The Butter Stealer


Lord Krishna is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu who was born in the Dwapara Yuga to restore Dharma and annihilate the wicked and punish the evildoer. The childhood Leelas or pranks of Krishna especially his fascination and stealing of butter by breaking earthern pots has been one of the most famous stories in Hindu mythology.

The Story

Lord Krishna vanquished his uncle Kamsa and liberated the kingdom of Mathura. The Shrimad Bhagvat contains the leelas of Krishna wherein the friendship between Krishna and the cowherds has been mentioned in great detail. Krishna was brought up in Vrindavan by Yashoda and Nanda. Krishna loved to drink the milk from the cows’ udders, steal the butter from all houses with the help of his friends and break pots hung high out of reach. All the neighbours would complain on these naughty sports of the Lord but he would always get away with it with his charm and innocence. Poets and saints like Surdas, Mirabai etc have sung and written a number of couplets on these antics of Krishna.

Inner significance

There are a number of interpretations to this Leela of the lord.  Butter is said to be present in every aspect of milk but it cannot be seen. Milk should be churned to obtain it. Similarly God cannot be seen though he is inherent in every aspect of creation. By churning our mind and developing detachment and self enquiry the Lord can be realised. In other words the starter to transform milk to curd is the ‘fervent desire to know about the Lord’. One’s own spiritual sadhana is the heat required to boil the milk and churn to procure the butter. Like butter being soft the heart too becomes soft with compassion and love after self realisation. Breaking the pot implies breaking the bonds of the body to realise the atma tattva (butter). The Gopikas would come and complain to Yashoda about Krishna breaking their pots and stealing their butter. Yashoda would ask Krishna why he stole from others’ houses. The significance was that butter symbolised the hearts of the Gopikas which was pure and selfless hence Krishna went about seeking it while the butter offered by Yashoda was filled with attachment.


All the stories in Hindu mythology have deep inner significance and saints and sages have always taught great truths through simple parables to ensure greater understanding. The Leelas of the Lord have to be enjoyed while pondering on their inner meaning to unveil moral principles and human values to guide society and mankind as a whole.