Krsna stayed with the Vrajavāsīs for ten years in Vraja-dhāma. He was very pleased and He pleased everyone there. But we all know how Akrūra came. He told Kṛṣṇa that His parents were Devakī and Vāsudeva. But how was this possible, Kṛṣṇa asked. Agreed, Baladeva was the son of Vāsudeva and Rohiṇī, but Kṛṣṇa was certainly the son of Nanda and Yaśodā. Regardless, Akrūra convinced Kṛṣṇa that He should go to help the Yādavas, free Vāsudeva and Devakī from their imprisonment, and deal with Kaṁsa. Kṛṣṇa reluctantly accepted. However, Nanda Baba, the sakhās, and all the Vrajavāsīs also wanted to go with Kṛṣṇa, if Baladeva and He must travel to Mathurā. Finally, the sakhās and Nanda Baba went with Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva to Mathurā. We know how Kaṁsa was killed, along with his demonic followers. Ugrasena became king. But he was aged. Vāsudeva and Devakī and other imprisoned Yādavas were brought out of prison.
The Yādavas worried that Kṛṣṇa would again leave to Vraja. They discussed amongst themselves, saying, “It is our good fortune that Kṛṣṇa has come back to Mathurā; let us not let Him leave again.” They met together and conspired what to do. Vāsudeva requested Kṛṣṇa, taking Him in his lap, and saying, “You are our protector, our everything. Kaṁsa disturbed us Yādavas and Vṛṣṇis so much. And Your aunt, Kuntī, and her sons, the Pāṇḍavas, have been mistreated by the Kurus and outcasted from their rightful kingdom. You should help and protect the Pāṇḍavas. You are always playing in Vraja and caring for the cows and animals of Vraja, but what about us? Are we not Your relatives? Please stay here with us. Forget Vraja. Your cousins the Pāṇḍavas are suffering so much, and so many people are suffering from demons in this world. Please stay and take care of us, and destroy the demons.”
The other Yādavas also requested Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva to stay and told Them how They were born, were transferred to Vraja to be hidden from Kaṁsa, and so forth. In this way, the Yādavas tried to arrest Kṛṣṇa and keep Him with them. They knew all śāstra. During this Puruṣottama month, they performed a strong vrata. For twenty years, Devakī and Vāsudeva were in jail doing austerity. Purusottama-vrata came during this time. Nava-kalevara of Lord Jagannātha is performed during Puruṣottama month every twenty years. This is the time Kṛṣṇa appeared in Mathurā. Before, Kṛṣṇa was in Vraja-dhāma, but then He came to Mathurā, and liberated Devakī and Vāsudeva from their imprisonment of twenty years. Kṛṣṇa appeared at this time for the benefit of everyone. Before His appearance was very hidden. Now, everyone came and took shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa declared that He would or could not reject anyone who took shelter of Him. But what of the Vrajavāsīs?
The Yādavas said, “The Vrajavāsīs have no problem. The wealth of the Vrajavāsīs is their cows; there is plenty of green grass for them. Nanda Mahārāja and his followers have no problem. The gopīs and gopas work very hard and have no difficulty. If you protect the Vṛṣṇis and Yādavas, this will be pleasing to the Vrajavāsīs. They are very kind and always help us in the time of our difficulties.” Thus the Yādavas spoke to Kṛṣṇa.
During this Puruṣottama month, Devakī and Vāsudeva were always thinking about Kṛṣṇa in their cells. Kṛṣṇa then appeared and freed them. Kṛṣṇa protected Mathurā from the demons, but again and again, Jarāsandha attacked, with more and more demons, and Kala-yavana, the final time. At night, Kṛṣṇa took all the Mathuravasis to Dvārakā and they all began to stay there. Dvārakā became the Yādava’s capital city on an island in the ocean.
Before, some news of Kṛṣṇa went from Vṛndāvan to Mathurā and Mathurā to Vṛndāvana; these places being nearby one another. Lalitā had sent a swan with Rādhārāṇī’s message to Kṛṣṇa; sometimes gopas or gopīs would come to the Mathurā market to hear news of Kṛṣṇa. But now, Kṛṣṇa was very far away from the Vrajavāsīs. News of Kṛṣṇa rarely reached Vraja. However, Rādhārāṇī and the gopīs heard of Kṛṣṇa’s marriages. Kṛṣṇa married so many queens, not only one or two, but 16,108, that hearing this, the gopīs concluded that Kṛṣṇa was never coming back to Vraja.
What was Rādhārāṇī’s condition then? She was not alone. She was not only with Lalitā and Viśākhā. Candrāvalī, Bhadra, Śyāma, and all the other gopīs came to Rādhārāṇī to console Her, because She was suffering so intensely, and appeared to be on the brink of death. Seeing Her position, the other gopīs lamented and fell on to the ground in grief. Rādhārāṇī breathed only once after many minutes, and the air She breathed out was hot like fire. Sometimes She remained senseless for many hours.
She appeared somewhat relieved at these times. Her face sometimes showed a smile, as if in Her dreams She was joking with Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes She murmured in Her sleep, as if She was talking with Kṛṣṇa. But when She would come from internal awareness to external, alas, this time was unbearable. She restlessly rolled on Her bed of rose petals, which was withered from the heat of Her separation, and wept incessantly.
The gopīs tried to cool Rādhārāṇī; it appeared She was burning in a raging fever. But nothing the gopīs did seemed to help.
On the other side, Kṛṣṇa was in Dvārakā, suffering from the agony of separation from Rādhārāṇī. In the meantime, Nārada Ṛṣi came to Dvārakā. He had just been to Hastināpura, for he was searching for the best and most glorious city. The Pāṇḍavas advised him to go see the glory of Dvārakā, so he proceeded there. Arriving in Dvārakā, Nārada Ṛṣi was received by Kṛṣṇa and His queens. Nārada Ṛṣi glorified the splendor and beauty of Kṛṣṇa’s queens, especially Rukmiṇī, Satyabhāmā, and Jāmbavatī. But they replied, “We are not fortunate. We have never pleased Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is never happy with us. Somehow, by our good fortune, we are nearby Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa is not nearby us. He hardly shows any attention to us. He barely speaks to us or eats our cooking. The whole day and night He acts indifferent to everything. At night, when He comes to sleep in His bed, He only weeps and weeps and calls out, ‘He Lalite, Viśākhe, Rādhe!’ He is agitated for many hours before He finally falls senseless. And even in His dreams, we can hear Him speaking the names of the gopīs. In the morning, His pillow and sheet are all wet with His tears. We cannot pacify or satisfy Him by any means. He only calls out, ‘Rādhe, Rādhe, Rādhe, Rādhe,’ nothing more. Sometimes, in the middle of His sleep, He will sit bolt upright and call out to His friends, the cowherd boys, and to His parents, Nanda and Yaśodā, and will lament, saying, ‘Why did I ever leave you! I was such a fool! How can I ever return?’ ”
As the queens were speaking like this, Kṛṣṇa suddenly fainted on to the marble palace floor. The queens surrounded Him anxiously and, unable to wake Him, requested Nārada Ṛṣi, “You are renowned as an excellent singer. Please sing the glories of the Vrajavāsīs—Nanda and Yaśodā, the gopas and gopīs, sakhīs and mañjarīs—only then He will return to external awareness.”
“How can I do this?” Nārada Ṛṣi replied. “If He hears this and returns to His senses, then He will run back to Vṛndāvana and will never return to Dvārakā. I won’t do this.”
Nārada Ṛṣi favors Vaikuṇṭha and Dvārakā; he respects the Vrajavāsīs, but doesn’t want Kṛṣṇa to remain in Vraja-dhāma. There, Kṛṣṇa is always engaged in His loving pastimes with the Vrajavāsīs and forgets about the rest of the world. Vraja-dhāma is a very hidden, secret place for Kṛṣṇa.
Now, in Vṛndāvana, Rādhārāṇī’s position is very dangerous. It appears She will give up Her life at any moment. Candrāvalī and Her previous rivals, as well as Her own group of gopīs, Her friends, indeed, all the gopīs of the four different groups in Vraja: taṭastha (neutral), svapakṣa (Her own followers), suhṛt (friends and well-wishers), and vipakṣa (rivals), all were suffering to see Her condition. “What can we do to help?” they asked.
In Dvārakā, Nārada Ṛṣi understood the heart of Kṛṣṇa, but still, was reluctant to encourage Him to go back to Vraja. Uddhava, Kṛṣṇa’s dearest friend amongst the Yādavas, arrived in the palace and saw Kṛṣṇa lying senseless. Nārada Ṛṣi requested Uddhava, “Please go to Vraja-dhāma and tell the Vrajavāsīs not to lament and suffer so much. Because when they do, it only makes Kṛṣṇa lament and suffer here. He feels their tension and pain. He is related by heart to them and is not satisfied here.”
“I know the Vrajavāsīs and Vraja-bhūmi,” Uddhava said, “but I won’t go. They will not listen to me. I have been there before, but my efforts at helping them were ineffectual.”
“The Vrajavāsīs condition is dire,” Nārada Ṛṣi said. “Rādhārāṇī will soon give up Her life, and then all the gopīs and the rest of the Vrajavāsīs will also depart. Vraja-bhūmi will become desolate. And if that happens, Kṛṣṇa will also depart this world, along with Dvārakā and all His associates.”
Baladeva Prabhu was called and asked by Nārada Ṛṣi to go to Vraja. But He declined, saying, “I have been to Vraja also after Kṛṣṇa left.
I stayed there for six months consoling them, and I promised I would bring Kṛṣṇa home with Me soon, that He had promised Himself He would soon come. But then many, many years passed, without even a message sent. Now if I go, the Vrajavāsīs will have no faith in Me. Kṛṣṇa is very cruel. He is heartless. He knows how much the Vrajavāsīs are suffering in His absence, but still does not return. Therefore I will not go.”
Subhadrā, Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva’s sister, then came and Nārada Ṛṣi requested her to go to Vraja. She agreed, saying, “If no one else will go, then I will. I will sit in the lap of Yaśodā Mata and console her. I will beg the gopīs to sustain their lives, telling them that my brother will soon come.”
When Kṛṣṇa came to Dvārakā and Mathurā then everyone requested Him never to return to Vraja, saying that they would give up their lives if He did. Thus He was in a difficult position. The Mathuravasis said, “If You want to kill us, then return to Vraja.” The Yādavas told Kṛṣṇa, “Your real parents, Devakī and Vāsudeva, suffered for twenty years in jail. How can you leave them to go back to Your foster parents in Vraja?”
Kṛṣṇa had thought, “What can I do? I have become bound here.” On one side, there was Vraja-dhāma, and the other, Dvārakā. Baladeva Prabhu agreed to go to Vraja, if Subhadrā came with Him, as well as Kṛṣṇa.
Nārada Ṛṣi compromised, saying, “We will take Kṛṣṇa to Vraja for sometime to pacify the Vrajavāsīs. I will sing the glories of the Vrajavāsīs. When He returns to senses, we will depart.”
Kṛṣṇa’s chariot driver, Dāruka, prepared His chariot. Subhadrā and Baladeva also prepared to depart on their respective chariots.
Nārada Ṛṣi then began to sing the glories of Rādhārāṇī and the prominent sakhīs. Kṛṣṇa slowly woke up and looked about Him in confusion. In His trance, He had been in Vraja, playing with the gopīs, and now, waking to the sound of the gopīs’ names, He considered Himself to still be in Vraja, and He began feeling in His waist belt, as if He was searching for something. “Where is My flute?” He said. “Who stole My flute? Lalitā must have taken it. Where is she? My flute! Rādhārāṇī must have conspired with Her friends to take it. But only Lalitā would be so daring as to attempt it.”
Kṛṣṇa looked to either side. Seeing Baladeva Prabhu next to His chariot with Subhadrā, He said, “Why are You here as if prepared for a journey?”
“We are going to Vṛndāvan,” Baladeva said, “and so are You.”
Kṛṣṇa was so absorbed in Vṛndāvan that He had thought He was in Vṛndāvan.
“Prabhu,” Nārada Ṛṣi said, “You are in Dvārakā. See the ocean; not the Yamunā; the palaces, not Your village.”
Kṛṣṇa in His contemplation of Vṛndāvan had assumed the form of Naṭavara Nanda-kiśora, the youthful son of the King of Vraja, standing in the attractive pose of a dancer. The queens became surprised to see this attire of Kṛṣṇa; so beautiful and so happy.
Baladeva and Subhadrā sat in their chariots and said, “We will go first and will say that You are coming right behind.”
Kṛṣṇa then also got in His chariot and the three siblings departed for Vṛndāvan.
In Vṛndāvan, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī now appeared to be taking Her last breaths. “If Kṛṣṇa doesn’t come soon, Rādhārāṇī will certainly perish,” the Vraja-devīs said.
Baladeva’s and Subhadrā’s chariots quickly drove towards Vṛndāvan; however, Kṛṣṇa was very shy. He thought, “I cheated the Vrajavāsīs! I promised to return after one or two days when I left, but now, a hundred years have passed. Before, I disappeared from the Rāsa-līlā, and the gopīs almost gave up their lives in separation from Me. Now, I have been gone for so long, so far away, and they have only maintained their lives with the hope of seeing Me again and knowing that I would be disconsolate if they departed.”
As Kṛṣṇa thought in this way, Dāruka, His charioteer, quickly proceeded towards Vṛndāvan. The Vrajavāsīs saw the dust rising from the wheels of Kṛṣṇa’s chariot as He entered Vraja and remembered how they would daily watch Kṛṣṇa returning from the forest with the cows and calves for so many years. When Kṛṣṇa reached Nandagrāma, He slowly got down from the chariot and walked forward towards the astonished Vrajavāsīs. As He met with them all, He heard of the condition of Rādhārāṇī, and then immediately ran to where She was in the forest at Uddhava-kyari. Baladeva and Subhadrā had arrived a short time before Kṛṣṇa. They joyfully met with Nanda and Yaśodā. However, before going to Nanda-bhavan, Kṛṣṇa went directly to see Rādhārāṇī. Seeing Her condition, Kṛṣṇa melted. He said, “I neglected Her. This is all My fault.” His eyes, hands, legs, everything melted. Subhadrā and Baladeva came to where Kṛṣṇa was standing and they also melted in the ecstasy of divine love. Nārada Ṛṣi arrived and seeing the state of Kṛṣṇa, Baladeva, and Subhadrā, he began singing and chanting. Gradually, Kṛṣṇa, Baladeva, and Subhadrā returned to their original forms.
Lalitā then whispered in Rādhārāṇī’s ear, “Kṛṣṇa has come. He is here.” She slowly opened Her eyes and Lalitā helped Her sit up. It then seemed to Her like a dream that Kṛṣṇa had ever gone. Rādhārāṇī said, “I don’t want to stay separate from You any longer.”
Rādhārāṇī then hid in Kṛṣṇa’s heart. He then felt well after so long in separation. When They were separate, there were many problems. But now They became Rasaraja-Mahabhava. All the sakhīs and mañjarīs also then entered Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s hearts. The sakhās all entered Baladeva Prabhu’s heart and the other Vrajavāsīs entered Yogamaya-Paurṇamāsī’s, or Subhadrā-devī’s hearts.
They then prepared to go to the eternal world, aprākṛta Vraja-maṇḍala. When Kṛṣṇa and His siblings first returned to Vraja-bhūmi, this is signified during the time of Jagannātha’s ratha-yātrā from the Śrī Mandir to the Gundicha Mandira, and when Jagannātha, Baladeva, and Subhadrā returned on the chariots to the Śrī Mandira from Gundicha, this is representing how They went together with all the Vrajavāsīs to the eternal, transcendental world—Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org )