34. The Gopis' Feelings of Separation
34 / The Gopés' Feelings of Separation
The gopés of Våndävana were so attached to Kåñëa that they were not satisfied simply with the räsa dance at night. They wanted to associate with Him and enjoy His company during the daytime also. When Kåñëa went to the forest with His cowherd boy friends and cows, the gopés did not physically take part, but their hearts went with Him. And because their hearts went, they were able to enjoy His company through strong feelings of separation. To acquire this strong feeling of separation is the teaching of Lord Caitanya and His direct disciplic succession of Gosvämés. When we are not in physical contact with Kåñëa, we can associate with Him like the gopés, through feelings of separation. Kåñëa's transcendental form, qualities, pastimes, and entourage are all identical with Him. There are nine different kinds of devotional service. Devotional service to Kåñëa in feelings of separation elevates the devotee to the highest perfectional level, to the level of the gopés.
It is stated in Çréniväsäcärya's prayer to the six Gosvämés that they left the material opulences of government service and the princely status of life and went to Våndävana, where they lived just like ordinary mendicants, begging from door to door. But they were so much enriched with the gopés' feelings of separation that they enjoyed transcendental pleasure at every moment. Similarly, when Lord Caitanya was at Jagannätha Puré, He was in the role of Rädhäräëé, feeling the separation of Kåñëa. Those who are in the disciplic succession of the Mädhva-Gauòéya-sampradäya should also feel the separation of Kåñëa, worship His transcendental form, and discuss His transcendental teachings, His pastimes, His qualities, His entourage and His associations. The spiritual masters should enrich the devotees to the highest devotional perfection. Feeling constant separation while engaged in the service of the Lord is the perfection of Kåñëa consciousness.
The gopés used to discuss Kåñëa amongst themselves, and their talks were as follows. "My dear friends," one gopé said, "do you know that when Kåñëa lies on the ground He rests on His left elbow, and His head rests on His left hand? He moves His attractive eyebrows while playing His flute with His delicate fingers, and the sound He produces creates such a nice atmosphere that the denizens of the heavenly planets, who travel in space with their wives and beloved, stop their airplanes, for they are stunned by the vibration of the flute. The wives of the demigods who are seated in the planes then become very much ashamed of their singing and musical qualifications. Not only that, but they become afflicted with conjugal love, and their hair and tightened dresses immediately loosen."
Another gopé said, "My dear friends, Kåñëa is so beautiful that the goddess of fortune always remains on His chest, and He is always adorned with a golden necklace. Beautiful Kåñëa plays His flute in order to enliven the hearts of many devotees. He is the only friend of the suffering living entities. When He plays His flute, all the cows and other animals of Våndävana, although engaged in eating, simply take a morsel of food in their mouths and stop chewing. Their ears raise up and they become stunned. They do not appear alive but like painted animals. Kåñëa's flute playing is so attractive that even the animals become enchanted, and what to speak of ourselves."
Another gopé said, "My dear friends, not only living animals, but even inanimate objects like the rivers and lakes of Våndävana also become stunned when Kåñëa passes with peacock feathers on His head and His body smeared with the minerals of Våndävana. With leaves and flowers decorating His body, He looks like some hero. When He plays on His flute and calls the cows with Balaräma, the River Yamunä stops flowing and waits for the air to carry dust from His lotus feet. The River Yamunä is unfortunate like us; it does not get Kåñëa's mercy. The river simply remains stunned, stopping its waves just as we also stop crying out of frustration for Kåñëa."
In the absence of Kåñëa the gopés were constantly shedding tears, but sometimes, when they expected that Kåñëa was coming, they would stop crying. But when they saw that Kåñëa was not coming, then again they would become frustrated and begin to cry. Kåñëa is the original Personality of Godhead, the origin of all Viñëu forms, and the cowherd boys are all demigods. Lord Viñëu is always worshiped and surrounded by different demigods like Lord Çiva, Lord Brahmä, Indra, Candra, and others. When Kåñëa traveled through the Våndävana forest or walked on the Govardhana Hill, He was accompanied by the cowherd boys. While walking, He played His flute, just to call His cows. Just by His association, the trees, plants and other vegetation in the forest immediately became Kåñëa conscious. A Kåñëa conscious person sacrifices everything for Kåñëa. Although trees and plants are not very advanced in consciousness, by the association of Kåñëa and His friends they also became Kåñëa conscious. They then want to deliver everything--whatever they have--their fruits, flowers, and the honey incessantly falling from their branches.
When Kåñëa walked on the bank of the Yamunä, He was seen nicely decorated with tilaka on His head. He was garlanded with different kinds of forest flowers, and His body was smeared by the pulp of sandalwood and tulasé leaves. The bumblebees became mad after the treasure and sweet nectar of the atmosphere. Being pleased by the humming sound of the bees, Kåñëa would play His flute, and together the sounds became so sweet to hear that the aquatics, the cranes, swans and ducks and other birds were charmed. Instead of swimming or flying, they became stunned. They closed their eyes and entered a trance of meditation in worship of Kåñëa.
One gopé said, "My dear friend, Kåñëa and Balaräma are nicely dressed with earrings and pearl necklaces. They enjoy Themselves on the top of Govardhana Hill, and everything becomes absorbed in transcendental pleasure when Kåñëa plays on His flute, charming the whole created manifestation. When He plays, the clouds stop their loud thundering, out of fear of Him. Rather than disturb the vibration of His flute, they respond with mild thunder and so congratulate Kåñëa, their friend."
Kåñëa is accepted as the friend of the cloud because both the cloud and Kåñëa satisfy the people when they are disturbed. When the people are burning due to excessive heat, the cloud satisfies them with rain. Similarly, when people in materialistic life become disturbed by the blazing fire of material pangs, Kåñëa gives them relief. The cloud and Kåñëa, having the same bodily color also, are considered to be friends. Desiring to congratulate its superior friend, the cloud poured not water but small flowers and covered the head of Kåñëa to protect Him from the scorching sunshine.
One of the gopés told mother Yaçodä, "My dear mother, your son is very expert among the cowherd boys. He knows all the different arts, how to tend the cows and how to play the flute. He composes His own songs, and to sing them He puts His flute to His mouth. When He plays, either in the morning or in the evening, all the demigods, like Lord Çiva, Brahmä, Indra and Candra, bow their heads and listen with great attention. Although they are very learned and expert, they cannot understand the musical arrangements of Kåñëa's flute. They simply listen attentively and try to understand, but become bewildered and nothing more."
Another gopé said, "My dear friend, when Kåñëa returns home with His cows, the footprint of the soles of His feet--with flag, thunderbolt, trident, and lotus flower--relieves the pain the earth feels when the cows traverse it. He walks in a stride which is so attractive, and He carries His flute. Just by looking at Him we become lusty to enjoy His company. At that time, our movements cease. We become just like trees and stand perfectly still. We even forget what we look like."
Kåñëa had many thousands of cows, and they were divided into groups according to their colors. They were also differently named according to color. When He would return from the pasturing ground, He would find all the cows gathered. As Vaiñëavas count 108 beads, which represent the 108 individual gopés, so Kåñëa would also chant 108 different groups of cows.
"When Kåñëa returns, He is garlanded with tulasé leaves," a gopé describes Him to a friend. "He puts His hand on the shoulder of a cowherd boy friend, and begins to blow His transcendental flute. The wives of the black deer become enchanted upon hearing the vibration of His flute, which resembles the vibration of the véëä. The deer come to Kåñëa and become so charmed that they stand still, forgetting their homes and husbands. Like us, who are enchanted by the ocean of the transcendental qualities of Kåñëa, the she-deer become enchanted by the vibration of His flute."
Another gopé told mother Yaçodä, "My dear mother, when your son returns home, He decorates Himself with the buds of the kunda flower, and just to enlighten and gladden His friends, He blows His flute. The breeze blowing from the south pleases the atmosphere because it is fragrant and very cool. Demigods like the Gandharvas and Siddhas take advantage of this atmosphere and offer prayers to Kåñëa by sounding their bugles and drums. Kåñëa is very kind to the inhabitants of Vrajabhümi, Våndävana, and when He returns with His cows and friends, He is remembered as the lifter of Govardhana Hill. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the most exalted demigods like Lord Brahmä and Lord Çiva come down to offer their evening prayers, and they accompany the cowherd boys in glorifying the qualities of Kåñëa.
"Kåñëa is compared with the moon, born in the ocean of the womb of Devaké. When He returns in the evening, it appears that He is fatigued, but He still tries to gladden the inhabitants of Våndävana by His auspicious presence. When Kåñëa returns, garlanded with flowers, His face looks beautiful. He walks into Våndävana with a stride just like the elephant and slowly enters His home. Upon His return, the men, women, and cows of Våndävana immediately forget the scorching heat of the day."
Such descriptions of Kåñëa's transcendental pastimes and activities were remembered by the gopés during His absence from Våndävana. They give us some idea of Kåñëa's attraction. Everyone and everything is attracted to Kåñëa--that is the perfect description of Kåñëa's attraction. The example of the gopés is very instructive to persons who are trying to be absorbed in Kåñëa consciousness. One can very easily associate with Kåñëa simply by remembering His transcendental pastimes. Everyone has a tendency to love someone. That Kåñëa should be the object of love is the central point of Kåñëa consciousness. By constantly chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra and remembering the transcendental pastimes of Kåñëa, one can be fully in Kåñëa consciousness and thus make his life sublime and fruitful.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Thirty-fourth Chapter of Kåñëa, "The Gopés' Feelings of Separation."