By the causeless mercy of the Guru-varga we have been hearing this Rasa-pancadhyayi.(Ch 30 verse 12) When the Lord distances himself from some person, no one will give that person any love, affection, or mercy. When the Lord is pleased with someone then everyone’s mercy will naturally flow to him. The Lord’s potency and the Lord’s associates will all give all mercy to a person to whom the Lord is pleased.

GOPI’S PRAY TO THE TREES AND CREEPERS 

The gopis prayed to all the different plants, trees, creepers, deer, Tulasi, and even the earth herself. They begged for everyone’s mercy. However no-one fulfilled their heart’s desire, they would not say where Sri Krsna was. The gopis were moving in the forest searching for Krsna and thinking of the Lord. They asked and prayed to everything in Vraja and in this way they moved forward.

They arrived in one place and they saw the plants and creepers were all bowing down, it was as if they had met Krsna and were all bowing down in some ecstatic mood. They also saw that Krsna was not alone. They saw a second pair of footprints and  they understood that someone else was with Krsna. For example when Krsna entered the rasa-mandala He was wearing a Tulasi mala and a Vaijayanti mala. Here it is said that from Krsna’s flower garland, some flowers had fallen on the path while He was wandering with His beloved. They thought for certain that Krsna must be nearby because they could see His footprints and were able to smell the fragrance of the flowers.

TAKING SHELTER OF THAT PERSON WHO IS DEAR TO THE LORD 

Now they thought, “Who is so fortunate to be with Sri Krsna? Who is so fortunate that Sri Krsna took her with Him?” The meaning is that we should take shelter of that person who is extremely dear to the Lord. Then by their mercy, we will certainly get the mercy of the Lord and He will accept us as His own. As long as we are not in the shelter of His beloved, then the Lord will not accept us, we will not be able to control Him or conquer Him with our love, He will not give us His darsana and relationship. But who is dear to Him?

The gopis were now considering this. They no longer had any jealousy or pride in their good fortune, they had a mood of surrender or saranagati. Those gopis who were in Radharani’s party – vipaksa – they were very happy seeing the second pair of footprints knowing they were Radharani’s footprints. But they would not say this or reveal it to anyone not in their own group.

However they knew this was Radharani. When they moved forward they continued speaking. They said, “Oh sakhis, let us ask these creepers here. They have embraced their husbands, the trees, and they are experiencing pulaka and romanca – ecstatic symptoms. Certainly they have been touched by Sri Krsna, they have so much good fortune.”

The meaning here is that they could see in this world, any object, substance, or any person anywhere, if the foot-dust of the Lord or His devotees and dear ones, have not touched them, they will be very sad because of being distanced from the Lord. Happiness will never be able to reach them. At all times they will have many varieties of anxiety and worry, they will never be become one-pointed, and will not be able to take shelter of mantra. When one takes shelter of mantra and worships the presiding deity of the mantra, they will be connected to Paramatma, the Supersoul, and will have this spiritual happiness. Those who are connected to the Lord, or those upon whom the mercy of the Lord is showered upon, they will have no lacking of anything. All kinds of happiness are naturally present with them.

CREEPERS EMBRACING THEIR HUSBANDS THE TREES 

Now when the gopis saw that in this forest everyone was happy, everyone was very pleased, especially the creepers, who do not have the power to climb themselves, so they take the shelter of the branches and the trunks of the tree to climb up to the light. They saw that the Lord had taken some flowers and leaves from the creepers, and because Krsna had touched them, then they began to experience romanca, pulaka, sveda, and vaivarnya – changing of color, hairs standing on end, shivering and so forth. These are the different symptoms of ecstasy. They thought, “Oh Krsna has touched you. You are so fortunate! You have achieved the presence of the Lord and because you are so dear to him, you have achieved everything, and there is nothing remaining to be gained.”

We may endeavor so much and try so hard to be free of worldly attachments and to be liberated, but it is very difficult. However when we offer our minds and hearts to the Lord and the Lord accepts us, then it is possible, otherwise it is not possible to achieve liberation or freedom from bondage in this world.

So the gopis said, “Oh sakhi, oh friend, just look how the creepers are embracing their husbands the trees. They are always with the trees and never separate from the branches and trunks. They cannot climb up to the open light and cannot be protected from the storms and heavy winds and so forth. Therefore they are always taking shelter of the trees which are like their husbands. Without the shelter of their husbands they would be destroyed, therefore they are always present with them. However they are not as happy with their husbands as when Krsna touches them. A wife with the help of her husband, can always be happy but she will not be free of all misfortune. But when you have a relationship with Krsna the soul of all souls – Paramatma – at that time all ecstatic symptoms will manifest, such as hairs standing on end, shivering and so forth.

However much proximity you obtain to things that give you worldly happiness, still you are not able to remain happy. And these objects do not have the quality to be able to please you permanently. There is only the false image or fantasy that, “I will be happy by these objects.” But really you are in an ocean of misery or the prison of sadness, and unable to escape.

SEEING THE FOOTPRINTS OF KRSNA AND HIS BELOVED 

Jiva Goswami explains that when the Vraja-devis went along the path and saw the footprints of their beloved Sri Krsna, they had some inspiration come into their hearts that Krsna has gone with one of His dear beloveds, He has not gone alone. Krsna cannot hide anywhere alone. He has definitely gone alone with the one who is the most dear to Him. If Krsna would have taken everyone with Him then the freedom and happiness that they would experience alone would have some obstacle, therefore Krsna went alone to hide with her.

Those who were the svapaksa gopis were very happy seeing Radharani was with Krsna. But the vipaksa gopis – those who were opposed to Radharani – were thinking, “Oh who this special gopi that is so dear to Krsna that He took her aside and went to hide with her? Otherwise why would the Lord go separately? He is in everyone’s heart, He doesn’t have any shyness, why would He have to go alone to a hidden place with someone? He was with all of us, so why would He have to leave all of us and take one separately, alone? There must be some gopi who has worshiped Him so much and performed so much strong austerity.

What austerity has she performed? What worship has she performed by which the Lord Himself, in order to please her, has left the rasa dance alone with her, and is worshiping and serving her? How exalted she is and how exalted her worship must be that the Lord Himself is worshiping her.

Sukadeva Goswami wanted to indicate here to Pariksit Maharaja about Radharani’s glories. After explaining all these pastimes he is now showing him how to take proper shelter. Otherwise if you go here and there and take shelter of ordinary people, or an unqualified person then the Lord’s mercy will not fall upon you, and you cannot become dear to Him. If you take shelter of someone who is extremely dear to the Lord, then the Lord will be naturally pleased with you, and He will accept you as His own.

FLOWERS, TREES, CREEPERS TOUCHED BY KRSNA 

Therefore the example here is that the creeper takes shelter of the branches of the trees, embracing them as they go up into the air and light. So in this world everyone thinks that they will stay together and be happy and be pleased always. But it is never possible. No one is your prana-priyatama-paramatma. No one is the soul of your soul and your dearly beloved. You can never find a relation in this world that would compare to having a relationship with Sri Krsna – Paramatma – the soul of your soul.

Therefore the flowers, creepers and trees that were touched by Krsna felt Krsna to be their beloved. They were so happy that the ecstatic symptoms began to manifest within them. At that time the gopis saw the indications of these manifestations of the bliss on the trees, plants and creepers. If someone has some material desire within them then the eightfold manifestations of bliss cannot manifest, such as hairs standing on end, choked voice, change of color etc. desires.

THE LORDS RELATION IS ETERNAL, CAN NEVER BE BROKEN

In this world there is no beginning and no end to material desires. When we are born we have desire, and when we die we still have desires. Whatever we take in this world will have some end. Nothing can be permanent in this world. But these material substances can never satisfy us. Therefore we are always hankering for material things that do not satisfy us because they are jada – inert – and are temporary. So they cannot give satisfaction to the soul.

The gopis were thinking of Sri Krsna, meditating on Him and searching for him and were extremely sad by the affliction of separation. However, within they still had some ullasa – exhalation and joy because of remembrance of the Lord. If there is no ullasa then you cannot give something up. In this world if someone is very sad or if their partner or family member has died they will be sad for some time, but after a while they will usually forget, generally speaking, and move on.

But after making a relationship with the Lord one can never be separate from Him. Why? Because they are so absorbed in bliss by that relationship. In this world such bliss cannot be found. If a person has left someone or been forsaken by someone, it is like killing the relationship, after some time it will be completely destroyed. Their ullasa or happiness in that relationship does not last forever. But relation with the Lord is eternal and once you have established that it can never be broken, as we heard previously.

GOPIS IN DEEP SEPERATATION, IMITATE THE LORD’S PASTIMES 

Sukadeva Goswami said, “Oh Pariksit Maharaja these gopis who were completely maddened in love for Krsna and searching for Him here and there. They were lamenting in the deep affliction of separation from the Lord. Then they became hopeless thinking they had lost everything. They lost all their pride. Then in extreme absorption of Sri Krsna, thinking of Him in a deep meditative state they began to meditate and imitate His different pastimes.

Sridhara Swami asks here, what is the nature of the gopis? They became fully absorbed in Sri Krsna and they became maddened in love while searching for Him and they began to re-enact and imitate Sri Krsna’s pastimes.

Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu says in his commentary that because of the sadness of their separation it took on a huge powerful form. Before the gopis were singing  Krsna’s pastimes in loud voices. Now deeply absorbed in Sri Krsna, they also imitated His pastimes being one-at-heart with Sri Krsna or tadatmika.

They therefore began to exhibit all of Krsna’s pastimes and gave up their own separate moods. They began to lift up their shawls and exhibit the pastime of lifting Giriraja and they said to one another, “Oh gopis! I am Krsna! Look at me! I am standing in the three-fold bending form below the kadamba tree.” As they imitated the pastimes of Krsna then Krsna’s forms and moods began to reflect within them and they became fully absorbed, like maddened. Some gopis thought, “I am Yasoda Mata and I am feeding Sri Krsna and fondling my beloved Sri Krsna,” and they became absorbed in this mood. One gopi, catching hold of another, began to chastise Krsna. In this way they began to exhibit the different pastimes of the different rasas of Vraja. The different moods of the Vraja-basis filled up their hearts.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that when the creepers who were touched by Krsna did not respond to the gopis, the gopis thought they could not speak because they were so maddened in love having been touched by Krsna. They were like unconscious in love. They asked the creepers but received no response from them.

GOPIS MOOD OF DEEP ABSORTION IN KRSNA’S PASTIMES 

Then they moved from one place to another and at one point they became unable to search any further because of the their deep powerful affliction of separation, they forgot who they were. Because of their full absorption in Krsna they began to imitate Krsna’s pastimes, meaning they began to think of themselves as Krsna. This is the symptom of extreme separation. They began to experience this in such deep absorption that they forgot their separation and began to experience Krsna-rasa as if they were Krsna themselves. They were so absorbed and in exhibiting Krsna’s pastimes Yogamaya took away any pratikula-bhava – untoward mood – and they developed an anukula or favorable mood. They began to imitate different pastimes like Putana and so forth.

Sukadeva Goswami said, “Oh Pariksit Maharaja I am telling you a very secret thing so please listen. You stayed in worldly household life amidst your father, mother, brother, and friends. You also had many uncles, aunts, grandfathers, and grandmothers, that surrounded you. They thought, “I am a soldier,” another thought, “I am a proprietor,” and once they became absorbed in these different roles, then the various moods of the world entered them. But for the gopis who were fully absorbed in Krsna, no material mood or pastime came within them, only Krsna’s pastimes entered their minds and hearts.”

“Oh King, in this world, the conceptions and moods will not go far away unless you become tadatmika – one-at-heart in absorption in the Lord. Until you completely submerse yourself in the pastimes of Sri Krsna, being fully absorbed in remembering them, doing kirtan of them, hearing them, then in this way you can be separated from material affairs. When these pastimes manifest in your heart and you begin to imitate them or exhibit them spontaneously, then at that time Sri Krsna is not far away.”

One gopi then took the role of Putana and another took the role of Krsna and sat on the other gopis chest. One gopi took the role of baby Krsna crying and another gopi was His mother. One gopi became like Sakatasura and another was like Krsna in the crib. Because of their full absorption in Krsna the gopis were meditating on different pastimes and began to re-enact them.

Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu says that because of their full absorption in Krsna they began to imitate the different pastimes of Krsna and Putana. When Putana came to Vraja, on seeing Krsna she could not leave Vraja. She took Krsna in her arms and left with Him. However Krsna did not want to go with her, He did not want to leave the Vraja-basis. So one gopi climbed on another gopi and began to re-enact this pastime.

GOPI’S MOOD SEPARATE FROM ANY MATERIALISM 

One gopi began to weep and imitate the other pastimes of Sri Krsna and another gopi began to take the position of Sri Krsna in the cart and the other gopi imitated Sakatasura. One gopi became like baby Krsna and another took the role of Trinavarta and picked up Krsna showing she was stealing Krsna. This was not like some theater performance. One may do like this for some time but if it is not continuous, then again some material mood will come, and you will still be remaining in the material world. But the gopis were in the transcendental world in their spiritual moods and were separate from any materialism.

Sridhara Swami says that Trinavarta came to Vraja and at that time he first hid his form. He was hidden within the midst of the tornado and the air was filled with dirt and stones that were flying here and there. In this way he was hidden amidst that whirling tornado. He thought, “I will take Krsna away from Vraja.” However even though Trinavarta hid his form, he could not hide from Krsna.

The gopis said, “Oh Trinavarta took Krsna away, but Krsna embraced His neck and manifested his form. He choked him and then he left that body and took on a spiritual form. So the gopis thought, “We will also find Krsna. He is hiding somewhere.” Then one gopi sat down like Krsna then another gopi picked her up and then took her like Trinavarta took Krsna from the courtyard of Krsna. Krsna has ankle-bells, and one gopi began to walk and tried to attract Krsna with the sound of His ankle-bells. Krsna is present everywhere, in the heart, and outside as well. The gopis however re-enacted all these pastimes.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that the Trinavarta demon stole Krsna and left with Him however the gopis thought, “Oh Krsna has left. He will manifest Himself again, like when Trinavarta took Him He did not stay hidden for long. He again manifested.” One gopi became Krsna and another gopi became Balarama and other gopis became like cowherd boys and they began to play like this. Also some gopis became like calves and another gopi became like Vatsasura. One gopi became like Krsna and began to play with the other sakhas. One gopi became Bakasura – the crane demon – and another gopi became Krsna and they re-enacted this pastime.

GOPIS BECOMING ONE WITH KRSNA IS NOT MERGING INTO BRAHMAN 

In the Vaisnava-tosani Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu explains that the gopis began to exhibit these pastimes. This is not ahangra-upasana like brahmavadis and mayavadis who try to think I am God. They think, “Oh the gopis became like Krsna, we will also do spiritual practice and then we will become the impersonal Lord. We will become brahman.” They want to merge into brahman. However here the gopis who began to imitate Krsna’s pastimes did not become brahman. Their individuality remained. They imitated Krsna’s pastimes but did not become Krsna. Krsna nourished them with His rasa, and this rasa was always present with them. They did not lose this madhurya-rasa.

For example, someone may get a degree after passing his exams from studying. He may have gotten so much respect from his degree but that does not mean he has forgotten all his education. It is not like one passes the test then forgets everything. If it is really with him he can even teach it to others and help them get degrees. He can make others others qualified by his own qualification.

KRSNA’S RASA – MOODS ENTER THE GOPIS 

At the time of rasa-lila Krsna met with all the gopis, embraced them, danced and sang with all of them. At that time Krsna’s rasa entered within them and because of this they were able to experience and know all the transcendental moods when the time came to imitate His pastimes. In this way they performed the pastime of Krsna taking the cows and calves out to graze, with some gopis becoming the sakhas and some gopis becoming the calves and so forth. Krsna would take the calves and sakhas from one forest to another, whilst playing the flute. In this way the gopis, thinking themselves like Krsna began to play the flute and they appeared like they were calling the cows and calves. Other gopis would come and glorify those gopis.

Sridhara Swami says that when the cows go far away, Krsna plays His flute and calls the different groups of cows to Him, and they immediately come. They stop grazing and immediately run to Krsna. So when the gopis did this it was not like some type of drama, it was a natural and spontaneous re-enactment. One gopi would take the role of Krsna and play the flute and the other gopis would take the role of cows and run to Krsna.

This is called anubhava – absorption in experience of Sri Krsna’s pastimes. In this way they began to imitate His pastimes. One gopi began playing the flute and attracted everyone to her like she was Krsna, then the other gopis began to glorify her.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from an up and coming Bhaktabandav book publication, “Rasa Pancadhyayi”. For more info contact: rasik@kripa.tv )