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The Gopīs’ Songs of Separation

This chapter relates how the gopīs, overwhelmed by feelings of separation from Kṛṣṇa, sat down on the bank of the Yamunā and began praying for His audience and singing His glories.

Because the gopīs had dedicated their minds and very lives to Kṛṣṇa, they were beside themselves with the transcendental pain of separation. But their crying, which appears like evidence of misery, actually shows their exalted state of transcendental bliss. As it is said, yata dekha vaiṣṇaver vyavahāra duḥkha/ niścaya jāniha sei paramānanda sukha: “Whenever one sees a Vaiṣṇava acting unhappy, one should know it for sure that he is actually experiencing the highest spiritual bliss.” Thus each of the gopīs began addressing Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa according to her individual mode of ecstasy, and they all prayed for Him for His mercy.

As the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa spontaneously arose in the minds of the gopīs, they sang their song, which relieves the agony of those suffering from the burning pain of separation from Kṛṣṇa and which bestows supreme auspiciousness. They sang, “O Lord, O lover, O cheater, when we remember Your smile, Your loving glances and Your pastimes with Your boyhood friends, we become extremely agitated. Remembering Your lotus face, adorned with locks of blackish hair smeared with the dust of the cows, we become irrevocably attached to You. And when we remember how You followed the cows from forest to forest with Your tender feet, we feel great pain.”

In their separation from Kṛṣṇa the gopīs considered a single moment an entire age. Even when they had previously seen Him they had found the blinking of their eyelids intolerable, for it blocked their vision of Him for a fraction of a second.

The ecstatic sentiments for Lord Kṛṣṇa that the gopīs expressed may appear like symptoms of lust, but in reality they are manifestations of their pure desire to satisfy the Supreme Lord’s spiritual senses. There is not even the slightest trace of lust in these moods of the gopīs.

Text 1:
The gopīs said: O beloved, Your birth in the land of Vraja has made it exceedingly glorious, and thus Indirā, the goddess of fortune, always resides here. It is only for Your sake that we, Your devoted servants, maintain our lives. We have been searching everywhere for You, so please show Yourself to us.
Text 2:
O Lord of love, in beauty Your glance excels the whorl of the finest, most perfectly formed lotus within the autumn pond. O bestower of benedictions, You are killing the maidservants who have given themselves to You freely, without any price. Isn’t this murder?
Text 3:
O greatest of personalities, You have repeatedly saved us from all kinds of danger — from poisoned water, from the terrible man-eater Agha, from the great rains, from the wind demon, from the fiery thunderbolt of Indra, from the bull demon and from the son of Maya Dānava.
Text 4:
You are not actually the son of the gopī Yaśodā, O friend, but rather the indwelling witness in the hearts of all embodied souls. Because Lord Brahmā prayed for You to come and protect the universe, You have now appeared in the Sātvata dynasty.
Text 5:
O best of the Vṛṣṇis, Your lotuslike hand, which holds the hand of the goddess of fortune, grants fearlessness to those who approach Your feet out of fear of material existence. O lover, please place that wish-fulfilling lotus hand on our heads.
Text 6:
O You who destroy the suffering of Vraja’s people, O hero of all women, Your smile shatters the false pride of Your devotees. Please, dear friend, accept us as Your maidservants and show us Your beautiful lotus face.
Text 7:
Your lotus feet destroy the past sins of all embodied souls who surrender to them. Those feet follow after the cows in the pastures and are the eternal abode of the goddess of fortune. Since You once put those feet on the hoods of the great serpent Kāliya, please place them upon our breasts and tear away the lust in our hearts.
Text 8:
O lotus-eyed one, Your sweet voice and charming words, which attract the minds of the intelligent, are bewildering us more and more. Our dear hero, please revive Your maidservants with the nectar of Your lips.
Text 9:
The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.
Text 10:
Your smiles, Your sweet, loving glances, the intimate pastimes and confidential talks we enjoyed with You — all these are auspicious to meditate upon, and they touch our hearts. But at the same time, O deceiver, they very much agitate our minds.
Text 11:
Dear master, dear lover, when You leave the cowherd village to herd the cows, our minds are disturbed with the thought that Your feet, more beautiful than a lotus, will be pricked by the spiked husks of grain and the rough grass and plants.
Text 12:
At the end of the day You repeatedly show us Your lotus face, covered with dark blue locks of hair and thickly powdered with dust. Thus, O hero, You arouse lusty desires in our minds.
Text 13:
Your lotus feet, which are worshiped by Lord Brahmā, fulfill the desires of all who bow down to them. They are the ornament of the earth, they give the highest satisfaction, and in times of danger they are the appropriate object of meditation. O lover, O destroyer of anxiety, please put those lotus feet upon our breasts.
Text 14:
O hero, kindly distribute to us the nectar of Your lips, which enhances conjugal pleasure and vanquishes grief. That nectar is thoroughly relished by Your vibrating flute and makes people forget any other attachment.
Text 15:
When You go off to the forest during the day, a tiny fraction of a second becomes like a millennium for us because we cannot see You. And even when we can eagerly look upon Your beautiful face, so lovely with its adornment of curly locks, our pleasure is hindered by our eyelids, which were fashioned by the foolish creator.
Text 16:
Dear Acyuta, You know very well why we have come here. Who but a cheater like You would abandon young women who come to see Him in the middle of the night, enchanted by the loud song of His flute? Just to see You, we have completely rejected our husbands, children, ancestors, brothers and other relatives.
Text 17:
Our minds are repeatedly bewildered as we think of the intimate conversations we had with You in secret, feel the rise of lust in our hearts and remember Your smiling face, Your loving glances and Your broad chest, the resting place of the goddess of fortune. Thus we experience the most severe hankering for You.
Text 18:
O beloved, Your all-auspicious appearance vanquishes the distress of those living in Vraja’s forests. Our minds long for Your association. Please give to us just a bit of that medicine, which counteracts the disease in Your devotees’ hearts.
Text 19:
O dearly beloved! Your lotus feet are so soft that we place them gently on our breasts, fearing that Your feet will be hurt. Our life rests only in You. Our minds, therefore, are filled with anxiety that Your tender feet might be wounded by pebbles as You roam about on the forest path.