When Krsna suddenly disappeared from the company of the gopis, they began to search for Him in every place. After not finding Him anywhere, they became afraid and almost mad after Him. They were simply thinking of the pastimes of Krsna in great love and affection. Being absorbed in thought, they experienced loss of memory, and with dampened eyes they began to see the very pastimes of Krsna, His beautiful talks with them, His embracing, kissing and other activities. Being so attracted to Krsna, they began to imitate His dancing, His walking and smiling, as if they themselves were Krsna. Due to Krsna's absence, they all became crazy; each one of them began to tell the others that she was Krsna Himself. Soon they all began to assemble together and chant Krsna's name very loudly, and they moved from one part of the forest to another searching for Him. Actually, Krsna is all-pervasive; He is in the sky, and He is in the forest; He is within the heart, and He is always everywhere.
The gopis therefore began to question the trees and plants about Krsna. There were various types of big trees and small plants in the forest, and the gopis began to address them. "Dear banyan tree, have you seen the son of Maharaja Nanda passing this way, laughing and playing on His flute? He has stolen our hearts and has gone away. If you have seen Him, kindly inform us which way He has gone. Dear asoka tree, dear naga flower tree and campaka flower tree, have you seen the younger brother of Balarama pass this way? He has disappeared because of our pride." The gopis were aware of the reason for Krsna's sudden disappearance. They could understand that when they were enjoying Krsna, they thought themselves to be the most fortunate women within the universe, and since they were feeling proud, Krsna disappeared immediately just to curb their pride. Krsna does not like His devotees to be proud of their service to Him. He accepts everyone's service, but He does not like one devotee to prouder than others. If sometimes there are such feelings, Krsna ends them by changing His attitude toward the devotee.
The gopis then began to address the tulasi plants: "Dear tulasi, you are much beloved by Lord Krsna because your leaves are always at His lotus feet. Dear malati flower, dear mallika flower, dear jasmine flower, all of you must have been touched by Krsna while He was passing this way after giving us transcendental enjoyment. Have you seen Madhava passing this way? O mango trees, O trees of jack fruit, O pear trees and asana trees! O blackberries and bael trees and trees of kadamba flower--you are all very pious trees to be living on the bank of Yamuna. Krsna must have passed through this way. Will you kindly let us know which way He has gone?"
The gopis then looked upon the ground they were traversing and began to address the earth, "Dear earthly planet, we do not know how many penances and austerities you have undergone to be now living with the footprints of Lord Krsna upon you. You are very jolly; the hairs on your body are these jubilant trees and plants. Lord Krsna must have been very much pleased with you, otherwise how could He have embraced you in the form of Varaha the boar? When you were submerged in water, He delivered you, taking the whole weight of your existence on His tusks."
After addressing the innumerable trees and plants, they turned their faces toward the beautiful deer who were looking on them very pleasingly. "It appears," they addressed the deer, "that Krsna, who is the Supreme Narayana Himself, must have passed through this way along with His companion, Laksmi, the goddess of fortune. Otherwise, how is it possible that the aroma of His garland, which is smeared with the red kunkuma from the breast of the goddess of fortune, can be perceived in the breeze blowing here? It appears that they must have passed through here and touched your bodies, and thus you are feeling so pleasant and are looking toward us with sympathy. Will you kindly, therefore, inform us which way Krsna has gone? Krsna is the well-wisher of Vrndavana. He is as kind to you as to us; therefore after leaving us, He must have been present in your company. O fortunate trees, we are thinking of Krsna, the younger brother of Balarama. While passing through here, with one hand resting on the shoulder of the goddess of fortune and the other hand whirling a lotus flower, He must have been very pleased to accept your obeisances, and He must have glanced at you with great pleasure."
Some of the gopis then began to address their other gopi friends, "Dear friends, why don't you question these creepers who are so jubilantly embracing the big trees as if the trees were their husbands? It appears that the flowers of the creepers must have been touched by the nails of Krsna. Otherwise, how could they feel so jubilant?"
After searching for Krsna here and there, when the gopis became fatigued, they began to talk like madwomen. They could only satisfy themselves by imitating the different pastimes of Krsna. One of them imitated the demon, Putana, and one of them imitated Krsna and sucked her breast. One gopi imitated a hand-driven cart, and another gopi lay down beneath the cart and began to throw up her legs, touching the wheels of the cart, as Krsna did to kill the demon Sakatasura. They imitated child Krsna, lying down on the ground, and one gopi became the demon Trnavarta and carried the small child Krsna by force into the sky; and one of the gopis began to imitate Krsna while He was attempting to walk, ringing His ankle bells. Two gopis imitated Krsna and Balarama, and many others imitated Their cowherd boy friends. One gopi assumed the form of Bakasura, and another forced her to fall down as the demon Bakasura did when he was killed; similarly, another gopi defeated Vatsasura. Just as Krsna used to call His cows by their different names, so the gopis imitated Him, calling the cows by their respective names. One of the gopis began to play on a flute, and another praised her the way Krsna's boy friends praised Him while He played on His flute. One of the gopis took another gopi on her shoulders, just as Krsna used to take His boy friends. Absorbed in thoughts of Krsna, the gopi who was carrying her friend began to boast that she was Krsna herself: "All of you just see my movement!" One of the gopis raised her hand with her covering garments and said, "Now don't be afraid of torrents of rain and severe hurricanes. I'll save you!" In this way she imitated the lifting of Govardhana Hill. One gopi forcibly put her feet on the head of another gopi and said, "You rascal Kaliya! I shall punish you severely. You must leave this place. I have descended on this earth to punish all kinds of miscreants!" Another gopi told her friends, "Just see! The flames of the forest fire are coming to devour us. Please close your eyes, and I shall immediately save you from this imminent danger."
In this way all the gopis were madly feeling the absence of Krsna. They inquired for Him from the trees and plants. In some places they found the imprints of the marks on the sole of His feet--namely the flag, the lotus flower, the trident, the thunderbolt, etc. After seeing those footprints, they exclaimed, "O here is the impression of the marks on the sole of Krsna. All the marks, such as the flag, the lotus flower, the trident and the thunderbolt, are distinctly visible here." They began to follow the footprints, and shortly they saw another set of footprints beside them, and immediately they became very sorry. "Dear friends, just see! Whose are these other footprints? They are beside the footprints of the son of Maharaja Nanda. It is certainly Krsna passing through, resting His hand on some other gopi, exactly as an elephant goes side by side with his beloved mate. We must, therefore, understand that this particular gopi served Krsna with greater affectionate love than ourselves. Because of this, although He has left us, He could not leave Her company. He has taken Her along with Him. Dear friends, just imagine how the dust of this place is transcendentally glorious. The dust of the lotus feet of Krsna is worshiped even by Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, and the goddess of fortune, Laksmi. But at the same time, we are very sorry that this particular gopi has gone along with Krsna, for She is sharing the nectar of Krsna's kisses and leaving us aside to lament. O friends, just see! At this particular spot we do not see the footprints of that gopi. It appears that because there were some pin-pricks from the dried grass, Krsna took Radharani on His shoulder. O, She is so dear to Him! Krsna must have picked some flowers in this spot to satisfy Radharani, because here, where He stood erect to get the flowers from the high branches of the tree, we find only half the impression of His feet. Dear friends, just see how Krsna must have sat down here with Radharani and tried to set flowers in Her hair. You can be certain that both of Them sat together here." Krsna is self-sufficient; He has nothing to enjoy from any other source, yet just to satisfy His devotee He has treated Radharani exactly as a lusty boy treats his girlfriend. Krsna is so kind that He always tolerates the disturbances created by His girl friends.
In this way, all the gopis began to point out the faults of the particular gopi who had been taken alone by Krsna. They began to say that the chief gopi, Radharani, who was taken alone by Krsna, must be very proud of Her position, thinking Herself the greatest of the gopis. "Yet how could Krsna take Her away alone, leaving all of us aside, unless She be extraordinarily qualified and beautiful? She must have taken Krsna in the deep forest and told Him, 'My dear Krsna, I am now very tired. I cannot go any further. Please carry Me wherever You like.' When Krsna was spoken to in this way, He might have told Radharani, 'All right, better get on My shoulder.' But immediately Krsna must have disappeared, and now Radharani must be lamenting for Him, 'My dear lover, My dearest, You are so fine and so powerful. Where have You gone? I am nothing but Your most obedient maidservant. I am very much aggrieved. Please come and be with Me again.' Krsna, however, is not coming to Her. He must be watching Her from a distant place and enjoying Her sorrow."
All the gopis then went further and further into the forest, searching out Krsna, but when they learned that actually Radharani was left alone by Krsna, they became very sorry. This is the test of Krsna consciousness. In the beginning they were a little envious that Krsna had taken Radharani alone, leaving aside all other gopis, but as soon as they knew that Krsna had also left Radharani and that She was alone lamenting for Him, they became more sympathetic to Her. The gopis found Radharani and heard everything from Her, about how She misbehaved with Krsna and how She was proud and was insulted for Her pride. After hearing all this, they became actually very sympathetic. Then all the gopis, including Radharani, began to proceed further into the forest, until they could no longer see the moonlight.
When they saw that it was getting gradually darker, they stopped. Their mind and intelligence became absorbed in the thoughts of Krsna; they all imitated the activities of Krsna and His speeches. Due to their heart and soul being completely given to Krsna, they began to chant His glories, completely forgetting their family interests. In this way, all the gopis assembled together on the bank of Yamuna, and expecting that Krsna must return to them, they simply engaged in the chanting of the glories of Sri Krsna--Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Thirtieth Chapter of Krsna, "Krsna's Hiding from the Gopis."