Spring is like a near and dear friend. If anyone meets with a friend, they become very happy. People feel joyful in the spring, and come out of their winter isolation. The winter season is cold and forces people to stay in their homes. But now in the spring everyone is very happy and no longer fear the cold.
Now, Kṛṣṇa is grazing the cows. If Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs are caught out moving in the night some doubt may come. But in the morning, in front of everyone, the gopīs walk line by line along the pathways of Vraja with their friends, carrying different articles for worship, such as flower garlands and ārati trays. Also, Kṛṣṇa moves in the forest with no fear of criticism. The gopīs all bring some unique gift for Kṛṣṇa.
In the early morning, brāhmaṇas, brahmacārīs, ṛṣis and maharṣis start yajñas. Why? They offer any anger, lust or other unwanted influences that have collected within them in the night to the sacrificial fire, with the words “Svāhā, svāhā.” Thus they clean their hearts. They repeat this process every morning, having been filled with such influences during the day. Only cleaning the body with soap, shampoo, and water is not enough. It is necessary to clean the mind and desires. Therefore they do yajñas.
By the process of yajña the pious make offerings to Lord Viṣṇu who is present in the fire. The fire cleans everything, burning wicked desires and giving auspiciousness.
Now, in the morning, the Vraja-devīs walk on the road with many kinds of presentations. Their yajña is not indirect like that of ordinary people. They perform direct yajñas.
yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra
loko ‘yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ
tad-arthaṁ karma kaunteya
“Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.”
Anything you do for the Lord is called a yajña.
The Vraja-devīs come with many presentations and paraphernalia. It is spring. They are no longer shy. They are disturbed by no one. There is no rain of the monsoon season and no heat of the summer. The spring is very nice. There are nice fruits and flowers available in all directions and honey dripping from the trees. Having collected such things as gifts the Vraja-devīs are now walking on the road.
They milked the cows in the morning. When do they boil the milk? When do they make the rābaḍi, khoā, laḍḍu, and other sweets? They don’t show this to anyone. They hide all their activities and desires.
One sakhī said to Śrīmatī as they walked through the forest gardens in the morning, “Look Rādhe, just see this bumblebee on the blossoming lotus. He came to drink nectar from the lotus flower but once he started he could not stop drinking till night fell. The lotus closed with him still inside and the bumblebee slept. Now the lotus blossomed and the bee is looking around wondering, ‘Where am I?’ He rolls about on his soft bed and notices that his body now has a wonderful fragrance. He thinks, “I work hard making holes in wood, but there is no rasa in that work.”
People move in māyā for millions of lives but they cannot get any relief. If they take shelter of soft delicate lotuses, and relish their nectar, they forget all the trouble of this world. For example, we have a head. This head is very strong and hard, but it likes to have a nice, soft pillow. Why doesn’t the head like to sleep on bricks? The head likes soft things. The body is soft, and has not so much problem sleeping on a hard wooden bed. But the head likes only soft things. Why is this? Inside the head all the potency of life is present. The head likes sweet soft things and being massaged with oil. But how can he drink the oil? The head is hard, like stone.
The bumblebee is normally very hard, strong and often dangerous, but one day he came near the lotus and sat there. When he drank its nectar he forgot everything.
If anyone leaves māyā and comes to Vṛndāvana in the spring season of the soul; and there offers obeisance to the Vraja-devīs and takes their shelter, then līlā-śakti will give that fortunate soul the nectar of mādhurya-rasa to drink. He will then serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa with mādhurya-rasa. Not by duty. Duty is in vaidhī-marga. “Do this, do that, do this, do that…”
Not like this. He will automatically have inspiration, love, affection and sweetness. Only the Vraja-devīs give this. No one else can give this because they don’t have it.
In the morning, the gopīs come from their houses and into the streets. They stand by the trees and creepers, waiting, “When will Kṛṣṇa pass accompanied by His sakhās?”
First the cows and calves run cross the pathway and pass. Then the sakhās come by dancing and making music playing on various instruments. Madhumaṅgala is dancing in the back. He looks ahead to see who he can get laḍḍus from. He thinks, “I will sing about their glories and they will definitely give me laḍḍus. If they don’t, I will curse them.”
He wraps his sacred thread around his thumb and warns everyone around, “If no one gives me laḍḍus, I will curse you all. I am a great and powerful brāhmaṇa.”
He jumps around looking in baskets but cannot not find any laḍḍus. “You are all useless,” he exclaims. “You are standing in the street only to show off your pretty faces, but are not ready to give anything!”
Brāhmaṇas pray to God with veda-mantras, petitioning Him, “God, give me some food. Help me remain peacefully in this world.”
But when nothing comes, then what do they do?
The gopīs have deep love for Kṛṣṇa, they place different things in their baskets, keeping flowers and articles of worship on top, while hiding the sweets beneath, under some cloth.
When Kṛṣṇa’s party comes by, the gopīs first offer flowers to the sakhās and calves, they offer puṣpāñjali and ārati to Baladeva Prabhu, who always walks in front of Kṛṣṇa. In the bottom of their baskets there is butter, laḍḍus, drinks and other nice snacks. They wait for Kṛṣṇa, but are unable to find Him. “Has he already passed us?” they think. They become very sad. Suddenly, He comes from behind, grabs something from the gopīs baskets, eats a portion and then places the rest back in the baskets or on top of the gopīs heads, from which it slowly slides down their face.
“How did my clay pot break?” the gopīs wonder. Suddenly they see Kṛṣṇa smiling and placing something in their mouths. Then Kṛṣṇa dashes off after His friends.
Having seen and being touched by that svarūpa of Kṛṣṇa, they forget everything and become as if senseless. The rest of the day they think about Him and remember this incident.
“How is this possible?” they think. “I have no good qualities, I am foolish. But He still gave darśana and took something from me.”
The gopīs meditate on Kṛṣṇa’s beautiful face and remember His lovely business as they stand motionless on the road. Half an hour passes, and then one hour. Then the mother-in-law and other relatives come and say, “Hey! Why are you standing here? Why don’t you come back home? Will you not eat or drink? Why are you crying? What is your problem? What have you lost? Has your basket been raided? What is it you want? Will you not go for pūjā?”
But the girl has lost her heart. She cannot think of anything now. Kṛṣṇa took everything from her with His touch. She has no more strength.
In the morning, brahmacārīs and ṛṣis meditate to control the restless mind. After doing a yajña, their minds become fixed. When the ṛṣis do yajñas they fix their mind on God and then control their senses. They meditate on God hour after hour. Then they become peaceful and silent.
But Kṛṣṇa, the all-attractive Sweet Absolute, came directly before the Vraja-devīs and met with them. Imagine their condition? Their senses completely stopped working.
A mother-in-law brought her daughter-in-law back home. The family thought, “She went for pūjā in the morning, with fruits, flowers and all paraphernalia, but she definitely met with Nanda-nandana on the way. That is why she has become like a ghost.”
The mother-in-law tried to get the girl’s mind back in order. “Churn this yogurt and make butter,” she said.
The gopī took a churning stick and began to churn. But what? It was not yogurt. She began churning a pot full of mustard seeds. The mother-in-law came hearing the strange sound and shouted, “Hey paglī, crazy girl! What are you doing? Stop!”
She took the girl outside and gave her a clay pot, bucket, rope, and baby, saying, “Go bring water from the well and take your brother’s son along. Play with him a bit on the well and maybe your sense will return.”
The girl went to the well with her hands quite full. When she got there she put the rope around the boy’s neck and began to lower him into the well.
Another girl who was taking water shouted, “Hey, what are you doing?”
The poor gopī had no knowledge what is a baby and what a clay pot. This was her position. Where had her heart gone? Her heart had gone to the forest with Kṛṣṇa.
The bumblebee met with the lotus and now his body color was no longer black. It had become yellowish. Why? The complete night he was lying in the yellow lotus pollen, and his body thus became colored.
Similarly, if anyone follows the Vraja-devīs’ footsteps and takes their shelter, any anarthas, material desires, or karma-phala, prarabdha or aprārabdha will flee away.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, “O Parīkṣit Mahārāja, there is no need of any strong austerity, yoga, charity, or anything else. The only thing necessary—
vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito ‘nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya kāmaṁ
hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ
“Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s playful affairs with the young gopīs of Vṛndāvana will attain the Lord’s pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart.”
“O Parīkṣit Mahārāja, only hear of the Vraja-devīs’ pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. Then the material disease will be mitigated. You will not even understand how or when it disappeared.”
The bumblebee, having stayed with the kumudinī, Vraja lotuses, experienced a change in color and nature. Kumudinī means the Vraja-gopīs, the lotuses of Vraja. Those who follow in their footsteps will automatically achieve Kṛṣṇa.
There is a bird that waits on the bank of the Yamunā throughout the night. When the sun rises, the bird sees the sun revealing her food. She is very hungry and goes to a red blossoming lotus. The sun has love for the lotuses. When the lotuses blossom, their color becomes reddish, colored by anurāga. It is as if the sun is kissing and embracing the lotus with his warm rays. Then as lotuses’ love increases more and more, their faces blush from pink to crimson. This is the symptom of anurāga.
If anyone is unhappy, sad, miserable, and worried then their bodies will appear dark, dirty, ugly and broken. But the bodies of those who are happy and glad in the fullness of their love become red like a ripe mango. When anurāga comes in the heart then the body becomes red like a mango. If a person’s complexion was previously dull, upon the awakening of anurāga he will become effulgent as the lotus which became red from the sun’s kiss.
When Kṛṣṇa passes the waiting gopīs on the road, sometimes He pokes one of them with His flute and then runs off. Sometimes He takes a drink from their pot of fresh water or a preparation from their basket and runs away. Sometimes He steals their fruit and throws it to His friends.
Sometimes, seeing a lot of honey, Kṛṣṇa takes it and drinks some. Then He goes and smears it all over Madhumaṅgala’s body and cloth. Why? He knows that Madhumaṅgala is always very greedy to eat, thus He pours the honey on the top of Madhumaṅgala’s head. With his tongue, Madhumaṅgala catches the streams of honey flowing down his head like Gaṅgā falling from the head of Lord Śiva.
“This is very tasty!” says Madhumaṅgala, “Where did it come from?” He has no idea, but he is very greedy and likes honey very much.
When the sun embraces and kisses the lotus, the honey-nectar comes out. All have love, but when Kṛṣṇa brings it out and tastes it, then that person becomes more and more sweet, happy and glad.
By the Yamunā lives a swan pair who speak and sing very sweetly. In the morning the male swan stands on Yamunā’s bank meditating, “When will Kṛṣṇa come to play? I will also jump and swim with Him. I will run and take some lotuses for Kṛṣṇa. There is one lotus in particular that is now red and very nice. I will swim very quickly and bring it first. I am faster than the sakhās. I will go down in the water and look for the many fruits that grow there.”
There are some fruits that grow under the water. One fruit is like a small banana and is called jala-kelā. The swan has knowledge of all water fruits. He collects them along with lotuses and offers them to Kṛṣṇa.
The swan waits for Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās to come, thinking, “I will give something to Kṛṣṇa.”
The swan’s wife thinks, “My husband will swim off without me, but that is alright. He will go by one side and I will go by another. I too will bring something nice to Kṛṣṇa—the very sweet stems of the lotus.”
In Vraja-maṇḍala, the demigods are always ready for service. Mostly, they serve the Vraja-devīs. They know that Kṛṣṇa will be very pleased by this.
When Pāvana-devatā sees the Vraja-devīs are tired from playing, he creates a cooling breeze that passes through the leaves of the trees which begin to quiver. The movement of the leaves acts as a fan for the Vraja-devīs.
The trees in Vṛndāvana think, “I live only to serve. In my life I will serve with my fruits, flowers, and shade and when I die my body will be used by ṛṣis for yajñas. I will make some of my branches dry so that the Vraja-devīs can cook something.”
Agni-devatā is also ready for service. He says, “There is no need for fuel. I will be directly present any time a fire is needed. If ever I can help and serve the Vraja-devīs while they cook and offer things to Kṛṣṇa, I will.”
“I have a lot of water stocked,” Varuna-devatā says. “All the holy rivers flow and at last merge into my ocean. I keep all this sacred water with me, but on the outside, I show everyone that my water is salty and bitter. Then no one comes to disturb me. All the holy rivers are with me. I immediately send them to wherever Kṛṣṇa plays with the Vraja-devīs. If the Vraja-devīs need water to cook, I will be present there.”
Vraja-maṇḍala has many places where these holy rivers have manifest in order to do service—places such as Bimāla-kuṇḍa, Rāmeśvara, Luk Luki Kuṇḍa, Kṣīra Sāgar, and Bhojan Thāli.
The sakhīs and mañjarīs accept the holy waters and use them in the service of Kṛṣṇa.
They are very afraid of Jaṭilā and Kaṭilā, therefore they don’t bring anything for service from the house.
Sometimes Kaṭilā comes to check on them. “Where have they gone? What are they doing?”
For this reason they must be careful.
Around the graceful neck of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is a nice necklace. Seeing this Jaṭilā says, “Before you leave the house, take off that necklace and keep it here in the house. You may lose it in the forest. It is very costly.”
Jaṭilā instructs Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, “Go and worship at Kāmeśvara and then come back quickly. Don’t go on the main road. Take a shortcut through the forest. After Your worship don’t wait there. Come back soon, otherwise our business will be stopped.”
What business is she speaking of?
Jaṭilā thinks, “The cows need water and food, the garden will be dry if it is not watered. The flowers must be picked and the fruits also, otherwise birds will come and eat them and all will be lost.”
“So Rādhe,” she says. “Come back quickly.”
Sometimes as Śrīmatī is on the way to worship, Kṛṣṇa calls old men, Jaṭilā and followers of Candrāvalī by His mystic power. Śrīmatī sees Jaṭilā and laments. She becomes restless and thinks, “I will not go for pūjā, there are many bad omens today.”
Rādhārānī has a doubt. “Jaṭilā is following me.”
What to do? She has cloth and paraphernalia for worship, but has lost Her strength and become very weak. She was on Her way to worship, but seeing the bad signs She became very unhappy and turned back towards home.
Rādhārānī returned unhappily to Yāvaṭa and entered Her room. She fell down upon Her bed as if She had not slept for a long time, when suddenly Kṛṣṇa appeared and embraced Her.
Offered in remembrance of Śrīla Gurudeva
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]