It is not just for fun that Krishna's childhood pastimes have become so popular that they are recounted even today in every household in India. It is always fascinating to study the childhood adventures of great leaders and saints, to look for clues of the approaching transformation in seemingly mundane incidents of their early years.
Little Bileh was growing up in the cosy protection of his parents and two elder sisters. And he was no less than a baby Krishna in naughtiness. By the time he was three, the Datta family's neighbourhood was ringing with complaints against Bileh's pranks. The whole family would often exhaust themselves in trying to contain his energy.
Bhuvaneswari Devi discovered to her surprise that one trick always worked with Naren( Bileh ), when all other means of pacifying him failed. She discovered that pouring cold water on Bileh's head while chanting 'Shiva, Shiva' would instantly calm him down. Or if someone threatened him saying, "If you don't behave, Shiva will not allow you to enter Kailasa," he would quieten down! In later years, when Bileh turned into the spiritual giant Vivekananda and returned with his foreign disciples to Kolkata, his aged mother told them these incidents from his childhood and remarked, "In those days I would often say 'I prayed to Shiva for a son and He sent me one his demons'!"
Another striking sign of his childhood which set him apart from other children and which was later on also recognised by his guru Sri Ramakrishna, to identify his past samskaras, was his method of falling asleep. As soon as he would close his eyes, Bileh would see a glowing ball of light appear between his eyebrows. The light would change colours and grow in size and finally burst into a flood of white radiance, bathing his whole body in its brilliance. Assuming that this was a natural phenomenon common to all children, he would ask his schoolmates if they saw a similar light while falling asleep. Later on, when he was introduced to Sri Ramakrishna who tried to look deep into Bileh's past and asked him, "Naren, do you see a light when you go to sleep?" Sri Ramakrishna knew the signs of those who had spent many lives in deep meditation.
As young Naren grew up, meditation became a pastime for him and his circle of friends. One evening, Naren and his friends were playing 'meditation' in the worship room, seated in the lotus posture with eyes closed. Naren's friends were terrified to see a large cobra slithering into the room and ran helter-skelter shouting to Naren about the intruder. But Naren was lost deep in meditation. The children informed his parents who rushed to the worship room and were shocked to see the cobra spread its hood and watching Naren intently, as if fascinated by his meditation. The snake slowly moved away without harming Naren and when his parents asked him why he had not moved away on seeing the snake, he replied, "I wasn't aware of the snake or anything else; I was only experiencing great joy."
There is a Telugu proverb which reads, "A flower radiates fragrance from the moment it is born." And so did Naren begin to show signs of becoming the great Yogi and Master that he was destined to become.
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Story first published: Friday, May 23, 2008, 17:17 [IST]