[Excerpt from Srila Gurudeva: Around the World, Holland 1996, the first book in a series of volumes on Srila Gurudeva’s world preaching tours.]
I have many priceless treasures to give you all, but there is no time. I wanted to explain one sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam. I cannot finish my exposition of the dialog between Raya Ramananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu, so I will explain this sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam instead.
srantanam vadanani sah
pramrjat karunah premna
–Srimad Bhagavatam 10.33.20
[Seeing that the gopis were fatigued from conjugal enjoyment, my dear King, merciful Kṛṣṇa lovingly wiped their faces with His comforting hand.]
This sloka is from the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. The meaning is that when Krsna danced with the Gopis, He gave them much respect. He told each of the gopis, “Oh, you are so tired. Pearls of sweat are rolling down your lotus faces.” Telling this, Krsna took His Pitambara, upper cloth, and with His own hands wiped the drops of sweat that had collected on the gopis’ faces.”
During His entreaties to the gopis, Krsna also said, “Are you tired? May I massage your feet? I see that your ankle-bells have loosened while we danced.” Krsna then fastened the ankle-bells with His own hands. He danced with each gopi, He didn’t dance with Srimati Radhika alone. While dancing with Krsna, the gopis thought, “We are saubhagini.” What is the meaning of saubhagini? There is a special meaning to this word. When the husband is controlled by the wife, the wife is called saubhagini. Now, Krsna is controlled by all the gopis. Krsna gave immense respect to the gopis, so all the gopis are ‘saubhagini,’ they are most fortunate. Thus, each gopi began to think, “I am most dear to Krsna. I am His most beloved. None are like me.” So, the gopis became mad in their pride.
Every single gopi thought, “Krsna loves me so much. His love for me is unequalled and unsurpassed.” The gopis were very proud of themselves. Srimati Radhika saw this scene and thought, “Krsna is dancing with Me and also with each gopi. He is dancing with everyone. But everyone thinks that Krsna is dancing with them alone.” So, Srimati Radhika was in maan. Krsna had promised to Srimatiji, “None of the gopis are equal to You. Perfectly and solely, I only want You.” But Krsna went back on His word; He was dancing with Srimati Radhika and the gopis at the same time. So, Srimati Radhika stopped Her dance and became maanvati. The other gopis being prideful thought, “Krsna loves me more than anyone else.” They became exceedingly prideful. Srimati Radhika became maanvati and thought, “I don’t want this. I don’t want to share with anyone.” But it is a fact, that Srimati Radhika wants all the gopis to meet with Krsna. But Srimati Radhika was in maan now. After Srimati Radhika left the dance arena, Krsna thought and realized, “If Srimati Radhika doesn’t take part in this rasa-dance, there is no use of rasa-lila.”
“What should I do to please Srimati Radhika?”
After Srimati Radhika disappeared, Krsna anxiously thought, “Where is Radha? Where is Radha?”
Not seeing Srimati Radhika, Krsna placed the flute on His lips and called out, “Radhe! Radhe!” None of the gopis heard Krsna calling out to Srimati Radhika. None of the gopis noticed that Srimati Radhika has left the dance arena and Krsna also left the arena, intently searching for His dear most beloved. All the gopis began to search desperately for Krsna, the only thought presiding their minds was, “Where is Krsna? Where is Krsna?” They began to weep bitterly and became totally mad in separation from Krsna. In their transcendental madness, they asked the trees around them, “Have you seen my beloved?” But the trees didn’t reply.
The gopis approached Tulasi-devi and said, “Oh you are Krsna-priya, very beloved to Krsna. You know where Krsna is present, because you are so happy by His touch! Your manjaris wave in delight and your bliss knows no bounds. Please tell us where Krsna went.”
On not listening to Tulasi-devi reply, the gopis said, “She is overjoyed by the touch of Krsna. In her state of transcendental madness, she is unable to reply.”
The gopis next approached the creepers and saw many flowers strewn on them. The gopis told one another, “Oh they are laughing because they have met Krsna. Krsna has also plucked some flowers from them.”
The gopis asked the flowers, “Oh Juhi! Oh Malati! Oh Mallike! All of you are so happy! You have certainly met with Krsna. So, please tell us where Krsna went. He has certainly gone past you.” The creeper and the flowers also didn’t reply.
The gopis said, “The creepers are not favorable.”
They then approached the trees like the Kadamba trees, mango trees, Bakula trees, and many other big trees. These trees were full of succulent fruits and beautiful flowers. Seeing the trees, the gopis thought, “Oh the trees are so tall! So, he must have seen which way Krsna went.” The gopis asked the trees about Krsna’s whereabouts, but the trees didn’t reply. The gopis became more and more morose. They then began to imitate Krsna’s movements. One of the gopis thought, “I am Krsna,” while another sakhi thought of herself as the demoness, Putana. The gopis enacted the pastime of Krsna sucking out Putana’s life airs by suckling on her breasts. One gopi thought, “I am killing Putana.” The sakhi who was enacting the pastimes of Putana was not a real sakhi, but rather, a manifestation of Yogamaya-devi. They continuously enacted all of Krsna’s pastimes. The pastimes performed by the gopis constitute a very high kind of mahabhava. These moods are rarely exhibited.
At last, the gopis saw the footprints of Krsna. They took quick notice and started to follow the footprints. After the following the footprints for a while, they saw another pair of beautiful footprints of a very gentle and good Lady. These footprints belonged to a very beautiful Lady. The gopis thought, “Whose footprints are these?”
anayaradhito nunam bhagavan harir isvarah yan no vihaya govindah prito yam anayad rahah
–Srimad Bhagavatam 10.30.28
[“Certainly this particular gopi has perfectly worshiped the all-powerful Personality of Godhead, Govinda, since He was so pleased with Her that He abandoned the rest of us and brought Her to a secluded place.”]
“Oh this Gopi has certainly worshiped the Supreme Lord, Narayana and by His grace, She has become so near and dear to Krsna, that Krsna is following Her.” But, Lalita, Visakha, and the other gopis of Srimati Radhika’s group knew that these footprints belonged to their Mistress, Srimati Radhika. They became so glad to see these footprints, while the followers of Candravali became very distressed. They thought, “Who is this Lady?” They couldn’t determine who this Lady was. Now, their pride was dissipated.
The gopis thought, “This Lady who is with Krsna is certainly superior to all other gopis. What can we do as we are not fortunate as this Lady? Who is this Lady?” Lalita, Visakha, and the gopis belonging to Srimati Radhika’s group were very glad.
The gopis then came across some strewn flowers. They also noticed that the footprints of the gopi had disappeared. But at that spot, Krsna’s footprints were imprinted deeply on the ground. Seeing these imprinted footprints, they thought and understood, “The Lady was tired, so Krsna carried the gopi in His arms.”
After coming across these footprints, they came across another scene. Seeing the scattered petals of the flowers, the gopis thought, “Krsna decorated Srimati Radhika here.” This place is called Sringara-vata, a pastime place in Vrindavana. But as they treaded the path, they didn’t see anybody except for Srimati Radhika, who was rolling on the ground and crying bitterly. Piteously weeping, Srimati Radhika fainted. All the gopis rushed to Srimati Radhika and consoled Her. Assisting Srimati Radhika by the side, all the gopis collectively assembled on the banks of the Yamuna. Their cries there in separation of Krsna are known as Gopi-gita.
ayati te ‘dhikam janmana vrajah srayata indira sasvad atra hi dayita drsyatam diksu tavakas tvayi dhrtasavas tvam vicinvate
–Srimad Bhagavatam 10.31.1
[The gopis said, “O beloved, Your birth in the land of Vraja has made it exceedingly glorious, and thus Indira, 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.”]
As the gopis sang in separation from Krsna, tears rolled down their lotus faces. Listening to their songs of intense separation, Krsna could not check Himself and He appeared in front of the gopis. On seeing Krsna, some gopis were angry, while some took Krsna’s lotus feet on their laps and gently massaged them. Some gopis placed Krsna’s hands on their shoulders and some gopis served Him in different ways. Some of the gopis who were angry with Krsna, unleashed sidelong glances from the corners of their crooked eyes. And who was the foremost of these gopis who unleashed sidelong glances of jealous pique on Krsna? She was Srimati Radhika Herself. Who was the gopi who gently massaged Krsna’s lotus feet, while placing them on her lap? She was Candravali. Srimati Radhika and Her group of gopis are of a left-wing mood (Vamya-bhava). Srimati Candravali and her group of gopis are of a right-wing mood (Dakshina-bhava). Krsna wants to especially taste the moods of the left-wing gopis. After all the gopis assembled on the banks of the Yamuna, they arranged a seat for Krsna, which was colored with kunkum. Krsna duly sat on that seat.
Seeking forgiveness, Krsna told the gopis, “I have done wrong.” A slight smile of shame embellished His face.
The gopis told Krsna, “We have some questions to ask of You. Will You reply?”
The gopis told Krsna, “Someone has a lot of love for another person. The person to whom the love is directed will also love that person and repay him from the same coin. They love each other. Their love is based on mutual reciprocation. This is one kind of love.”
“The second kind of love is characterized by selflessness; a person will love another person regardless of that person accepting or rejecting their love. This person will have affection for a person even if there is no appreciation or honor from the recipient’s side.”
“The third kind of love is symbolized by personalities like the Four Kumaras. These personalities are indifferent to your outpour or lack, of love and affection. Whether you love or not, you will not be able to elicit a response from this person.”
“These are the three kinds of recipients of love and affection in this world. We request You to please tell us that in which category of love You belong to.”
The gopis wanted to defeat Krsna by His own words. On listening to the gopis speak, Krsna began to smile. Smiling, He told the gopis very gently, “I don’t belong to any of these categories of love. I transcend all these categories. Those who love a person and desire the repayment of their love from that person’s side—are just engaging themselves in business dealings.” For instance, you may give a dollar to a person who readily accepts it. But after this transaction of give and take, no relationship of love and affection is formed between the benefactor and beneficiary. This is banaya-giri, business exchanges. A relationship based on selfishness and not selflessness, stands between the two.
Defending Himself, Krsna said, “I am not of this category because it is not a religion of unrestricted love and affection.” Our love and affection should not be of this class. You should be of the unflinching mentality, “Krsna can give me up, but I cannot give Him up.” Ramachandra can forget Sita and tell her, “You should go away from here and never return.” But Sita can never give up Ramachandra. The disciples or devotees should be of this nature—they should not expect any repayment of love for their services, if they do, then they are not bona fide devotees.
So, Krsna tells the gopis, “I am not of this selfish class of love and affection.” He then said, “There are those people who don’t want to be repaid for their love and affection, even if they not being served or honored by anyone, but yet, they continue loving another person with all their love and affection, so who are these personalities? They are one’s father, mother, and Gurudeva. If a daughter or son are ungrateful to their parents, dishonor them, don’t render service to them, and don’t love them with all their affection, but yet, the parents will have unrequited love and affection for their children. Gurudeva will also have unbroken love and affection for his disciples. But the guru must be bona fide and the parents must be ideal parents. So, this love is very commendable, and is highly religious. This is real love and affection, but I am also not of this category.”
But, Krsna indicated to the gopis, “You are all of this class. You are religious minded and have much honor for Me. Your love and affection for me is unparalleled. All of you belong to this category, but I am not of this category.”
Krsna next spoke on the third category of love where a person is indifferent to one’s love or lack of love. Who are the personalities who belong to this category? They are the atmaramas’ (those who are self-satisfied) and aptakamis’ (those who are satisfied in their self). Guru-drohis (those who betray their guru), and ungrateful people are also of this category. You should know all these categories of the different grades of love and affection. I am explaining all these different categories of love and affection, so that you understand these categories correctly and behave accordingly. What are the symptoms of the highest class of devotees, the Mahabhagavats? You cannot even imagine the stage of the love and affection they are situated in. But, by the association of a Rasika and Tattva-jna Vaisnava, you can develop your Krsna Consciousness and by the mercy of this highest class of Vaisnava, you can realize his exalted nature. If you only pray, “Give me bread and butter Krsna!” “My son is dying, You should save him, otherwise I will throw You in the sea.” Some devotees are of this nature. They would have engaged in the worship of Krsna for ten to twenty years, and when their child is sick, they pray, “Oh Krsna, save my child.” But if the child dies, they throw the deities of Radha and Krsna, Laddu-Gopala in the sea. Along with the deities, they also throw their love and affection for the Lord, their practice of chanting, remembering, and everything else they imbibed in their devotional lives, into the sea. Thus, they become atheists. You should not be like this.
So, Krsna hints at how exalted the nature of the gopis’ love is. Atmarama—even if you have much love and affection for personalities like Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, the Four Kumaras; they will not reciprocate with your love. They will always be absorbed in thoughts of Krsna and they will not entertain any desire of reciprocal love. They have no love and affection for anyone, except Krsna. Aptakama—these personalities have all their desires fulfilled, there is no desire of theirs that is unfulfilled. A personality of this category will never try to fulfill his desires. If a person claiming to be aptakama wants something from you, how can he be aptakama? He is not aptakama. The Four Kumaras are aptakama, all their desires are fulfilled.
Do you know who a guru-drohi is? A guru-drohi doesn’t respect his Gurudeva and he disobeys his Gurudeva. The persons belonging to this category have left their Gurudeva, they are not engaged in his service anymore. They only follow their Gurudeva outwardly, to fulfill their self-interests. But they don’t follow their Gurudeva deeply and internally, these duplicitous persons who only externally follow their Gurudeva are called guru-drohis.
What is the meaning of akratyagna? It means being ungrateful. If a person doesn’t honor his father, mother, and Gurudeva, but doesn’t do anything against them, then he is being ungrateful. Krsna told the gopis, “I am not among any of these categories. Why? If I was aptakama, then why did I weep for bread and butter from Mother Yasoda? I would even weep when she wouldn’t breast-feed Me. If I was really aptakama, why did I call the names, ‘Radhe, Lalite, Visakhe,” on My Vamsi (flute). Listening to your names being called out, all of you have assembled here. So, I am not an aptakama. I want something from you, and you can quench My thirst, so I have called you all here. Hence, I am not an atmarama or an aptakama. I have many desires to taste your moods of love and affection for Me. Without your love, I cannot live for even a moment. I can never forget you all. Therefore, I am not aptakama.”
In His efforts to please the gopis, Krsna further told them, “I want to dance and sing with you all. I want to be favored by you all. I have much honor for you all, and I want to serve you all. That is why, I invited you all here. During the rasa dance, I wiped the drops of sweat that had collected on your lotus faces. So, how can I be aptakama? Sometimes, in My childhood, I would be greatly angered and throw a tantrum wherein I would break many vessels. I would also engage in stealing butter. There is not a single house in Vraja where I have not stolen from. [Laughter] Hence, how can I be aptakama or atmarama? I am also not a guru-drohi or an ungrateful person. Why?” First, we should know who a guru-drohi is. A guru-drohi disobeys and even tries to kill his Gurudeva. He gives pain to his Gurudeva and to his parents.
Krsna told the gopis, “I am not such an abominable person. You will realize this gradually. I am not an ungrateful person, because I have come to your side now. Sitting beside you all, I joke and engage in many conversations with you all. We also dance with each other. Therefore, I am not an ungrateful person. I have appeared before you all. Why did I go away from you all? I only did this to increase your prema to Me. While all of you sang in separation from Me, I watched you all while hiding behind the trees and realized how all of you have become mad in separation from Me.”
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: … So, Krsna is instructing the entire world, “You should serve the gopis and be like them, then I can be controlled, otherwise not.”
Krsna tells the gopis, “Na paraye ham niravadya samyujam—I am so indebted to you all, in lakhs and lakhs of births, I will not be able to repay My debt to your spotless service. All of you have given up your husbands, and everyone else. You have all also forsaken your shame, which is the wealth of a woman. Giving up everything, you have all assembled here. I cannot requite My debt to you all. I cannot leave any of My devotees, but all of you have renounced everyone and have come to see Me alone. So, I can never repay you all.”
“If I tell you gopis, ‘You should have any benediction from Me,’ I will not be able to fulfill it, if you all say, ‘You should only love me, and not anyone else.’ I cannot leave Rukmini and Satyabhama; I cannot leave Arjuna; I cannot leave even an ant, what to speak of My devotees? Hence, I will always be indebted to you all.”
The gopis replied, “You have conquered us by admitting Your indebtedness to us. We cannot repay You.”
Krsna tells the gopis, “I cannot repay you.” And the gopis tell Him, “We cannot repay You.” After their conversation, rasa-lila resumed.
So, you should try to realize these pastimes by the strength of your bhajan and try to follow this line.
If anybody says, “We will not hear these pastimes,” how can they conceive of transcendental love? I have only described a little of the glories of the gopis’ love to Krsna. By explaining the glories of the gopis’ love, you will realize how marvelous and sweet their love is. If you listen to these pastimes, your heart will jump in joy. These glories of the gopis will lead you to Goloka-Vrindavana and you will find yourself serving Krsna there under the guidance of the gopis for eternity.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]