tāsāṁ madhye dvayor dvayoḥ
kaṇṭhe sva-nikaṭaṁ striyaḥ
rāsa — of the rāsa dance; utsavaḥ — the festivity; sampravṛttaḥ — commenced; gopī-maṇḍala — by the circle of gopīs; maṇḍitaḥ — decorated; yoga — of mystic power; īśvareṇa — by the supreme controller; kṛṣṇena — Lord Kṛṣṇa; tāsām — of them; madhye — within the midst; dvayoḥ dvayoḥ — between each pair; praviṣṭena — present; gṛhīṭānām — who were held; kaṇṭhe — by the necks; sva-nikaṭam — next to themselves; striyaḥ — the women; yam — whom; manyeran — considered; nabhaḥ — the sky; tāvat — at that time; vimāna — of airplanes; śata — with hundreds; saṅkulam — crowded; diva — of the heavenly planets; okasām — belonging to the inhabitants; sa — accompanied; dārāṇām — by their wives; autsukya — by eagerness; apahṛta — carried away; ātmanām — their minds.
The festive rāsa dance commenced, with the gopīs arrayed in a circle. Lord Kṛṣṇa expanded Himself and entered between each pair of gopīs, and as that master of mystic power placed His arms around their necks, each girl thought He was standing next to her alone. The demigods and their wives were overwhelmed with eagerness to witness the rāsa dance, and they soon crowded the sky with their hundreds of celestial airplanes.
Śrīla Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura has written the following verse about the rāsa dance:
mādhavaṁ mādhavaṁ cāntareṇāṅganāḥ
ittham ākalpite maṇḍale madhya-gaḥ
sañjagau veṇunā devakī-nandanaḥ
“Lord Mādhava was situated between each pair of gopīs, and a gopī was situated between each pair of His manifestations. And Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the son of Devakī, also appeared in the middle of the circle, playing upon His flute and singing.”
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura points out that the gopīs, maddened by love, were unable to understand that Śrī Kṛṣṇa had expanded Himself so He could personally dance with each of them. Each gopī saw one manifestation of Kṛṣṇa. The demigods and their wives, however, could see all His different manifestations as they watched the rāsa dance from their airplanes, and thus they were completely astonished.