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Twenty-third Purana

The Rasa-Dance Begins


1.       At the beginning of his description of the rasa-dance, the author (Shrila Jiva Gosvami) speaks the following vow and prayer:  In this my poem I have boldly revealed the conversation Lord Krishna enjoyed with His beloved gopis in a secluded place, a conversation that is a great secret, a conversation that is a whirlpool of nectar. No other narration is more glorious and exalted. No other narration is better to be placed on the worthy devotees' ears.

2.       Describing Lord Krishna's nighttime pastimes, Madhukantha spoke to Snigdhakantha, whose voice was sweet with poetic words. Folding his palms, Madhukantha began by saying, "The rasa dance pastime took its birth in the middle of the night. Now I will describe its cause, nature, and meaning."

3.       Hearing these words, and looking at Madhukantha, everyone joyfully said, "Well spoken. Your words are glorious. These pastimes are a great flood of nectar. If you stop your description in the middle and do not carry it to the end, then the flood of nectar will be stopped, checked from reaching its highest point. Therefore, if you will, please describe the entire pastime. Do not stop until everything is described."

4.       Madhukantha joyfully said: When the rasa dance sought to take its birth, Shri Krishna's face made the bewilderment of love grow very strong within the moon-faced gopis. Shri Krishna's eyes made restless movements manifest in the doe-eyed gopis' eyes, and Shri Krishna's handsome form broke into pieces the peaceful composure that rested in the circle of slender and graceful gopis.

5.       When the rasa dance sought to take its birth, Shri Krishna's face became more charming than the moon, Shri Krishna's eyes attracted the lotus-eyed gopis, Shri Krishna's glorious handsomeness, which glistening dark monsoon clouds yearn to attain, brought the gopis delight from the first moment they were able to touch it, and Shri Krishna, who is more handsome and glorious even than Lakshmi's lover Narayana, became like an ornament gracing a great host of gopi-goddesses.

6.       After, by Paurnamasi's arrangement, the pastime described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.21.17 (where some pulinda girls find Shri Krishna's footprints marked with kunkuma from a gopi's breasts) was concluded, Shri Krishna became completely attracted to Shri Radha. Thirsting after Her company, He thought, "Ah! How can I meet Radha in a secluded place?"

7.       By Shri Radha's mercy one of the pulinda girls, wandering in the forest and anointed with Shri Radha's kunkuma, spoke the following words to red-lotus-eyed Shri Krishna: "O Krishna, You defeated even Kamadeva, whose arrows bring so many sorrows. O Krishna, I do not know how You create such melodies in Your flute, which is, after all, only a dry stick pierced with many holes."

8.       Then the forest-goddesses spoke the following words from the sky: "Thinking Your flute, a flute born in a glorious family of bamboos, a flute that is a dry stick pierced in many places by a hot iron rod, is his dear friend, in order to please You, O Lord Krishna, with his arrows Kamadeva now grievously wounds a certain saintly gopi, a gopi whose body is withered (because of separation from You)."

9.       Wildly wandering in the forest, forest-flower-garlanded Shri Krishna saw written in kunkuma on a dark tamala tree the following words: "Tormented by Kama's flames, my heart rapt in thinking of Krishna's glorious handsome form, and rapt in the sweet fragrant of love that flows from Krishna's flute, I see Krishna's dark effulgence in every direction. Somehow I must have attained Krishna. But then, I have not attained Him at all."

10.     Seeing these words, Shri Krishna thought, "Perhaps Shri Radha wrote these words. Born in a pious family, She carefully conceals the passionate love She feels for Me. Therefore I will now take shelter of My flute music, music that will kill Radha efforts to conceal Her love."

11.     Tormented by the absence of the nectar that bears the name Radha, Krishna could not be peaceful. Again and again He played His flute. Feeling a great thirst for the nectar Radha, Krishna passed the monsoon season. His thirst grew and grew. In this way half the Sharat season passed.

12.     Madhukantha continued: Krishna's flute-music attracted Shri Radha. She became very agitated. She trembled. She staggered as She walked. Rising from Her sitting place, She took two or three steps. Then She left the house. Then She walked far on the forest path.

13.     Filling every direction, Shri Krishna's flute music attracted Shri Radha. I bow my shoulders. The hairs of my body stand erect with bliss. I always offer my respectful obeisances to Shri Radha and to Shri Krishna's flute, who again and again fulfill Shri Krishna's desire.

14.     When the monsoon season came, Shri Krishna thirsted to test the power of His flute music. He waited for the right opportunity. When He saw the beautiful glory of the Sharat season had come, He thought, "If saintly Radha joins My associates in My pastimes, then I will also attain a host of many beautiful gopis. At the appropriate time Radha will bring Me, who control all, under Her control. Then I will gaze at Her, and She will gaze at Me. Thus I will bring Radha under My control. I will have the power to remove the anguish of separation She feels. I will remove the obstacles that stand between Shri Radha and Me.

15.     Thinking in this way, and suddenly seeing an auspicious omen, Shri Krishna said, "Ah! Now something auspicious will come. Fate has placed before My eyes the sight of two khanjana birds playing on a lotus flower. This means that the face of beautiful-eyed Radha will soon come before Me.

16.     After seeing that auspicious omen, the flutist Krishna played His flute again and again for an entire month, beginning with the full-moon day.

17.     The sweet sound of Krishna's flute made the jasmine flowers burst into bloom in the Sharat season. Again and again gazing at the beautiful glistening nights, Balarama's brother, Krishna, decided to enjoy amorous pastimes with the gopis.

18.     The playful full moon suddenly arrived to bring pleasure to Shri Krishna. Taking His cows with Him, forest-flower-garlanded Krishna, who enjoys pastimes in the forest, returned to Vraja. At sunset He ascended the rooftop balcony and watched the sun set and the effulgent full moon rise. Embraced by feelings of ecstatic spiritual love, Shri Krishna thought:

19.     "Is that the rising circle of the moon, or is it a great circle of red kunkuma, or is it Kamadeva's face red with passionate anger?

20.     "Is that the moon anointed with red kunkuma nectar, or is it the face of Shri Radha rising in the sky, Shri Radha who has just come from the Yamuna's forests?

21.     Looking at the moon, Shri Krishna thinks, "Come from afar, and now rising in the east, the full moon, its face always anointed with red kunkuma, on some pretext teaches Me, a playful teenage boy, how to enjoy amorous pastimes. This glistening moon now makes everything auspicious.

22.     Shri Krishna then imagined the moon spoke to Him, saying, "I am the moon. I delight the goddesses of the directions, who are my beloved consorts. I bring auspiciousness to the people." Shri Krishna then addressed the moon, "O moon, why do you now make obstacles for Me, the lover of the supreme goddess of fortune?"

23.     Shri Krishna thought, "Now destiny is favorable. Auspicious moonlight fills the directions. By going southeast, I will attain auspiciousness.

24.     "I see in direction after direction the moon fill the forest with delightful reddish light. This is an auspicious omen for Me. Destiny will bring auspiciousness to Me.

25.     "However, if this reddish moon is actually the angry face of Kamadeva, whose arrows are very powerful, then that is also an auspicious omen, an omen that will destroy all My fears.

26.     ""If the glorious effulgence that fills this forest actually comes from Shri Radha, then I will walk in the direction of that effulgence. In that way auspicious bliss will enter My heart.

27.     "Ah! As My heart thinks of going in that direction, My right eye begins to tremble and seems almost to dance. From that auspicious omen I know that I will soon dance with My gopi beloveds."

28.     After thinking in this way, intelligent Shri Krishna placed four cowherd boys headed by Dama, and other cowherd boys also, boys blissful with a great wealth of spiritual love, boys whose kinsmen thought were sleeping in their homes, as guards at the entrances to the forest. Taking His flute with Him, Shri Krishna playfully walked to a secluded place by the Yamuna's banks.

29.     While going there, Shri Krishna thought, "That (moon) cannot be the face of angry Kamadeva. It shines too brightly. Neither can it be the race of Radha pining for Me, for it is marked with dark spots and other flaws."

30.     Shri Krishna again thought of the moon, "To dispel the darkness of night, the moon has come. Rising over the eastern mountain, the moon fills the whole world with a festival of joy.

31.     "Imitating Shri Radha's face, the moon shines very brightly. Still, if the moon only pretends to be Shri Radha's face, then why is My heart so overcome when I see it?"

32.     In His thoughts, Shri Krishna said to the moon, "My lord, O moon with nectar rays of light, do not be proud, thinking, 'My glorious light has no peer in all the worlds.' After all, your moonlight is not in any way equal to the glorious effulgence of Shri Radha's ten toenails."

33.     As Shri Krishna thought in this way, the four cowherd-boy guards walked on the pathways to their stations. Shri Krishna Himself went to an elevated courtyard in the eastern part of Vraja. He placed the flute to His mouth. As He was about to play, He thought, "First We should bring Radha here. I see that without Her all is useless. When Shri Radha comes, the many other beautiful gopis will also come. This I know in My heart. How shall I make certain that this auspicious event will occur?

34.     "Yes. Yes. As some are archers expert at firing arrows, so I am expert at playing the flute. My flute music will enter Shri Radha and attract Her. There is no other way. Thinking of this goal, I will play on My flute." In that way Shri Krishna thought. Imagining that He saw the gopis illumined by the bright moonlight, Shri Krishna thought, "O moon, O master of the plants, you only torment troubled persons like Me. You will not cure Us of Our troubles."

35.     At that moment, seeing the moon in a slightly different way, Vrinda-devi thought, "Ah! Ah! Covered by the smoke rising from the flames of the gopis' tears, gopis tormented by separation from Krishna, the blind moon is now dark, dark like a smoke-darkened mirror."

36.     The moon was soon overcome by the presence of a host of doe-eyed gopis. Then Shri Krishna, glorious like a sun with hundreds of rays of light, was manifest in the east.

37.     The gopis were very eager to see Krishna. The autumn moon cleared the beautiful-eyebrowed gopis' path to Shri Krishna. Shri; Krishna's sweet flute-music at once attracted the gopis to Him.

38.     With great love creating a great sweetness of many ragas and melodies, Shri Krishna played glorious music on His flute.

39.     The great love Shri Krishna felt manifested in Him the ecstatic symptoms described in these words: Tears streaming from His eyes down His neck, the hairs of His body erect, and His body trembling, Shri Krishna, overcome with feelings of separation from Shri Radha, played beautiful, sweet, auspicious melodies on His flute.

40.     The raga Shri Krishna played is described in these words: Entering the gopis' hearts, the raga Shri Krishna played was like passionate spiritual love personified. No one had ever tasted anything so sweet. Even nectar could not be compared to it.

41.     Shri Krishna's flute music became letters and words, words that said, "O Radha, O girl whose face is like nectar from the nectar-effulgent moon, O girl like a springtime madhavi-vine blossoming with a flood of sweetness, I love You eternally, and You eternally love Me. The thought of Your glorious virtues makes My heart burst with bliss."

42.     Shri Krishna, who is expert at playing flute melodies like flying arrows, and who is the best of the wise, aware that He had, with the arrow of His flute melody, perfectly wounded Shri Radha's heart, proceeded to send flute-messages to the other gopis.

43.     He played a flute melody that became the following words: "O gopis, please accept the sugar-candy of My flute songs, candy that is very difficult to attain. O dear gopis, that you have conquered Me is very embarrassing to Me. Therefore I request that you please be kind to Me."

44.     When Shri Krishna, arrayed in yellow garments, played melodies on His flute, the melodies at once entered the gopis' ears. Rapt in thinking of those melodies, the gopis were very strongly attracted. They were overcome. Overcoming all obstacles, the gopis, ran and met Krishna. They stood before Him, face to face. It was not otherwise.

45.     With glistening eyes listening to Shri Krishna's flute-music, the gopis forgot their household duties. Surging rivers of tears flowing from their eyes. they ran to glorious and effulgent Shri Krishna, the master of their lives.

46.     The glistening moon gave hundreds of sublime happinesses to the lotus flowers, lotus lakes, and lotus-eyed girls of Gokula.

47.     Some saintly gopis were forcibly stopped by their husbands. Those gopis also attained Shri Krishna's association. That is confirmed by the words of the sage Shukadeva.

48.     In his heart Snigdhakantha thought: In the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, it is said some sages engaged in sadhana-bhakti desired to become like the supreme goddesses of fortune who are Shri Krishna's wives and beloveds, goddesses who have Shri Radha as their leader. Attaining forms like those goddesses, the sages attained Shri Krishna's association. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.29.11) it is said: "The gopis did not know that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They accepted Him as a beautiful boy and considered Him to be their paramour. So how was it possible for them to get freed from the material condition just by thinking of a paramour?"*

49.     Now we will consider the answer to this question. In Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, it is said: "Those sages took birth as girls in Gokula. According to their desire, they attained the association of Shri Krishna. By associating with Him, they attained liberation from the ocean of repeated birth and death."

50.     In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.38) it is said: "The gopis' husbands felt no jealousy or hatred for Krishna." Here we may note that these husbands were not at all aware of Krishna's activities. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.6.35) it is said: "In spite of being envious of Krishna, Putana attained salvation because she gave her milk to Him to drink."* In this way the question raised in Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.29.11 is answered. Thus it is seen that attracted to Krishna brings the greatest benefit.

51.     The gopis did not know that Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the all-pervading Supersoul. Although at first they thought of Him as their paramour, in the end they thought of Him as their husband, just as Putana at first thought to kill Krishna, but at the end had the thoughts of Krishna's affectionate nurse.

52.     In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.29.13) it is said: "Shishupala was always envious of Krishna, and because of his envy, Krishna killed him. Since Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shishupala gained salvation simply by seeing Him. If an envious person can get salvation simply by concentrating his mind on Krishna, then what to speak of the gopis, who are so dear to Krishna and always thinking of Him in love?"*

53.     Because they are eternal associates of Shri Krishna and because their love for Him is very great, the gopis are very glorious and exalted. Still, no one can say that the eternally dear gopis' conception of Shri Krishna as their paramour in Shri Krishna's pastimes manifest (prakata) on this earth is a praiseworthy conception.

54.     Shri Radha and the other gopis are the eternal wives of Shri Krishna. Their conception of Him as their paramour is not at all praiseworthy. However, their eternal love for Him broke apart the impediment that was their conception of Him as their paramour. Thus they quickly understood that He is their eternal husband. Thus other forms, forms as Shri Krishna's wives, waited for them in the future.

55.     After thinking these thoughts, Snigdhakantha said aloud, "Then? Then?"

56.     Madhukantha said: When they heard Shri Krishna's sweet flute-music call their names, the girls of Vraja, their eyebrows gracefully curved, became joyful. Their bodies blossomed with joy. Shri Krishna's sweet flute music had the power to arouse their amorous desires, why would that flute-music not have the power to make the gopis blossom with joy?

57.     The gopis are described in the following song:


          sa-tvara-prasara-vat tv asattva-dhama-hayini



                   When the gopis heard the sound of Krishna's flute, they quickly left their lifeless homes. When their elders blocked the door, they left anyway.


          natham ekam anv aneka-dara-sampad-arpini

          ogha-mogham anv ananta-bhakta-loka-tarpini


                   Thinking Krishna her only husband, each gopi offered Him opulence and happiness as if she were not one, but a host of wives. Each gopi pleased Him as if she were a limitless multitude of devotee-servants that eclipsed the ocean.





                   In that ocean of gopis, the seaweed was curling locks of hair, the whirlpools were graceful earrings, and the white foam was flower-ornaments.





                   As they ran on the path to meet Krishna, their limbs were currents of water and their eyes were swimming young fishes.





                   The lotus flowers there were the gopis' hands and the lotus stems were their graceful arms. The beautiful young turtles were their breasts.





                   With quickly moving hips they ran to the Yamuna's banks. They wished to enter the great forest.



          prayasas tu hamsa-sangha-shabditanu-ranjini


                   Their tinkling bracelets, bells, and other ornaments sounded like the warbling of swans.





                   Their frantic running was dancing. Their limbs were stunned with ecstatic love.





                   In haste they put their garments and ornaments in the wrong places.


          yan-nimittam atma-sarva-sanga-bhanga-bhavini

          yatra sarva-nama-rupa-vismritish ca bhavini


                   They broke all ties to their relatives at home. In the ecstasy of love for Krishna, they forgot the names and forms of their relatives.


          shyama-dhama-sushthu-ramam etam atra sad-dhavam

          sindhu-tulyam uttarangad-angam ashu madhavam


                   There was their eternal husband, Krishna, who was like a splendid dark ocean with cresting waves.


          purva-purva-bhinna-yatir uttarapta-sangatih

          apagali-sammitapa seyam ali-samhatih


                   The gopis were like many rivers meeting the ocean of Krishna.


58      and 59. In a beautiful forest where the glorious Yamuna flows, a forest splendid with hosts of blossoming flowers, glorious with bees and cuckoos, pleasant with fragrant breezes, glistening in the moonlight, and filled with all spiritual virtues, the gopis assembled in a jewel-mosaic-paved courtyard. When they gazed on Shri Krishna, who was playing many wonderful, colorful, and sweet melodies on His flute, His form glorious like a dark monsoon cloud, His garments beautiful like lightning, His form glistening like a great jewel, His form like that of a splendid transcendental Kamadeva.

60.     The gopis surrounded Krishna on every side. Their hearts yearned to embrace Him. They looked like golden flower-vines entwined around a dark tamala tree.

61.     Accompanied by her friend the flood of sweet fragrance, the girl-messenger of Shri Krishna's flute-music respectfully invited the beautiful-eyebrowed gopis to meet with Shri Krishna. Traveling on a long path, the gopis were brought to Krishna. Again and again they devotedly tasted the sweet nectar of His handsomeness. Although they tasted it repeatedly, they never felt satiated. They never wished to stop tasting that nectar.

62.     Splendid like many glistening moons garlanded with stars, the wide-eyed teen-age gopis stood before Shri Krishna, who was like a thirsty cakora-bird gazing at them.

63.     Thirsty Krishna then thought, "Paying the price of My youthful handsomeness, I will purchase the crown jewels that are these girls, the most beautiful girls in the world. These girls are the medicine Kamadeva offers to sure My troubles.. They are glistening beams of moonlight glorious before the two cakora-birds of My eyes."

64.     Each gopi then thought, "The arrow of Shri Krishna's glance has struck the arrow of my glance and broken it into pieces. That arrow now flies into my heart to break apart the chariot of my desires that drive there."

65.     In truth the two black bees of Shri Krishna's eyes dallied for two or three moments amongst the flowering-vines of the gopis. Then those bees flew into the lotus forest of Shri Radha. There they stayed.

66.     Shri Krishna then thought, "This girl is the beautiful glorious splendor of beautiful glorious splendor. Shri Radha's beautiful eyes now stand before My eyes."

67.     Her eyes touched by the sight of Shri Krishna, Shri Radha trembled. The sweet nectar of ecstatic spiritual love arose within Her. She was tossed to and fro. She glistened with the intense longing to attain Krishna.

68.     The following verse consists of a question and a reply: Please tell me like the tears now flowing from the two rising moons of Shri Radha's eyes? The floods of nectar flowing from the lotus-flowers in autumn is perhaps a little like them.

69.     Standing before Shri Krishna, and wild with delight by hearing His eloquent flute-music, the gopis abandoned all shyness. Still, because they were born in saintly families, they bowed their heads and became silent. They were like sages following a vow not to speak.

70.     Shri Krishna stood amidst the gopis. Intoxicated by Shri Krishna's sweet fragrance and the sweet nectar of His flute-music, the gopis approached Him. Playfully smiling, Shri Krishna stood on the pathway of their eyes. As were ordinary girls with impure thoughts, the gopis stood before Him. Eager to taste the nectar words that might come from the blossoming flowers of the eager gopis, Shri Krishna, speaking an appeal to them, agitated them greatly.

71.     Shri Krishna said to the gopis, "O fortunate and glorious girls, Our meeting here is certainly auspicious. Still, I am curious to ask why you have come here. You must have endured many troubles to come to this place. Therefore I place this question before you: What may I do to please you?"

72.     The gopis did not understand Shri Krishna's purpose in speaking these words. Again speaking joking words that did not reveal His true intent, Shri Krishna said:

73.     "Although I ask questions, you, like silent sages, give no reply. Why would you householder ladies do anything that would not bring auspiciousness to your homes and families in Vraja?"

74.     As the gopis looked at each other with smiling eyes, Shri Krishna said to them, "I am not able to understand your purpose in coming here. Please cast away all shyness and tell it to Me."

75.     Seeing the gopis were still too shy to speak, Shri Krishna spoke the following words, words with a double meaning:

76.     "Please tell Me why you have abandoned your household duties. I do not understand that. With eager hearts please return to Vraja Village. This forest is very fearsome. This night is very fearsome. You are surrounded by many fearsome wild creatures."

77.     Here the sentence "Please return to Vraja Village" may also be interpreted "Please do not (na) return to Vraja Village". In this way these words have a double meaning. Then Shri Krishna again spoke these words, which also have a double meaning: "Pious girls like you should not be so independent, independent like prostitutes. After you, you certainly have mothers, fathers, brothers, husbands, and many other kinsmen." Then, with a joking smile, Shri Krishna also said:

78.     "I have heard that you have many children."

79.     Then Shri Krishna thought, "The proper understanding of these pastimes is found in the conversation of Vrinda and Paurnamasi, where it is said (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.26): 'Krishna recited various kinds of poetry. He thus enjoyed  the company of the gopis in the soothing moonlight of autumn. Sex desire is especially excited in the autumn season, but the wonderful thing about Krishna's association with the gopis is that there was no question of sex desire. The sex impulse was completely controlled.'* Speaking of the obstacles that stood before the gopis, I will now speak clever and playful joking words."

80.     These were Shri Krishna's thoughts. In order to enjoy pastimes with the gopis, Shri Krishna played His flute. Now Shri Krishna, the crest-jewel of rasikas, stood before the gopis. The gopis were convinced that Shri Krishna was their husband. Only in the talk of other people was any other idea manifested. The gopis desired Shri Krishna's association, and the association of no one else. They considered the association of any other male an abomination. In this way it is proved that the gopis were completely pure. They thought of Shri Krishna their husband. They did not think of Him as their paramour.

81.     The gopis had no children of their own. However, out of affection, they considered the children of their brothers-in-law to be like their own children. The idea that the gopis had children existed only externally. When it was spoken of, it was spoken only as a joke.

82.     Although their kinsmen were blind to the gopis' actions, the gopis feared their kinsmen would be at that moment searching to find them. In this connection, Shri Krishna said to them, "Why do you fear?" In this sentence the compound-word "tat-tad-bhayam" may be interpreted as either a shashthi or a pancami tatpurusha-samasa.

83.     Texts 77 and 78 may be considered in two ways: as divided (khandam) or as undivided (akhandam). This passage may be divided into two parts. The first part presents the conception of the gopis as unmarried girls. This is seen in the passage ending with the word "sahajah" (brothers). In the second part the faint conception of the gopis as married women is seen in the passage ending with the words "shruyante tanujah" (I heard that you have children). This passage may also be considered as not broken (akhandam) into two parts. This conception is supported by the words "sarvah prati" (to all the gopis).

84.     Then, playing with the meanings of words, Shri Krishna made the gopis' hearts and minds sway to and fro, as if they were riding on a swing. He said to them, "As you can see this forest is worshiped by the glistening autumn season and by wonderful hosts of flowers. The moon anoints this forest with splendid moonlight. The Yamuna makes this forest dance with the pleasant breezes that flow over its waters. The demigods have placed here all the ingredients needed for Our pastimes. Still, if you do not join these pastimes, none of these arrangements will be glorious. Then none of them will be worthy of praise.

85.     "Whether destiny brings auspiciousness or troubles, you should always perform your family duties. You should devotedly serve your husbands and you should also protect and maintain your children, calves, and other dependents. This the scriptures teach.

86.     "Continue performing your prescribed duties, even in difficult situations. Then, when you attain the final fruit of all your pious deeds, you may enter the realm of My blissful pastimes. If you do not wish to enter that realm, then you should still enter this forest place glistening in the moonlight. In this place you may perform austerities and pray to attain whatever it is that you desire."

87.     Then, as if thinking for a moment, Shri Krishna paused and said, "Ah! I did not understand. Please understand My situation and forgive all My senseless talking. Overcome by the desire to attain amorous pastimes, you all have come to this place. Under these circumstance your great affection for Me is certainly proper.

88.     "The love you feel for Me is My presence is not as great as the love You feel when you pine for Me in My absence. Therefore, to feel this greatest love you should now all return to your homes. That is the right thing for you to do.

89.     "If you think staying far away from Me would not increase your love for Me, then perhaps many obstacles standing in the way of Our meeting would increase your love, for then you would always pray to attain My company."

90.     For a long time the gopi had yearned to attain Krishna. Then they were called by Krishna's flute. Now they felt as if they were suddenly broken into pieces. When they heard these teasing words from their beloved, the gopis could not decide, "Is Krishna teasing us, or not?"

91.     At that moment the jangling ornaments decorating the motionless gopis' waists became suddenly silent.

92.     Tormented by the feverish heat of their beloved Krishna's words of rejection, the lotus flowers of the gopis' hearts began to melt. From those lotus flowers again and again streamed a flood of lotus nectar that, I think, only pretended to be a torrent of tears.

93.     The gopis then thought, "Perhaps we should give up our lives, or perhaps we should fall to the ground before dear Krishna's feet, or perhaps we should be angry with Him, or perhaps we should reject Him and return to our homes, or perhaps we should drown ourselves in the Yamuna's dark waters. Then again, perhaps we should not do any of these things. Perhaps we should only seek vengeance by beating on the forehead of harsh and cruel Krishna."

94.     The gopis were tormented by headaches. Tears flowed down their necks. Their hearts greatly trembled. Every part of their bodies was overcome with the symptoms of ecstatic love. As if to attack and chase away their cruel beloved, they surrounded Him. Kindness manifest in words from Shri Krishna's mouth was the only thing that could protect them now.

95.     A night of dark-colored tears flowed from the gopis' mascara-anointed eyes and onto the sunset of the gopis' red-kunkuma-anointed breasts. Shri Krishna then became like a glistening full-moon surrounded by a dark-night of gopis, their shy faces downcast.

96.     Sighs breaking though their charming lips, the petal toes of their lotus feet scratching the ground, and the archer's bows of their eyebrows now bent, the gopis wounded Shri Krishna with the arrow-glances that flew from their eyes.

97.     As from a broken-open pomegranate many red seeds are manifest, so from the gopis' hearts were now manifest the perfection of their ecstasy of love for Shri Krishna. With affectionate words anointed with graceful eloquence, the gopis expressed their doubts. Even today is sung the song the gopis then sang.

98.     A Song:


          imam iva ma kuru punar ativadam

          bhakta-janan bhaja, muhur itarams tyaja, vibhur iva rahita-vivadam


          (Refrain) O Krishna, don't speak harsh words. Honor Your devotees. Turn away from the nondevotees. As the all-powerful Supreme Personality of Godhead does, please shun harsh words.


          pati-putradika,-bhajanam ihadhikam, iti yam vadasi vicaram

          sa tvayeva hi, tishthatu  na tu bahir, iti vimrishamah saram


          You express Your opinion that service to husband and children and others like them is the highest duty for us. We think the highest duty is this: A person who stays always rapt in thinking of You does not reside in this external material world.


99.     In this way, the both of them speaking words with double meanings, Shri Krishna and the gopis praised each other.

100.    Shri Krishna said, "If you found happiness in your husbands, children, and others like them, then the saintly devotees would be pleased. Still, somehow you girls do not place your desires in your husbands and children."

101.    Here Shri Krishna speaks words with a double meaning, The words not (na hi) may refer to the gopis' absence of desire, or it may also refer to Shri Krishna's forbidding the gopis to desire other things.

102.    The gopis said, "O king of the eternals, O king of the philanthropists, please fulfill Your desire. Please give happiness to us beautiful girls. Please don't throw obstacles in the way of our enjoying amorous pastimes with You."

103.    In this stanza the upasarga "anu" in the word "anuvardhaya" may be understood either in the sense of "fulfilling" or "cutting into pieces." (Translator's note: Thus the sentence may be either "Please fulfill our desire" or "Please cut into pieces our desire for anything but You".)

104.    The gopis said, "Our hearts find happiness in our household duties. Still, our hearts do not become rapt in thinking of those duties. Now that we have approached Your feet, we cannot return to our homes."

105.    In this stanza the word "sukha-tanu" may be an adjective modifying either "bhavata" or "cittam". The words "api naddham" may mean either "bound" or "unbound", the word "na" may be used in the sense of "not" or it may be used as a prohibition, and the word "kila" may be used to mean "certainly" or "not in truth".

106.    The gopis said, "O master of Your gopa friends, if You do not, with the running streams of nectar flowing from Your nectar lips, extinguish the flames of passionate love that burn burn within us, then those flames will certainly leap out and touch You, and then You will also burn with those flames."

107.    In this stanza the word "sva-bhava" may mean either "amorous desire" or "self-manifest". The word "madrisham" may mean either "people like us" or "for Your own sake".

108.    The gopis said, "Ah! Your feet delight Lakshmi-devi and bring auspiciousness to the Pulindi girls. Still, when we see or touch Your feet, the whole world becomes our enemy."

109.    In this stanza the word "apasavya" means "pratukula". Here either of the two meanings of pratikula may be accepted. In the statement about the Pulindi girls, the gopis manifest their humbleness.

110.    The gopis said, "Goddess Lakshmi, who came to see You, was seen in a Tulasi forest in Vraja. Even though her heart is dedicated to her husband, she still yearns, O Krishna, to bathe in the dust of Your footprints."

111.    The gopis said, "Goddess Lakshmi and her companions may have been seen, but in our hearts we do not desire to see either her or her entourage."

112.    Here the word "api", as before, may be understood either as a plaintive appeal or as a word of prohibition.

113.    The gopis said, "O Krishna, O destroyer of sufferings, please be merciful to us that we may become passionately attached to Your feet. Please make us become devoted to You. Please make our hearts become filled with wonder at the sight of Your smiling glance."

114.    This stanza has no double meanings.

115.    The gopis said, "O Krishna, whose face is surrounded by curly locks of hair, whose earrings are glorious, whose eyes are decorated with smiles, and whose glorious chest and arms bring fearlessness, we are Your maidservants."

116.    Here the word "api" has two meanings, as before.

117.    The gopis said, "O Krishna, hearing Your beautiful flute-music, the trees, their new sprouts standing erect, manifest symptoms of ecstasy. O Lord, if even the trees manifest these symptoms of ecstasy, how much more will the girls of Vraja feel the ecstasy of love as they listen to the music of Your flute?"

118.    In this stanza the word "ka" is used either in the sense of "how much more?" or in the sense of prohibition.

119.    The gopis said, "O Krishna whose pastimes remove Vraja's fears, You must be some glorious demigod. Please, even if only by accident, place Your hand on the heads of us, Your maidservants."

120.    In this stanza the word ""no" may be interpreted to mean "no" or "of us". Interpreted in the second way, it stands in apposition to "maidservants".

121.    Shri Krishna was unmoved by the gopis' sorrowful laments. Then Radha fired at Him an arrow-glance from the bending bows of Her eyebrows.

122.    Now Shri Krishna was agitated. Kindly He smiled. His face was cheerful. Now He revealed His secret. It shone with glistening light. Now, to begin His pastimes, Balarama's powerful but soft-hearted younger brother, Shri Krishna, forcibly drew each one of His gopi beloveds to His side.

123.    As a poverty-stricken man remains unsatisfied even after attaining great wealth, so Shri Krishna remained unsatisfied even after touching the gopis' fingers, hands, forearms, and arms.

124.    Although Radha was hidden, surrounded by many thousands of gopis, Shri Krishna clearly saw Her. She was like a crescent moon surrounded by a host of stars.

125.    When Shri Krishna touched Her, Shri Radha, splendid like a crescent moon, became filled with wonder.

126.    The gopis embraced Shri Krishna, and Shri Krishna embraced Shri Radha. They playfully joked and smiled. They were filled with bliss. As the various bhavas (ecstasies) culminate in sthayi-bhava, so the gopis' past pious activities and fervent desires in their previous births now brought them to meet Shri Krishna in His pastimes.

127.    Shyly glancing at Krishna, the forest-flower-garlanded gopis joked amongst themselves, saying, "Timid girls become afraid when glistening lightning plays with a dark monsoon cloud. O gopi friends, why do you smile and joke? Do you not see the great wonder of monsoon cloud and lightning that stands before us?"

128.    The impersonalist atmarama sages renounced the bliss of Brahman realization when they smelled the sublime fragrance of Shri Krishna. Glorious Shri Krishna, who is always filled with bliss, now enjoyed blissful pastimes with the gopis.

129.    `        Bringing his description to its conclusion, Madhukantha said: O Radha, at that moment Your gopi friends glanced at Your face. With their own eyes they saw the exalted nectar pastimes You enjoyed at that moment.