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Krishna and Balarama meet the inhabitants of Vrindavana.
Once, while Krishna and Balarama were residing at Dvaraka, it was known that there would soon be a total solar eclipse, and so all prominent persons decided to assemble at the holy place called Samanta-panchaka, located at Kurukshetra. This holy place is where Parashurama performed sacrifices, after killing the kshatriyas twenty-one times and then digging five deep lakes that he filled with their blood.
Leaving only a few persons to protect Dvaraka, like Aniruddha and Kritavarma, the Yadus travelled to Kurukshetra on chariots and elephants, accompanied by their wives, who were riding on palanquins. Upon their arrival at Samanta-panchaka, the Yadavas ceremoniously bathed and then began to fast for the period of the eclipse, just to become freed from all sinful reactions. Afterwards, they distributed as much charity as possible to the brahmanas, and then fed them sumptuously.
Although all of these activities appear to be fruitive, the Yadus performed them in a spirit of devotion to the Lord. After receiving the brahmanas’ permission, the Yadus also had their lunch and then rested beneath large, shady trees.
After arising, everyone prepared to meet their friends and relatives, of whom the residents of Vrindavana were prominent. Having lived for a long time in great anxiety, due to separation from Krishna and Balarama, the inhabitants of Vrindavana had taken advantage of the solar eclipse to come and see the two Lords. The residents of Vrindavana and the members of the Yadu dynasty were intimate friends, and so their meeting, after such a long period of separation, was very touching. Indeed, they all appeared very jubilant, as if regaining their very lives.
While remaining speechless due to ecstasy, they embraced one another to their hearts’ content for a considerable time, while tears glided down from their eyes. With faces appearing like freshly blooming lotus flowers, they inquired of one another’s welfare, although their talks were always related to Lord Krishna.
Kuntidevi met her brother, Vasudeva, as well as other relatives, and while talking with them, she forgot her sorrows. Kuntidevi narrated the story of how she had been banished, along with her sons, due to the mischievous plans of Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana, and she lovingly accused her brother of forgetting her throughout her period of suffering.
Vasudeva replied, “Dear sister, please do not be angry with us. Being harassed by Kansa, we could not pass our lives freely. But now, by the grace of Providence, we have been able to resume our normal lives. After all, we are ordinary people and thus playthings in the hands of destiny. Whether a person acts on his own, or is forced to act by others, he is always under the Supreme Lord’s control.”
All of the royalty present, including Bhishma, Drona, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and her sons, the Pandavas and their wives, Kunti, Vidura, Kripacharya, Kuntibhoja, Virata, Bhishmaka, Drupada, Shalya, Dhrishtaketu, Kekaya, Yudhamanyu, and Bahlika, were highly gratified to see Lord Krishna standing before them, along with His consorts. They all came to meet Krishna and Balarama, and were greatly honored by Them.
These kings glorified the Yadu dynasty as follows: “You alone among men have achieved a truly exalted birth, for you continuously behold Lord Krishna, who is rarely seen even by great yogis. Although the earth’s good fortune was ravaged by time, the touch of His lotus feet has revitalized her. The Supreme Lord, who makes one forget the goals of heaven and liberation, has now entered into marital and blood relationships with you. Because of this, you see and touch Him directly, you walk beside Him, converse with Him,- and together with Him, lie down to rest, sit at ease or have your meals.”
When Vasudeva met Nanda Maharaja, they embraced with great joy. At this time, Vasudeva informed Nanda of how he had taken baby Krishna to Vrindavana for His safety. Krishna and Balarama then came and bowed down to Nanda and Yashoda. Picking up their two sons, Nanda and Yashoda placed Them upon their laps and embraced Them to their full satisfaction, thus mitigating their pangs of separation. Rohini and Devaki then embraced Mother Yashoda and expressed their gratitude for her having raised their sons, while admitting, “You are Krishna and Balarama’s real parents.”
No one can even imagine how anxious the gopis were to see Krishna once again. As soon as Krishna became visible to them, the gopis took Him into their hearts through their eyes and embraced Him to their full satisfaction, so that they completely forgot themselves. Being situated in the gopis’ hearts, Krishna reciprocated by embracing them from within.
Krishna had been sitting with His mothers, but when they began to talk amongst themselves, He took the opportunity to meet the gopis and take them to a secluded place.
There, Krishna happily embraced the gopis and inquired about their welfare. The Lord said, “My dear girlfriends, do you still remember Me? It was for the sake of My relatives that I stayed away so long, intent upon destroying My enemies. Do you consider Me ungrateful? Do not forget- it is the Supreme Lord who brings us together and then separates us.”
“By rendering devotional service to the Lord, anyone can transcend the condition of material duality. By your good fortune, you have developed a very special loving attachment for Me. I am the beginning, middle and end of all created beings, and I exist within and without them, just as the elements earth, water, fire and air do. In this way, you can understand that there is really no separation between us, and thus remain undisturbed.”
The gopis replied, “Dear Lord, Your lotus feet are the only shelter for those who have fallen into the deep well of material existence. We wish that these lotus feet may become awakened within our hearts, although we are ordinary women engaged in household affairs.”
In spite of their long separation from Krishna, the gopis were not interested in going with Him to reside in Dvaraka. They preferred to remain in Vrindavana, where they would still feel Krishna’s presence at every step. At this time, the gopis invited Lord Krishna to return to Vrindavana, and this emotion is the basic principle of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings, as well as the emotional process of Rathayatra. Actually, Krishna never leaves Vrindavana, and the gopis and other residents also remain there, fully satisfied in Krishna consciousness.