothers Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma then sit down to relax and enjoy Their evening meal, which has been lovingly prepared by Yaśodā, Rohinī, and other gopīs. 

        Among many others, we find this nice description in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.15.42):

taṁ gorajaś-churita-kuntala-baddha-barha-


veṇum kvaṇantam anugair upagīta-kīrtiṁ

  gopyo didṛkṣita-dṛśo ‘bhyagaman sametāḥ 

  “Lord Kṛṣṇa’s hair, powdered with the dust raised by the cows, was decorated with a peacock feather and forest flowers. The Lord glanced charmingly and smiled beautifully, playing upon His flute while His companions chanted His glories. The gopīs, all together, came forward to meet Him, their eyes very eager to see Him.”

We can thus think of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees every afternoon. The

basic principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is to always remember Lord

Kṛṣṇa and never forget Him. 

If we try to always remember Lord Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa will always help us to do so, as the essential four verses of the Bhagavad-gītā (10.8-11) teach. Of course, in this age the easiest and most direct practice is simply to chant the mahāmantra:

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare

  hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare

To help us do so, ISKCON founder-ācārya His Divine grace A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupada Prabhupada left his many books containing so many directions we can follow. And these books have created many devotees in ISKCON, who can also guide us.  

Ultimately, if we also share such mercy with others, it becomes even more solidified within our own hearts. Therefore, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advised all Indians especially (in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 9.41): 

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya janma yāra

  janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra

“One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India [Bhārata-varṣa] should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.” 

The Śrī Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma mandira has been established by Śrīla Prabhupada so that everyone can fulfil this most noble aim—which is the perfection of human life.