This month of Kartik manifests a different aspect of God. In this month the awe and reverence aspect of God is absent. Here we worship God as a Child. Generally God is worshipped as The Father, The Supreme Being, the Order Supplier, but in this month we worship Krsna as a child.
And what kind of Child. A thief
lasat-kundalam gokule bhrajamanam
paramrstam atyantato drutya gopya
“To the Supreme Lord, whose form is the embodiment of eternal existence, knowledge, and bliss, whose shark-shaped earrings are swinging to and fro, who is beautifully shining in the divine realm of Gokula, who [due to the offense of breaking the pot of yogurt that His mother was churning into butter and then stealing the butter that was kept hanging from a swing] is quickly running from the wooden grinding mortar in fear of mother Yasoda, but who has been caught from behind by her who ran after Him with greater speed-to that Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.”
How do we comprehend this concept of God been a thief? Srila Prabhupada explains in a Conversation on March 10 1972 in Vrndavan
Prabhupada: Yes, because they have no clear idea. They cannot push forward their concept. Just like the other day (indistinct) lady, she asked if Krsna was a naughty boy. Yes, because He is God He must be naughty boy. Otherwise, wherefrom this idea of naughty boy comes if that quality is not in God? God is the origin of everything, creator of everything. So if He hasn’t got this naughtiness in His person, then how this thing comes to be? That is the Vedanta version, janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1]. The Supreme Absolute Truth is that from which or from whom everything emanates. So wherefrom this naughtiness comes if it is not in the person of God? Wherefrom this stealing propensity comes if it is not in God? But because He is absolute, His stealing is also as good as his blessing. Mākhan-chora. Krsna is stealing butter, that is worshiped – (Conversation March 10 1927 Vrndavan)
Everything is coming from God. Bhagavad Gita 10.8 Krsna says
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvah pravartate
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.”
So this concept of Thief is also coming for God. But the difference is that in God, Krsna there is the element of Sweetness, Madhurya. Thief is in the material world is covered with lust and greed. Krsna’s stealing is pure transcendental sweetness. It is so sweet that is covers the concept of worshipping God with awe and reverences. For example Krsna lived in three places, Dwarka, Mathura and Vrndavan. The difference in Dwarka and Mathura from Vrndavan is that the sweetness of Krsna is covered by the Awe and Reverence aspect. The residents of Dwarka and Mathura understood that Krsna is God, Therefore they worshipped Him with awe and reverence. The residents of Vrndavan, on the other, had no such concept. They only knew as their sweet loving son, friend or lover.
The Third verse to the Damodarastikam explains this
itidrk sva-lilabhir ananda-kunde
sva-ghosam nimajjantam akhyapayantam
tadiyesita-jiesu bhaktair jitatvaa
punah prematas tam satavrtti vande
“By such childhood pastimes as this He is drowning the inhabitants of Gokula in pools of ecstasy, and is revealing to those devotees who are absorbed in knowledge of His supreme majesty and opulence that He is only conquered by devotees whose pure love is imbued with intimacy and is free from all conceptions of awe and reverence. With great love I again offer my obeisances to Lord Damodara hundreds and hundreds of times.”
Only when we are free from the conception of awe and reverence, then only can we come to understanding Krsna in his full sweetness. When we understand that sweetness then we will be able understand that even God Krsna can be a thief.