Upon hearing the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, moving living entities acquire the nature of the non-moving, and non-moving entities acquire the nature of the moving. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.21.19) states:
gā gopakair anu-vanaṁ nayator udāra-
veṇu-svanaiḥ kala-padais tanu-bhṛtsu sakhyaḥ
aspandanaṁ gati-matāṁ pulakas tarūṇāṁ
O sakhīs, the elegance and charm of the two brothers, our Śyāmasundara and Gaurasundara Balarāma, are quite unique and wonderful. When Śyāmasundara, together with His cowherd friends, leads the cows from one forest to another by sweetly playing a melody on His veṇu, He binds the top of His turban with the niryoga rope, which is used for binding the legs of calves, and from His shoulders (like His pītāmbara) hangs a rope known as pāśa. Upon seeing that sweet, unparalleled beauty and hearing the sound of the veṇu, moving living entities, such as animals and birds, as well as rivers – and what to speak of human beings – become inert like stone. And ecstatic symptoms like horripilation are displayed in non-moving entities, such as trees. Sakhī, how can I describe the magical sound of that flute?
sakhā-dhenu-saṅge kṛṣṇa udāra-svabhāva
muralīra gāne sabe deya sakhya-bhāva
jaṅgame karila spandahīna, tarugaṇe
pulakita kaila aho! vicitra lakṣaṇe
hena kṛṣṇa nā pāiyā prāṇa pheṭe yāya
kabe sakhi! vidhi kṛṣṇa dibena āmāya
The beautiful women of Vraja, being filled with mahābhāva, reflect, “All the moving and non-moving entities of Vṛndāvana are blessed. Their lives are successful because, regardless of their form, they have attained the touch of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, or else they have attained some kind of relationship with Him. In the whole of Vraja, only we are unfortunate.” As the vraja-ramaṇīs speak, the pastime of Kṛṣṇa taking the cows to graze in the forest and the melodious sound of His veṇu manifest in their hearts. Now they become completely immersed in ecstatic rapture, as if seeing Kṛṣṇa directly.
Overwhelmed with prema, they say, “Look sakhī! How sweet are the movements of Śyāmasundara, the best of dancers, as He gracefully roams from one forest to the other. The sweet sound of His flute causes all moving and non-moving living entities to become overwhelmed with the ecstasy of prema, and they visibly manifest aṣṭa-sāttvika transformations.”
Furthermore, the gopīs say, niryoga-pāśa-kṛta-lakṣaṇayor vicitram. “Aho! What a beautiful sight are the two brothers, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, as They walk into the forest wearing the niryoga and pāśa on Their bodies.” While the cows are being milked, with a rope their restless calves are tied before them to a post in the ground. In this way, their mothers can see them. This rope is called niryoga. Another rope, pāśa, binds the two hind legs of a restless cow to keep her calm while being milked. The niryoga and pāśa used by Śrī Kṛṣṇa are made of soft, yellow threads of jute, tied at either end with clusters of pearls. Like the other gopas, Kṛṣṇa ties the niryoga to the top of His turban and lets the pāśa hang from His shoulders onto His chest. His attire is so fascinating that anyone who sees it cannot help being charmed, and the mere sight of it renders the prema-filled gopa-ramaṇīs unconscious.
They continue, “O sakhī, in Vidhātā’s creation there is no living entity who will not be charmed by the sight of the sweetness of Rāma’s and Kṛṣṇa’s beauty, which attracts the entire universe. When Kṛṣṇa plays a melody on His enchanting muralī to gather together the cows who are far away, the condition He creates is difficult to describe. When the tinkling of the ankle bells on Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet mixes with the inexpressibly melodious sound of His captivating muralī, the sweetness of that sound increases even more. Is there any person who can remain composed upon hearing this?”
While discussing Kṛṣṇa’s enchanting cowherd attire and the sound of His flute, the vraja-ramaṇīs, who are helplessly immersed in prema, say, “Sakhī, upon seeing Kṛṣṇa’s niryoga and pāśa, it seems that they really are niryoga-pāśa – through them, yoga (meeting) is certain to take place uninterruptedly, for one’s whole life. Even continuous samādhi-yoga is insignificant compared to this. Kṛṣṇa’s niryoga-pāśa are really prema-pāśa, ropes of love. The Vrajavāsīs and the vana-vāsīs (forest entities) are rendered helpless by His niryoga-pāśa. This demonstrates the amazing effect of these ‘ropes of love’.’’ In this way, the gopīs consider Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s niryoga-pāśa to be a trap of love.
Hearing the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, all the moving living entities of the forest, such as the deer and birds, are overwhelmed by prema and become inert. The trees, creepers and other non-moving living entities give up their natures and adopt the characteristics of moving beings. They become jubilant and experience ecstatic symptoms. Furthermore, the Yamunā, Mānasī-gaṅgā and other rivers stop flowing, and the stones on Govardhana and other mountains melt and flow like streams.
The sentiments of Śrī Rādhā in pravāsa (separation by being out of sight) are most favourable to meditate upon for the sādhaka who, immersed in these sentiments, should read chapters from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam such as Bhramara-gīta. Śrī Mādhavendra Purī has expressed Śrī Rādhikā’s bhāvocchvāsa, outburst of feeling that expresses the bhāva hidden in the heart, at the time of pravāsa (Padyāvalī (334)):
ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha he
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aham
O You whose heart is most merciful to the wretched! O Master! O Lord of Mathurā! When will I have Your darśana? O Lord of My life, because I cannot see You, My heart has become agitated. What shall I do now?
he dīna-dayārdra-nātha, he kṛṣṇa mathurā-nātha,
kabe punaḥ pāba daraśana
nā dekhi’ se cāṅdamukha, vyathita hṛdaye duḥkha,
he dayita! ki kari ekhana?
As the Kaustubha jewel is the topmost of all jewels, this verse is foremost among rasa poetry. Śrī Svāminī spoke it in the state of divyonmāda (divine madness), when She was deeply aggrieved in separation from Kṛṣṇa, and by Her mercy it manifested in the speech of Śrī Mādhavendra Purīpāda. Then, accepting the mood of Śrī Rādhā, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra relished this verse as Śrī Gauracandra. No fourth person has ever tasted its inner moods. Uttering this verse, Śrīman Mahāprabhu would become overwhelmed by prema and faint. Thus maddened by prema, sometimes He would run here and there, sometimes He laughed and sometimes He danced. He was unable to utter more than “ayi dīna, ayi dīna” due to absorption in ecstatic love (premāveśa). Tears would flow from His eyes, and sāttvika, vyabhicārī and other bhāvas appeared in His body in their blazing state (sūddīpta). (This is described by Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 4.191–203).)
Śrīman Mahāprabhu is the gardener of the desire tree of kṛṣṇa-prema. He distributes the fruits of this tree and also relishes them Himself. Śrī Mādhavendra Purī, whose heart was saturated with kṛṣṇa-prema, was the very first sprout of this desire tree. With Śrī Īśvara Purī, this sprout of prema-rasa grew. The gardener, Śrī Caitanya Himself, also manifested as the trunk. Previous to Śrī Mādhavendra Purīpāda there was no rasamayī-upāsanā, devotional service in amorous love, in the Madhva sampradāya. Through the ideas expressed by the Tattvavādīs whom Śrīman Mahāprabhu met while travelling in South India, one can understand that worship in the Madhva sampradāya used to be performed only in a mood of awe and reverence (aiśvaryamayī-upāsanā).
Various sañcāri-bhāvas manifest in the state of separation (viraha) and agitate the ocean of prema. Humility (dainya), envy (asūyā) and contrariness (māna) due to jealousy appear in the heart and nourish the sthāyibhāva. Many kinds of sañcāri-bhāvas arise in Śrī Rādhā’s heart when She is submerged in the ocean of separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Bhāva-utpatti (the generation of a bhāva), bhāva-sandhi (the meeting together of two bhāvas, either of the same or different types), bhāva-śābalya (the clashing of many bhāvas, in which one bhāva suppresses another and becomes prominent) and bhāva-śānti (pacification of an extremely powerful bhāva) create waves in this ocean of separation.
Rādhā, who is mad in separation (viraha-unmādinī), addressed Kṛṣṇa in extreme humility: “Ayi dīna-dayārdra-nātha! O Kṛṣṇa, You are very simple-hearted and affectionate. It is You who remove the sorrows of the residents of Vraja, so please bestow Your mercy upon Me. You give mercy to all living entities, thus protecting them from all distress, so why will You not give mercy to Me, who am separated from My master? If You do not bestow Your mercy upon Me, Your reputation as ‘He who removes the distress of the residents of Vraja’ will become disgraced. Only You are My beloved.” This is why the word nātha, meaning “master”, is used in this śloka.
In this ocean of separation, though, there is a towering wave that represses this feeling of humility (dainya) and manifests the mood of envy (asūyā) and contrariness (māna) due to jealousy. Now Śrī Rādhā addresses Śyāmasundara as Mathurānātha, “the Lord of Mathurā”. “O Mathurānātha, why would You be merciful to us now? How can You remember us while You are in Mathurā, where hundreds of affectionate, beautiful ladies serve You? Surely You have forgotten us milkmaids. Since You are receiving so much honour from the fabulously opulent kings of Mathurā, how can You have time to remember us wretched persons? By the association of Mathurā’s Yādavas, Your heart has also become hard. Why would it melt upon seeing the condition of us gopīs, who are distressed in separation?”
Speaking thus, Śrī Rādhā becomes momentarily stunned, and the sañcāri-bhāva of dainya again appears. She says, “O beloved (dayita)! O Śyāmasundara, You are more dear to us than our own lives. How can we forget Your loving dealings? When we would become tired during the rāsa dance, You would wipe away our drops of perspiration with Your own pītāmbara. And if our kuṅkuma stained the pītāmbara, You would lovingly hold it to Your heart. When You left us You said, ‘I will return.’ With this assurance we remain alive. But having to wonder whether You will return or not confuses us, so please give us some consolation. Our hearts are intensely restless to see Your moon-like face.”
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura writes that the topmost bhajana is to follow the vraja-devīs’ moods of separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Agitated by separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs blame Vidhātā (Providence). Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.39.19) describes:
aho vidhātas tava na kvacid dayā
saṁyojya maitryā praṇayena dehinaḥ
tāṁś cākṛtārthān viyunaṅkṣy apārthakaṁ
vikrīḍitaṁ te ’rbhaka-ceṣṭitaṁ yathā
O Vidhātā, you are the arranger of everything, but there is not even a trace of mercy in your heart. First you unite living entities in this world in friendship and love, but before they can fulfil their desires and hopes, you pointlessly separate them while they are still unsatisfied. The truth is that, like the play of a child, this whimsical behaviour of yours is useless.
vidhātaḥ he! nāhi dayā kichu-i tomāra
maitra-bhāve praṇayete, dehī-dehī-saṁyogete,
kena eta kaile avicāra?
akṛtārtha-avasthāya, viyoga karile hāya,
bālakera ceṣṭā e vyāpāra
The vraja-devīs, whose hearts have been seized by Śrī Kṛṣṇa, are distressed in fear of impending separation from Him. They have heard that Akrūra has come with a chariot to take their prāṇakānta Śyāmasundara to Mathurā. Tormented by the fear of future separation, the vraja-devīs, speaking to like-minded gopīs, express their own special sentiments of love and afflictions of separation, and in doing so reveal the helplessness of their prema.
“Śrī Kṛṣṇa is going to Madhupurī!” Hearing this, the lustre of Bhadrā’s lotus face and the lotus faces of the other taṭasthā-gopīs3 withered and became dejected. Śyāmalā’s and other suhṛt-pakṣā-gopīs’ dresses, belts, hair and so on loosened. In samādhi, Candrāvalī, who is vipakṣā, began to see Śrī Govinda in her heart, which was lost in meditation. The crown jewel of all the vraja-gopīs, mahābhāva-vatī Śrīmatī Rādhikā, other svapakṣā-gopīs like Lalitā and Viśākhā, and other beloveds of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, envisioned in their hearts their prāṇa-priyatama’s various prema-vilāsa – His behaviour, dealings, laughter, glances and so forth. Then, overwhelmed by the deep pain of separation from Him, they began to weep.
In different groups the gopīs express their own innermost feelings according to their prema. Together in each group, they voice the deep pain of separation: “If our life-airs leave our bodies due to the pain of separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Vidhātā is solely responsible. O Vidhātā, you rule the entire universe very well, but is there no arrangement for compassion in your kingdom? If you had ever just once contemplated justice or injustice, you would not be so harsh. You arrange for the meeting and separation of living beings according to a mere whim. You also establish affectionate friendships between jīvas, but only for a moment do you let them relish the happiness of meeting before You again submerge them in an ocean of separation. You are heartless and cruel, and we are witness to this. Your behaviour is like that of an ignorant child who makes toys and then afterwards destroys them. Therefore, O Vidhātā, you are not only merciless, unscrupulous and inconsiderate, you are also wicked.
Your present behaviour is highly contemptible. First, you created the form of our prāṇakānta Mukunda, who embodies all beauty, sweetness and charm, and who charms the entire universe, and then you granted us darśana of that form, by which our hearts experienced boundless love. However, after placing this unprecedented form before our eyes, you again removed it and took our prāṇakānta far away. Such deceit is not proper; only a wicked person acts like this. Why do you behave sinfully even though you are so wise and learned? Are you not committing the sin of taking back that which you have given?”
For a person attached to Kṛṣṇa, even a moment of separation from Him is intolerable. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.39.29) states:
nītāḥ sma naḥ kṣaṇam iva kṣaṇadā vinā taṁ
gopyaḥ kathaṁ nv atitarema tamo durantam
Sakhīs, by His captivating, affectionate smile, sweet, intimate conversations, playful glances and loving embraces, the long, long nights of the rāsa-līlā passed in a moment. Indeed, how can we now overcome the boundless anguish of separation from Him?
brahma-rātra kṣane gela, tabu tṛpti nā haila,
ebe kṛṣṇa-viraha ghaṭila
gopīra emana dina kemane yāibe
duḥkhera sāgare ḍūbe prāṇa hārāibe
When Śrī Kṛṣṇa was about to depart for Mathurā, the vraja-gopīs, who were distressed by the fear of imminent separation from Him, began to lament and reproach Vidhātā (Providence) in various ways. They said, “Today cruel (krūra) Vidhātā has arrived in Vraja, bearing the name Akrūra (not cruel). We gave up our families and religious principles, and offered our everything unto the lotus feet of our prāṇakānta Śyāmasundara. Now what will happen to us? Oh! Destiny is unfavourable to us! There is no means of protection from this.”
Another gopī said, “O sakhī, today we shall give up all shame and hesitation; we will somehow put a stop to Govinda’s journey. Seeing our boldness and independence, all of our relatives will be displeased, our family elders will not tolerate our shamelessness and our family friends will punish us, threaten us with death, or forcibly evict us from our homes. But sakhī, we have already given up the attachment to home and bodily relationships. If we are put out of our homes, it will be auspicious for us, because then we will easily attain the company of Govinda. We shall give up our homes and roam here and there with Him. Even if they punish us with death there will be no loss, because it is better to die than be separated from Govinda. If they lock us in our homes we will die happily, meditating on Govinda.
Therefore sakhī, why wait? Go quickly! Do not delay in putting a stop to Govinda’s journey.”
While Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beloveds lamented in the burning heat of separation, they fell unconscious. At that time, happy memories of meeting began to awaken in their hearts, where the previous night of rāsa manifested. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s gentle, sweetly smiling and loving lotus face, His affectionate, charming conversations and His affectionate, strong embrace manifested on the screen of their hearts, and that night seemed to pass very slowly. The thought of being deprived of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sweet company, the pain of separation, seemed like countless forest fires. The gopīs lamented, “How can we cross this ocean of suffering? How can we remain alive in separation from our prāṇakānta? In the afternoon, when Śrī Kṛṣṇa, surrounded by the cowherd boys, returns home from the forest, the beauty of His face is unprecedented. The indescribable sound of the muralī and His sidelong glances stir our hearts. His face, which is covered by the dust that has been raised by the cows’ hooves, His curly locks of hair, the extraordinarily beautiful garland of forest flowers around His neck, and His sidelong glances all reveal His love-filled desires. How can we forget all our loving exchanges?”
That day Śrī Kṛṣṇa prepared to go to Mathurā, leaving the gopīs behind. Who can express their deep anguish? When the time for departure came, the barrier of their patience broke and they all assembled, loudly expressing the great pain in their hearts by incessantly wailing, “O Govinda! O Dāmodara! O Mādhava!”
Śrī Rādhā’s strong expressions of separation from Śrī Kṛṣṇa are described in Haṁsadūta (2):
yadā yāto gopī-hṛdaya-madano nanda-sadanān
mukundo gāndhinyās tanayam anurundhan madhu-purīm
tadāmāṅkṣīc cintā-sariti ghana-ghūrṇāparicayair
agādhāyāṁ bādhāmaya-payasi rādhā-virahiṇī
Upon the request of Akrūra, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, who gladdens the gopīs’ hearts, departed Nanda-bhavana for Mathurā. Now separated from Her lover, Śrī Rādhikā became greatly agitated and was completely submerged in a river of anxiety, which was full of deep whirlpools of unlimited suffering.
gopikā-hṛdaya-hari, vraja chāḍi’ madhupurī,
akrūra-sahita yabe gelā
tabe rādhā virahiṇī, ghana-ghūrṇa-taraṅgiṇī,
cintā-jale agādhe paḍilā
In his book Haṁsadūta, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmipāda gives an incomparable description of the vraja-ramaṇī’s feelings of separation (vipralambha-rasa) that resulted from Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s residing in a distant place (sudūra-pravāsa). In śṛṅgara-rasa, vipralambha-rasa is most relishable. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmipāda has enabled rasika devotees to dive deep into the ocean of vipralambha-rasa by writing about the waves of separation that arose in all the limbs of Śrī Rādhā’s body, Her incoherent conversations in divyonmāda, and Her sorrowful speech, which were all due to blazing (sūddīpta) sāttvika transformations.
The very bliss of the vraja-gopīs’ hearts, Śrī Nanda-nandana, was taken to Mathurā by Akrūra, whose name means “not cruel”. Actually, however, Akrūra was supremely cruel, and as a consequence, all the gopīs drowned in a bottomless ocean of separation (viraha).
One day the crown jewel of the gopīs, the personification of mahābhāva, Śrī Rādhā, overwhelmed by feelings of separation from Kṛṣṇa, went to the bank of the Yamunā with Śrī Lalitā and other sakhīs to soothe Her affliction. However, just by again seeing the kuñjas where Their playful pastimes took place, Śrī Rādhā fainted, distressed by the burning fire of that separation. The sakhīs lifted Her up and laid Her on a bed of lotus petals. Śrī Lalitā fanned Her with the end of her veil and the sakhīs chanted the names of Kṛṣṇa. By fanning Her and anointing Her with cooling sandalwood paste, they tried to bring Her back to consciousness.
Impatient, Śrī Lalitā went to bring Her cool water from the Yamunā. There, she saw an extremely beautiful, white, male swan. An inspiration arose in her to send a message to prāṇa-vallabha Śrī Kṛṣṇa about the incidents that were destroying the life of her dear sakhī, Śrī Rādhā. She understood that this male swan (haṁsa) would be a suitable messenger (dūta), and she politely petitioned him to go to Mathurā. While describing the main road, she remembered previous pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. She mentioned these pastimes to the swan, thus making him thoroughly understand all the sufferings in Śrī Rādhā’s heart, which was overwhelmed by separation from Kṛṣṇa.
After Śrī Kṛṣṇa departed for Mathurā with Akrūra, Śrī Rādhā became submerged in a fathomless ocean of anxiety. She began to think, “Shall I protect this life-air, which is burning in the fire of agony, by binding it with the rope of hope? Or, shall I liberate My body from this rope? As Prāṇanātha left Vṛndāvana, He said, ‘Āyāsya iti dautyakai – I will return the day after tomorrow.’ But the day after tomorrow has been replaced with many years, and we still have not received news that He is coming. Shall I give up that hope and choose death by entering fire or the waters of the Yamunā?”
Śrī Rādhikā further reflected, “When prāṇakānta Śyāmasundara returns from Mathurā and does not find Me here, He will become so distressed. So what shall I do? My intelligence is perplexed. If My prāṇanātha cannot see Me, He also will be unable to remain alive. What shall I do? If I die, I will not see My priyatama’s soft, delicate lotus face which resembles a kunda flower. But I am unable to remain alive, as I am burning in separation. That Lord of our lives has not abandoned us; therefore, it is only right that I protect My life.” In this way, Śrī Rādhā was submerged in the boundless ocean of separation, in whirlpools of thoughts filled with pain. The vraja-sundarīs’ yearning to meet Kṛṣṇa is a transformation of their prema. It increases unlimitedly, exuding a wonderful sweetness.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmipāda follows Śrī Rādhā’s bhāvas and becomes one with them. He taunts Akrūra by using the word gāndhinī-tanaya, the son of Gāndhinī, which has a double meaning. Akrūra took birth from the womb of Gāndhinī, the daughter of the king of Kāśī. He stayed in her womb for twelve years, which caused her much pain. His father asked, “O child, why are you not taking birth? Why are you making your mother suffer like this?”
The child in the womb replied, “Father, if you give one cow to each brāhmaṇa every day, I will take birth after one year.” His father gave the cows as requested, and after one year, the child took birth. The Purāṇas state that a son who is named after his father or his paternal grandfather is blessed, but that son who is known by his mother’s name is wretched. In this Text, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmipāda indicates Akrūra’s cruel nature by making him known through his mother, not his father. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa describes that Akrūra’s mother gave her family suffering, anxiety and worry. Consequently, Akrūra, having the same qualities as his mother, threw the gopīs and Vrajavāsīs into a limitless ocean of grief.
This Text expresses cintā (anxious consideration) aroused in the state of udghūrṇā in mohana-mahābhāva. Cintā is one of the ten stages of pravāsa-vipralambha.