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SHREE SHOOKDEO, the sage, said, on the departure of the surud season, the winter came, when there was very great cold and frost. At this time the women of Bruj said to one another, "By bathing in the month Aghun, the sins of every birth are obliterated, and the hopes of the mind are accomplished. I have heard so from old people." On hearing this, they all resolved to bathe in Aghun, that they might without doubt obtain Shree Krishnù. Having resolved upon this, and risen very early in the morning, the women of Bruj dressed and ornamented themselves, and went in a body to bathe in the Jumna. Having bathed and made an offering to the sun, of eight ingredients, coming out of the water, they made an earthen image of Parvutee. Putting sandal, rice, flowers and fruits upon it, placing before it perfumes, lamps and consecrated food, performing poojah with hands joined, and holding their heads, they beseeched Parvutee, saying "O Dewee! we constantly supplicate this boon from you, that Shree Krishnù may be our lord." In this manner the cowherdesses constantly bathed. Fasting all day, they ate coagulated milk and rice in the evening, and slept on the ground at night. With a view of quickly obtaining the fruit of their fasting, all the women of Bruj went one day to a very steep ghaut to bathe; and on arrival, having taken off their clothes, and placed them

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on the bank, they went naked into the water. They began sporting about, and singing the praises of Huri.

Shree Krishnù was also at this time pasturing cows, sitting under the shade of a fig tree. Having heard by chance the sound of their singing, he came silently to the spot, and having concealed himself began to look on. A sudden thought struck him, while he was looking on, and having stolen all their clothes, he climbed up a "kudum" tree, and placed them all in a bundle before him. In the meantime, the cowherdesses looking on the bank for their clothes could not find. them. Being alarmed, they got up and began searching all round, and saying to each other, "Not even a bird has come here; who can have taken away our clothes?" Just then a cowherdess saw Krishnù sitting hid on a "kudum" tree, with a crown on his head, a club in his hand, marked with saffron on the forehead, in a yellow silk dress, with a garland of flowers reaching to his feet, and preserving a strict silence, with a bundle of clothes before him. She called. out, "Behold him! who has stolen our hearts and our clothes, seated on a "kudum" tree with our bundles." Hearing this, and seeing Krishnù, all the women were ashamed, sitting down in the water, joining their hands and bending their heads, they supplicated and entreated. Krishnù, saying "O compassionate to the poor! beloved destroyer of our griefs! O Mohan! please give us our clothes." Krishnù replied, "By the oath of Nund, I will not give then thus; come out of the water one by one, and you shall obtain your clothes."

The women of Bruj said angrily, "This is a pretty lesson you have learnt, in telling us to come out of the water naked. We will go and tell this to your father and brother, and they will come and lay hold of you as a thief. And we will mention it also to Nund and Jusodha, who will teach you better. We are ashamed at what you have done; you have put an end to all recognition (acquaintance) between us." On hearing this, Shree Krishnù Jee was enraged and said, "You shall

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not have the clothes until you come, and fetch them yourselves." The cowherdesses were alarmed and said, "O kind to the poor! it is you, who constantly keep us in remembrance, and who are the guardian of our good name; how shall we fetch them? It is for your sake, that we have offered up our vows, and bathed in the month of Mungsir." Krishnù replied, "If you have bathed with sincerity on my account in the month of Aghun, lay aside all bashfulness and deceit, and come and take your clothes." When Shree Krishnù Chund had thus spoken, the cowherdesses on reflection began to say to each other, "Let us go friend! let us mind what Krishnù says, because he knows all the secrets of our bodies and minds. Why should we be ashamed before him?" Having thus determined, acting according to what Shree Krishnù had said, and concealing their breasts and privities with their hands, all the women came out of the water, bowing their heads. When they stood opposite to Shree Krishnù on the bank, he said laughing, "Now put your hands together, and come forward, and I will give you your clothes." The cowherdesses said, "Darling of Nund! why do you deceive us, we are plain, simple women of Bruj. We have been tricked, and all our mind and memory are gone. Is this the game you have determined upon playing, Huri? Whenever we think of this, we shall be ashamed.; now do something for us, O lord of Bruj!" When they had thus spoken, and put their hands together, Shree Krishnù Chund Jee giving them their clothes, and approaching them said, "Be not displeased at what has happened, because this is a lesson I have given you. The habitation of the god Varoonù is in water: for this reason, if any one goes naked into the water, his character is entirely destroyed. Having been delighted at beholding the affection of your mind, I have told you this secret, now go home, and return in the month of Kartik to dance the circular dance with me."

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Shree Shookdeo, the sage, said,--O great king! the cowherdesses having heard this speech, returned to their homes, delighted and satisfied. And Shree Krishnù, having come to the fig tree, went along with the cowherds' children and their companions and cows. Beholding on all sides jungle of various kinds, they began to speak in high terms of trees, saying, "that after coming into the world, they themselves suffered many troubles, and afforded pleasure to mankind. It is thus, that the coming into the world of those, who are attentive to the interests of others is beneficial." Conversing in this manner and advancing onward, they arrived near the Jumna.

Next: Chapter XXIV