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The gopis search for Krishna.
When Krishna suddenly disappeared, the gopis became very sad. Their only solace was to remember Krishna- His movements and loving smiles, His playful glances and enchanting talks. While thus absorbed in thoughts of Krishna, the gopis began to act out His various pastimes.
So deeply did the gopis become absorbed in thinking of Krishna that their bodies automatically imitated His way of moving, His smiling, His way of looking at them, His speech and other distinctive features. Becoming maddened by remembering His pastimes, the gopis declared to one another, “I am Krishna!” Indeed, it was as if the gopis could actually see the very pastimes of Krishna before them.
As the gopis wandered about in the forest, searching for Krishna like a band of madwomen, they began to inquire from the trees: “O ashvattha, O ashoka, O naga and champaka, have you seen Krishna? That son of Nanda Maharaja has gone away after stealing our minds with His loving smiles and glances. Has the younger brother of Balarama passed this way?”
“O tulasi, to whom Govinda is so dear- have you seen Him walk by, wearing your leaves and encircled by swarms of bees? O malati, O mallika- has Madhava gone by here, giving you pleasure with the touch of His hand? O bilva, O arka, O kadamba, bakula and amra, who are living here on the banks of the Yamuna, You have dedicated your existence for the welfare of others. Please tell us gopis, who have lost our minds, where Krishna has gone.”
Because Krishna always walks upon the earth, she is never separated from Him. Thinking like this, the gopis inquired, “O Mother Earth, what austerity did you perform to attain the touch of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, which has brought you such great joy that your bodily hairs are standing on end?”
“O wife of the deer, has Lord Achyuta been here with His beloved, bringing great joy to your eyes? Blowing this way is the fragrance of His garland of kunda flowers, which was smeared with kunkum from the breasts of His girlfriend when He embraced Her.”
“O trees, we see that you are bowing down. When the younger brother of Balarama walked by here, did He acknowledge your obeisances with His affectionate glances? He must have been resting His arm on the shoulder of His beloved and carrying a lotus flower in His other hand.”
Being distraught and fatigued because of searching for Krishna, the gopis began to enact His pastimes as follows: One gopi imitated Putana, while another acted like baby Krishna and pretended to suck her breast. Another gopi imitated infant Krishna and kicked a gopi who played the role of the cart demon, Shakatasura. One gopi became Trinavarta and carried away another gopi who acted like infant Krishna. Two gopis imitated Krishna and Balarama in the midst of the other gopis, who were playing like cowherd boys. One gopi enacted the pastime of killing Vatsasura and a pair of gopis acted out the killing of Bakasura.
When one gopi perfectly imitated how Krishna would call the cows that had wandered far away, how He would play His flute, and how He would engage in various sports, the others congratulated her with exclamations of “Well done! Well done!”
“Don’t be afraid of the wind and rain,” one gopis said, “I will save you.” And with that, she lifted her shawl above her head.
One gopi climbed on another gopi’s shoulders and, putting her foot on that gopi’s head, said, “Go away from here, O wicked serpent! You should know that I have appeared in this world just to punish the envious.”
Then, another gopi spoke up, “My dear cowherd boys, quickly close your eyes and I shall protect you from this raging forest fire.”
While the gopis were imitating Krishna’s pastimes and inquiring about His whereabouts, they happened to see His footprints and said, “The marks of a flag, lotus, thunderbolt, elephant goad, barleycorn and so forth on these footprints clearly distinguish them as belonging to the son of Nanda Maharaja.”
The gopis followed the path shown by Krishna’s footprints. Then, when they saw His footprints intermingled with those of His dearmost consort, they became perturbed and spoke as follows: “Here we see the footprints of some gopi who must have been walking along with the son of Nanda Maharaja. He must have put His arm on Her shoulder. Certainly, this gopi has perfectly worshiped Govinda, for He was so pleased with Her that He abandoned the rest of us and brought Her to a secluded place.” (The word aradhitah in this verse refers to Shrimati Radharani.)
“My dear friends, the footprints of this special gopi greatly disturb us. Of all the gopis, She alone was taken away to a secluded place, where She is enjoying Krishna’s lips. Look, we cannot see Her footprints over here! It is obvious that the twigs and pebbles were hurting the tender soles of Her feet, so that the lover has lifted up His beloved.”
“Look! In this place, Krishna’s footprints are pressed more deeply into the ground. Carrying His beloved on His shoulders must have been difficult for Him. Over here, that intelligent boy must have put Her down to gather some flowers. Here, He has left the impressions of only the front part of His lotus feet because He was standing on His toes to collect flower high in the trees. Certainly, Krishna sat down here with His beloved girlfriend to arrange the flowers in Her hair. The lusty boy must have made a crown for that lusty girl, out of the flowers that He had collected.”
Lord Krishna enjoyed with that gopi- even though He is self-satisfied, enjoys unlimitedly within, and is complete in Himself. Thus, by contrast, He showed the wretchedness of ordinary lusty men and hardhearted women.
As the gopis wandered about, searching for Krishna, they imagined His pastimes with His special gopi as follows: The particular gopi that Krishna took to a secluded place in the forest, after abandoning all the other girls, began to think of Herself as the best of all women. “My beloved has rejected all others,” she thought, “and has chosen to reciprocate with Me alone.”
Feeling very proud she told Lord Keshava, “I cannot walk any further. Please carry Me wherever You like.”
Lord Krishna replied, “Just climb onto My shoulder” but as soon as He said this, He disappeared. His beloved consort felt great remorse, crying out, “O master! O lover! O dearmost, where are You? Please, O mighty-armed one, O friend, show Yourself to Me, Your poor servant!”
While wandering in the forest, the gopis came upon their friend nearby, bewildered by separation from Her lover. She explained how Madhava had giver Her much respect, but then, due to her misbehavior, she was abandoned. The gopis were amazed to hear all this.
All together the gopis continued their search, but when the forest became too dense so that the moonlight didn’t penetrate, it was completely dark. Thus, the gopis decided to turn back.
While conversing about Krishna and acting out His pastimes, the gopis’ minds remained absorbed in Him. Completely forgetting about their homes, they loudly sang of Krishna’s glories, and in this way, they came back to the shore of the Kalindi. While praying for Krishna’s return, they sat down there in a group.