All the Lord's pastimes are transcendental, and by hearing them our consciousness becomes transcendental. We can create holy places by invoking the Lord's presence by hearing and chanting about the Lord in different places all over the world. Prabhupada referred to such places as embassies of the spiritual world. But not everyone who goes to an embassy is allowed to visit the country it represents. One must become qualified. By regular hearing and chanting of the Lord's glories on becomes qualified.
naham tisthami vaikunthe
yoginam hridayeshu va
tatra tisthami narada
yatra gayanti mad-bhaktah
"I am not in Vaikuntha nor in the hearts of the yogis. I remain where My devotees engage in glorifying My activities."
If we can understand the mercy of the Lord upon the devotee, we can reconcile all apparent contradictions in the Lord's character. The Lord appears to risk His own reputation to bestow mercy on His devotee. This is His most attractive quality for His devotees. The nondevotees cannot appreciate this.
Hearing about the Lord's pastimes awakens a desire to become qualified to participate in them.
Bhakti-nistha means the devotee's complete dedication to serving and hearing and chanting about the Lord without interruption. Krishna bestows His mercy when He sees the devotees' endeavor to the point of fatigue to serve Him. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that Mother Yasoda's complete dedication to binding Him filled in the two-finger gap in the rope. Since Krishna was thinking that He did not want to be tied because He wanted to steal more butter and play with His friends, His vibhuti and satya-sankalpa saktis manifested to fulfill His desire and thus Yasoda could not tie the rope. Because of Yasoda's strong determination, she was successful, since when the Lord and the devotee have different determinations, He allows His devotee's determination to prevail. Yasoda said, "I am determined to see the extent of my son's waist." And thus all the ropes from the village were brought to attempt to tie up Krishna. This manifestation of bhakti-nistha on the part of Yasoda, inspires the Lord's kripa-sakti to manifest and allow Yasoda to tie Him up. Krishna's sva-nistha is His determination to always reciprocate the devotees love and bestow His kripa-sakti.
As the Bhagavatam says, "How can one who has no inside or outside be bound with a rope?"
Discussing endeavor in devotional service to the point of fatigue, Niranjana Swami tells of a devotee who would offer obeisances before taking rest, after 12 hours of distributing books. Maharaja would wake up in the middle of the night and find the devotee still bowing down, having fallen asleep in that posture.
Damodarastaka Verse 2: "[Seeing the whipping stick in His mother's hand,] He is crying and rubbing His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes are filled with fear, and the necklace of pearls around His neck, which is marked with three lines like a conchshell, is shaking because of His quick breathing due to crying. To this Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, whose belly is bound not with ropes but with His mother's pure love, I offer my humble obeisances."
Because the Lord is conquered by His devotee's love, He is a plaything in the hands of the devotee. A devotee who can thus control the Lord has no conception of the Lord as being Supreme.
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the son of mother Yasoda, is accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self" (SB 10.9.21).
Q: How can we tell if we are endeavoring properly in devotional service?
A: Krishna will give us intelligence from within. "Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things—these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the same way that pleasure, nourishment and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating" (SB 11.2.42).