The Gopīs’ Feelings of Separation
The gopīs of Vṛndāvana were so attached to Kṛṣṇa that they were not satisfied simply with the rāsa dance at night. They wanted to associate with Him and enjoy His company during the daytime also. When Kṛṣṇa went to the forest with His cowherd boyfriends and cows, the gopīs did not physically take part, but their hearts went with Him. And because their hearts went, they were able to enjoy His company through strong feelings of separation. To acquire this strong feeling of separation is the teaching of Lord Caitanya and His direct disciples, the Six Gosvāmīs. When we are not in physical contact with Kṛṣṇa, we can associate with Him like the gopīs, through feelings of separation. Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental form, qualities, pastimes and entourage are all identical with Him. There are nine different kinds of devotional service. Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa in feelings of separation elevates the devotee to the highest perfectional level, to the level of the gopīs.
It is stated in Śrīnivāsācārya’s prayer to the Six Gosvāmīs that they left the material opulences of government service and the princely status of life and went to Vṛndāvana, where they lived just like ordinary mendicants, begging from door to door. But they were so much enriched with the gopīs’ feelings of separation that they enjoyed transcendental pleasure at every moment. Similarly, when Lord Caitanya was at Jagannātha Purī, He was in the role of Rādhārāṇī, feeling separation from Kṛṣṇa. Those who are in the disciplic succession of the Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya should always feel separation from Kṛṣṇa, worship His transcendental form and discuss His transcendental teachings, His pastimes, His qualities and His entourage and His association. That will enrich the devotees to the highest devotional perfection. Feeling constant separation while engaged in the service of the Lord is the perfection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The gopīs used to discuss Kṛṣṇa amongst themselves, and their talks were as follows. “My dear friends,” one gopī said, “do you know that when Kṛṣṇa lies on the ground He rests on His left elbow, and His head rests on His left hand? He moves His attractive eyebrows while playing His flute with His delicate fingers, and the sound He produces creates such a nice atmosphere that the denizens of the heavenly planets, who travel in space with their wives and beloveds, stop their airplanes, for they are stunned by the vibration of the flute. The wives of the demigods who are seated in the planes then become very much ashamed of their singing and musical qualifications. Not only that, but they become afflicted with conjugal love, and their hair and tight clothes immediately loosen.”
Another gopī said, “My dear friends, Kṛṣṇa is so beautiful that the goddess of fortune always remains on His chest, and He is always adorned with a golden necklace. Beautiful Kṛṣṇa plays His flute in order to enliven the hearts of many devotees. He is the only friend of the suffering living entities. When He plays His flute, all the cows and other animals of Vṛndāvana, although engaged in eating, simply take a morsel of food in their mouths and stop chewing. Their ears raise up and they become stunned. They do not appear alive but like painted animals. Kṛṣṇa’s flute-playing is so attractive that even the animals become enchanted, and what to speak of ourselves.”
Another gopī said, “My dear friends, not only living animals but even inanimate objects like the rivers and lakes of Vṛndāvana also become stunned when Kṛṣṇa passes with peacock feathers on His head and His body smeared with the minerals of Vṛndāvana. With leaves and flowers decorating His body, He looks like some hero. When He plays on His flute and calls the cows with Balarāma, the river Yamunā stops flowing and waits for the air to carry dust from His lotus feet. But the river Yamunā is unfortunate like us and does not get Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. The river simply remains stunned, stopping its waves, just as we also stop crying for Kṛṣṇa in expectation.” In the absence of Kṛṣṇa the gopīs were constantly shedding tears, but sometimes, when they expected that Kṛṣṇa was coming, they would stop crying. But when they saw that Kṛṣṇa was not coming, then again they would become frustrated and begin to cry.
Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead, the origin of all Viṣṇu forms, and the cowherd boys are all demigods. So just as Lord Viṣṇu is always worshiped and surrounded by different demigods like Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā, Indra, Candra and others, when Kṛṣṇa traveled through the Vṛndāvana forest or walked on Govardhana Hill, He was accompanied by the cowherd boys. While walking, He played His flute just to call His cows. Just by His association, the trees, plants and other vegetation in the forest immediately became Kṛṣṇa conscious. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person sacrifices everything for Kṛṣṇa. Although the trees and plants were not very advanced in consciousness, by the association of Kṛṣṇa and His friends they also became Kṛṣṇa conscious. They then wanted to deliver everything – whatever they had – namely their fruits, flowers and the honey incessantly falling from their branches.
When Kṛṣṇa walked on the bank of the Yamunā, He was seen nicely decorated with tilaka on His face. He was garlanded with different kinds of forest flowers, and His body was smeared with the pulp of sandalwood and tulasī leaves. The bumblebees became mad after the fragrance and sweetness of the atmosphere and began to hum. Being pleased by the humming sound of the bees, Kṛṣṇa would play His flute, and together the sounds became so sweet to hear that aquatic birds like cranes, swans and ducks were charmed. Instead of swimming or flying, they became stunned. They closed their eyes and entered a trance of meditation in worship of Kṛṣṇa.
One gopī said, “My dear friends, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are nicely dressed with earrings and pearl necklaces. They enjoy Themselves on the top of Govardhana Hill, and everything becomes absorbed in transcendental pleasure when Kṛṣṇa plays on His flute, charming the whole created manifestation. When He plays, the clouds stop their loud thundering out of fear of disturbing the vibration of His flute. Instead they respond with mild thunder and so congratulate Kṛṣṇa, their friend.”
Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the friend of the cloud because both the cloud and Kṛṣṇa satisfy the people when they are disturbed. When the people are burning due to excessive heat, the cloud satisfies them with rain. Similarly, when people in materialistic life become disturbed by the blazing fire of material pangs, Kṛṣṇa consciousness gives them relief like a cloud. The cloud and Kṛṣṇa, having the same bodily color also, are considered to be friends. Desiring to congratulate its superior friend, the cloud poured not water but small flowers and covered the head of Kṛṣṇa just like an umbrella to protect Him from the scorching sunshine.
One of the gopīs told Mother Yaśodā, “My dear Mother, your son is very expert among the cowherd boys. He knows all the different arts of how to tend the cows and how to play the flute. He composes His own songs, and to play them He puts His flute to His mouth. When He plays, either in the morning or in the evening, all the demigods, including Lord Śiva, Brahmā, Indra and Candra, bow their heads and listen with great attention. Although they are very learned and expert, they cannot understand the musical arrangements of Kṛṣṇa’s flute. They simply listen attentively and try to understand, but they become bewildered and nothing more.”
Another gopī said, “My dear friends, when Kṛṣṇa returns home with His cows, the footprints of the soles of His feet – with flag, thunderbolt, trident and lotus flower – relieve the pain the earth feels when the cows traverse it. He walks in a stride which is so attractive, and He carries His flute. Just by looking at Him we become lusty to enjoy His company. At that time, our movements cease. We become just like trees and stand perfectly still, unaware that our hair and clothes are loosening.”
Kṛṣṇa had many thousands of cows, and they were divided into groups according to their colors. They were also differently named according to color. When He would prepare to return from the pasturing ground, He would gather all the cows. As Vaiṣṇavas count 108 beads, which represent the 108 individual gopīs, so Kṛṣṇa would also count on 108 beads to count the different groups of cows.
“When Kṛṣṇa returns, He is garlanded with tulasī leaves,” a gopī described Him to a friend. “He puts His hand on the shoulder of a cowherd boyfriend and begins to blow His transcendental flute. The wives of the black deer become enchanted upon hearing the vibration of His flute, which resembles the vibration of the vīṇā. The deer come to Kṛṣṇa and become so charmed that they stand still, forgetting their homes and husbands. Like us, who are enchanted by the ocean of the transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa, the she-deer become enchanted by the vibration of His flute.”
Another gopī told Mother Yaśodā, “My dear Mother, when your son returns home, He decorates Himself with the buds of the kunda flower, and just to enlighten and gladden His friends, He blows His flute. The breeze blowing from the south creates a pleasing atmosphere because it is fragrant and very cool. Minor demigods like the Gandharvas and Siddhas take advantage of this atmosphere and offer prayers to your son by sounding their bugles and drums. Kṛṣṇa is very kind to the inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana, and when He returns with His cows and friends, He is remembered as the lifter of Govardhana Hill. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the most exalted demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva come down to offer their evening prayers, and they accompany the cowherd boys in glorifying the qualities of Kṛṣṇa.
“Kṛṣṇa is compared to the moon, born in the ocean of the womb of Devakī. When He returns in the evening, it appears that He is fatigued, but He still tries to gladden the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana by His auspicious presence. When Kṛṣṇa returns, garlanded with flowers, His face looks beautiful, adorned with golden earrings. He walks into Vṛndāvana with a stride just like the elephant’s and slowly enters His home. Upon His return, the men, women and cows of Vṛndāvana immediately forget the scorching heat of the day.”
Such descriptions of Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental pastimes and activities were remembered by the gopīs during His absence from Vṛndāvana. They give us some idea of how attractive Kṛṣṇa is, not only to human beings but to all animate and inanimate objects. In Vṛndāvana, everyone and everything is attracted to Kṛṣṇa, including the trees, the plants, the water, and animals like the deer and cows. That is the perfect description of Kṛṣṇa’s all-attractiveness. The example of the gopīs is very instructive to persons who are trying to be absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One can very easily associate with Kṛṣṇa simply by remembering His transcendental pastimes. Everyone has a tendency to love someone. That Kṛṣṇa should be the object of love is the central point of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. By constantly chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and remembering the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, one can be fully in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and thus make his life sublime and fruitful.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the thirty-fifth chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Gopīs’ Feelings of Separation.”