Excerpted from the soon-to-be-published biographical novel Lord Krishna the Supreme Mystic. This excerpt is based on Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.36.16.
On A Field Near Govardhana Hill, in the twilight, the demon Arisasura had assumed the form of a bull and, at King Kamsa's order, had tried to kill Lord Krsna. Instead, the Lord had slain him. Just prior to his attack, Krsna had been chatting with His girlfriends, the gopis of Vrndavana, who had become quite frightened by the demon's angry bellowing.
Krsna strolled over to them, expecting to engage in their usual rasa dance. In this, the girls would form a circle, Krsna would miraculously reproduce His body between each two girls, and the party would ecstatically dance round and round. But the gopis, now relieved of their fear of Aristasura, were in a playful, joking mood.
As Krsna tried to place His arm around the shoulder of one of them, she flinched and stepped back, saying, "I don't think You should touch any of us now."
"Oh? And why not?"
"Well, You've just killed a bull. And the scriptures consider a bull to be as sacred as a cow."
"True, but that bull was really a demon."
"Doesn't matter," a second girl said. "He still had a bull's body. So by killing him, You've committed a terrible sin."
"I have?" Krsna beamed, playing along with their joke.
"Absolutely. You're very contaminated now."
"How terrible!" Krsna said with mock seriousness. "Then what should I do?"
"You should atone for Your sin," a third gopi said.
"Atone?" He asked, eyebrows raised.
They all nodded firmly, wanting to laugh but restraining themselves.
The first gopi said, "I think You should bathe in every holy river in the world."
The other gopis nodded.
"All the rivers?" Krsna asked.
"Yes," the girls giggled. "All."
"But that'll take too long. I have a better idea."
"Oh?" they inquired.
"Instead, I'll bring the rivers here."
"How can You do that?" asked the second gopi skeptically.
Krsna turned away from them and kicked His heel into the ground, making a hole.
Then He ordered, "O holy rivers, please come here at once!"
In a few seconds, the personified forms of every sacred river appeared there, standing with their palms folded and heads bowed. The men were bare-chested but decked in rich dhotis, whereas the women were wearing luxurious saris.
Krsna turned to the gopis.
"See? They're all here."
Although the girls were astonished, they scoffed, "We don't see anybody."
Krsna said to the rivers, "Would you please announce yourselves?"
Each river spoke his or her name, such as Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Sarayu, Sona, and Sindhu.
The gopis looked at each other doubtfully. Were those persons really those rivers?
Then the hole that Krsna had made with His heel suddenly expanded into a vast hollow, and all the personified rivers gladly entered it, each manifesting his or her own water form. It was now a beautiful, inviting, holy pond.
Krsna descended and splashed into it up to His neck, dunked His head several times, and climbed out, drying His dark glistening body with His hands.
"Well, now I'm completely pure." He smiled. "You don't have to worry anymore."
The girls tittered, knowing they never had to anyway.
"But look at you," Krsna said with mock condescension, pointing at them.
"What about us?" a few asked.
"You're all impure."
"Us?" several answered, incredulously.
"No, we didn't touch the bull," the second girl said. "You did."
"True, but you've never performed any religious activities for Lord Brahma's pleasure. That makes you impure."
Then Krsna's favorite, Srimati Radharani, turned to Her girlfriends and said, "All right, if we're impure, then we'll become pure."
"How?" the third gopi asked.
"I'll make an even better pond than Krsna's, and we'll all bathe in it."
"But where?" asked the second gopi.
"Just follow Me."
With Krsna in tow, Radharani confidently led Her friends a short distance away. They noticed that Aristasura's hooves had dug a shallow ditch just west of Krsna's pond, and Radharani decided to make Her pond there.
"Let's start digging," She said to Her friends.
They bent over, began clutching clumps of soft clay, and discarded them. After only an hour, they created a large hollow.
Krsna was astonished by how rapidly they had dug it.
When the gopis came out, the Lord munificently said to them, "You can fill it up with the holy water from My pond."
"Your pond?" Radharani asked, patronizingly.
"Yes, why not?"
"Because Your pond is contaminated. When You bathed in it, You left Your bull-killing sin there. I don't want that in My pond!"
Krsna laughed loudly.
"Then where will You get the holy water?"
"From the nearby Manasi Ganga lake. We'll bring many pots of it here."
Krsna recalled that some time ago He had meditated on the holy Ganges River, which was a considerable distance from Vrndavana, and had miraculously made it appear here as a lake. It was thus named Manasi Ganga ("the Ganges created by Krsna's mind"). But now Krsna wanted to spare Radharani and Her friends the heavy labor of lugging thousands of jugs of water from there to here. So He gestured to His pond, and suddenly a male representative of all the holy rivers emerged from it. With tears in his eyes, he folded his palms, bowed his head to the ground before Radharani, and devotedly prayed to Her.
Radharani's mood changed from playful to serious. She could see that he was approaching Her for some sacred purpose.
Rising to his knees, the representative said, "O Goddess, even those who know the scriptures well, such as Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, cannot understand Your glories. Only Krsna, the highest goal of all human effort, can. Therefore, He wishes to make sure that, when You're fatigued, You can wash away Your perspiration. That would make Him very happy."
Radharani gratefully glanced at Krsna, and then returned Her attention to the rivers' representative.
"As soon as Krsna ordered us, we came here to live in His excellent pond. But we all have a desire, and only if You are pleased with us can it be fulfilled."
Radharani pleasantly asked, "Oh? And what is it?"
"We desire to come to Your pond, for only then will our lives be successful."
With a gentle smile, Radharani replied, "All right. Please do."
Her friends nodded in agreement, feeling immensely happy.
At that moment, all the holy rivers in Krsna's pond broke through its blackish clay boundary and quickly flowed into and filled Radharani's pond. This movement sounded like a surging river during a heavy rainstorm.
As Radharani was enjoying this sight, Krsna seriously said, "My dear Radharani, may Your pond become even more famous than Mine. I will always come here to bathe in it and to enjoy water sports. Indeed, this pond is as dear to Me as You."
Radharani was touched deeply and replied, "And I, with My girlfriends, will also bathe in Your pond, even if You kill hundreds of Aris asuras here. And anyone who, with intense devotion, bathes in My pond or resides on its bank will surely become very dear to Me."
"And dear to Me also," Krsna added. "I will certainly bless such persons well!"
As the darkness enfolded them, Krsna and the gopis formed a circle and began their rasa dance. He resembled a rain cloud, and Radharani a flash of lightning. As They danced, They generated a torrential downpour of brilliant, transcendental joy. From that night on, Radharani's pond (kunda) would be called Radha Kunda, and Krsna's, Shyama Kunda. And anyone who would bathe even once in Her pond, or perform devotional service on its banks, would, by Her mercy, develop pure love for Krsna. Such love would of course culminate in continuous divine ecstasy. Thus, Radha Kunda would become known as the most exalted pilgrimage spot in the world.
For this reason, countless pilgrims travel many miles just to bathe in its spiritually exalting waters.
Amala Bhakta Dasa, well-known for his audio recordings of Krsna conscious books, is the author of The Life of Tulasi Devi, Mystical Stories from the Mahabharata, and Mystical Stories from the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Thousands of pilgrims will visit Radha Kunda on October 29, the anniversary of the appearance of this sacred site.