This small book, “The Butter Thief,” is a summary study of one of the most remarkable and illuminating pastimes of Sri Krisna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This pastime is found in the venerable Bhagavata Purana, considered by self-realized authorities and scholars as the ripened fruit of the vast tree of Vedic literature. There are many religious scriptures that aim to help the conditioned souls living in this world, to realize their divine spiritual nature, and their eternal, loving relationship with God. However, nowhere except the Vedas and specifically the Bhagavata Purana, will one find such detailed revelation of the personal aspect of God, His transcendental world, and the sublimely sweet, loving pastimes performed by Him and His eternal, liberated associates.
To help the conditioned souls to awaken their attraction to the Lord, He mercifully descends to this world along with His associates and His abode, to display His magnificent transcendental pastimes. By hearing and contemplating these pastimes with attention and honor, a desire to be with the Lord and to serve Him will stir within the heart.
This book is compiled from a series of lectures delivered by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja in Vrindavana, India, the place of Sri Krsna’s divine birth and childhood pastimes. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja is a life-long devotee and self-realized scholar, deeply immersed in the sublime spiritual truths contained in Sri Krisna’s pastimes and instructions. The intention of these discourses is to reveal the extraordinary quality of the love that devotees feel for Sri Krisna, and that He feels for them.
That love may be exhibited in different moods. Some may express their love for the Lord as servants, or friends, or as parents, and even as wives or lovers. These roles are not imaginary or temporary, but are the actual eternal identity of the liberated souls. In these identities, the devotees exchange an infinite variety of enthralling spiritual sentiments with the ultimate object of their love, Sri Krisna. By hearing of these loving exchanges, one may be elevated to that same plane of transcendent love.
This pastime of Sri Krisna, where he is known as the Butter Thief, is particularly charming. Absorbed by His own desire, in the role of a naughty young boy, Krisna delights His mother and all the inhabitants of Vrindavana with His sweet, child- like activities. One of His favorite pastimes is to stealthily enter into the homes of the other mothers in Vrindavana, and eat the butter that they have made and carefully hidden from Him. This butter, which they have churned with their own hands, is made while entranced in a mood of great love for Krisna. By stealing and eating this butter, He is actually tasting their love for Him, and stealing their very hearts as well. Mother Yasoda is concerned that her child is becoming too mischievous, and in order to keep Him from growing into a young rascal, decides to punish Him by binding Him to a large grinding mortar. The Supreme Lord, Who possesses unlimited, inconceivable potencies, thus agrees to be bound like an ordinary child, in order to experience the superlatively sweet mood of parental love and concern displayed by His mother. He thus becomes controlled by the love of His own devotee. This is the highest mystery in transcendental science. The Supreme Lord is the Controller of all controllers, yet He becomes submissive to the love of His dear devotees.