The story of Krishna stealing butter and being tied up by Yasoda is a popular one. Our hearts should melt like butter for Him, said Kidambi Narayanan in a discourse. The story has a deep symbolic meaning. Butter has to be taken here to indicate the atma. When butter is put in water, it doesn’t dissolve in the water, but can easily be separated from it. Likewise, although the atma inhabits a body, it is different from the body. And as the butter remains in the water, but doesn’t merge in it, so too must we remain unattached to the body.
When Krishna stole butter, Yasoda decided that He should be tied up. So she looked for a rope. But Krishna, anticipating this possibility, had cut up all the ropes in the house into many bits. All Yasoda could find were two pieces of frayed, useless ropes.
But our message lies in the word ‘useless.’ Bhakti, which results in pride, is not going to help us attain His feet. It is only bhakti accompanied by the feeling that one is totally helpless if not for His mercy that will help us reach His feet.
Moreover, our bhakti must be such that we do not seek any material possessions for our bhakti.
Yasoda using two pieces of rope also has a symbolic
meaning. We must have both jnana and anushtana, that is knowledge and proper practice of what we have learnt. Yasoda tied Him to a grinding stone, which was not in use. Likewise our practice of what is prescribed by the Sastras must not be with a view to attaining any material benefits. Like the grinding stone not in use, our anushtana must not be for any purpose.