Astonishment and Chivalry
The ecstasy of astonishment in devotional service is perceived in two ways: directly, by the experience of one’s own eyes, and indirectly, by hearing from others.
When Nārada came to see the activities of the Lord at Dvārakā and he saw that Kṛṣṇa was present within every palace in the same body and was engaged in different activities, he was struck with wonder. This is one of the examples of astonishment in devotional service by direct perception. One of the friends of mother Yaśodā said, “Yaśodā, just see the fun! On the one hand, there is your child, who is always captivated by sucking the milk from your breast, and on the other hand there is the great Govardhana Hill, which can obstruct the passing of the clouds. But still, just see how wonderful it is that this great Govardhana Hill is resting on the finger of your child’s left hand just as though it were a toy. Is this not very mysterious?” This statement is another example of astonishment in devotional service by direct perception.
An instance of astonishment in devotional service by indirect perception occurred when Mahārāja Parīkṣit heard from Śukadeva Gosvāmī about Kṛṣṇa’s killing Narakāsura, who had been fighting Kṛṣṇa with eleven akṣauhiṇī divisions of soldiers. Each division of akṣauhiṇī soldiers contained several thousand elephants, several thousand horses and chariots and several hundreds of thousands of infantry soldiers. Narakāsura possessed eleven such divisions, and all of them were throwing arrows toward Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa killed them all simply by throwing three arrows from His side. When Mahārāja Parīkṣit heard of this wonderful victory, he immediately rubbed the tears from his eyes and became overwhelmed with joy. This instance is an example of astonishment in devotional service by indirect perception through aural reception.
There is another example of indirect astonishment. Trying to test Kṛṣṇa to see if He were truly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Brahmā stole all the cowherd boys and cows from Him. But after a few seconds, he saw that Kṛṣṇa was still present with all the cows, calves and cowherd boys exactly in the same way as before. When Lord Brahmā described this incident to his associates on the Satyaloka planet, they all became astonished. Brahmā told them that after taking away all the boys, he saw Kṛṣṇa again playing with the same boys in the same fashion. Their bodily complexion was blackish, almost like Kṛṣṇa’s, and they all had four arms. The same calves and cows were still present there in the same original fashion. Even while describing this incident, Brahmā became almost overwhelmed. “And the most astonishing thing,” he added, “was that many other Brahmās from many different universes had also come there to worship Kṛṣṇa and His associates.”
Similarly, when there was a forest fire in the Bhāṇḍīra-vana, Kṛṣṇa instructed His friends to close their eyes tightly, and they all did this. Then when Kṛṣṇa had extinguished the fire, the cowherd boys opened their eyes and saw that they had been relieved from the danger and that their cows and calves were all safe. They began to perceive the wonder of the situation simply by guessing how Kṛṣṇa had saved them. This is another instance of indirect perception causing astonishment in devotional service.
The activities of a person, even if they are not very extraordinary, create an impression of wonder in the heart and mind of the person’s friends. But even very wonderful activities performed by a person who is not one’s friend will not create any impression. It is because of love that one’s wonderful activities create an impression in the mind.
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