Talvana / तालवन

This forest is situated about six miles south of Mathura and two-and-a-half miles south-west of Madhuvan. It was once an enchanting forest full of palm (tala) trees. Cruel Kansa had appointed one of his followers, Dhenukasur, to guard this forest, a duty he carefully performed along with his many wives and sons. Only Maharaja Kansa and his followers enjoyed the forest's sweet tala fruits, which were otherwise inaccessible to ordinary people.


One day, while herding the cows, Krishna and Baldev together with the cowherd boys wandered near Talvana. The boys were so ravenous that they implored Krishna and Baldev to protect them from the demon of hunger and said that they could smell sweet, ripe tala fruits coming from nearby. Hearing this, Krishna and Baldev led them into Talvana.[1]

In the forest, Baldev shook one of the palm trees. The fruit thudded to the ground and the cowherd boys jumped for joy. Hearing the sound of the falling fruits, Dhenukasur and his followers attacked Krishna and Baldev with great force, kicking Them with their hind legs. Without strain or effort, Baldev Prabhu caught the hind legs of the valorous Dhenukasur, whirled him around in the sky and threw him on to the top of a huge palm tree.

The demon passed stool and urine and then died. Krishna started killing Dhenukasur's donkey followers, and soon their urine, stool and blood contaminated the entire forest. All the palm trees fell on each other and were destroyed. Later, when Talvana was again clean, the sakhas and everyone else could easily go there.

This pastime carries some deep and important teachings. Shri Baldev Prabhu is akhanda guru-tattva, the complete and undivided principle of guru. In other words, He is that personality from whom all bona fide spiritual masters manifest. It is only by the mercy of the spiritual master that a sadhaka can protect his heart from ignorance. A genuine guru alone can remove all types of ignorance from the heart of a sincere disciple and infuse it with devotion to Shri Krishna (Krishna-bhakti). Dhenukasur is the personification of ignorance. Realisation of the truth about Shri Krishna (Krishna-tattva), the science of devotional service to Him (bhakti-tattva) and the nature of the illusory energy (maya-tattva) is only possible by the mercy of Shri Baldev Prabhu. Only then will bhakti for Krishna become strong and fixed. Due to foolishness, donkeys carry all kinds of loads in this material world. They are very lusty, and tolerate the kicks of she donkeys and the beatings of washermen. Those who, out of gross foolishness, neglect to worship the Supreme Lord, carry all the bad qualities of a donkey. During the rainy season, when there is plenty of grass, the foolish donkey assumes he has not eaten anything and thus becomes lean and thin. And during the summer, when there is a scarcity of grass, the donkey assumes he has eaten it all and thus becomes fat.


  1. This is described as follows in Shrimad Bhagvat (10.15.27):
    evam suhrd-vacah srutva , suhrt-priya-cikirsaya
    prahasya jagmatur gopair ,vrtau Talvanaam prabhu
    "Upon hearing the words of Their friends, Krishna and Balram laughed and, desiring to give them pleasure, entered Talvana in their company."