varnayantyo mitho gopyah
kridas tan-mayatam yayuh
Thus narrating to one another the playful pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He wandered about in the Vrndavana forest, the gopis became fully absorbed in thoughts of Him. (SB 10.21.20)
The Gopis Meet Krsna
The unique feature of Vrndavana is its residents’ pure and spontaneous love for Sri Krsna, the son of Maharaja Nanda. This love is celebrated by all great souls as madhurya-bhava. Outside of the prakata and aprakata Vrndavana, it is not to be seen in any spiritual planet, and apart from the vraja-vasis, it is not to be tasted by any siddha or sadhaka. Among the inhabitants of Vraja-dhama, its pinnacle is attained by the gopis of Hari.
Madhurya is the sweet attachment of a devotee to Sri Krsna, who appears to be, like all others, a mortal, although possessed of innumerable good qualities, unsurpassable beauty, and charming pastimes. This sweetness is never suppressed by the exhibition of godly opulence known as aisvairya, for it endures only when the human mood remains unencumbered, regardless of Sri Krsna’s exhibition of divine prowess.
There are many instances when Sri Krsna exhibits His Godhood amidst His pastimes as an ordinary child. For example, He killed the awesome demon Putana whose practice was to suck the blood of small babies, and He was found playing as a human child, sucking her breast. Similarly, as a baby of only three months, He killed the cart demon, Sakatasura, by kicking it effortlessly with His tender footsoles. And though He failed her attempts to bind
Him with all the string in her palace, Krsna still ran in fear of mother Yasoda when she raised a stick in anger.
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura rejects the definition of madhurya as the performance of human pastimes, full of bewilderment and without any display of prowess. If this were the case, the bewilderment of an ordinary child would also be known as sweetness. For this reason such a concept is incorrect.
To grasp the concept of madhurya, the principle of aisvarya, in the absence or presence of which madhurya remains undisturbed, should be understood.
Aisvarya or prowess is that manifestation of godly power that does not depend on human-like moods and only reveals majestic and divine attributes. Some of the many examples of such exhibitions are when Krsna showed His four-armed form to Devaki and Vasudeva after His birth, when He exhibited His universal form to Arjuna on the battlefield, and when He manifest countless four-armed forms before Brahma.
Those devotees who are fixed in their conception of Krsna as the Supreme Lord are called aisvarya-jnana-nistha-bhaktas. Their feelings of love are imbued with knowledge of His opulence, which is inferior to the unfettered love manifest in madhurya-jnana. After killing Kamsa, Vasudeva told Krsna and Balarama, “You are not my sons, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” While this expression of tattva was correct, Krsna considered it an impediment to the reciprocal loving relationship with Vasudeva as father and son.
Similarly, when Arjuna saw the universal form. He begged forgiveness for His past informal dealings impelled either by love or bewilderment. In both these cases, the parental and fraternal love towards Krsna was slackened after seeing an exhibition of divine prowess. This is called aisvarya-jnana.
Madhurya-jnana is differentiated from aisvarya-jnana, for even at the greatest display of prowess it does not cause any perturbation in the heart, nor does it induce the slightest feelings of awe. Because the feelings of intimacy are firmly situated within the heart, madhurya remains the ever-dominant attachment for the
The Gopis Meet Kfsna
devotee. For instance, the gopis described Sri Krsna on His return .from herding His cows in the following way: “Krsna is being braised by the demigods, who surround Him and worship Him Bvith songs and flowers,” and, “On the way, Brahma and other |ords praise His feet.”
Although Sridama, Sudama, and the other cowherd boys saw iemigods offering prayers to Krsna, the sight did not decrease their pure fraternal love in the slightest. In the same way, the gopis remained fixed in their romantic feelings, despite witnessing His mastery over the universal controllers. When Uddhava returned to Vrndavana with a message for His loved ones, the maternal love of mother Yasoda simply increased, remaining free of any feelings of awe, with thoughts like, “I am blessed that my son is the Supreme Lord.”
When the gopas think, “We are blessed that our friend is the Supreme Lord!” and when the gopis think, “We are blessed that our beloved is the Supreme Lord!” their intimate mood is actually strengthened by thinking of Sri Krsna’s divine powers.
In summary, the vraja-vdsis are always full of madhurya-jnana, which remains undiminished and undiluted by any display of Krsna’s opulence or power. This is evidenced by the complete absence of awe or veneration in their attachment to Him, notwithstanding knowledge of His aisvarya.
When the gopis were speaking of Sri Krsna, they said, “Like a hunter. He cruelly shot the king of the monkeys with arrows. Because He was conquered by one woman, Sita, He disfigured another woman, Surpanakha. And even after consuming the gifts of Bali Maharaja, He bound him with the ropes of Varuna like a crow. If these are His deeds in past incarnations, then better we give up friendship with this dark-complexioned boy, even if we cannot give up talking about Him.” This is the madhurya-bhava of Vraja.
Krsna and Balarama were like dark and fair jewels decorating the golden ornament of Nanda Maharaja’s courtyard. Crawling on Their hands and knees. Their anklets and waist bells twinkling sweetly, those clever boys quickly learned the language of Vraja in the association of Their elders. When Their limbs were dusty from playing, beautiful Yasoda and Rohini would bathe Them with great care and, while breast-feeding their boys, caress Them with motherly affection.
As Sri Krsna grew older. He appeared like a lion cub. Crawling on His hands and knees, dressed in yellow garments and decorated with golden ornaments. He enchanted His parents with the small jeweled crown in His hair. The many gopis of King Nanda’s village would regularly visit Yasoda, holding the beautiful child and gazing at His smiling face.
Once, as He crawled to the gates of Nanda Maharaja’s palace, baby Krsna saw the ferocious statue of a lion and, becoming frightened, He scrambled a hasty retreat, crying for His mother all the while. Visiting gopis took Him inside and compassionately said to Yasoda, “0 beautiful one, do not allow this restless and playful boy. His hair tied in crows feathers and the milk still in His mouth, out of the courtyard to play.”
When Krsna and Balarama began walking among the gopas’ homes, they gathered many friends, headed by Sridama and Subala, and in the forests by the sandy bank of the Yamuna, opulent with kadamba groves and tamala trees, they played and ;; sported as children are wont to do.
Being always hungry, the boys became accustomed to stealing i.; butter, ghee, and yogurt from the homes of the gopis. One day ,1 Prabhavati, Upananda’s wife, arrived at Nanda’s palace and said to the Queen, “0 Yasoda, as you well know, there is no difference between your house and my house or your storerooms and mine. Whatever is mine is yours, and therefore I cannot complain to you out of need. Still, as the son of the King, Sri Krsna should be taught not to steal.”
At this, lovely Yasoda raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms. The plaintiff, Prabhavati, continued, “When I give Krsna good instruction, your arrogant son abuses me and runs from my
The Gopis Meet Krsna
courtyard. It is befitting that you instruct Him accordingly, for who knows where such behavior will lead as He matures?”
Calling for lotus-eyed Krsna, looking like the picture of boyish innocence. His dhoti stained with yogurt. His body shining with ghee, Yasoda rebuked Him with tender affection and complained to Prabhavati/ “I have ten million cows and possess so much yogurt I cannot move in my house. Still, my little boy finds greater pleasure in eating the produce in other gopis’ homes. I do not understand why this is so.
“Devi Prabhavati, you treat my son as your own. The next time you catch Him stealing, bring Him to me, and I will scold Him and tie Him up.” Hearing these words, that gopi became happy and, embracing Yasoda, they exchanged many words before she returned to her home.
Then one day, Krsna and His friends went to Prabhavati’s home to steal yogurt. Scaling the outer wall like accomplished thieves, the boys entered the inner courtyard and found the storeroom where yogurt hung from the ceiling. As the pots were beyond His reach, clever Gopala arranged to place a grinding mortar atop a footstool and climbed to the top. When, even from that height, the pot remained beyond reach, Sridama and Subala hit it with sticks until it broke. The beautiful yogurt flowed to the ground, where Krsna, Subala, the boys, and some monkeys ate it up.
When Prabhavati heard the sound of the breaking pot, she entered the room and tactfully caught Sri Krsna’s beautiful hand in her own. While He shed false tears and made an incredible fuss, Prabhavati brought Him to Nanda’s palace and into the presence of His anxious mother.
Burying His lotus face in Prabhavati’s garment, Sri Krsna thought, “Now that I have been captured. My mother will scold Me and hit Me with a stick.” Then the Supreme Person, who is feared by fear personified, hiding in fear of His own mother, manifest the form of Prabhavati’s son.
Angry Prabhavati said, “Here is your mischievous boy, who broke a pot and stole all the yogurt in it.” When Yasoda looked to see the boy, she saw Prabhavati’s son and not her own Krsna.
Smiling, she said to the gopi, “When I said there is no difference between your son and mine, I meant you could correct Krsna as you would your own. But now you have brought your son here, accusing my boy of wrongdoing.”
When Prabhavati turned to the child holding her skirt, she saw her own son. Shocked and surprised at heart, she said, “How did you come to be here when all this time I held the treasure of Vraja in my hand?” Feeling greatly embarrassed, her face flushing red, she took her son and hastily left Nanda’s wonderful palace.
Yasoda, Rohini, Nanda, Balarama, and all the gopas and go-pis laughed, saying, “Today we have witnessed a great injustice against the innocent prince of Vraja!”
On the road outside Nanda Maharaja’s palace, Prabhavati staggered in the direction of her home, holding her mysterious son, her mind questioning her mental stability. At that time Sri Krsna again resumed His original form and, smiling, confident. His eyes restless. He said, “0 gopi, please consider the consequences before you try to capture Me again. If you attempt such an act, I shall not hesitate to take the form of your husband and you will become fully submerged in the bottomless ocean of embarrassment. Of this there is no doubt!”
When she heard His threat, Prabhavati immediately released Sri Krsna and ran home in astonishment. She bathed with cold water, rubbed Visnu oil on her head, and called the brdhmanas to chant auspicious mantras. From then on, in every home, impelled by fear of embarrassment, the gopis would never capture Krsna nor bring complaints against Him.
Sukadeva Oosvami now concludes this chapter with the following verse:
evam-vidha bhagavato ya vmdavana-carinah
The Gopis Meet Krsna
vamayantyo mitho gopyah kridas tan-mayatam yayuh
“Thus narrating to one another the playful pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He wandered about in the Vrndavana forest, the gopis became fully absorbed in thoughts of Him.” (Bhag. 10.21.20)
Srila Prabhupada writes, “While Krsna was engaged in tending the cows in the forest of Vrndavana or on Govardhana Hill, the gopis in the village were always absorbed in thinking of Him and discussing His different pastimes. This is the perfect example of Krsna consciousness: to somehow or other remain always engrossed in thoughts of Krsna. The vivid example is always present in the behavior of the gopis; therefore. Lord Caitanya declared that no one can worship the Supreme Lord by any method that is better than the method of the gopis. The gopis were not born in very high brahmana or ksatriya families; they were born in the families of vaisyas, and not in big mercantile communities but in the families of cowherd men. They were not very well educated, although they heard all sorts of knowledge from the brahmanas, the authorities of Vedic knowledge. The gopis’ only purpose was to remain always absorbed in thoughts of Krsna.”
The events recorded by Sukadeva Gosvami are some of the unlimited pastimes of Lord Krsna, seen through the pristine hearts of the gopis. With the word evam the author states, “I have just summarized what I have heard from the lotus mouths of the gopis. How am I capable of describing everything they have said? Their hearts are like bottomless oceans of divine love, and the varied moods that rise and fall there are beyond the comprehension of even Lord Ananta. I am just giving a clue to their many bhavas.”
The pastimes of Lord Krsna are amazing, and thus they bewilder the whole world. They are the personal manifestation of Bhagavan, nijaisvan/a, who is moving about Vrndavana by His own free will, vrndavana-carinah. It is these pastimes, performed in the forest of Vrndavana, which is bounded on three sides by Govardhana, Bhandiravana, and the Rasa-sthali, that are the subject of the gopis’ conversations.
The word tan-mayatam indicates that the gopis are fully absorbed in Sri Krsna by hearing and chanting His wonderful pastimes, kridah. By such absorption they have become filled with thoughts of Him and with the happiness accompanying their devotion. This affection for Krsna, known as purva-raga, attachment before meeting, is naturally mixed with feelings of separation, known as vipralambha.
Such separation is the means for practicing remembrance of the Lord. When combined with the mature stage of attachment, it draws Sri Krsna to His devotee like a magnet. As they are the most qualified servitors of Hari, the gopis possess this burning attachment for Him. Thus, Krsna becomes attracted to engaging in pastimes with them, and His yogamaya makes arrangement to satisfy both their desires.
Sanatana Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura agree that the word yayuh is evidence that the gopis attained the association of their beloved gopa. In a secluded place in the divine forests of Vraja, they had the opportunity to approach Sri Krsna, perform many pastimes with Him, see Him present as the object of their attention, and become saturated by His prema. In that way the gopis attained tadatmya, full absorption in Krsna, and became ananda-mohana, bewildered by ecstasy. In the chapters of Snmad-Bhagavatam describing the saradiya-rasa-yatra all this will be described in great detail.
The songs of the gopis are a daily diversion that makes the painful periods of Sri Hari’s separation bearable. The meetings that follow separation are a regular festival of love. They are fixed with a message sent from Nanda-grama, and they begin after sunset.
Like the moon surrounded by many planets, Sri Krsna sat in the great assembly house of Nandagoan surrounded by Maharaja Nanda and His relatives. While enjoying the performance of many musicians, actors, and bards, weary Govinda yawned, to be summarily ushered into His own quarters by His loving mother. After fondling Him and speaking sweetly, she induced Him to take rest on the balcony of His bedroom.
After the other gopas were dispatched to their homes, devoted mother Yasoda and Rohini put Krsna to rest separate from
The Gopis Meet Krsna
Madhumangala and Balarama. While going to her own quarters, Yasoda stationed some servants to guard Him and, with her mind melting with affection, instructed them, “Do not allow noisy people to come here. My boys are tired of wandering in the forest all day, and they must sleep peacefully until morning.”
Then that incomparably clever prankster, Sri Krsna, who never tires of enjoying His own sports, made His way unseen through the dark lanes of Nanda’s capital into the embrace of the surrounding forest. As the dynamic lotus of Vrndavana supported His movements, Sri Krsna quickly traversed the long distance to the grand desire tree on the bank of the Yamuna.
Assisted by divine providence, the gopis, headed by Sri Radhika, left the confines of their homes and, considering the obstacles of their superiors no more than mustard seeds, entered the forest like a liquid stream of sweetness. If one were to ask, “What will happen if the gopis’ superiors find their daughters absent from home? What will happen if they angrily enter the dark night in search for them?” the answer is that Yogamaya, Krsna’s mystic illusion, is empowered for this task, and she will make an arrangement to enrich the lila.
When amorous Radhika entered the forest. She heard every sound as the vibration of Krsna’s flute, saw every kadamba tree as the form of Her beloved and every fragrance as the odor of His glorious limbs. The restlessness born of His impending encounter induced a volcanic eruption of Her loving sentiments and, numbing Her mind and drowning Her senses, it caused a tidal wave of bewilderment to submerge Sri Radha.
Feeling Her own braid touching Her shoulders, Radhika shivered and, fixing the bow of Her restless eyebrows, exclaimed, “Sakhi Lalita! Did you see the unusual behavior of your snake-like lover as He placed His arm on My shoulder and forcibly embraced Me around the neck?”
Exhibiting shyness at the amusement of Her friends, Sri Radha slowly entered a bakula forest, striving to remain patient, although Her patience had evaporated under the searing sun of many ascending desires. When Visakha, doubting the creditability of her own eyes, saw Mukunda embracing a young tamala tree, she
quickly and joyfully told lotus-eyed Radhika, “0 fair-faced one! Look, look, there is Madhava standing before You!”
When Sri Krsna beheld the assembly of gopis, appearing like a mass of moving shadows glorified by the sound of their ankle bells, He, too, became overjoyed and considered the tree of His fortune to have borne fruit.
Overwhelmed by love, Sri Radha could not recognize the form of Her beloved. Although dizzy and impatient at heart. She mistook Sri Krsna for a tamala tree and replied, “0 clever Visakhe\ Out of eagerness to see Krsna My eyes became bewildered and mistook Him for a young tree; still it is not proper for you to joke in this way.” Reflecting on Her situation for a moment. She continued to speak in a delirium. “Sakhi! Your bewildering words are truly correct, for both the spring season and the motionless tamala tree are known as Madhava.”
Hearing the gopis’ exchange of words and desiring to take part in their fun, Hari removed His yellow scarf, covered His ornaments, and extended His arms to resemble the best of tamala trees. Seeing Krsna adopting His tree disguise, Sri Visakha-devi said, “He Radhike! We shall go ahead and see if Govinda is waiting under the desire tree at the appointed place. You wait for our return under the shelter of this tamala tree.”
Saying this, Visakha and Lalita, accompanied by the other gopis, hid among the trees and vines, covering their smiling faces and fixing their intent eyes on their maddened sakhi. Sri Radhika, finding Herself alone in the forest, slowly approached the tamala tree that was, unbeknown to Her love-deluded senses. Her beloved Sri Krsna. As She did, Radha felt the surge of Her loving ecstasy plunge Her into the ocean of astonishment and simultaneously raise Her on the mountain of spiritual bliss.
Sri Radha said to Herself, “Of the many tamala trees I have seen in the forests of Vrndavana, none resemble the unique luster of the prince of Vraja as does this fortunate tree.” Straining Her eyes to see better, Radha continued, “I praise the Creator for making such an unlimitedly sweet immobile being, who expertly satisfies the thirst of My eyes.” As a boundless stream of bliss poured from Radhika’s eyes. She folded Her hands in prayer and said, “0 incomparably beautiful tamala tree, how can I describe your
The Gopis Meet Krsna
glories? For Me you are not just a tree, but you are Sri Krsna Himself, 0 king of trees, I am burning in the great forest fire of separation from My beloved Sri Krsna. As I firmly embrace you, please shower Me with your sweet honey and immerse Me in the waves of an ocean of bliss.”
Deluded by Her intense love for Him, doe-eyed Radhika mistook Sri Krsna’s yellow cloth to be Her own reflection and failed to recognize Her lover although She stood by His side. As She embraced the tamala tree, Sri Krsna became dizzy with loving intoxication and, reeling where He stood, almost fell in a swoon. Then Sri Krsna embraced Radhika with His radiant branch-like arms and, as love stole the beautiful jewels of each other’s minds, He became like a tamala tree and She the golden vine hugging him.
Radhika rose and fell on the ever-new waves of astonishment caused by Her innocence and Sri Krsna’s artful cleverness. At that moment, before She recognized Her lover and was swept away by the tide of embarrassment, time stopped! It stopped, that the divine couple may savor the novelty of Their love, that Their girlfriends may satisfy their eyes on its happiness, and that Vrndavana could record another episode in its eternal annals of wonder.
Thereafter, continuing Their lila once again, even Sarasvati, the goddess of speech, was unable to describe the joy Radha and Krsna experienced in the company of Their friends as they met once again under the starlit canopy of Vraja. As the full moon beheld the unprecedented festival of dancing, singing, and merriment, it lost all sense of time and, becoming stunned, failed to move from its lofty perch. Only when an impatient sun made its desire known by the reddish glow in the east did the moon continue its orbit, fainting into the horizon in bliss.
At that juncture between night and day, the all-blissful realm of Vrndavana, which always increases the pleasure of the eternal prince regent. His intimate associates, and the elevated transcen-dentalists who know nothing but His service, paused as the divine couple rested. Then once again, as the rays of the early morning sun heralded the beginning of another day of inconceivable happiness that is the eternal pastimes of Sri Krsna, the aromatic breezes stirred the leaves, the forest vines stretched on their tree supports, the birds began to sing, the forest creatures awoke, the seasons
competed for service, the bees began their songs, and the youthful prince of Vraja, rising from His forest cot of petals, took the hearts of His beloved gopis as He made His way to Nandagoan, fearing His mother would see Him gone.
Another day will pass and the gopis will meet again to discuss the eternally attractive pastimes of Sri Krsna. Although they may see the fortune of all other beings superior to their own, the very mood of their meditation is the witness to their great opulence of love. That unconditional, pure, innocent, and selfless love of the gopis, which purchases the heart of Acyuta Krsna, who is not attained by countless years of meditation by the jndnis, karmis, or mystic yogis, is the guarantee of their meeting with Him again and again.
Throughout Venu-gita the gopis have exhibited great distress due to the rising tidal wave of their love. This is no mundane misery, for it is the ultimate treasure of life, and their songs are the glorification of their own greatness. Although they repeatedly lament their misfortune, what Sukadeva Gosvami describes is the glorification of their unparalleled good fortune.
In his conclusion to this chapter, Srila Frabhupada emphasizes that the gopis’ constant remembrance of Sri Krsna, which is known as smarana, is the perfection of devotional life for sadhakas and siddhas alike. It should be achieved “somehow or other.” The Bhagavad-gita also states, man-mana bhava, or “Always think of Me.”
According to the Vedic scriptures like Padma Purdna, absorption in thoughts of Krsna is not simply a process of devotional life, but is the primary goal served by all the rules of sadhana. It is said:
smartavyah satatam visnuh vismartavyo na jatucit sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah
“LorcfVisnu should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the sdstras should be the servants of these two principles.”
Constant remembrance, smaranam, is cultivated by regular hearing of topics related to Krsna, known as sravanam, and the
repetition of such glories with special emphasis on His holy names is know as kirtanam. To gain a better understanding of the process of remembrance, which is given much emphasis by Srila Prabhu-pada and exemplified by the gopis in Venu-gita, let us briefly study hearing and chanting as it relates to smarana and then the process of remembrance itself.
By hearing of Krsna’s many pastimes, like the killing of the demons who invade Vrndavana, tending the cows under the order of Nanda Maharaja, and rasa dancing with the gopis, the heart of a devotee is purified of sinful reaction and he is relieved from the Suffering of material conditions. In this way, the regular hearing of such topics leaves their impression within the purified mind of a devotee and invokes special sympathy from the Lord within. He then assists in further purification and remembrance, as stated in the verse srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punyah-sravana-klrtanah.
The process of hearing Krsna’s pastimes from authorities is so powerful that the fearsome knot of lust binding the heart of the conditioned soul can be severed and one quickly rises to the transcendental platform. Thus, hearing is the means by which the neophyte devotee gains an impression of Krsna’s lila and becomes purified so that he can relish His pastimes. In this connection the gopis say, “To hear about the pastimes that Krsna regularly performs is nectar for the ears. For those who relish just a single drop of that nectar, even once, their dedication to material duality is ru-;ined. Many such persons have suddenly given up their wretched homes and families and, themselves becoming wretched, traveled here to Vrndavana to wander about like birds, begging for their Jiving.” (Bhdg. 10.47.18)
Now, in considering the process of kirtanam, it is well known to all Vaisnavas that the all-powerful religious practice for this age is the chanting of the holy names, glories, and pastimes of the Lord. Since all scriptures declare that kirtanam is the best limb of bhakti, it is the means by which a practitioner can enter into the realm of smaranam and cultivate development of remembrance.
It should be remembered that Sri Krsna’s name, form, qualities, pastimes, and abode are all manifestations of His cit-sakti, as is the conditioned living entity, covered at present by the acit material potency. By associating with the cit attributes of the Lord, begin-
The Gopis Meet Krsna
ning with His name, the acit nature falsely adopted by association with the material energy fades away, and the svarupa of the jiva becomes manifest.
At first a devotee hears the name and receives the seed of devotion. By very careful cultivation through regular chanting, making a concentrated effort to become free from the offenses to the holy name, a Vaisnava must learn to do japa by clearly pronouncing all the syllables and words of the maha-mantra.
When the name is clear, steady, chanted with delight and without great effort, the devotee may delve deeper into the name by taking darsana of the Lord while chanting, with the eyes and then later within the mind. Gradually one will gain steadiness in this process and the form of Krsna will immediately be remembered when the holy name is pronounced.
When the devotee has realized the form of Sri Krsna as non-different from His name, he has achieved the primary stage of success in offenseless chanting. Having attained such good fortune, one should regularly hear Snmad-Bhagavatam in the association of pure devotees and carefully avoid all forms of bad association.
Having heard of the many qualities of Sri Krsna, such as His kindness, humor, magnanimity, and cleverness, a devotee will recall such attributes while chanting, with the eventual result that both Sri Krsna’s rupa and guna will appear in the mind at the mere mention of the name.
The subsequent remembrance will be the pastimes of Sri Krsna, as exemplified by the verses of Venu-gita. When success is achieved in remembering the name, form, and qualities of Govinda, gradually the pastimes will manifest, one at a time. At the time when revelation of Krsna’s lila occurs, bhakti-devi, by a mixture of the hiadini and samvit potencies generally known as suddha-sattva, descends upon the devotee and reveals the ingredients of rasa, which leads to full absorption in the ever-continuing pastimes of Sri Krsna, revelation of one’s eternal relationship, and realization of one’s own spiritual form. ;•
In this way, the two practices of chanting and hearing contribute to the success of remembrance and the attainment of life’s ultimate goal. The stages of development in bhakti leading to
smaranam and its perfection are outlined by Srila Prabhupada m The Nectar of Instruction. They are described as follows: .:; ;
The first stage of devotional life is known as sravana-dasa, the stage of hearing. Having heard from sadhus of the importance of spiritual life, the infallibility of the Vedic scriptures, and the supremacy of Sri Hari, a sddhaka develops faith in these priciples, followed by a great eagerness to enter devotional practice.
Then, under the guidance of guru, when a devotee adopts the constant chanting and hearing of Krsna’s transcendental holy name, form, and pastimes, taking a vow of eternal servitude to Sri Krsna and formal commitment to the path of devotional life, he attains to the stage of acceptance, or varana-dasa.
Varana-dasa is accompanied by a taste for the holy name and attachment to hearing krsna-kathd. Propelled by intensifying attachment to the name, the sddhaka reaches the preliminary stage of transcendence and, being able to chant the holy name in ecstasy, attains to the stage of remembrance, smarandvasthd. It is the development of this smaranam that is the concern of the sincere aspirant. In the evolution of chanting outlined earlier, from careful concentration on the name to the realization of the lild of Sri Krsna, the following stages of remembrance are to be found:
Smarana is divided into five progressive stages according to the level of remembrance achieved by the practitioner, known as smaranam (recollection), dharana (absorption), dhyana (meditation), dhruva-anusmrti (constant remembrance), and samadhi (trance).
At first the ability to concentrate is limited due to the agitated nature of the restless mind and thus, by making an effort the sddhaka searches with his mind on the Lord, only to be swept away at the next moment by some irrelevant thought. This is known as smaranam (not to be confused with the entire process of smaranam of the same name).
After repeated effort to hear the name a preliminary purification of the mind is achieved, which is accompanied by the occasional withdrawal from the external world and a slight ability to dwell on the Lord. This is known as dharana, absorption, or the slight ability to enter into remembrance.
The third stage, known as dhyana or meditation, is the mature
The Gopis Meet Krsna
stage of absorption, which is characterized by an ability to fix the mind in thought of a specific form or pastime of Sri Hari. In dharana the ability to remember is of a general nature which, in meditation, becomes focused in a particular object.
When the offenseless chanting and hearing of Krsna’s extraordinary attributes invokes an uninterrupted and unimpeded remembrance that overwhelms the heart of the devotee with excessive bliss, such a state of constant remembrance is known as anusmrti. • K
Samddhi, the final stage of smarana and the mature state of anusmrti, is equivalent to spiritual trance. Here Sri Krsna is the only object of deep meditation, which takes place spontaneously under the influence of the spiritual potency, cit-sakti, without any effort on the part of the devotee.
During the development of samadhi, the fourth stage of spiritual growth following smarana-dasa, known as apana-dasd or assimilation, takes place. Here, all incompatible material concepts that may have remained within the mind are swept away by the influence of the internal energy of the Lord, and one is situated on the transcendental platform of bhava, having abandoned all identity with the material body, being always in the presence of Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana.
The fifth stage, known as sampatti-dasa, is referred to by Srila Prabhupada as the “perfection of life.” Although in apana-dasd one attains svarupa-siddhi, the devotee still maintains a connection with this material world via his body. At the stage of sampatti-dasa Sri Krsna, being pleased by the affectionate service of His devotee, kindly removes him from this world to be transferred to His eternal abode in a spiritual body, known as vastu-siddhi. Then the devotee acquires admittance into the treasure-house of those many pastimes he has heard, chanted about, and remembered as a sddhaka, while he ardently prayed and relentlessly struggled for success in devotional service.*
*”The detailed process of smaranam should be understood in context with the yuga-dharma of this age, which is kirtanam, chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. As evidenced from the above procedure, the practice of remembering the Lord requires purity of the heart, without which it becomes extremely demanding. However, the chanting of the holy names is recommended for those with impure consciousness, for it is easily performed and purification takes place rapidly.
As a consequence of the holy name and internal purification, the qualification for smaranam is easily achieved and a natural transition to the process outlined above takes place. Srila Prabhupada explained in a lecture, “That meditation can be possible by hearing and chanting. Then thinking will automatically come. That is the process of Krsna consciousness. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam (Bhag. 7.5.23). Smaranam means remember. If you chant and hear, then remembrance will automatically come. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam.”
Thus, chanting without offense and hearing of Lord Krsna’s pastimes is certainly the most potent means of entering into the realm of smaranam. Such effective training avoids the risk of imitative practice and allows the sadhaka to spontaneously invoke the subsequent stages of smaranam via the ongoing process of chanting. No doubt a devotee achieves perfection and enters into the transcendental realm of the supreme.
By the grace of the svarupa-sakti, that devotee acquires a spiritual form suitable for direct service to Sri Krsna and one day, standing within the circle of Vraja-mandala, he watches as the rising sun dissipates the many shadows still lurking within the groves of the morning forest. The air is full with the scent of blossoming flowers, the birds sing sweetly, and the wise trees bow to the cintamani soil. In the distance can be seen the outline of Govardhana Hill, and the Yamuna is conspicuous by the fragrant spray of nectar that invigorates the atmosphere. :’
Moving quickly down the forest path, he sees the Moon of Yraja, His cloth billowing in the aromatic air, a fresh garland decorating His broad chest. His hand holding His happy flute. As the sun rises. He must quickly take shelter of His darkened bedroom before Yasoda comes to awaken Him to His duties.
Coming abreast of each other, lover and beloved stare with lotus eyes, drinking in the fresh vision of their beautiful transcendental
The Gopis Meet Krsna
forms. Then, as tears of recognition introduce each other, many symptoms of ecstatic love acknowledge their presence on their limbs and, in voices choked with happiness, they speak. As tears roll down His beautiful cheeks, Sri Krsna says/ “0 my dear sakha, I am so fortunate to see you once again after such a long time. Every day I have waited impatiently, thinking of you, hoping that you would return. Now my desire is fulfilled and I know that today will certainly be a very good day.”
Speaking in a plaintive voice amidst his sobs and tears, that pure-hearted soul says, “0 dear Syamasundara! After great effort and after a very long time, I have finally become the recipient of Your mercy and see You standing before me once again. My desire is to remain with You always, in the circle of Your associates. Please accept me.”
Falling into each other’s happy embrace and exchanging many sweet words, they pass some moments together on the forest path in Vrndavana, under the shade of many desire trees. Hearing the sound of the roosters and feeling the urgency of time, Sri Krsna takes His new-found friend by the hand and, as they quickly walk towards Nanda-grama, a shower of love is emitted from their cheerful exchange, dying the pathway with its golden hue. The bees hum in approval, the peacocks tilt their heads, the deer bestow their loving glance, the devis shower flowers, the cows begin to moo, the birds chirp in happiness, the waves of the Yamuna clap, the new clouds rumble quietly, the Pulindi girls smile, Giriraja bestows his blessings, and Krsna’s rope glows with effulgence. As the flute in His hand sings an enchanting melody of its own accord, the couple laugh in ecstasy, the beams of their smiles illuminating their path back home.
Dear reader, I, a useless and fallen servant of my eternally brilliant spiritual master. His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Astottara-sata Sri Srimad A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who is the renowned founder-acarya of the Krsna Consciousness movement, the crown jewel of Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas, the empowered saktyavesa-avatara of Lord Caitanya, by whose will the holy name of Sri Krsna has been delivered to every town and village of this globe/who has translated and distributed the cream of Vedic literature, Snmad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, for the welfare of all, and who has presented the essence of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Tenth Canto, in his Krsna book, of which the 21st chapter is entitled, “The Gopis Enchanted by the Flute,” have almost completed my humble attempt at including the commentaries of Srila Sridhara Svami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Jiva Gosvami/ and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, as well as relevant narrations from other Gaudiya Vaisnavas’ works in this book entitled Krsna in Vrndavana, The Song of the Flute. I
I am no doubt unqualified for such an endeavor, but for the sake of my own purification and to broadcast the glories of Sri Krsna’s wonderful pastimes, I have dared to put my thoughts to paper. May the saints protect me.
The land of Vrndavana is saturated with the most confidential loving pastimes of Sri Krsna and His eternal associates. It is a place unique within the spiritual sky, for the loving devotion of the vraja-vasis is spoken about within the great gathering hall of Lord Narayana. This love has been freely distributed to one and all by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His teachings and His sanklrtana movement have spread worldwide through the medium of Srila Prabhupada. It is the humble desire of this author to attain such bhakti and share its glories with our illustrious readers.
When Sri Uddhava went to Vrndavana he tried to pacify the vraja-vasis, who were all feeling such intense separation from Lord Krsna. When he returned to Mathura, he described to all the members of the Vrsni dynasty the extraordinarily pure love that he had seen in Vraja. Indeed, the love the cowherd men and the gopis felt for Krsna was far beyond anything other devotees had ever experienced. Simply by hearing about that love all the Lord’s devotees would increase their faith and devotion.
Will not the faith and devotion of one who feels separation from
The Gopis Meet Krsna
Sri Krsna and reads these descriptions of the love of the vraja-vasis for Him also swell? I hope so. Srila Prabhupada has written in Krsnabook:
“Since Krsna had departed from Vrndavana and gone to Mathura, the inhabitants of Vrndavana, especially mother Yasoda, Nanda Maharaja, Srimati Radharani, the gopis, and the cowherd boys, were simply thinking of Krsna at every step. They were thinking, ‘Here Krsna was playing in this way. Here Krsna was blowing His flute. Krsna was joking with us in this way, and Krsna was embracing us like this.’ This is called lila-smarana, and it is the process of association with Krsna most recommended by great devotees; even Lord Caitanya, when He was at Puri, enjoyed lila-smarana, association with Krsna. Those in the most exalted position of devotional service and ecstasy can live with Krsna always by remembering His pastimes. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has given us a transcendental literary work entitled Krsna-bhavanamrta, which is full with Krsna’s pastimes. Exalted devotees can remain absorbed in Krsna-thought by reading such books. Any book of krsna-lila, even this book, Krsna, or our Teachings of Lord Caitanya, is actually solace for devotees feeling separation from Krsna.”
Dear reader, I have taken solace in Srila Prabhupada’s statement that “Any book of krsna-lila is actual solace for devotees.” 0 saragrahi Vaisnavas, you who always seek the essence of everything, by the grace of our common well-wisher, Srila Prabhupada, may your great quest to achieve the lotus feet of Sri Nanda-nandana, which is fraught with the many dangers overshadowing any noteworthy endeavor, be successful. May this book, by his grace, be a soothing balm on your journey over the arid plains of Kali-yuga, often scorched by the blazing fires of lust that is, after all, our greatest enemy and can be purified only through association with the supreme object of love. Srila Prabhupada has written:
“This krsna-katha will also be very much appealing to the most materialistic persons, because Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis (cowherd girls) are exactly like the loving affairs between young girls and boys within this material world. Actually, the sex feeling found in human society is not unnatural, because this same sex
feeling is there in the original Personality of Godhead. The pleasure potency is called Srimati Radharani. The attraction of loving affairs on the basis of sex feeling is the original feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we, the conditioned souls, being part and parcel of the Supreme, have such feelings also, but they are experienced within a perverted, minute condition. Therefore, when those who are after sex life in this material world hear about Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis, they will relish transcendental pleasure, although it appears to be materialistic. The advantage will be that they will gradually be elevated to the spiritual platform. In the Bhagavatam it is stated that if one hears the pastimes of Lord Krsna with the gopis, from authorities with submission, then he will be promoted to the platform of transcem-dental loving service to the Lord, and the material disease of lust within his heart will be completely vanquished. In other words, such hearing will counteract material sex life.”
Although such great benefit is to be gotten from hearing krsna-katha, it should be done with care and attention, avoiding the intrusion of speculative habits and the relentless demands of the senses. In modern day Vrndavana it is unfortunate to find some so-called transcendentalists, who think they have become gopis or maidservants of Srimati Radharani by identifying their perishable bodies as objects of Krsna’s pleasure.
There are others who prematurely absorb themselves in thought of their own svarupa while within the bodily concept of life, without a clear understanding of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita.
In numerous places Srila Prabhupada has condemned such a practice as offensive, an imitation that will bear no fruit. On the other hand, there is no harm in hearing such pastimes with faith and devotion, while fixed in one’s service to Lord Caitanya under direction of the spiritual master. If one maintains the conviction that such lila-katha will purify the heart, it will certainly leave an impression of its own footprints. This impression will mature of its own accord, through the medium of the pure chanting of the holy name. Maharaja Kulasekhara has said,
The Gopis Meet Krsna
sarasija-nayane sa-sankha-cakre a mura-bhidi md viramasva citta rantum ;; ;„ sukha-taram aparam na jatu jane •:
“0 mind, please never stop taking pleasure in thinking of the Mura demon’s destroyer, who has lotus eyes and bears the conch and disc weapon. Indeed, I know of nothing else that gives such extreme pleasure as meditating on Lord Hari’s divine feet.”
0 beloved Srila Prabhupada, 0 my divine master, my only shelter in this world and the refuge of the very fallen, I fall prostrated in the dust of your lotus feet, my cloth between my teeth, offering many humble obeisances unto you. As the transcendental sun that is the personified mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you rose on the eastern horizon with the warmth of the holy name and cast your rays of love around the world to illuminate the hearts of those who are pitied by the pitiable. By your grace, may I one day recognize the transcendental bounty you have bequeathed to your fortunate son.
0 Gaura-Hari, 0 most merciful Nitai, had You not adopted this fallen soul, where would I be now? I fall at Your iridescent lotus feet, which are my only possession in this world and which have repeatedly saved me from the great whirlpool of material existence that has drawn into its depths all conditioned souls, many elevated jnanis, and even learned Vaisnavas. My respectful obeisances unto You both.
0 Sri Vrndavana-dhama, who are the only refuge for those seeking shelter at the lotus feet of Govinda, I offer my humble obeisances unto you. May the sweet breezes which blow over your crystal-clear lakes, laden with the scent of many divine flowers and moistened with fragrant droplets of water, revive my unhappy heart, shriveled by the influence of greed, furrowed by the rusty blades of anger, and scorched by the blazing fires of lust.
0 unlimitedly fortunate Vamsi, 0 divine flute, who are the constant companion of Sri Krsna, who resides in His waist sash when not in His hand, who readily tastes the incomparable nectar of His lips, and whose good fortune is envied even by the gopis of
Vrndavana, I offer my obeisances unto you. Please let the sound of your song enter my miserable ears and forcibly drag my mind to Vrndavana, where all its desires will instantly be fulfilled. Please bestow such mercy upon me.
0 gopikas of Vraja, can a fallen soul like me even pray to you? You are the repository of full love for Sri Krsna, you have abandoned everything for His pleasure, your graceful features are envied by Laksmi-devi, and when absent from Him for even a moment you constantly sing of the glories of your Beloved! I offer unlimited obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. May your charming words awaken the desire in my heart to always hear of the pastimes of Nanda-nandana.
0 Sukadeva Gosvami, 0 blessed son of Vyasadeva who spotpe Snmad-Bhagavatam out of a great compassion for those desiring ro cross the ocean of repeated birth and death, who embraced Maharaja Pariksit while feeling the mood of the gopis, who is respected by all saints as the topmost paramaharhsa, and who is the parrot of Sri Radhika, I offer my obeisances unto you. May your message of Godhead fill my ears with their vibration, leaving room for nothing else.
0 cowherd boys, 0 Sri Baladeva, I offer my obeisances unto you over and over again. While leaving Vrndavana in the morning, you are charged by the queen of Vraja with the grave duty of protecting her restless, frolicsome little son. Equipped with sticks and swords to ward away wild animals and the demoniac servants of Kamsa, will you allow me to approach your friend Krsna through the medium of my Gurudeva’s words?
0 emperor of all lands bounded by all the oceans, 0 King Pariksit, who is the beloved of Sukadeva Gosvami, the receptacle of Snmad-Bhagavatam, the son of mother Uttara, the foremost of all devotees, and the pride of the Pandavas, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you. Please bless me with the ability to submissively and attentively hear the words of my Gurudeva, who is the representative of your own divine master.
0 residents of Vrndavana, 0 Nanda Maharaja, 0 mother Yasoda, 0 King Vrsabhanu, 0 mother Kirtida, 0 Upananda, 0 Sridama, Subala; and Madhumahgala, 0 you who always feast
The Gopis Meet Krsna
upon the vision of the sublime forms of Krsna and Balarama, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you. Lord Brahma has created the forms of illusion in this world for those bewildered souls who, having lost all sense, have abandoned the spectacle of Sri Krsna’s rupa-madhurya. By your mercy, may my eyes once again be soothed by that enchanting balm that is Govinda’s love-saturated figure of animated bliss.
0 forest animals of Vraja, who are the diversity of Sri Baladeva’s transcendental artistic skill, arranged for the pleasure of His younger brother, I offer my obeisances unto you. How lovingly you worship the footprints of Rama-Krsna that are spread throughout the entirety of Vrndavana forest as your primary decorative ornament, your cardinal means of sustenance, your only family inheritance, your ultimate religious principle, and the life force of your greatly valuable lives. Please bless me to behold the imprints of the conch, disc, and thunderbolt for even a fraction of one moment, if not even before my eyes, then just in the recesses of a highly celebrated dream.
0 dear Mohana Rupa Sri Krsna, 0 You of enchanting form who are adorned with a beautiful pink sari, many valuable necklaces, and charming flower decorations, dressed in the guise of a gopi to gain the attention of Your beloved Radhika, who has become angry with You for some slight offense, all glories unto You, all glories unto You. May Your ever-creative pastimes that echo in the hearts of Your eternal associates cast their merciful sidelong glance at this unfortunate wretch, who has accepted a bodily dress made of the illusory eight elements out of envy of Your unparalleled cleverness.
0 divine rivers of Vrndavana, 0 Yamuna-devi, 0 Manasa-Ganga, 0 the many trees and reeds that feed on the crystal-like nectarean waters that flow towards the sea but never leave Vraja, I take a blade of grass between my teeth and offer my obeisances unto you over and over again. If I cannot be submerged in the playful waters that are the loving pastimes of Sri Krsna, please beat me incessantly with your bamboo reeds until my stubborn ego gives up its illusory attachments and embraces the many melodic waves of Sri Govinda’s lilds.
0 peacocks of Vrndavana, 0 king of all forest fowl, 0 dancing
teachers of Sri Hari who have bestowed your own plumage upon Him and who watch intently from the other three peaks of Varsana Hill as Radha and Govinda, at Mora-kutira, dressed with your own colorful feathers, endowed with your own pompous movements, singing your own ke ka with upraised necks, enact your ceremonial dance while the earth stops rotating, the sun stays fixed in its orbit, and the deities of the directions miss their alignment, I offer my obeisances unto you again and again.
0 blessed deer, 0 blessed buck, who are wiser that the wisest of sages, more learned than the most learned of saints, and more resourceful than all clever demigods, I offer my obeisances unto you. By your grace all obstacles on the path of sadhana-bhakti are destroyed, all family restrictions overcome, all poison of mundane knowledge unearthed, and the path approaching Sri Krsna illuminated with ever-sparkling rays of hope. May such drops of mercy / fall upon this truly foolish soul, who is lost in the great forest of illusion with nowhere to turn.
0 wives of the demigods, 0 devis who travel in majestic airplanes, 0 the beloved of Siva, Brahma, and Indra, I offer my obeisances unto you again and again. When Sri Krsna performed in the magical circle of the rasa dance, it was only you who, being free of all male egoism, were able to fully see His lila with the gopis while your husbands, infested with purusa-bhava, saw a lone Krsna dancing in the forest of Vraja. Please bless me that my false identity as a sannydsl, brahmana, and leader of men dissolve like a palmful of sugar into the torrential river that is the firm disposition of those who know themselves as the enjoyable servants of Sri Krsna.
0 milk-white cows of Vraja, 0 mothers of devotion to Sri Hari, 0 Mangala, Pingala, Pisahgi, and Hamsi, 0 descendants of Surabhi, my obeisances unto you. When the delicate lip of a young calf was pierced, Sri Radhika, Her eyes overflowing with tears of love, removed that straw with Her bud-like hands and, with Her forefinger taking the kunkuma from Her simanta, dressed the small wound with loving care. Bestowing your blessings upon me, may the thorns of countless sinful deeds that have sewn shut my wanton lips be removed by Her grace, that I too may lovingly sing the names of Sri Krsna, free of all impediments and offense.
The Gopis Meet Krsna
0 the many-colored birds of Vraja! 0 swans, geese, parrots, cuckoos, and pikas, 0 you whose songs are the prayers of the Vedas, whose plumage steals the pride of heavenly rainbows, who are the swift messengers of Radha, and who ply the endless skies of jnana in search of Sri Hari, please bestow your kind favor upon me. As the sun rises over the horizon of Gokula to be greeted by your melodious morning kirtana, please let the early rays of attachment to Govinda illuminate the dark moon night of my unfortunate heart.
0 Manasa-Ganga, 0 Yamuna-devi, 0 golden and silver streams of nectar that decorate the bejeweled land of Vraja, I offer my obeisances unto you. By the touch of your divine waters, devotional service to Govinda is aroused in the arid heart of non-believers, by the memory of your sandy banks countless sins of the most hideous miscreants evaporate, and by the mere mention of your holy names the qualification for residence in Vraja manifests. As you pass through this world for the benefit of fallen souls, will you sisters not remember me, the most fallen of men, and shower upon me some drops of your mercy?
0 greatly magnanimous clouds, the pride of King Indra’s retinue, grayish decoration of the skies, my obeisances unto you. I do not pray to you for the post of an earthly king, dominion over the court of Brahma, mastery over many mystic perfections, or liberation from material entanglement. My sole desire is to be ceaselessly engaged in the service of the ever-restless Supreme’ Brahman who, bound by the creeper of a gopi’s arm, appears like a dark rain cloud and a stationary flash of lightning in the forest by the Yamuna’s shore.
0 Pulindis of Vrndavana who, searching for cow dung and firewood in the area near the best of hills, discovered the lotus footprints of Sri Krsna, my obeisances unto you. Born of the lowest caste, devoid of all qualification, riddled by sinful reactions, I am disqualified from service to Sri Govinda and can be but the object of pity for some kind-hearted souls. Finding me rolling on the ground in abject misery, submerged in an ocean of woe, please grace me with your kunkuma-scented hands.
0 Giriraja Govardhana, 0 king of mountains, tilaka decoration
of Vraja, playground of cowherd boys and the umbrella of Sri Govinda, I roll in the dust of your inconceivable devotion. Though having practiced the rituals of bhakti for so long, my heart remains rock hard, my tongue barren, my eyes a desert, my being without ornaments. 0 you who transgress all natural laws to serve the Lord of your life, turning a blind eye to the just results of my offenses, will you not make me blossom with the symptoms of a real Vaisnava, which are the only means for seeing Sri Krsna’s unlimited pastimes performed in your innumerable gardens, groves, lakes, and pasturing grounds?
0 divine rope in the hands of Rama-Krsna, quickly save me as I drown in this ocean of material suffering. I offer my obeisances unto you! Tied around the neck by the ropes of the six enemies, shackled hand and foot by ignorance and passion, chained at the I waist by the witch of liberation, and blindfolded by sinful association, your threads of love for the prince of Vraja are the only hope to drag me from my self-imposed imprisonment in this realm of suffering. Drowning in my sorrow, my hands tied, please take my feeble cries for succor as my mooring and make me happy with the golden rays of rati that are the only means to dispel this despair.
0 Venu-gita, 0 transcendental pastimes of the flute who have appeared through the mouth of Sukadeva Gosvami, who are ornamented by great acaryas, who have been made known to the world by Srila Prabhupada, I, a fallen jiva, have tried in my way to broadcast your glories. I do not know if my attempt will be successful or not, but seeing my desire, reward or punish me as you like. My only desire remains to always reside in the association of those who relish the pastimes of that Crown Prince of adolescent cowherd boys, who expertly teases you from the end of His flute for the pleasure of the gopis and the fortunate inhabitants of Vrndavana.
0 Radhe-Syama, Radhe-Syama, 0 beloved Deities of my heart, 0 beautiful couple of Vraja, my only opulence in this poverty-stricken world, how You have come to be by my side, I do not know. Seeing me fallen and wretched, devoid of devotion, have You exhibited Your great compassion by bestowing Your personal service upon me? Once You stood in a window alcove, patiently biding Your time, and now You have taken residence in a golden
The Gopis Meet Krsna
throne and manifest Vraja-dhama. I do not understand Your many mysterious ways. Your unpredictable plans, or Your enchanting smiles. But when I stand in the moonlight of Your soothing presence. Your unfailing beauty rolls across the barriers of space and floods my heart with a great happiness that drowns my wicked mind. I need nothing more than this.
Now, if You are pleased with this book and find that it has added to the glories of Your associates, I have but one request. My divine master, Srila Prabhupada, sends me to wander here and there, to spread Your glories and Your names. Let me, by my foolish efforts, somehow find favor in a corner of his lotus-like heart. That is all I ask!
If You desire to bestow another boon on me, that is Your free will. After consideration, if You ask, “What is that other desire?” then I say this: As I engage in Gurudeva’s service for the duration of my years, may Your beautiful forms and pastimes, as You cleverly steal each other’s hearts in that enchanting realm of Vrndavana, always remain in my heart. Then if, one day, I am so fortunate as to lay down my body in Your presence, I will be happy to have offered my all to him whom I love, by the mercy of Those who, above all others, I desire to love. That is my desire. Thank You.
I have completed this book (which is but the reflection of one atomic spark of the great Krsna book), in the morning following Sayana Ekadasi, after breaking my fast on the 6th of July 1998. May it give You both some little pleasure.
This concludes the sixteenth chapter of The Song of the Flute, by a very insignificant disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in which the sage Sukadeva Gosvami concludes the topic of the flute, saying, “0 great king, I have summarized what I have heard from the lotus mouths of the gopis, but how am I capable of describing everything they have said, their hearts are like an ocean of divine love
and the diverse moods which rise and fall in that ocean are beyond the understanding of even Lord Ananta, therefore I have given but a hint of their many bhavas”, and then once again he relishes the divine absorption of the gopis in separation from, but continual remembrance of Sri Krsna’ and His many pastimes, which are all a manifestation of His personal potencies and which ultimately draw Him to meet with the gopis in a secluded place, where all their desires are fulfilled, momentarily, until the next day, when once again hearing the flute and experiencing His separation, they will sing their songs full of love for the eternal prince of the cowherds, who is the very heart of their hearts, and the heart of Vrndavana.