Nanda Baba Characteristics
There is no one compared to Nanda Baba. He never knew of his position and power. For him, the title of Vrajaraj (King of Vraja) means being everybody’s obedient servant. If you were to make an idol of infinite humility, compassion and affection, the male version turns out to be Nanda Baba while its Female Version is Yashoda Maiya. His Complexion is not far from wheatish- golden. His Body bends where bulky. He has a huge forehead and his eyes are deep, slightly red in color. His dense beard hangs till his broad chest having a few black strands of hair. The black and white hair on his forehead are rather curly. He wears a Tulsi Mala around his neck. A Red Vaishnava Tilak adorns his forehead. He has a small protruding tummy and a deep navel. Baba’s whole body appears to be covered with dense hair. His dhoti is close to ochre color and He carries an upper cloth (उत्तरिय) with him. He does wear a white turban on his head, but he rarely wears the crested gem displaying his Vrajaraj status and wears it, only if forcibly topped over by a Chief Gopa on a festive occasion. Nanda Baba: I don’t need it. He often keeps telling this regarding the crest gem. “When Neelamani (Krishna) grows a bit, and matures, he will wear it.” Neelamani wearing a peacock crown looks like a Ruler. The Gopas say: He doesn’t require another crown or crest jewel. He has been ruling our hearts, since His very birth. Baba will agree to all this. But for him, His Neel mani, is a toddler, little bundle of joy, a newborn milk-suckling kid. His Krishna is so innocent that he approaches a baby calf for milking.
Krishna plays on Nanda Maharaj
Now, Krishna is sitting on his father’s lap and prancing his finger in his father’s navel. He is resting his small head on his father’s stomach and blowing air as he says “Bhadam”. He then clap his hands and lights up with laughter. The Gopas say: “When Nanda Baba was 60, Krishna was born to Him.” Are the elderly Gopas dreaming while staying awake? Can Krishna ever be born? He is already so quick now. If he were something, he has to be playful. Bhadra tells Krishna- “If you were there before, you were always younger to me. Go Ask Yashoda Maiya and see.”
Baba is not at all old. If some strands of hair and moustache grow white, can it be considered old? Elder Uncle (बड़े ताऊ Upanandji) too does not appear old. Nanda Baba looks after cows. Not only his cows, but he also tours the barns of elder Gopas. He keeps a report of all Gopas. Whenever he is free, and gets to sit, except while doing Narayan Puja, the Gopas siege him and start discussing elite topics of sage-hermits.
Baba, the epitome of service
Baba has no limit to his worship. Serving Narayan, Serving cows, serving bulls, serving sage Shandilya and his disciples. Nanda Baba also prostrates before Madhumangal and Madhumangal posing as a scholarly Pandit begins to murmur something. Krishna says this rightly- “Baba, this Madhumangal is a bogus pandit.” Change his tilak to that of cowdung, but his food should always include Modak (मोदक). Then Madhumangal builds up a serious face saying: “You are now a young Host. – When you grow big you will understand the holy qualities of cow dung.” Where is Baba free to reply to us, children? Even if a servant doesn’t call him, he has to visit the barn or hermitages of holy men. It is only in the evening that we kids, grip him. And lodge him on his huge wooden bed. Baba, as he is, always listens to us, children. Balaram will sit clipping against Baba’s right arm. Along with Krishna all the children will overpower, and sit attached to Baba. All children are at the liberty to lean against Baba as he sits. Whether you couple flowers on his hair or Moustache, he doesn’t object.
Nanda Baba, the story teller
Nobody knows, how many tales Baba knows. The tales of cows, bulls, tales of gods and goddesses, tales of seers and sages and also animal tales of Lion, bear and monkey. Who has narrated so many stories to Baba? Whatever story is demanded, be it from Krishna, Tok, Bhadra or Tejasvi, he starts with his narration. Balaram never insists on story-telling. Pillared on Baba’s shoulder, sitting and reclining he hears the stories. Krishna is most keen to hear stories, and even baba offers himself. Sometimes Baba asks Krishna: Did you meet the Bear in the forest? Then Krishna says: He keeps grumbling and on standing up, starts dancing. If someone among us sits on His back, he will take us where we please. When Krishna starts off, he never stops. Baba tells Krishna- You should not sit on the back of wild animals. But baba knows, Krishna wouldn’t listen like this. So, he presents it differently. Baba: “Wild animals rarely bathe. Their bodies remain dirty. Bear’s hair can have small insects hiding within.” The children speak up: But father, rabbit and squirrel will be clean. Anshu, Devapratha or another friend speak up- Horse and deer are also clean animals and monkeys, they love bathing. Baba has to ask everyday- “Neelmani, What did you do in the forest?” The children start off in chorus with the description. Many times Krishna gets defensive and also fights a little.
Nanda Baba, the most concerned parent
Baba has to keep Dau and Bhadra in confidence. When reporting about climbing a tree or bathing in deep waters, Krishna would promptly intervene- I had gone with Daudada and Bhadra. Both were along with me. Don’t know why elders worry so much. Baba showers loads of advice every day: Don’t climb tall trees, don’t lay foot on thin branches, Always bathe in the shore of a lake. Do not pluck Lotus or Rose flowers, they are thorny. Do not run a lot. Do not play under hot sun……
If you wait to hear his entire lecture, he will quote discourses heard from sages, and the cows will never get to graze. Sages think that Gopas forget their words. That is why they keep repeating the same advice all the time. Elder Gopas assume little children will forget their words. Whenever they find an opportunity, they keep repeating the same thing many times a day. Then Krishna Says: Even I can tell this to father: “Baba, do go out in the sun, don’t venture out in the rain.” But Mother says- “You should not instruct elders. You should quietly listen to them.” Krishna sometimes rightly fights with his mother. He says: “But, You are grown up. Why don’t you scold or prohibit father from leaving the house in hot sunny days.” But Krishna is innocent. He doesn’t know that Mother cannot even scold a calf or dog. How can she scold father? And even if she does, will he listen to her advice. Krishna fights with his parents. He says: “Baba, you do not scold this Gaurav (Calf’s name). See he is sitting on dung.” Baba says: He is a calf after all. Krishna can never understand Baba’s words. Krishna: He is a calf, so what? He keeps jumping in the forest. He also runs in sunlight. And during rains he runs like nobody else. When taken for bathing he troubles and starts to run, wetting me in the entire process. If Krishna sits to count faults he will go on and on and then will reach there to pacify. Before baba pretends to scolds or mentor Gaurav, Krishna will himself go and catch Gaurav’s head in both his hands and say: If you do not listen to me, I will also complaint to Bhadra, Balaram (दाऊ) and Yashoda Maiya.” Baba would spellbound watch his Neelamani. This child cannot even realize that this animal cannot follow his threat. If Gaurav comes close, Krishna would sniff him, placing his head on Gaurav’s body and close his eyes.