Krishna is famous for stealing butter in Vrindavan but there is a beautiful pastime in which he steals sweet rice for his devotee Madhavendra Puri.
Krishna always reciprocates with the desire of his devotee but his pure devotees have no personal desire. Their desire is always to serve the desire of the Lord.
Lord’s desire or our own desire
Now let us ask what desire we carry in our heart? What we do when we go in front of Krishna? Do we ask him his desire, or do we tell him our desire? Most of us have a long list of desires and we expect the Lord to fulfil our desires. If he fulfils it, we think that it was his duty to do so and if our desires are not fulfilled then we become upset with the Lord. Most of us follow this ritual.
Now let us ask ourselves that how many times have we ever asked Krishna about his desires, his likes and dislikes? Or do we even care about his desire? For us God is just our caretaker. We want him to take care of each and every aspect of our life.
But pure devotees of Lord have no personal desire. Their only desire is to fulfil all the desires of the Lord in all situations and in all circumstances. Krishna also shares his feelings only with those who have unflinching and unmotivated love for him. Madhavendra Puri is one such great devotee with whom Krishna shared his personal desires.
Krishna reveals his desires to Madhavendra Puri
First, he asked Madhavendra Puri to install his deity on top of Govardhan hill. Madhavendra Puri with the help of the villagers installed the deity of Gopal on top of Govardhan hill and worshipped the Lord in a very grand way.
And later Lord Gopal asked him to bring sandalwood pulp from Jagannath Puri and apply on him to give him soothing experience. Madhavendra Puri immediately left to full the order of the Lord. Let us see how Krishna reciprocates with the love of Madhavendra Puri and how Madhavendra Puri was always eager to serve the Lord without any personal motive or desire.
Madhavendra Puri’s desire to taste amṛta-keli & his lamentation
On the way to Jagannath Puri, Madhavendra Puri came to Remuna. In Remuna there is a beautiful deity of Krishna called Gopinath. Madhavendra Puri was so happy to see the deity. He inquired from the temple priest that how the Lord is served here.
The brahmana said that the Supreme Lord is worshipped very nicely here and one of the great attractions is that the Lord is offered one special sweet rice daily which is called amrit keli.
“The brāhmaṇa priest said, “In the evening the Deity is offered sweet rice in twelve earthen pots. Because the taste is as good as nectar [amṛta], it is named amṛta-keli. This sweet rice is celebrated throughout the world as gopīnātha-kṣīra. It is not offered anywhere else in the world.” Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 4.117-118
While the discussion was going on sweet rice was placed in front of Gopinath. Seeing the delicious preparation, a thought came to Madhavendra Puri’s mind – If I could taste it then I can prepare it for my Gopal in Govardhan. But soon he felt terrible. How can I even think about tasting sweet rice which is being offered to Gopinath?
Devotees prepare food only for the pleasure of the Lord
Devotees with great love and care prepare food for the pleasure of the lord. Many people prepare food which they like and offer to the lord so that later they can eat it. Some who are addicted to tea and coffee even offer tea and coffee to the lord.
And there are those who cook food using onion and garlic and give it to the lord. Because they like onion and garlic so they put the plate in front of the Lord and later they enjoy such food. The motive is not to satisfy the Lord but to satisfy themselves.
What Krishna likes and he does not like he has already mentioned in the scriptures. And his pure devotees have also clarified it multiple times. If we prepare food which is not sanctioned in the scriptures, then the Lord will not accept it.
So, devotees prepare only those food items which are authorized by the scriptures. And when devotees prepare food for the Lord, they put their heart into it and then request Krishna to accept it. Devotees put the plate having delicious food items in front of the Lord and chant proper mantras and request the Lord to eat it.
When the Lord eats his food then during that time the devotee meditate on how Lord enjoys his food cooked by mother Yashoda with his cowherd friends and they also chant his holy names.
Krishna steals sweet rice for Madhavendra Puri
So, when the thought of tasting amrit keli (sweet rice) came into the mind of Madhavendra Puri, he felt that he has committed an offense. He did not say anything but remained in the temple till the arati of Lord was performed.
After the arati he left the temple and began chanting the names of Krishna in the marketplace of Remuna.
Meanwhile in the same night the temple priest had a unique dream. In his dream Gopinath appeared and told him that he has stolen a pot of sweet rice for his devotee Madhavendra Puri and he should take it and give it to him. Pujari was perplexed.
He got up and went inside the deity room. There he saw a pot of sweet rice under the garment of the Lord. The merciful Lord had stolen the sweet rice and had hid it under his garments.
Pujari was so amazed seeing the grace of the Lord. He immediately picked the pot of amrit keli and ran outside the temple. He did not know who Madhavendra Puri is. So, he began calling his name and announcing that Gopinath has stolen sweet rice for him, so, he should come immediately and enjoy the mercy of the Lord.
“Holding the pot of sweet rice, the priest called, “Will he whose name is Mādhavendra Purī please come and take this pot! Gopīnātha has stolen this pot of sweet rice for you!.” Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 4.133
The priest continued, “Would the sannyāsī whose name is Mādhavendra Purī please come and take this pot of sweet rice and enjoy the prasādam with great happiness! You are the most fortunate person within these three worlds!” Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 4.134
Madhavendra Puri in ecstasy seeing the mercy of the Lord
Hearing his name being called, Madhavendra Puri came out and identified himself. And when he came to know that Gopinath had stolen sweet rice for him, he was filled with ecstasy. When a pure devotee of Krishna works tirelessly to serve the Lord then Lord also reciprocates with that love.
Madhavendra Puri relished amrit keli. He then washed the pot and broke it into pieces and tied those pieces to his cloth. And later everyday he would eat a bit of the earthen pot and would experience great ecstasy.
From that day onwards Gopinath came to be known as Kshirachora Gopinatha – Gopinath who stole kshira (sweet rice) for his devotee.
But that night Madhavendra Puri was little worried too. He thought that soon everyone will come to know that the Lord has stolen sweet rice for me. So, people will throng to see me, and this will impact my devotion to the Lord.
His glory reaches Puri
To avoid public attention, he immediately left the place for Jagannath Puri. But before he could reach Puri dham his glories reached there. Everyone glorified him in Jagannath Puri.
But Madhavendra Puri was focused on his goal. He had come to collect sandalwood for his Gopal deity. He knew that Gopal is waiting for him in Govardhan. The residents of Jagannath Puri were happy to help him. They arranged sandalwood for him and also arranged two assistants to carry sandalwood.
Gopal asks to apply sandalwood paste to Gopinath
While returning back to Govardhan, he came again to Remuna to take darshan of Gopinath. The temple priests and other devotees were so happy to see him. In Remuna, Gopal appeared in the dream of Madhavendra Puri in the night and said that you can apply the sandalwood paste to Gopinath because I am non different from Gopinath.
When the devotees in Remuna heard the desire of Lord Gopal they were so happy. It was celebration time in Remuna. Daily chandan paste was prepared and was applied to Lord Gopinath. In this way Madhavendra Puri was able to fulfil the desire of Krishna.
If we always serve Krishna’s desire, we will always be in bliss
Pure devotees like Madhavendra Puri appear in this world to teach us, the conditioned souls, that real satisfaction and happiness is in always serving the Lord and not our own senses.
Madhavendra Puri just had a little desire to taste sweet rice and Krishna immediately steals sweet rice for him. Important is not how Krishna steals sweet rice. But why Krishna steals sweet rice for Madhavendra Puri?
It is because Madhavendra Puri had great love for Krishna and was always eager to serve Krishna. And to reciprocate with the love of Madhavendra Puri, Krishna steals sweet rice for him.
This is personally confirmed by Krishna. “I have accepted your service due to your ecstatic love for Me.” Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 4.40
Krishna tells the characteristics of his pure devotees in Gita, “Always chanting My glories, endeavouring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” Bhagavad Gita 9.14
So, instead of focussing on our desires, if we try to always serve Krishna’s desires then we will always be in bliss. Now let us ask ourselves – are we endeavouring to satisfy Krishna’s desires or are still obsessed with our personal desires?