The Raas LeelA of Krishna with the Gopis of Brindavan

 

Continued from page 3

 

At the end of it all, Krishna reappears. The Gopis are agog with excitement. It was as if their lives returned to them (“tanvaH prANaM iva AgataM” X-32-3).  All the varieties of human emotions that can arise at such an event are described here without inhibitions. It is a no-holds-barred description. At the end of it all, Krishna, whose seat is in the hearts of great yogis, now sits encircled by  these gopis on an elevated  sand dune on the bank of Kalindi, lit up splendidly by the abundant autumnal moonlight and starts talking with them in very intimate terms. It is said that each gopi had the feet of the Lord on her lap.

 

Mark this statement. Here starts the full sway of the mAyA of the Lord. There were at least a hundred gopis. In fact the numbers that are mentioned in the Bhagavatam will make our heads reel. Anyway there were several of them. If each one had the feet of the Lord on her lap, and if each one was having the feeling that the Lord was talking to herself with His feet on her lap,  the Lord must have replicated himself as many times as there were gopis there. This point is mentioned when the actual Raas Leela starts, but even here the magic of the mAyA  has started!

 

Now Krishna starts talking. In fact they have raised  an important question for Him to answer.  Some people reciprocate the affection only of those who are affectionate toward them, while others show affection even to those who are indifferent or inimical. And yet others will not show affection toward anyone. Dear Krishna, please properly explain this matter to us.(X-32-16), say the Gopis. And He explains very patiently, in shlokas 17 to 22:

 

So-called friends who show affection for each other only to benefit themselves are actually selfish. They have no true friendship, nor are they following the true principles of religion. Indeed, if they did not expect benefit for themselves, they would not reciprocate. Some people are genuinely merciful or, like parents, naturally affectionate. Such persons, who devotedly serve even those who fail to reciprocate with them, are following the true, faultless path of religion, and they are true well-wishers. Some people, being spiritually self-satisfied, do not reciprocate others' affection because they want to avoid entanglement in mundane dealings. Other persons do not reciprocate simply out of envy or arrogance. And still others fail to reciprocate because they are materially satisfied and thus uninterested in new material opportunities. I do understand that simply for My sake you had rejected the authority of worldly opinion, of the Vedas and of your relatives. But I acted as I did only to increase your attachment to Me. Even when I removed Myself from your sight by suddenly disappearing, I never stopped loving you.

Therefore, My beloved gopîs, please do not harbor any bad feelings toward Me, your beloved. I will  not be able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahmâ.

(na pâraye 'ham niravadya-samyujâm

sva-sâdhu-krityam vibudhâyushâpi vah) X-32-22

 

 

 Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation.

 

This passage speaks volumes about the love of the gopis towards Krishna and how he acknowledged it. It is the charter that gives the universally glorified sanctity to the spotless Krishna-Bhakti  of the Gopis. Great devotees are not great because they call themselves so (if at all), but because the Lord calls them great!

 

And now begins the Raas LeelA, the most enchanting of all His leelAs. They all linked their arms together and thought they were encircling Him. But actually between each pair of gopis there was a Krishna. Each Gopi felt the left hand of Krishna on her right shoulder and the right hand of Krishna on her left shoulder. She was thinking therefore that Krishna was dancing in front of her, facing her with His hands on her shoulders. But what was happening was that she had one Krishna on her left and another Krishna on her right!  The yogeshvara that Krishna was, he had enveloped the entire assembly of Gopis in His mAyA and their minds were not their own now. They thought whatever He wanted them to think! But they all enjoyed an eternal bliss in  the play of Raas LeelA! There were actually three such plays. One in water (‘jala-kRIDA), one in the woods (‘vana-kRIDA’) and one on open ground (‘sthala-kRIDA’). The night itself got extended because the elements had all halted. Heaven and Nature watched this magnificent divine  romantic dance of the several Krishnas with the several Gopis.  And the beauty of it all was, that, back home, in every house of the gopis, the gopi’s husband did not miss his wife; as far as he knew she was there with him!.  The whole world was in trance, as it were! That was the greatness of the Raas dance!

 

Well, let us come down to terra firma. When this whole thing had been  narrated by Suka, King Parikshit asks the most relevant question: “Well, let me take it that Krishna had nothing to achieve, because He is always self-fulfilled. But what he did does not appear to be ethical, from any worldly angle. Why, then,  did he do that? Should He not set the right example?” (X-33 – 27 to 29).

 

Note that Parikshit’s question is not the question we ourselves raised at the beginning of this article. We said that we shall not be discussing this issue if it had the assumption that Krishna was an ordinary human being. King Parikshit postulates his acceptance of the divinity of Krishna. But his question is: Why does the Lord set a bad example for mankind?

 

And Suka answers: (X – 33 -30 to 38):  The status of Ishvara is not harmed by any apparently audacious transgression of morality we may see in Him, for He is just like fire, that devours everything fed into it and remains unpolluted. We ordinary people should never imitate the behavior of such ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behaviour, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison. It is the words of Ishvara which we should follow, not those of His actions which are inconsistent with those words.

When these great persons who are free from false ego act piously in this world, they have no selfish motives to fulfill, and even when they act in apparent contradiction to the laws of piety, they are not subject to sinful reactions. How, then, could the Lord of all created beings  have any connection with the piety and impiety that affect His subject creatures?

 

Material activities never entangle even the devotees of the Supreme Lord, who are fully satisfied by serving the dust of His lotus feet. Nor do material activities entangle those intelligent sages who have freed themselves from the bondage of all fruitive reactions by the fact that they have disassociated themselves with their body, mind intellect.  Then,  how could there be any question of bondage for the Lord Himself, who assumes His transcendental forms according to His own sweet will?

 

The Actionlessness of the Lord  is well-known from his statements in the Gita:

 

By Me was created the four varNas, in accordance with their GuNas and karma. Know Me as its doer and know Me also as the imperishable non-doer. (Gita IV-13)

 

Those works do not bind Me. I sit, indifferent as it were, unattached to those actions. (Gita IX – 9)

 

In fact Actionlessness is a central concept in the understanding of the actions of a man of wisdom (brahma-jnAni). The nAhaM kartA  (I-am-not-the-doer) attitude is the core of all of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna. For more on this, go to  Actionlessness.

 

 

 

He who lives as the sAkshhI (overseeing witness) within the gopîs and their husbands, and indeed within all embodied living beings, assumes forms in this world to enjoy transcendental pastimes. When the Lord assumes a humanlike body to show mercy to His devotees, He engages in such pastimes as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him.

 

For us, devotees of Krishna, we are told by Suyka himself, that those who listen to these stories of this great Raas LeelA of Krishna, will not only  become great devotees of the Lord, but would be able to conquer the ingrained lust in the human psyche!

 

LokAs samastAs sukhino bhavantu. 

 

Raadhe Krishna! It is said that Raadha was given a promise by the Lord that for all time to come, Her name (Radha’s) would be taken first before His own (Krishna’s) is taken!! Raadhe Krishna!!!

 

 

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Copyright ©  V. Krishnamurthy      July 2004