Once, when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were playing on the bank of the Yamunā, a demon of the name Vatsāsura assumed the shape of a calf and came there intending to kill the brothers. By taking the shape of a calf, the demon could mingle with the other calves. Kṛṣṇa, however, specifically noticed this, and He immediately alerted Balarāma about the entrance of the demon. Both brothers then silently approached him. Kṛṣṇa caught hold of the demon-calf by the two hind legs and tail, whipped him around very forcibly and threw him up into a tree. The demon lost his life and fell down from the top of the tree to the ground. When the demon lay dead on the ground, all the playmates of Kṛṣṇa congratulated Him, “Well done! Well done!” and the demigods in the sky showered flowers with great satisfaction. In this way, the maintainers of the complete creation, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, used to take care of the calves every day, beginning in the morning, and thus They enjoyed Their childhood pastimes as cowherd boys in Vṛndāvana.
One day, all the cowherd boys went to the bank of the river Yamunā to water their calves. When the calves drank water from the Yamunā, the boys also drank. After drinking, when they were sitting on the bank of the river, they saw a huge animal which looked something like a heron and was as big as a hill. Its top was as strong as a thunderbolt. When they saw that unusual animal, they became afraid of it. The name of this beast was Bakāsura, and he was a friend of Kaṁsa’s. He appeared on the scene suddenly and immediately attacked Kṛṣṇa with his pointed, sharp beak and quickly swallowed Him up. When Kṛṣṇa was thus swallowed, all the boys, headed by Balarāma, became almost breathless, as if they had died. But when the Bakāsura demon was swallowing up Kṛṣṇa, he felt a burning, fiery sensation in his throat. This was due to the glowing effulgence of Kṛṣṇa. The demon quickly threw Kṛṣṇa up and tried to kill Him by pinching Him in his beak. Bakāsura did not know that although Kṛṣṇa was playing the part of a child of Nanda Mahārāja, He was still the original father of Lord Brahmā, the creator of the universe. Mother Yaśodā’s child, who is the reservoir of pleasure for the demigods and who is the maintainer of saintly persons, caught hold of the great gigantic heron by the two halves of his beak and, before His cowherd boyfriends, bifurcated his mouth, just as a child very easily splits a blade of grass. From the sky, the denizens of the heavenly planets showered flowers like the mallikā, the most fragrant of all flowers, as a token of their congratulations. Accompanying the showers of flowers was a vibration of bugles, drums and conchshells.
When the boys saw the showering of flowers and heard the celestial sounds, they became struck with wonder. And when they saw Kṛṣṇa freed from the mouth of the great demon Bakāsura, all of them, including Balarāma, were so pleased that it seemed as if they had regained their very source of life. As soon as they saw Kṛṣṇa coming toward them, they one after another embraced the son of Nanda and held Him to their chests. After this, they assembled all the calves under their charge and began to return home.
When they arrived home, they spoke of the wonderful activities of the son of Nanda. When the gopīs and cowherd men all heard the story from the boys, they felt great happiness because naturally they loved Kṛṣṇa, and by hearing about His glories and victorious activities they became still more affectionate toward Him. Thinking that child Kṛṣṇa had been saved from the mouth of death, they looked upon His face with great love and affection. They were full of anxiety and could not turn their faces from the vision of Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs and the men began to converse amongst themselves about how wonderful it was that child Kṛṣṇa had been attacked in so many ways and so many times by so many demons, and yet the demons themselves had been killed and Kṛṣṇa had remained uninjured. They continued to converse amongst themselves about how so many great demons in such fierce bodies had attacked Kṛṣṇa to kill Him but, by the grace of Hari, had not been able to cause even a slight injury. Rather, they had died like small flies in a fire. Thus they remembered the words of Garga Muni, who had foretold, by dint of his vast knowledge of the Vedas and astrology, that this boy would be attacked by many demons. Now they were actually seeing that this was coming true, word for word.
All the cowherd men, including Nanda Mahārāja, used to talk of the wonderful activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, and they were always so much absorbed in those talks that they forgot the threefold miseries of this material existence. This is the effect of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. What was enjoyed five thousand years ago by Nanda Mahārāja can still be enjoyed by Kṛṣṇa conscious persons simply by talking about the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and His associates.
Thus Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa enjoyed Their childhood pastimes, imitating Lord Rāmacandra’s monkeys, who constructed the bridge over the ocean, and Hanumān, who jumped over the water to Ceylon. They used to imitate such pastimes among Their friends and so happily passed Their childhood life.