Click here to load whole tree
NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Ananda Vrindavana Champu > 18 Krishna Disappears from Gopis

Chapter Eighteen

Krishna Disappears from the Gopis



Having bound Krishna in the core of their hearts, the gopis could not  imagine that He had disappeared. Could it be a joke or some unbeliev­able  event among friends? Deprived of the joy of their eyes, the gopis argued  with each other.

"O friend! Look, some gopi has taken the treasure of our hearts, who is  the abode of all good qualities, to her private kunja to make her own  hasty entreaties. Like a clever thief throwing dust in our eyes, she has  stolen our jewel to behold Him with her own eyes. Let us find out where  she is enjoying with Him alone."


Giving up all their fatigue, the gopis searched with great concentration  from one bower to another. The gopis firmly believed that their dear most  lover must be overly pleased with this gopi, since He had abandoned them  to delight with her in a secluded grove. Influenced by pride, one gopi  said, "I will find Him and bring Him here to enjoy with us in the same  way!"

Another gopi said, "O, remover of distress for Your faithful devotees! The  earth feels joy from the touch of Your lotus feet. You easy bewilder the  wisest of men. Just for a little joking, You have hidden yourself in a  bower. Why have you thrown us into such dreadful state?"

While searching for Krishna, the gopis meditated within themselves, "Though  Krishna shows Himself, He is actually invisible. Though He may be touched,  He is untouchable. Though we are aware that He is speaking, the material  ear cannot hear Him. Though He exists externally, He can­not be realized  externally. Though He is the lotus of the ear, He is situ­ated far from  any ear. Though He is the ointment for the eye, He is far from any eye.  Though He is like a sapphire on the breast, He is far from the breast."


After looking for some time and not finding Krishna, the gopis felt  doubt­ful and indifferent about continuing the search. Losing hope, the  gopis stopped checking the bowers. Finding the whole world void without  Krishna, their lotus faces dried up in sadness. The forlorn gopis manifested  a state of madness (unmada), which precedes the state of bewilderment  (moha). While seeing Krishna in every direction, they simultaneously saw Him  stand­ing in their hearts. They touched Krishna with their lotus hands, but  He did not touch them in return. They embraced Krishna to their chests, but  He did not return the embrace. They kissed Krishna, but He did not kiss them  back. Defeated, the gopis entered a pitiable state of bewilderment (moha).  They appeared like painted dolls standing picturesquely against the  sky.Their lives totally uprooted, they felt they had embraced hot coals,  or that their bodies had been smeared with a deadly poison which now  burned into their breasts. Their distress exceeded the pain of lemon juice  poured into an open wound, a knife piercing a sensitive nerve, or a sword  jabbed in the stomach. Their minds felt like dry wood sizzling in a fire,  and their bodies burned with intense heat as if a venomous snake had  bitten their chests. The gopis became deaf, blind in both eyes, and  totally numb to the sense of touch. They acted as if they were mentally  deranged.

The sorrow of their (mahabhava) devoured the ten directions. They had no  shelter or support within the entire universe. It seemed darkness had  enveloped all the planets. The earth cracked in half. Trees cried,  creep­ers dried up, and all the deer burned in a forest fire.


Somehow regaining the power to speak, they conversed with one an­other.  They appeared like statues talking by the mystic power of a ghost within.  They resembled persons getting back the power of speech after hearing  mantras to break a coma due to snakebite. The gopis said, "What happened?  Has some clever woman taken Him as a sapphire and tied Him in her hair? Or  did a powerful sadistic witch hold Him tightly and fly away with Him? How  could someone suddenly snatch that living jewel from us while we drank the  nectar of His elegant face with our doe-eyes?" After posing different  doubts and exhausting their intelligence, the gopis spoke again. "Coming  to this forest, we saw the jewel among men. We mistook His harsh talks as  words of compassion to facilitate the pastimes of conjugal love. Is it all  a grand illusion or just a dream?"

After conjecturing like this for some time, they cleared their throats and  continued, "Are we not the same gopis? If that is so, then by what fault  of ours has this man rejected us and gone away? Is this not some­thing  illusory? Since He has taken our minds and everything else with Him, what  is the question of His being away from us? But then, who is that rascal  who has created another mind and senses to give us so much pain? We cannot  understand it."

After considering various ideas they realized that Krishna had actually  disappeared. To keep themselves from giving up their lives, they entered a  state of divine madness for Krishna, which created a distance between their  minds and the pain of separation. Temporary waves of solace from the ocean  of madness entered the hearts of the gopis to alleviate their pain of  separation. This provoked them to perform actions to attain Krishna face to  face.

Assuming an attractively unique condition, they imitated their previous  pastimes with Krishna. They remembered His enchanting talks, His bold  actions impelled by conjugal love, and His wanton sidelong glances that  defeated the beauty of lotus petals. This incomprehensible state restored  life to the gopis who now laughed loudly like fickle bees dripping with  white moonbeams of attraction to Krishna.


Searching the Forest


Rejuvenated but agitated with love, the gopis moved hastily like lotuses  swaying in a breeze as they looked through the groves for the Lord of  their hearts. Feeling the pangs of separation from Krishna, they sang loudly  of Him as they searched for Him throughout the Vrndavana forest like a  band of mad women. Invisibly, Yogamaya followed them like a shadow to  prevent them from falling unconscious, or being injured by the thorns and  pebbles on the forest footpaths. Lost in the madness of Krishna prema, the gopis inquired about Him from  Vraja's trees. They said, "O asvattha tree, O kapitha, O kimsuka, 0  ban­yan, Opakara, your fortune is unlimited. Please tell us, has the son  of the king of the cowherds passed this way? Why are you remaining silent?  Are you not cheating us? You must have seen Him, otherwise how could you  be in such a stunned state, which results only from ecstatic bliss?  Because of their internal absorption in Krishna, the humble trees do not  hear our request, which exists in the external word. So let us go  elsewhere and ask."

Going further, they said, "O nagakesara tree, rasala, sala, devadarum,  punnaga and campakal You are all pious souls! Have you seen Syama? Did He  come this way after stealing our hearts? Are you answering 'No, no, no?'  Do not speak lies while shaking your leaves. How can it be other­wise, for  the hairs on your branches are all standing on end."


After getting no replies to their inquiries, the gopis said, "They are  act­ing as a group, and out of cruelty they are not responding. Very well,  we will go elsewhere and ask again." They asked a tamala tree, "O tamala  tree! Having the same color as you, Krishna is your friend. Out of affection  it appears that your respected friend has embraced you. Although you are  unaware of it, the bees are licking up His bodily fragrance, which is  oozing from your bark. You have lost consciousness because of His  em­brace; therefore, you do not understand our request. What is the use?  Let us go somewhere else."

The gopis felt that the trees had deliberately kept silent because they  are male, but that tulasi, being female, would sympathize with their  plight. The gopis addressed tulasi, "O auspicious tulasil Has Madhava,  impelled by the delight of love, gone by here giving you pleasure with the  touch of His hand? O fortunate tulasi! No one in the universe compares  with you. Please hear our request and tell us where we can find Krishna. "Since you are devoid of creeper-like arms, you have no problem of rivalry from other women. You ornament the chest of Krishna as a garland  hanging from His neck to His feet. But will you not permit any other  garland to hang there too? Being non-envious and compassionate, please  tell us where your lover has gone, having stolen our minds, life airs, and  intelligence. In this world it is a law among friends that one should  sacri­fice his own life to save a friend."


Hearing no answer, the exasperated gopis said, "We see that after being  touched by Him, you fell into a state of separation and lost all strength  of mind and intelligence. So how can we ask you? How can a distressed  person help another distressed person? Therefore let us go elsewhere."

"O friend malatil With your eyes did you embrace the one wearing gar­lands  of you? You must have seen Him? Otherwise why are you proudly smiling with  your flowers? O friend mallikal Do not hide. You must have seen the son of  Nanda Maharaja because you have stolen the blackish color of Krishna's body  with the swarms of bees encircling you.

"O friend jatil You are truthful by nature so you will not deceive us.  Your reddish flowers indicate that the fickle-minded Syama has marked your  limbs with His nails. O yuthikal With the swarms of buzzing bees, you seem  to be weeping. Why is that? Has Krishna, who steals one's heart just by  seeing Him, stolen your mind as He has ours?"

Receiving no reply, the gopis, having lost all awareness of the external  world, continued questioning the trees even though they could not an­swer.  "O kurubaka tree! O red asoka tree! Please destroy our lamenta­tion.  Please tell us where Krishna has gone. Do not say that He has not come on  this path! The young leaves clipped by His sharp nails reveal His  whereabouts."

Looking in another direction, they said, "O kovidaral You are a learned  tree, so please tell us which path Krishna has traversed? After seeing Him  your inner attraction to Him is now manifesting as bright red flowers. O  panasa (jackfruit) tree! Do not be afraid. Tell us where that thief has  gone after stealing our souls and abandoning us. Due to His glance, you  are feeling joyful and displaying your thorny fruits.

"O fortunate jambu tree! You have certainly seen Krishna, because your  fruits have become black as bumblebees by the influence of His elegant  effulgence. O friend, pleasing bilva branch! You are fortunate. Krishna has  held your beautiful fruit in His lotus hand. While thinking of Hari, whose  complexion is the color of a rain cloud, the hairs on your fruits are  stand­ing on end.

"O bakulal You are blissful from seeing the moon face of Hari who has  skillfully strung a garland from your fallen flowers. O friend, branch of  the mango tree! It is appropriate that you drip tears of honey after  having felt His nails as He broke off your new mango buds.


"O kadamba tree. It seems that while entering the forest Hari has taken  shelter of you to engage in pastimes. Climbing on this branch, He picked  your blossoms to use for flower bombs. We infer this from seeing the  fallen leaves and buds scattered about your base. Having smelled the sweet  scent of His body, the bees have left you to follow Him. Though you  can­not go with us, please tell us where we can find that fragrant  personality.

"O trees living by the banks of the Yamuna who have dedicated your very  existence to the welfare of others, please tell us where Hari has gone. O  groves of creepers! With your crooked bodies filled with fruit, you seem  to be offering new youthfulness to your beloved. Where has Krishna, the  source of your good fortune, now gone?

"O wives of the Krishna sara deer! You are famous for your beautiful wide  eyes, which attract even the mind of the all-attractive Krishna, who is  worshiped by those who have performed countless pious acts. Though your  eyes are filled with the sweet form of His body, your minds are not  satisfied. Being thus disturbed, your sleep is broken by His constant  re­membrance.

"O friend! Can you tell us which path Krishna took after satisfying the  trees with His touch? He put us in sorrow by stealing our hearts, but did  He look at you with the pink edges of His compassionate eyes? Be friendly  and generous, and do not cheat us."

Seeing the doe moving fearlessly toward them, the gopis continued, "O  friends! This doe is the most merciful among all the animals, trees and  creepers. She is walking along the path showing us the way to Krishna. Thus  she is diminishing the burning pain in our hearts." As the gopis followed  the doe they happened to lose sight of her. Full of anxiety, the gopis  thought that Krishna must be nearby and that the doe, being afraid of Him,  must have hidden herself. Then the gopis searched throughout the dense  for­est.

Seeing a cuckoo, they said, "O cuckoo! Krishna must have certainly glanced  upon you while enjoying your song, for your artistic melody is imitating  His tune. You have a close friendship with Krishna because you are sweet  voiced; black with a red beak, fond of the forests, eager to relish mango  sprouts, and completely remove the sorrow of separated lovers. In spite of  this, you are not telling us about Him."

Saying this, they approached a swan waddling along the path and hap­pily  said, "O swan, please come here! Has merciful Yamuna-devi sent you here?  We understand that our beloved is on her bank, therefore, she has sent you  to bring us to Him. O friend, we are longing to see Krishna. Please show us  the path."

After following the swan for some distance, they saw a female cakravaka  bird and said, "O cakravakil After seeing Krishna, you have forgotten about

your separation from your partner, and have kindly come to show us where  He is. This is the proper conduct among pure-hearted friends." Coming  before the cakravaki, they smelled an aromatic breeze and said, "The news  that the cakravaki has come to deliver is now certain. The thief of our  hearts is somewhere nearby."

Seeing swarms of bees, the gopis remarked, "The bees have gone mad from  smelling the sandalwood scented breeze blowing from a distant source,  namely the flower garland of some gopi whose body is exuding a divine  fragrance." Beckoning the bees, they inquired, "O gentle bumble bees! Tell  us, why you have given up the nectar-filled flowers just to buzz madly  around in the sky?" From the excited humming of the bees, the gopis  understood that Krishna must be nearby.

Thinking thus, the gopis walked gingerly over the fresh grass. To con­firm  their suspicion that the earth was shivering in ecstasy, the gopis asked,  "O mother earth! Can you tell us why your bodily hairs are standing on  end? It cannot be due to the touch of Vamanadeva's feet, or the embrace of  Varahadeva. Your good fortune causes the animals and plants to tremble,  because at every step you get to kiss the lotus feet of Krishna. Because of  this He has slowed down His gait."

Further along, the gopis saw a flock oicakora birds moving on the ground  and said joyfully, "He who has stolen the jewel of our minds has certainly  gone on this path because there are some male cakora birds over there.  They are sitting in a line drinking the streams of nectar from the moon  rays of His toenails. From this we conclude that He must be near."


Imitating Krishna's Pastimes


As the gopis reached the limit of their doubts, questions, and  confirma­tions, their emotional state of unmada (divine madness in loving  separa­tion from Krishna) gradually manifested the presence of Krishna within  their hearts. With their hearts purified by perfect knowledge, the gopis  remained fixed on the right path forever engaged in pleasing the Lord. No  one but Krishna could control them. Changing their mood, the gopis entered a  state of ecstasy by fully absorbing themselves in thoughts of Krishna's  pastimes. Their distress of separation disappeared as they reenacted His  various pastimes. Who would not be attracted to those pastimes that they  had either heard about or directly witnessed? The killing of Putana and  the lifting of Govardhana, for example, caused wonder and astonishment.In  imitating Krishna's exploits, there are two types of pastimes. In the first  type, all the ingredients are favorable such as stealing the gopis'  cloth­ing. In the second type there are both favorable and unfavorable  ele­ments as in the pastime of killing Putana. The favorable elements are  conducive for developing an intense taste of Krishna prema. The mind  be­comes flooded with taste like a river overflowing its banks. Because  con­trary or unfavorable elements give distaste, they do not absorb the  mind. Therefore, one does not make a full effort to identify with those  pas­times.

Yogamaya always accompanied the gopis to assist their mood. Antici­pating  the presence of contrary elements in pastimes such as killing Putana,  which the gopis would imitate, Yogamaya skillfully harmonized all the  contrary elements in order to favor the gopis. To do this Yogamaya  de­cided to personally take the role of Putana and other demons. Under the  influence of Yogamaya's illusory powers, one exalted gopi, acting like  in­fant Krishna, saw Yogamaya as Putana manifesting all the contrary and  favorable elements. Climbing on her lap, that gopi drank her breast milk  while holding on to her in complete dependence. The attempts to capture  the mood of Krishna were not artificial but spontaneous. The gopis did not  just identify with Krishna, but Krishna Himself had entered into them to  re-enact these pastimes.


Yogamaya also took the role of sakatasura (cart demon) while one of the  beautiful gopis played Krishna. Pained by hunger, Krishna cried, kicked the  cart and demolished it with His toes, delicate as new shoots. Krishna  Himself had entered the minds of the gopis, and their minds had entered  into Krishna. Completely identifying with Krishna, they lost all awareness of  being women. Identifying fully as Krishna, the gopis appeared brilliantly  effulgent, as if clouds surrounded by stationary lightning had entered  their hearts. Their hearts resembled intense moonlight within the clouds, or clumps of  lotuses infested with slumbering bees, while their bodies shone bril­liant  as powdered saffron. Conquered by the influence of identifying with Krishna,  the gopis' senses submitted to Krishna in their hearts. Thus they fully  absorbed themselves. As with previous pastimes, Yogamaya attracted the joyful gopis to imi­tate  the killing of Trnavarta. But Yogamaya did not take the form of Trnavarta,  because assuming that form contradicted the mood of the lov­ing pastimes.  But to enthuse that particular gopi, Yogamaya took the mood of Trnavarta,  the demon sent by Kamsa to kill Krishna. Playing the role of Krishna, the gopi  said, "I am Krishna and I will kill you." In this way Yogamaya showed her  powers.


Then, one gopi, acting as baby Krishna, crawled about while Her jeweled belt  tinkled. Sometimes she stopped briefly, turned her head, and looked around  with worried eyes. With a frightened face like a sinful criminal, that  gopi played the butter thief. Taking the role of mother Yasoda, Yogamaya  tried to bind that butter thief with ropes. Feeling bound up by an irate mother, that gopi shed tears. Afterwards while crawling on the  earth she got stuck between two yamala-arjuna trees created by Yogamaya,  and then pulled them down. As Krishna, one gopi said, "I will go play in the forest and herd the calves  with Balarama and the other cowherd boys. At that time, I will kill  Vatsasura." Yogamaya supplied the calves, the Vatsa demon, the cowherd  friends, and His brother Balarama. Merged in that event, the gopi en­acted  the killing of Vatsasura. One gopi, holding a flute in her tender hands, produced sweet melodies by  deftly moving her copper-colored fingers. Then she perfectly imitated how  Krishna called the cows that had wandered far away. In a loud, affec­tionate  voice she called out for the cows, "Savali! Dhavali! Dhumali! Kali! Nila!  Please come here!" Imitating Krishna's playful pranks with His boyfriends, one gopi walked  about with her arm resting on the shoulder of a friend. Looking like a  water lily stalk with long arms, she declared, "I am Krishna! Just see how  gracefully I move!" At that she moved proudly. The author says, "I think that Krishna actually entered the gopis' hearts  and enacted each of these pastimes to enjoy the experience. Otherwise, how  could the gopis speak and perform actions when their minds and  consciousness had already stopped functioning?"

Unable to suppress her spontaneous mood, another gopi pretended to be  Krishna standing on the bank of the Yamuna. Though lacking the proper  ingredients she was itching to fight and smash the malevolent Kaliya. In  that mood she said, "O lowest of snakes! Do not spoil My Yamuna  play­ground. Get out of here right now!" In this way she repeatedly  uttered harsh words. Then that gopi danced on Kaliya's hoods. Yogamaya  skill­fully arranged all these pastimes.

Another gopi gave up her own identity and achieved oneness with the Lord  of her life. Upon seeing an accidental forest fire, she felt blissful by  identifying as Krishna. By the influence of Yogamaya that gopi displayed the  unique ability to extinguish the fire and save the cowherd boys. She said,  "Do not fear this blazing forest fire, for I am the deliverer from all  danger. Quickly close your eyes and I will protect you by swallowing this  fire."


Meditating on Krishna, another gopi entered a humorous mood and moved about  stealthily. Then she secretly stole the gopis' clothing and climbed up a  kadamba tree. Overwhelmed with the joy of Krishna, she spoke affec­tionately  to the innocent gopis. "Come to Me one by one, not all together! Each of  you collect your own clothing. If you do not do as I say, then I will not  give them back. What do I care if the king becomes angry?"

The gopis then manifested the auspicious pastime of the brahmanas'wives  giving charity. Identifying herself with Krishna, one leading gopi, full of  bliss and expert in speaking, smiled sweetly as she greeted the other  gopis who had arrived before her at the edge of town. "O fortunate women!  Welcome! The austerities you have performed in household life are  fault­less. I know that you have great devotion and faith in Me. Now that  you have seen Me, you should return home. O fortunate women, you should  not remain here. By hearing about My glories, chanting My name, and  remembering My form, you can taste real love for Me. This is not  accom­plished by direct contact with Me." One gopi, her heart totally one  with Krishna, enacted the pleasing pas­time of lifting Govardhana, the king  of all mountains. Their faces full of worry, the cows, cowherd men and  their wives took shelter from the heavy downpour. To dispel their fear,  the gopi playing Krishna said, "O cows, cow­herd men and gopis, do not be  afraid of the cruel wind and torrents of rain. Relax and be calm. I will  lift the mountain with My hand, and turn the whole world into an umbrella  to protect you. Do not fear that the mountain will slip from My hand, and  do not distrust My words. If Ananta can hold up the earth with its heavy  oceans, islands and mountains, why can't the crown jewel of the town hold  up at least one mountain?"


To alleviate the anguish of the Vrajavasis, she raised her slender left  arm that smelled more fragrant than khas khas. While holding her arm  straight up like a flagpole, she waved her shawl to remove their fear.  Stand­ing with her right hand on her waist, she said, "Come under this  beautiful umbrella, which resembles a delicate lotus flower spreading for  two hun­dred miles in all directions."

One gopi imitated Rasa-bihari who acted like the moon disappearing during  an eclipse. She attracted all the Gokula gopis with the enchanting tune of  her flute. Surmounting the obstacles of their families, they came to Krishna  with desires for direct conjugal union. Playing the part of Krishna, that  gopi said, "O chaste women! Welcome! Please come here! All auspi-ciousness  to you! What may I do to please you? Please tell Me the reason for your  coming here. Since your clothing and ornaments are all topsy­turvy, I  infer that you came here in the greatest haste. Why did you do this?

"This night is quite frightening, and dangerous creatures are lurking  about. This is not a proper place for women. So I am telling you, please  go home. Now you have seen this Vrndavana forest, full of blooming  flow­ers, cooled by fragrant breezes, and washed by the light of the full  moon. What more is there to see?

"O lotus eyed gopisl Women should not stay with a lusty man like me.  Direct association with Me is not nearly as enjoyable as meditating on Me,  hearing about My qualities, and glorifying Me."[The gopi imitating Krishna  has a hidden, inner meaning in her words which is, "Why shouldn't those  who know the highest dharma stay with Me? Directly contacting Me is  infinitely more pleasurable than associat­ing with Me through meditation,  hearing, or chanting My glories."]

After speaking sweetly in imitation of Krishna, the gopi thought, "Now I  will disappear." Before she could enact the pastime of Krishna's  disappear­ance, however, all the gopis suddenly awoke from their trance of  identify­ing as Krishna. Leaving the stage of unmada, they regained  consciousness and experienced a different degree of ecstatic love. Upon  opening their doe-eyes, the gopis again burned in the fire of separation.  Anxious and worried, they frantically searched for Krishna in all  directions.


Krishna's Footprints


The special beauty and pleasure the gopis had attained by imitating  Krishna's pastimes gradually faded away. Though the gopis had extraordi­nary  patience, their anxious eyes revealed the artificiality of their com­posed  state. After remaining in that state for a short time, they suddenly saw  Krishna's footprints in a corner of the forest. His footprints looked like a  row of sprouts suddenly manifesting from the bosom of the earth. Those  footprints appeared to have dropped from their eyes onto the earth after  having been hidden in their own hearts. Now appearing as the signature of  the goddess of the forest, they looked like they were drawn by the  demigods headed by Brahma for worship, and had suddenly fallen from the  sky. They looked like two new leaves sprouted from a creeper grow­ing on  the path. The gopis' hearts melted with bliss upon seeing Krishna's footprints. Their  limbs broke out with tiny bumps of exhilaration as they spoke loudly and  impudently amongst themselves. "O, just see our fortune. Hari's  foot­prints, shining like the rays of the moon, have appeared here.  Observing the marks of a flag, lotus, goad, and thunderbolt stimulate  affection in the hearts of advanced devotees. O lotus-eyed gopisl Please  examine these footprints with all your life.


"Studying the imprint on the soft sand, we see that the ball of the foot  is deeper and the middle portion is raised. The trail of footprints with  their different marks such as lotus flowers are decorations in the simanta  (part in a woman's hair) of the earth. The distinguishing mark of the flag  in these footprints attracts everyone, the lotus cools the earth, the  thunder­bolt is for killing us, and the goad is for gouging out our  hearts." As the gopis gave such contrary meanings to the marks on Krishna's  feet, they bathed in a natural splendor of love that would capture the  heart of anyone per­ceiving it.

They continued, "The sweetness of these footprints is astounding! Be­ing  stupefied by it, even the bees are falling in the dust. They have  re­jected flower pollen, but they will not give up the dust of Krishna's  feet. Just like great devotees, the bees have become very fortunate and  attractive by this attachment. The dust has become blessed by the touch of  Govinda's lotus feet, which remove the agony of the earth and break the  medita­tions of sober sages. Brahma, Siva, the goddess Laksmi, and all the  devatas worship these footprints. Let us now take the relishable dust of  the Lord of enjoyment to our bosoms to relieve our long-standing incessant  pains of sorrow."


Radha's Footprints


Then one discriminating gopi spoke, "Stop taking the dust! Do not wipe out  Krishna's footprints! Our eyes derive satisfaction just from looking closely  at these wonderful footprints. Do not disturb them by smudging them with  your hands!"

After saying this they traced the line of footprints with their eyes and  proceeded along the path. At one place they saw the footprints of Radha,  who had attracted Krishna with Her sincere love, and attained the coveted  position of being the only gopi engaged in His loving service. While Hari  held Her tightly to His chest, Radhika felt proud that She had so easily  won the affection of the Lord. Such an auspicious position is rarely  at­tained even in the heavenly planets.

Admiring the footprints of the girl endowed with such good fortune, one  gopi said, "O look here, they appear like a group of buds twisted out of  place on a fine creeper. It seems these footprints are thoroughly  inter­mixed with those of Her lover. It seems that Radha must have put Her  right arm on Krishna's shoulder, just as love-intoxicated she-elephant rests  Her trunk on the shoulder of an accompanying bull elephant. Radhika's  fortune is unrivaled. Being so pleased with Her and bound by Her love,  Govinda pitilessly abandoned us, who are also trying to attain Him.  Show­ing His loyalty to Her alone, He has brought Her to a secluded place  for enjoyment."


Thinking for a moment, Syama-sakhi suddenly said, "Radha is the peer­less  abode of all auspiciousness. She is the crest-jewel amongst millions of  the best women in the universe, endowed with the pious results of their  previous deeds. Just as there is no possibility of moonlight without a  moon, a cuckoo's call without spring, or lightning without rain,  similarly, it is impossible to imagine Radha existing without the moon of  Krishna."

After Radha's intimate sakhis finished their glorification, Padma, a  con­fidante of Candravali, who has a face more beautiful than a lotus,  replied to dark-complexioned Syama-sakhi. She said, "O Syame! Though you  are partial to your own group, your Radha has completely given you up. She  has thrown you away like an old garland, though She claims you are Her  very life. After stealing the beloved of us all, Radhika has gone off  alone to enjoy with Him in another forest. How astonishing! Radha's  friendship toward you is only external, it is not from Her heart."

Syama-sakhi replied, "O Padma, due to lack of intelligence you are  satu­rated with envy! Give this up and just listen to me. Since Her  childhood, Radhika has thrown Her body in the flowing river of Krishna's  nectarean love. She has no control over Her own body. It simply races  along in the huge currents of that river and She cannot protect Herself.  Just like an aquatic plant, Radhika floats helplessly down that river.

"Therefore I say that Radha does not deserve to be criticized. She is  praiseworthy in all respects. The campaka flower is born with its covering  and grows with it. They are not separate. Yet in time, when the campaka  gives up the covering, it is not considered a fault. So what is the fault  in Radha? Her friends are as dear as Her own life. Even if She appears to  leave Her friends, Radhika never breaks the bond of friendship."

Another friend of Candravali said, "O Syame! People on the same side never  see their own faults. Because of that, your speaking about Radha sounds  reasonable. But your assessment is not fair to all us gopis. The fact is  that She alone is mercilessly drinking the nectar of Krishna's lips, which  should be drunk by all of us. She is more skillful than the cakora bird.  Thus, seeing Radha's footprints does not give us any pleasure at all."

Then the associates of Radhika gazed at Her footprints, the object of  happiness for the eyes. This filled them with an emotional mixture of joy  and pride, but they could not manifest the ecstasy because of their  with­ered condition. Fixing their eyes on the dust, they walked forward  with a graceful gait. UpoT- 'osing sight of Radhika's footprints, which  remove all sorrow, they considered, "Oh, what is this? We cannot see Her  footprints over here! We only see the attractive footprints of Hari. It is  obvious that the sharp sprouts of grass hurt the tender soles of Her feet,  so Hari car­ried Her on His chest."

Another gopi said, "What you say is correct. Because Krishna is going  forward carrying Her on His chest, which She is relishing, His footprints  are sinking down in the soft sand. O beloved of Krishna, your achievement of  the highest love after many births of accumulated devotional actions is as  relishable as the bee licking the honey dripping from the head of a  love-maddened elephant. You must certainly have been overcome with the  variety of ecstatic emotions fructifying from Your ripened attachment.  Your lover has surely satisfied You by fulfilling all Your desires."

Seeing Candravali's face shriveling up from her comments, that gopi spoke  an aside in order to create peace with Her. She said, "Together we came  here, together we saw Hari, and together we heard His harsh words. Finally  we all enjoyed together with Him. Now rejecting us like useless grass, He  has put You on His chest and carried You away. This terrible act reveals  the vast extent of Your pious deeds. Therefore I say, we should not look  at Your footprints which only increase our suffering."


When the rival group of gopis saw Radhika's footprints again a little  further on they said, "Here we see that Krishna, being tired from carrying  the heavy weight, removed Radha, who is more beautiful than Laksmi, from  His chest and put Her down. Look here! There are two pairs of footprints  facing each other. They must have stood here speaking inti­mately. Look  here! It appears that they have placed their arms on each other's  shoulders and embraced. Being tired, they walked sluggishly here and  there." Absorbed in such thoughts, the rival party of gopis, due to  unwarranted envy, suddenly took on a harsh mood.

Being knowledgeable of spiritual love and endowed with friendship for Her,  the gopis supporting Radha did not consider themselves the least bit  unlucky. Seeing Radhika's extraordinary fortune filled them with  satis­faction. Expecting the fire of separation to end soon, the gopis  submerged in bliss.

Meeting again, all the gopis walked along while looking at the footprints.  In a short time they arrived at the pleasant bank of the Yamuna, which  appeared like the bosom of the earth washed by silvery water dripping from  the moon. Not seeing the complete footprints of Krishna, they consid­ered,  "We can no longer see the signs of a goad, flag, lotus, and thunder­bolt.  Here Krishna has left the impression of only the front part of His feet  because He stood on His toes to pick some flowers for His beloved." Seeing  a second set of footprints, they considered, "O look here! On the path of  white sand, sparkling like camphor, there are marks of His feet and the  mark of a fine lower cloth between them. But Radha's foot­prints are not  here. Certainly Krishna sat down here with His girlfriend on His lap to set  flowers in Her hair." Looking in another direction, they said, "How  amazing! Krishna desired to heighten the pleasure with an unseasonal  blossoming of bakula flowers and asoka flowers which was caused by Her  tears of love and the touch of Her foot. On Krishna's entreaty, Radhika  suddenly left His bosom with a desire to collect those flowers. See there,  Radha's aha (red coloring on feet) has marked the root of the asoka tree,  like a new sprout. Ouitting the delightful taste of the bakula flowers,  the bees are absorbed at the base of that tree, which has been moistened  by Radha's tears. From these signs we understand that Radhika-Syama are  nearby, so we should look for them here."


We will give the following explanation to destroy all false  interpreta­tions and establish the correct meaning of the Shrimad  Bhagavatam verse (10.30.34): reme taya catma-rata, atmaramo py akhanditah  kaminam darsayan dainyarh, strindm caiva duratmatam Sukadeva Gosvami said,  "Lord Krishna enjoyed with that gopi, although He enjoys only within, being  self-satisfied and complete in Himself. Thus by contrast He showed the  wretched-ness of ordinary lusty men and hard­hearted women."

Elaborating on this, Krishna said, "In this material world lusty men are  vile and lusty women are low. Though I am full of desire, I am not vile. I  am not a lusty person bound up by karmic reactions like ordinary men. But  I display seemingly lusty activities for the benefit of the fallen souls.  The gopis are not ordinary women. Being fortunate, they have attained My  direct association. Other than Me, all material sense enjoyers are vile.  Other than the gopis all other women are low."

By Krishna's mercy the gopis had attained the treasure of His association,  but then He renounced them and disappeared. Now that Supreme Lord, though  self-satisfied, became conquered by the continuous affection of the  surrendered gopis. He displayed His intimate conjugal pastimes in order to  receive the offering of their love.


Radha Dispels the Sorrow of the Gopis


The generous and softhearted Radhika, who is the rarest personality in all  time and space, waved like a victory flag among the fortunate women  endowed with auspicious qualities. Radha's ecstasy quickly diminished when  She thought that Her friends had been deprived of Krishna's associa­tion  during Her private delight with Him. She considered, "The Lord of My life  has shown attraction only for Me. How can My friends such as Lalita and  Visakha maintain their lives in separation from Krishna? There­fore, I will  play some tricks, so He will move slightly away from Me and then My  companions will be able to come and meet Me."

With this in mind, good-natured Radhika spoke to Krishna, "O ocean of  unlimited enjoyment and love! I am completely fatigued and cannot go any  further. I cannot walk anymore and I have no means to move for­ward.  Please carry Me wherever You want to go. The night has also deep­ened. O  supreme enjoyer! Let us just rest a while on the river bank."

To refute these words, Krishna pretended to be pained by them. Although by  nature Radha's statements seemed to be devoid of pride, Krishna took them  externally as an exhibition of pride. Accepting that such pride befits an  independent lover, Krishna thought, "This pleases My heart, but I will  respond to this show of pride by disappearing from Her." To enact the  pastime of trying to break Her pride, Krishna adopted a harsh mood. His eyes  reddened as He delivered words meant to break Her composure. Krishna said,  "Since we cannot find a palanquin here, please climb on My beautiful  raised shoulders." While saying this Krishna suddenly disappeared from  Radha's eyes.


Radha's Lamentation


The sweet clever talks of Radhika, which had engulfed the earth in a  nectarean wave of happiness, now turned into a wave of poison. The  fra­grant sandalwood pulp rubbed on Her body transformed into blazing  coals. The kajala decorating Her eyes turned into contaminated water. The  strands of Her pearl necklace lolled about like a snake. The betel nut  packets, which give a pleasing taste to the mouth, seemed like leaves from  a poison vine. The necklaces, belts and other artistically fashioned  accou-terments on Her body resembled crooked piles of sharp poison. Her  voice choked up and Her warm tears smeared Her kajala into a black line  drip­ping down Her breasts. Krishna's teasing broke Radhika's heart. The  pain was so sharp that She felt She was being sawed in half.


Then Radha spoke loudly, "O Lord! O giver of pleasure! O ocean of love!  Where are you? O beloved! Please be visible to Me! Though I know You are  here, I cannot see You. Because of this My life is full of suffering.  Hoping to attain You again, I cannot give up My life, yet out of  separa­tion, I cannot maintain my life. The pain of separation is getting  stronger and about to cut the shackles of hope maintaining My life. Please  give up Your anger, and appear before My eyes so that My life air does not  leave My body."

[In solitude, Radhika carried on the following imaginary conversation with  Krishna.]

Radha: "Krishna, if You say, 'What does it matter to Me if You give up Your  life?' Then I reply that You cannot say that, for You have great love for  Me and cannot bear My separation. If You do not appear, then You will have  to carry My dead body through the forests while weeping. This is the  truth."

Krishna: "I disappeared because of Your proud words, therefore, I am not at  fault."

Radha: "Neither am I at fault in this matter. You are angry because of My  pride, but I did not speak from pride. I spoke so that My friends could  catch up to us, not out of pride."

Krishna: "I disapprove such actions and cannot bear them."

Radha: "O Lord! Show your moonlike face, so that the pitiful state of

Your beloved will not be seen when My friends arrive at this spot. They  will die if they see Me in this state. Do not kill them. Show Yourself as  before, so that they do not condemn Your love. I cannot see any way that  You will be able to answer their criticism."

Krishna: "I left You, just as I left them. The same action will not yield  different results. I have equally rejected both You and them."

Radha: "Why have You acted so boldly, leaving Me alone in the forest?  Leaving them only produces misery, but leaving Me alone will kill Me. They  do not experience such misery because they are together, but I am all  alone. They remain alive by comforting each other with sweet words."  Krishna: "Why do You want to give up Your body, the abode of beauty and  sweetness?"

Radha: "Cursed is the night, without the moonlight. Cursed are the  lotuses, without the sun. Unfortunate is a person ignored by the lord of  Her life. The qualities You mentioned (beauty and sweetness) only dis­play  their perfection when enjoyed by the lover."

Taking the form of a snake, the pain of separation from Krishna entered the  cave of Radha's soft, sweet heart and bit that faultless person. Radha's  heart pained like the sky afflicted by the scorching summer sun. The agony  in Her body surged way beyond the breaking point. Her consciousness  rapidly faded as She tried desperately to understand Krishna's intentions,  As the tenth stage of ecstasy approached, Radhika succumbed to extreme  fainting fits, appearing like untimely visits of friends.

Out of shame and fear caused by Her love for Krishna, lotus-eyed Radha  restrained Her breathing and allowed only a little air to enter. Like a  wilted lotus stalk, Her body fell on the sandy earth. People will  criticize if one remains alive after being rejected by a lover. Radha's  love found per­fection in thinking only of Krishna's happiness. If She died,  He would la­ment. So to prevent that She kept breathing.

Then all the creepers of Vrndavana blew their sweet flower fragrances upon  Her. Swarms of bees fanned Her with vibrating wings. Birds cried and the  deer wept as they roamed about anxiously. In this way the forest dwellers  served Radha's mood. Radha's shadow was a bed of lotus petals and the  moonlight was a balm of sandalwood paste. Her lotus stem arms protected  Her sides, and Her swoon was a best friend skilled at removing the pangs  of sorrow.


The Gopis Meet Radhika


Meanwhile, the creepers indicated the anguished emotions of Radhika's  friends. The leaves fluttered about, as if beating their chests in grief.  The birds cried in loud voices and the flowers shed tears of honey. While  continuing to search out Krishna's path, the doe-eyed gopis discovered their  unhappy friend close by.Bewildered by separation from Her lover, Radha was  lying alone on the ground. She appeared like a lightning bolt fallen from  a cloudless sky, or like a  moonbeam dropped to the earth due to its heavy  weight. Radha looked like a garland of gold and jewels fallen from the  crown of the splendor of the three worlds, or like a wealth of gold  ejected suddenly from the earth. She seemed like a self-manifesting bowl  of fragrant kunkuma, or an attractive land lotus in the lap of the goddess  of the Vrndavana forest. Radhika appeared like a garland of campaka  flowers shot from Cupid's bow, the gorocana tilaka on the forehead of  mother earth, the flame of an oil lamp inside the house of a forest  goddess, or a celestial herbal creeper fallen on the earth.

Seeing Radhika lying there and considering various possibilities, they  said, "O look! There is the gopi whom the hard-hearted son of the king of  Vrndavana took away after rejecting us. Then feeling such favoritism  un­fair, He disappeared, leaving Her alone like a cloud without lightning,  a moon without light, or a jewel without sparkle."


In choked voices, Lalita and other sakhis said, "If that is so, how could  the son of the king of Vrndavana just reject Her? How could He just leave  Her, helpless as a little plant and as delicate as the bud of aparmarga,  alone to suffer in separation? But it is not possible that He has left Her  alone. It seems that after lengthy enjoyment, our friend has fallen asleep  out of fatigue. He must be waiting nearby trembling in apprehension.  Although He is close by, due to misfortune we cannot see Him."


One gopi said, "But if He was nearby, we could detect His presence by His  fragrance."      

Bhadra gopi replied, "Perhaps, He detected our quiet footsteps and left  out of displeasure."

Syama-sakhi said, "Listen, if that is so, why didn't He take His beloved  with Him as before?"

Finding fault in Radha, Candravali said, "On seeing Her pride and lack of  good manners, our beloved did not take Her with Him."

Syama-sakhi replied, "That cannot be, for our beloved cannot be so crude  and distasteful as to leave Her alone, burning in the forest fire of  separation."

Doubting the identity of the gopi lying on the ground, and in order to  break the argument over Radha's condition, some other sakhi spoke, "It  seems that this is not Radha, for we cannot see Krishna here. We are  mis­taken to think that this is Radha. In order to break our pride, a  goddess named Madhuri, who spreads illusion over the world, has appeared  here with all her attractiveness."

Saying this and moving closer, they gopis argued amongst themselves  saying, "That cannot be Radharani, for She is lying there like a wilted  lotus stem. Her heart does not seem to be beating, even slowly. Is this  not the embodiment of karuna rasa (mellow of pity)? Is this not our friend  Murccha (fainting), separated from Her beloved?"

Seeing them coming, Radha's friend Murccha, feeling somewhat upset at that  moment, left Radharani. Standing nearby, the gopis thought what to do  next. After Murccha-devi departed, Radha, like a person uncon­scious of  her surroundings upon rising from sleep, exclaimed in a choked voice, "O  Lord, where are You?" Then She glanced at the assembly of friends  surrounding Her.


"This is certainly Radha," said the gopis. They stood around Radhika  feeling a mixture of joy, respect, astonishment, and disappointment. The  gopis looked like silent ducks around a golden lotus, or like all the  rivers meeting the Ganges. They resembled all the ingredients of rasa  (yibhava, anubhava, sattvika bhava) merging in sthayi bhava, or like all  the srutis combining to make the seven notes. The gopis surrounding  Radhika could be compared to the ornaments, qualities, and emotions evoked  in a skill­ful poem, the metaphors used in a building up a comparison,  cakori birds collecting rays of the moon, flocks of birds attracted to a  fresh garden, or like lotuses blossoming in a lake. Lalita fanned Radha with bunches of fresh leaves, while others bound up  Radhika's hair and wiped the tears from Her face. Candravali said, "How  did You fall into the same awkward position that we are in? Where is that  cheater, the Lord who put our lives in danger?"

Then a neutral party of gopis, inclined to the opposite party, spoke in  pure friendship, "Krishna rejected us because of You, and then took You away  to this lonely place. However our fever of separation abated upon  realizing You caused His disappearance. But now that fever of separation  has doubled, seeing that He left You as well. It gives us great suffering  to see You in this miserable condition."

Radhika's supporters said, "O Sumukhi (beautiful faced one)! Neither Your  thoughts nor Your words are deficient. You are famous throughout the  universe as being the mine of all jewel-like qualities. The world knows  the exalted state of love that You cherish for Krishna."

Dhanya-sakhi and other young gopis said, "O Sumukhi! Seeing the ex­tent of  Your torment, our suffering has diminished. It is well known that a  greater poison destroys the potency of a poison, which cannot be  coun­teracted by medicine. O Radha, what is the cause of Your suffering?"

Syama-sakhi said, "O friends! Why should you interrogate Radha like this?  Such love is Her very nature. Who has the power to understand that love?  For those in love, this poison is equal to life-giving  nectar.Simultaneously, it gives one the greatest suffering and the  greatest en­joyment. It causes one to faint and restores one to  life."After the gopis had spoken, Radha, appreciating their sincere  efforts, told them everything that had happened to Her in a soft sweet  manner. While shedding warm tears, She revealed the intentions of Her  heart, which is a golden bowl of prema. The gopis intently listened to Her  in great astonishment. Then keeping Radha in front, all the gopis searched  for Krishna in order to reduce the fever of their minds. They entered the  forest as far as the light of the moon shone. But when they found  them­selves engulfed in darkness, they lost hope and decided to turn back.

While leaving the dense forest, the gopis absorbed their minds in thoughts  of Krishna. They vowed to see Him as they loudly sang the glories of Krishna's  transcendental qualities. Then they broke down crying and softly mur­mured  about Him. The loud humming of a swarm of bees agitated from smelling  Krishna's fragrant mouth suddenly broke their trance of love.

The gopis again came to the bank of the Yamuna. Walking along, they  arrived at an auspicious strand of dazzling white sand, finer and softer  than camphor dust. They sat down together and sang about Krishna for some  time. The sweetness of their song, the essence of love in separation,  could melt a heart of stone and attract the hearts of the mountains, trees  and creepers. How else can that sweetness be described? Even if it could  be described, the goddess of speech herself could not do it, because her  voice would become choked up. As parrots imitate the words of humans  without understanding the meaning, I simply repeat the words of Sukadeva.