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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.
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."
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.
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.