स्त्रीणां स्वधर्म इति धर्मविदा त्वयोक्तम् ।
प्रेष्ठो भवांस्तनुभृतां किल बन्धुरात्मा ॥ ३२ ॥
strīṇāṁ sva-dharma iti dharma-vidā tvayoktam
astv evam etad upadeśa-pade tvayīśe
preṣṭho bhavāṁs tanu-bhṛtāṁ kila bandhur ātmā
yat — which; pati — of husbands; apatya — children; suhṛdām — and well-wishing relatives and friends; anuvṛttiḥ — the following; aṅga — our dear Kṛṣṇa; strīṇām — of women; sva-dharmaḥ — the proper religious duty; iti — thus; dharma-vidā — by the knower of religion; tvayā — You; uktam — spoken; astu — let it be; evam — like that; etat — this; upadeśa — of this instruction; pade — to the real object; tvayi — You; īśe — O Lord; preṣṭhaḥ — the dearmost; bhavān — You; tanu-bhṛtām — for all embodied living beings; kila — certainly; bandhuḥ — the close relative; ātmā — the very Self.
Our dear Kṛṣṇa, as an expert in religion You have advised us that the proper religious duty for women is to faithfully serve their husbands, children and other relatives. We agree that this principle is valid, but actually this service should be rendered to You. After all, O Lord, You are the dearmost friend of all embodied souls. You are their most intimate relative and indeed their very Self.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Soul of all souls, their dearmost friend and well-wisher. As stated in the Eleventh Canto of the Bhāgavatam (11.5.41):
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam
“O King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, who offers shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord’s service has no need to serve such persons separately.” Authority descends from the author of all existence, the Supreme Lord. Natural figures of authority such as husbands, mothers, government leaders and sages gain their power and authority from the Supreme Lord and should thus represent the Absolute Truth to those who follow them. If one wholeheartedly engages in loving service to the original, Supreme Truth, one need not indirectly serve the Absolute Truth through the above-mentioned secondary authorities.
Even a soul surrendered to God, however, continues to serve the spiritual master, who is a direct, not an indirect, representative of the Supreme Lord. A bona fide ācārya, or spiritual master, is the transparent medium leading the disciple to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. All indirect authorities become obsolete when one is directly in touch with the Absolute Truth. The gopīs wanted to explain this basic point to Kṛṣṇa, and some of the bolder young girls among them attempted to defeat Śrī Kṛṣṇa with His own statements, as exemplified in this verse.