30. Krsna's Hiding from the Gopis
30 / Kåñëa's Hiding from the Gopés
When Kåñëa suddenly disappeared from the company of the gopés, 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 Kåñëa 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 Kåñëa, His beautiful talks with them, His embracing, kissing, and other activities. Being so attracted to Kåñëa, they began to imitate His dancing, His walking and smiling, as if they themselves were Kåñëa. Due to Kåñëa's absence, they all became crazy; each one of them began to tell the others that she was Kåñëa Himself. Soon they all began to assemble together and chant Kåñëa's name very loudly, and they moved from one part of the forest to another searching for Him. Actually, Kåñëa 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 gopés therefore began to question the trees and plants about Kåñëa. There were various types of big trees and small plants in the forest, and the gopés began to address them. "Dear banyan tree, have you seen the son of Mahäräja 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 açoka tree, dear näga flower tree and campaka flower tree, have you seen the younger brother of Balaräma pass this way? He has disappeared because of our pride." The gopés were aware of the reason for Kåñëa's sudden disappearance. They could understand that when they were enjoying Kåñëa, they thought themselves to be the most fortunate women within the universe, and since they were feeling proud, Kåñëa disappeared immediately just to curb their pride. Kåñëa 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 be prouder than others. If sometimes there are such feelings, Kåñëa ends them by changing His attitude toward the devotee.
The gopés then began to address the tulasé plants: "Dear tulasé, you are much beloved by Lord Kåñëa because your leaves are always at His lotus feet. Dear mälaté flower, dear mallikä flower, dear jasmine flower, all of you must have been touched by Kåñëa while He was passing this way after giving us transcendental enjoyment. Have you seen Mädhava passing this way? O mango trees, O trees of jack fruit, O pear trees and äsana trees! O blackberries and bael trees and trees of kadamba flower--you are all very pious trees to be living on the bank of Yamunä. Kåñëa must have passed through this way. Will you kindly let us know which way He has gone?"
The gopés 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 Kåñëa upon you. You are very jolly; the hairs on your body are these jubilant trees and plants. Lord Kåñëa must have been very much pleased with you, otherwise how could He have embraced you in the form of Varäha 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 Kåñëa, who is the Supreme Näräyaëa Himself, must have passed through this way along with His companion, Lakñmé, the goddess of fortune. Otherwise, how is it possible that the aroma of His garland, which is smeared with the red kuìkuma 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 Kåñëa has gone? Kåñëa is the well-wisher of Våndävana. 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 Kåñëa, the younger brother of Balaräma. 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 gopés then began to address their other gopé 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 Kåñëa. Otherwise, how could they feel so jubilant?"
After searching for Kåñëa here and there, when the gopés became fatigued, they began to talk like madwomen. They could only satisfy themselves by imitating the different pastimes of Kåñëa. One of them imitated the demon, Pütanä, and one of them imitated Kåñëa and sucked her breast. One gopé imitated a hand-driven cart, and another gopé lay down beneath the cart and began to throw up her legs, touching the wheels of the cart, as Kåñëa did to kill the demon Çakaöäsura. They imitated child Kåñëa, lying down on the ground, and one gopé became the demon Tåëävarta and carried the small child Kåñëa by force into the sky; and one of the gopés began to imitate Kåñëa while He was attempting to walk, ringing His ankle bells. Two gopés imitated Kåñëa and Balaräma, and many others imitated Their cowherd boy friends. One gopé assumed the form of Bakäsura, and another forced her to fall down as the demon Bakäsura did when he was killed; similarly, another gopé defeated Vatsäsura. Just as Kåñëa used to call His cows by their different names, so the gopés imitated Him, calling the cows by their respective names. One of the gopés began to play on a flute, and another praised her the way Kåñëa's boy friends praised Him while He played on His flute. One of the gopés took another gopé on her shoulders, just as Kåñëa used to take His boy friends. Absorbed in thoughts of Kåñëa, the gopé who was carrying her friend began to boast that she was Kåñëa herself: "All of you just see my movement!" One of the gopés 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 gopé forcibly put her feet on the head of another gopé and said, "You rascal Käliya! I shall punish you severely. You must leave this place. I have descended on this earth to punish all kinds of miscreants!" Another gopé 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 gopés were madly feeling the absence of Kåñëa. They enquired 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 Kåñëa. 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 Mahäräja Nanda. It is certainly Kåñëa passing through, resting His hand on some other gopé, exactly as an elephant goes side by side with his beloved mate. We must, therefore, understand that this particular gopé served Kåñëa 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 Kåñëa is worshiped even by Lord Brahmä and Lord Çiva, and the goddess of fortune, Lakñmé. But at the same time, we are very sorry that this particular gopé has gone along with Kåñëa, for She is sharing the nectar of Kåñëa's kisses and leaving us aside to lament. O friends, just see! At this particular spot we do not see the footprints of that gopé. It appears that because there were some pin-pricks from the dried grass, Kåñëa took Rädhäräëé on His shoulder. O, She is so dear to Him! Kåñëa must have picked some flowers in this spot to satisfy Rädhäräëé, 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 Kåñëa must have sat down here with Rädhäräëé and tried to set flowers in Her hair. You can be certain that both of Them sat together here." Kåñëa is self-sufficient; He has nothing to enjoy from any other source, yet just to satisfy His devotee He has treated Rädhäräëé exactly as a lusty boy treats his girlfriend. Kåñëa is so kind that He always tolerates the disturbances created by His girl friends.
In this way, all the gopés began to point out the faults of the particular gopé who had been taken alone by Kåñëa. They began to say that the chief gopé, Rädhäräëé, who was taken alone by Kåñëa, must be very proud of Her position, thinking Herself the greatest of the gopés. "Yet how could Kåñëa take Her away alone, leaving all of us aside, unless She be extraordinarily qualified and beautiful? She must have taken Kåñëa in the deep forest and told Him, 'My dear Kåñëa, I am now very tired. I cannot go any further. Please carry Me wherever You like.' When Kåñëa was spoken to in this way, He might have told Rädhäräëé, 'All right, better get on My shoulder.' But immediately Kåñëa must have disappeared, and now Rädhäräëé 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.' Kåñëa, however, is not coming to Her. He must be watching Her from a distant place and enjoying Her sorrow."
All the gopés then went further and further into the forest, searching out Kåñëa, but when they learned that actually Rädhäräëé was left alone by Kåñëa, they became very sorry. This is the test of Kåñëa consciousness. In the beginning they were a little envious that Kåñëa had taken Rädhäräëé alone, leaving aside all other gopés, but as soon as they knew that Kåñëa had also left Rädhäräëé and that She was alone lamenting for Him, they became more sympathetic to Her. The gopés found Rädhäräëé and heard everything from Her, about how She misbehaved with Kåñëa and how She was proud and was insulted for Her pride. After hearing all this, they became actually very sympathetic. Then all the gopés, including Rädhäräëé, 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 Kåñëa; they all imitated the activities of Kåñëa and His speeches. Due to their heart and soul being completely given to Kåñëa, they began to chant His glories, completely forgetting their family interests. In this way, all the gopés assembled together on the bank of Yamunä, and expecting that Kåñëa must return to them, they simply engaged in the chanting of the glories of Çré Kåñëa--Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare, Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Thirtieth Chapter of Kåñëa, "Kåñëa's Hiding from the Gopés."