Learned scholars have divided Kṛṣṇa's age into three periods: the age up to five years is called kaumāra, the age from the sixth to the tenth year is called paugaṇḍa, and the age from the eleventh to fifteenth year is called kaiśora. While Kṛṣṇa is spending His days as a cowherd boy, He is in the kaumāra and paugaṇḍa ages. In the kaiśora age, when Kṛṣṇa appeared at Gokula, He acted as a cowherd boy, and then, when He was sixteen, He went to Mathurā to kill Kaṁsa.
The kaumāra age is just suitable for reciprocating the love of a child with Mother Yaśodā. In the Tenth Canto, 13th Chapter, 9th verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells King Parīkṣit: "My dear King, although Lord Kṛṣṇa is the supreme enjoyer and the beneficiary of all kinds of sacrificial ceremonies, He still used to eat with His cowherd boy friends. This is because at that time He accepted the pastimes of an ordinary boy, keeping His flute under His arm and His bugle on the right side in His belt, along with His cane. In His left hand He would hold a lump of rice paste with yogurt, and in His fingers would be pīlu, the king of fruits. When He would thus sit amongst His friends, it would appear that He was the whorl of a lotus flower and that the friends surrounding Him were petals. As they thus enjoyed joking amongst themselves, the denizens of heaven would become struck with wonder and would only stare at the scene."
Kṛṣṇa's paugaṇḍa age can be further divided into three periods—namely, the beginning, middle and end. In the beginning of the paugaṇḍa age there is a very nice reddish luster on His lips, His abdomen is very thin, and on His neck are circles like those on a conchshell. Sometimes, some outside visitors would return to Vṛndāvana to see Kṛṣṇa and, upon seeing Him again, would exclaim, "My dear Mukunda, Your beauty is gradually increasing, just like the leaf on a banyan tree! My dear lotus-eyed one, Your neck is gradually manifesting circles like the conchshell. And in the shining moonlight Your teeth and cheeks are competing with the padmarāga jewels in their beautiful arrangement. I am sure that Your beautiful bodily development is now giving much pleasure to Your friends."
At this age Kṛṣṇa was garlanded with various kinds of flowers. He used to put on a silk dress, colored with various kinds of dye. Such beautiful decorations are considered cosmetics for Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa would wear this dress when He used to go into the forest to tend the cows. Sometimes He would wrestle there with His different friends, and sometimes they would dance all together in the forest. These are some of the specific activities of the paugaṇḍa age.
The cowherd friends of Kṛṣṇa were so happy in His company that they expressed their transcendental feelings within themselves thus: "My dear Kṛṣṇa, You are always busy tending the cows which are scattered all over beautiful Vṛndāvana. You have a beautiful garland, a small conchshell, a peacock feather on Your turban, yellow-colored silk cloth, decorations of karṇikāra flowers on Your ears and a mallīkā flower garland on Your chest. Appearing so beautiful, when You pretend, just like an actor, to be fighting with us, You give us unlimited transcendental bliss."
When Kṛṣṇa is more grown-up, in the middle age of paugaṇḍa, His nails become finely sharp, and His chubby cheeks become lustrous and round. On the two sides of His waist above His belt there are three distinct lines of folded skin, called tribali.
The cowherd boy friends of Kṛṣṇa felt very proud of their association with Him. At that time the tip of His nose defeated the beauty of the sesame flowers, the luster of His cheeks defeated the glow of pearls, and the two sides of His body were exquisitely beautiful. In this age Kṛṣṇa wore a silk dress that glittered like lightning, His head was decorated with a silk turban covered with gold lace, and in His hand He carried a stick about fifty-six inches long.* Seeing this exquisitely beautiful dress of Kṛṣṇa, one devotee addressed his friend in this manner: "My dear friend, just look at Kṛṣṇa! See how He is carrying in His hand a stick which is bound up and down with golden rings, how His turban with golden lace is showing such a beautiful luster, and how His dress is giving his friends the highest transcendental pleasure!"
- The specific pastimes in this period took place in the forest known as Bhāṇḍīravan. This Bhāṇḍīravana, along with eleven other vanas, or forests, is still existing in the Vṛndāvana area, and devotees who circumambulate the whole areaof Vṛndāvana can know the beauty of these forests even today.