Gopis’ Love for Krishna
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is from the book “Bhakti and Sankirtan”.
Some ignorant people say: “Krishna is not the Lord. He is not an Avatara. He is a passionate cowherd who lustfully played with the Gopis.” What was the age of Lord Krishna at that time? Was he not a boy of seven? Can there be a tinge of passion in Him? Who can understand the secret of Rasalila and Madhurya Bhava, the culmination of highest Bhakti, Atmanivedan or total surrender to the Lord? It is only Narada, Suka Deva, Chaitanya, Mira, Hafiz, Ramananda, the Sakhis or Gopis that could understand the secret of Rasalila. The Sakhis only are qualified for this. Did He not play miracles when He was a boy? Did He not show that He was an Avatara of Lord Hari? Did He not show Virat Darshan to His mother when He was a baby? Did He not kill the Kaliya serpent by standing on its hood? Did He not multiply as countless Krishnas? Who were the Gopis? Were they not God-intoxicated beings who saw Krishna alone everywhere, who saw themselves also as Krishna? The sound of the Murali could throw them in a state of divine ecstasy or holy communion. They were above body-consciousness.
Lord Krishna snatched away the clothes and rendered them nude. There is a great philosophy in this. He taught them: “O Gopis! Have no attachment for anything. Give up the body-idea and sex-idea and attain to the bodiless and sexless Immortal Atman.”
The Gopis of Brindavan were wonderful devotees of the Lord. They totally surrendered themselves unto the Lord. The Gopis who are Devas got blended with Krishna through their intense love. The love they bore towards Krishna was divine love. Lord Krishna played on His flute on a moon-lit night. The Gopis rushed forth immediately to where their Lover was. Their minds were absorbed in Krishna. They forgot everything when they heard the flute.
Some left their houses while milching the cow. Some left their houses when they were serving their husbands with food. Some did not take down the boiled rice from the fire. Some did not wait till the milk got boiled. Some had been giving milk to their children. Some were taking food. Some were serving the guests with food. But they all left their work half-finished. Their clothes, hair and ornaments were all disheveled. They ran to behold Sri Krishna. Krishna was their very Prana and soul. They could not bear His separation even for a second. How devoted the Gopis were! Can you imagine? It is beyond all imagination.
When Lord Krishna suddenly disappeared they roamed from forest to forest. They asked the trees if they had seen their Lover. They enquired of the creepers, the earth and the deer. They imitated His actions and even called themselves Krishna. All their thoughts were directed towards Krishna only. They conversed about Him only. They sang all about His deeds only. They were full of Krishna. They were immersed in His love. They had no other thoughts. They had no other aspirations. They did not think of their homes or relatives. They went to the banks of the Yamuna and sang in chorus about Krishna and prayed fervently for His return.
Pleased with their devotion, Krishna suddenly appeared before them and addressed them thus:
“Welcome, ye great ones! What good can I do for you? Are all safe in Vraja? Tell me the object of your coming here. The night is fearful and wild animals are treading around. Go back to Vraja. This is not the place for women. You have got your mothers, fathers, sons, brothers and husbands. They are searching you. Do not cause pain to anybody. What more, you have now seen this forest adorned with flowers and illumined by the tender rays of the full moon, where the trees and their tender branches, gently moved by the breeze from the Yamuna, stand in all their splendour. Now go back, O virtuous girls, speedily to your house and look after your husbands. The calves and your children are weeping. Go and let them have their drink. If you have come here, forced by your love for me, it is only meet and proper, for all people have their love for me. Devotion to husband is the one great religion for women. They should seek the well-being of their friends and bring up their children. The husband may be wicked, old, diseased or poor. But those who wish for higher Lokas should not give up their husbands. The connection with one who is not the husband is disreputable and unbecoming. You may bear love for me in other ways than by such a near approach. Therefore go back to your houses.”
The Gopis were struck dumb for a time. They were overcome with sorrow. They had given up everything for the sake of Krishna and they could ill bear to hear these harsh words. At last they broke forth: “O Lord, it is not for Thee to utter these unkind words. We have given up all objects and sought Thy feet. O Thou, difficult to be reached, do not forsake us but please think of even as the First Purusha thinks of those that seek Moksha. Thou speakest, O Love, of our duties to husbands, sons, and friends as if Thou art a religious teacher, but Thou art Thyself the goal of those religious injunctions. So let them rest in Thee. Thou art the greatest friend of all beings, for Thou art verily their own Self. What do we care for husbands or sons, sources of misery as they are; we are attached to Thee, the constant source of happiness.” In these words the Gopis expressed their deepest affection for Lord Krishna. We find in the Gopis complete self-surrender (Atma-Nivedan) in its true sense. They cared not even for their lives. How could they care then for their relatives, friends and cattle?
If you want to attain Krishna, you must serve Him as a Gopi. You must adore Him with the mental attitude of a Gopi. The devotee who worships Krishna with a Gopi Bhava enjoys the Madhurya Rasa.
Lord Krishna who incarnated for the sake of eradicating evil and protecting righteousness could not be associated with the sexual instinct or passion towards the Gopis. He is the slave of His devotees.
Through Bhakti alone we can obtain the grace of the Lord, and cross the ocean of Samsara. Let us now sing Lord Krishna’s Name “OM Sri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare, Hey Natha Narayana Vaasudeva.” Let us ever remember the Mantra of Bhagavata which can confer on us supreme peace and eternal bliss: Om Krishnaya Vaasudevaya Haraye Paramatmane, Pranatah Klesanasaya Govindaya Namonamah–Prostrations unto Thee O Hari, the Supreme Lord, O Govinda, O Krishna, the son of Vasudeva (the Inner Ruler of all beings), who removes the afflictions of those who prostrate unto Thee.
Glory to Bhagavatas, Glory to Vyasa, Glory to the Bhaktas! Glory to Lord Krishna! May the blessings of Lord Krishna and the Bhagavatas be upon you all!