On Janmashtami, we celebrate the birth and life of Krishna, following his journey from the child who loved stealing butter and defeating demons to the handsome young man whose irresistible charm stole many a gopika's heart and finally the charioteer who counselled Arjuna during the Great War of the Mahabharata. His story is filled with interesting people: His brother Balarama, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. What about the woman who raised him? What was Yashoda's story?
Krishna's birth was foretold. Destined to kill the tyrant king Kansa, Krishna is smuggled away to safety by his father and brought up by Yashoda. His place is taken by Yashoda's daughter who is revealed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga.
Yashoda raised Krishna as she would her own child. Little did she know that this was no ordinary child. In one of the most memorable stories of Krishna's childhood, Yashoda decides to punish Krishna for breaking a pot of butter and running away with its contents. She finds him distributing butter to the monkeys.
Realizing that he needs to be taught a lesson, she begins to tie him to a mortar with a rope. The rope is not long enough. She brings another rope to extend the length. It is still not long enough. Despite multiple attempts, the rope still comes up short. When Yashoda almost gives up, Krishna allows himself to be tied.
Yashoda gets her first glimpse of Krishna's divinity when she suspects that he has been eating sand. She opens his mouth and looks in. Inside Krishna's mouth is not sand, but the universe. She sees the past, the present and the future; the beginning and the end; the infinite worlds in the darkness of space.
After playing a big role in his childhood and adolescence, Yashoda slowly fades out of Krishna's story. Nevertheless, she is still remembered even today as the woman who raised a God.