Delivery of the Message of Kṛṣṇa to the Gopīs
When the gopīs saw Uddhava, they observed that his features almost exactly resembled those of Kṛṣṇa, and they could understand that he was a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa’s. His arms were very long and his eyes were just like the petals of the lotus flower. He was dressed in yellow garments and wore a garland of lotus flowers. His face was very beautiful. Having achieved the liberation of sārūpya and thus having the same bodily features as the Lord, Uddhava looked almost like Kṛṣṇa. In Kṛṣṇa’s absence, the gopīs had been coming dutifully to visit Mother Yaśodā’s house early in the morning. They knew that Nanda Mahārāja and Mother Yaśodā were always grief-stricken, and they had made it their first duty to come and pay their respects to the most exalted elderly personalities of Vṛndāvana. Seeing the friends of Kṛṣṇa, Nanda and Yaśodā would remember Kṛṣṇa Himself and be satisfied, and the gopīs also would be pleased by seeing Nanda and Yaśodā.
When the gopīs saw that Uddhava was representing Kṛṣṇa even in his bodily features, they thought he must be a soul completely surrendered unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They began to contemplate, “Who is this boy who looks just like Kṛṣṇa? He has the same eyes like lotus petals, the same raised nose and beautiful face, and he is smiling in the same way. In all respects he resembles Kṛṣṇa, Śyāmasundara, the beautiful blackish boy. He is even dressed exactly like Kṛṣṇa. Where has this boy come from? Who is the fortunate girl who has him for her husband?” Thus they talked among themselves. They were very anxious to know about him, and because they were simple, unsophisticated village girls, they surrounded Uddhava.
When the gopīs understood that Uddhava had a message from Kṛṣṇa, they became very happy and called him to a secluded place and offered him a nice sitting place. They wanted to talk with him very freely and did not want to be embarrassed before unknown persons. They welcomed him with polite words, in great submissiveness: “We know that you are a most confidential associate of Kṛṣṇa and that He has therefore sent you to Vṛndāvana to give solace to His father and mother. We can understand that family affection is very strong. Even great sages who have taken to the renounced order of life cannot give up family affection cent percent. Sometimes they think of their family members. Kṛṣṇa has therefore sent you to His father and mother; otherwise He has no further business in Vṛndāvana. He is now in town. What does He have to know about Vṛndāvana village or the cows’ pasturing grounds? These are not at all useful for Kṛṣṇa because He is now a man of the city.
“Surely He has nothing to do with persons who do not happen to be His family members. Friendships with those outside the family continue as long as there is some selfish interest in them; otherwise, why should one bother about those outside the family? Specifically, a person attached to the wives of others is interested in them as long as there is a need of sense gratification, just as the bumblebees have interest in flowers as long as they want to take the honey out of them. It is psychologically very natural that a prostitute does not care for her paramour as soon as he loses his money. Similarly, when the citizens find that a government is incapable of giving them full protection, they leave the country. A student, after finishing his education, gives up his relationship with the teacher and the school. A priest, after taking his reward from the worshiper, gives him up. When the fruit season is over, birds are no longer interested in the tree. Just after eating in the house of a host, the guest gives up his relationship with him. After a forest fire, when there is a scarcity of green grass, deer and other animals give up the forest. And so a man, after enjoying his girlfriend, gives up his connection with her.” In this way, all the gopīs indirectly accused Kṛṣṇa by citing many examples.
Uddhava understood that the gopīs of Vṛndāvana were all simply absorbed in the thought of Kṛṣṇa and His childhood activities. While talking about Kṛṣṇa with Uddhava, they forgot all about their household business. They even forgot about themselves as their interest in Kṛṣṇa increased more and more.
One of the gopīs, namely Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, was so much absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa by dint of Her personal touch with Him that She actually began to talk with a bumblebee which was flying there and trying to touch Her lotus feet. While the other gopīs were talking with Kṛṣṇa’s messenger Uddhava, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī took that bumblebee to be a messenger from Kṛṣṇa and began to talk with it as follows: “Bumblebee, you are accustomed to drinking honey from flower to flower, and therefore you have preferred to be a messenger of Kṛṣṇa, who is of the same nature as you. I can see on your mustaches the red powder of kuṅkuma which was smeared on the flower garland of Kṛṣṇa while it was pressed against the breasts of some other girl who is My competitor. You feel very proud because of having touched that garland, and your mustaches have become reddish. You have come here carrying a message for Me, anxious to touch My feet. But My dear bumblebee, let Me warn you – don’t touch Me! I don’t want any messages from your unreliable master. You are the unreliable servant of an unreliable master.”
It may be that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī purposely addressed the bumblebee sarcastically in order to indirectly criticize the messenger Uddhava. Like the other gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī saw that Uddhava’s bodily features resembled Kṛṣṇa’s, but She also saw Uddhava as being equal to Kṛṣṇa. Indirectly, therefore, She indicated that Uddhava was as unreliable as Kṛṣṇa Himself. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī wanted to give specific reasons why She was dissatisfied with Kṛṣṇa and His messenger.
She addressed the bumblebee, “Your master Kṛṣṇa is exactly of your quality. You sit down on a flower, and after tasting a little honey you immediately fly away and sit on another flower and taste. Similarly, only once did your master Kṛṣṇa give Me the chance to taste the touch of His lips, and then He left Me altogether. I know also that the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, who is always in the midst of the lotus flower, is constantly engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. But I do not know how she has become so captivated by Kṛṣṇa and why she is so much attached to Kṛṣṇa, although she knows His actual character. Maybe she is so much captivated by Kṛṣṇa’s sweet words that she cannot understand His real character. As far as We are concerned, We are more intelligent than the goddess of fortune. We are not going to be cheated anymore by Kṛṣṇa or His messengers.”
According to expert opinion, Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, is a subordinate expansion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. As Kṛṣṇa has numerous expansions of viṣṇu-mūrtis, so His pleasure potency, Rādhārāṇī, also has innumerable expansions of goddesses of fortune. Therefore the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, is always eager to be elevated to the position of the gopīs.
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī continued: “You foolish bumblebee, you are trying to satisfy Me and get a reward by singing the glories of Kṛṣṇa, but it is a useless attempt. We gopīs are bereft of all our possessions. We are away from our homes and families. We know very well about Kṛṣṇa. We know even more than you. So whatever you make up about Him will be old stories to us. Kṛṣṇa is now in the city and is better known as the friend of Arjuna. He now has many new girlfriends, who are no doubt very happy in His association. Because the lusty, burning sensation of their breasts has been satisfied by Kṛṣṇa, they are now happy. If you go there and glorify Kṛṣṇa, they may be pleased to reward you. You are just trying to pacify Me by your behavior as a flatterer, and therefore you have put your head under My feet. But I know the trick you are trying to play. I know that you are a messenger coming from an even greater trickster, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, please leave Me.
“I can understand that you are expert in reuniting two opposing parties, but at the same time you must know that I cannot place My reliance upon you, nor upon your master, Kṛṣṇa. We left our husbands, children and relatives only for Kṛṣṇa, yet He did not feel any obligation in exchange. At last He left us forlorn. Do you think we can place our faith in Him again? We know that Kṛṣṇa cannot live for a moment without the association of young women. That is His nature. He is finding difficulty in Mathurā because He is no longer in the village among innocent cowherd girls. He is in aristocratic society and must be feeling difficulty in making friendships with other young girls. Perhaps you have come here to canvass again or to take us there. But why should Kṛṣṇa expect us to go there? He is greatly qualified to entice all other girls, not only in Vṛndāvana or Mathurā but all over the universe. His wonderfully enchanting smile is so attractive and the movements of His eyebrows are so beautiful that He can call for any woman from the heavenly, middle or Plutonic planets. Even Mahā-Lakṣmī, the greatest of all goddesses of fortune, hankers to render Him some service. In comparison to all these women of the universe, what are we? We are very insignificant.
“Kṛṣṇa advertises Himself as magnanimous, and He is praised by great saints. His qualifications would be perfectly utilized if He would only show us some mercy, for we are so much downtrodden and neglected by Him. You poor messenger, you are only a less intelligent servant. You do not know much about Kṛṣṇa – how ungrateful and hardhearted He has been, not only in this life but in His previous lives also. We have all heard this from our grandmother Paurṇamāsī. She has informed us that Kṛṣṇa was born in a kṣatriya family previous to this birth and was known as Rāmacandra. In that birth, instead of killing Vāli, an enemy of His friend, in the manner of a kṣatriya, He killed him just like a hunter. A hunter takes a secure hiding place and then kills an animal without facing it. So Lord Rāmacandra, as a kṣatriya, should have fought with Vāli face to face, but, instigated by His friend, He killed him from behind a tree. Thus He deviated from the religious principles of a kṣatriya. Also, He was so attracted by the beauty of Sītā that He converted Śūrpaṇakhā, the sister of Rāvaṇa, into an ugly woman by cutting off her nose and ears. Śūrpaṇakhā proposed an intimate relationship with Him, and as a kṣatriya He should have satisfied her. But He was so henpecked that He could not forget Sītādevī and converted Śūrpaṇakhā into an ugly woman. Before that birth as a kṣatriya, He took His birth as a brāhmaṇa boy known as Vāmanadeva and asked charity from Bali Mahārāja. Bali Mahārāja was so magnanimous that he gave Him whatever he had, yet Kṛṣṇa as Vāmanadeva ungratefully arrested him just like a crow and pushed him down to the Pātāla kingdom. We know all about Kṛṣṇa and how ungrateful He is. But here is the difficulty: in spite of His being so cruel and hardhearted, it is very difficult for us to give up talking about Him. And it is not only we who are unable to give up this talk, but great sages and saintly persons also engage in talking about Him. We gopīs of Vṛndāvana do not want to make any more friendships with this blackish boy, but we do not know how we shall be able to give up remembering and talking about His activities.”
Since Kṛṣṇa is absolute, His so-called unkind activities are as relishable as His kind activities. Therefore saintly persons and great devotees like the gopīs cannot give up Kṛṣṇa in any circumstances. Lord Caitanya therefore prayed, “Kṛṣṇa, You are free and independent in all respects. You can either embrace Me or crush Me under Your feet – whatever You like. You may make Me brokenhearted by not letting Me see You throughout My whole life, but You are My only object of love.”
“In My opinion,” Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī continued, “one should not hear about Kṛṣṇa, because as soon as a drop of the nectar of His transcendental activities is poured into the ear, one immediately rises above the duality of attraction and rejection. Being completely freed from the contamination of material attachment, one gives up attachment for this material world, including family, home, wife, children and everything else materially dear to every person. Being deprived of all material acquisitions, one makes his relatives and himself unhappy. Then he wanders in search of Kṛṣṇa, either as a human being or in other species of life, even as a bird, and voluntarily accepts the profession of a mendicant. It is very difficult to actually understand Kṛṣṇa – His name, His qualities, His form, His pastimes, His paraphernalia and His entourage.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī continued to speak to the black messenger of Kṛṣṇa: “Please do not talk anymore about Kṛṣṇa. It is better to talk about something else. We are already doomed, like the black-spotted she-deer in the forest who are enchanted by the sweet musical vibration of the hunter. In the same way, we have been enchanted by the sweet words of Kṛṣṇa, and by thinking of the rays of His toenails again and again, we are becoming more and more lusty for His association. Therefore, I request you not to talk of Kṛṣṇa anymore.”
These talks of Rādhārāṇī with the bumblebee messenger, including Her accusing Kṛṣṇa in so many ways and at the same time expressing Her inability to give up talking about Him, are signs of the topmost transcendental ecstasy, called mahā-bhāva. The ecstatic mahā-bhāva manifestation is possible only in the persons of Rādhārāṇī and Her associates. Great ācāryas like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura have analyzed these mahā-bhāva speeches of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and described their different varieties, such as udghūrṇā, or bewilderment, and jalpa-pratijalpa, or talking in different ways. These are the signs of ujjvala-rasa, or the brightest jewel of love of God.
While Rādhārāṇī was talking with the bee and the bee was flying hither and thither, it all of a sudden disappeared from Her sight. She was in full mourning due to separation from Kṛṣṇa and felt ecstasy by talking with the bee. But as soon as the bee disappeared, She became almost mad, thinking that the messenger-bee might have returned to Kṛṣṇa to inform Him all about Her talking against Him. “Kṛṣṇa must be very sorry to hear it,” She thought. In this way She was overwhelmed by another type of ecstasy.
In the meantime, the bee, flying hither and thither, appeared before Her again. She thought, “Kṛṣṇa is still kind to Me. In spite of the messenger’s carrying disruptive messages, He is so kind that He has again sent the bee to take Me to Him.” Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī was very careful this time not to say anything against Kṛṣṇa. “My dear friend, I welcome you,” She said. “Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has again sent you. Kṛṣṇa is so kind and affectionate to Me that He has fortunately sent you back, in spite of your carrying My message against Him. All good fortune to you, My dear friend. Now you may ask from Me whatever you want. I shall give you anything because you are so kind to Me. You have come to take Me to Kṛṣṇa because He is not able to come here, being surrounded by new girlfriends in Mathurā. But you are a tiny creature. How can you take Me there? How will you be able to help Me meet Kṛṣṇa while He is taking rest there with the goddess of fortune and embracing her to His chest? Never mind. Let us forget all these things about My going there or sending you. Please let Me know how Kṛṣṇa is faring in Mathurā. Tell Me if He still remembers His foster father, Nanda Mahārāja, His affectionate mother, Yaśodā, His cowherd friends and His poor friends like us, the gopīs. I am sure He must sometimes sing about us, who served Him just like maidservants, without any payment. Is there any possibility that Kṛṣṇa will come back and place His aguru-scented hand on our heads? Please put all these inquiries to Kṛṣṇa.”
Uddhava was standing near, and he heard Rādhārāṇī talking in this way, as if She had become almost mad for Kṛṣṇa. He was exceedingly surprised at how the gopīs were accustomed to thinking of Kṛṣṇa constantly in that topmost ecstasy of mahā-bhāva love. He had brought a message in writing from Kṛṣṇa, and now he wanted to present it before the gopīs, just to pacify them. He said, “My dear gopīs, your mission of human life is now successful. You are all wonderful devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore you are eligible to be worshiped by all kinds of people. You are worshipable throughout the three worlds because your minds are wonderfully absorbed in the thought of Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa. He is the goal of all pious activities and ritualistic performances, such as giving charity, rigidly following the austerity of vows, undergoing severe penances and igniting the fire of sacrifice. He is the purpose behind chanting different mantras, reading the Vedas, controlling the senses and concentrating the mind in meditation. These are some of the many different processes for self-realization and attainment of perfection of life. But actually they are meant only for realizing Kṛṣṇa and dovetailing oneself in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” This is the last instruction of the Bhagavad-gītā also; although there are descriptions of different processes of self-realization, at the end Kṛṣṇa recommends that one give up everything and simply surrender unto Him. All other processes are meant for teaching one how to surrender ultimately unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. The Bhagavad-gītā also says that this surrendering process is completed by a sincere person after executing the processes of self-realization in wisdom and austerity for many births.
Since the perfection of such austerity was completely manifested in the lives of the gopīs, Uddhava was fully satisfied upon seeing their transcendental position. He continued, “My dear gopīs, the mentality you have developed in relationship with Kṛṣṇa is very, very difficult to attain, even for great sages and saintly persons. You have attained the highest perfectional stage of life. It is a great boon for you that you have fixed your minds upon Kṛṣṇa and have decided to have Kṛṣṇa only, giving up your families, homes, relatives, husbands and children for the sake of the Supreme Personality. Because your minds are now fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul, universal love has automatically developed in you. I think myself very fortunate that I have been favored, by your grace, to see you in this situation.”
When Uddhava said that he had a message from Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs were more interested in hearing the message than in hearing about their exalted position. They did not very much like being praised for their high position. They showed their anxiety to hear the message Uddhava had brought from Kṛṣṇa. Uddhava said, “My dear gopīs, I am especially deputed to carry this message to you, who are such great and gentle devotees. Kṛṣṇa has specifically sent me to you because I am His most confidential servitor.”
Uddhava did not deliver to the gopīs the written message brought from Kṛṣṇa, but he personally read it to them. The message was very gravely written, so that not only the gopīs but all empiric philosophers might understand how pure love of God is intrinsically integrated with all the different energies of the Supreme Lord. From Vedic information it is understood that the Supreme Lord has multi-energies: parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate. Also, the gopīs were such intimate personal friends of Kṛṣṇa that while He was writing the message for them He was so moved that He could not write distinctly. Uddhava, as a student of Bṛhaspati, had very sharp intelligence, so instead of handing over the written message, he thought it wise to read it personally and explain it to them.
Uddhava continued, “These are the words of the Personality of Godhead: ‘My dear gopīs, My dear friends, please know that separation between ourselves is impossible at any time, at any place or under any circumstances, because I am all-pervading.’”
This all-pervasiveness of Kṛṣṇa is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, in both the ninth and seventh chapters. In the ninth chapter Kṛṣṇa is described as all-pervasive in His impersonal feature; everything rests in Him, but He is not personally present everywhere. And in the seventh chapter it is stated that the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and sky) and the three subtle elements (mind, intelligence and ego) are all His inferior energies. But there is another, superior energy, which is called the living entity. The living entities are also directly part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is both the material and the efficient cause of everything. He is always intermingled with everything as cause and effect. Not only the gopīs but all living entities are always inseparably connected with Kṛṣṇa in all circumstances. The gopīs, however, are perfectly and thoroughly in cognition of this relationship with Kṛṣṇa, whereas the living entities under the spell of māyā, the illusory energy, are forgetful of Kṛṣṇa and think themselves separate identities having no connection with Him.
Love of Kṛṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is therefore the perfection of real knowledge in understanding things as they are. Our minds can never be vacant. The mind is constantly occupied with some kind of thought, and the subject matter of such thought cannot be outside the eight elements of Kṛṣṇa’s energy. One who knows this philosophical aspect of all thoughts is actually a wise man, and he surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs are the epitome of this perfectional stage of knowledge. They are not simple mental speculators. Their minds are always in Kṛṣṇa. The mind is nothing but the energy of Kṛṣṇa. Actually, any person who can think, feel and will cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa. But the stage in which he can understand his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The diseased condition in which he cannot understand his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa is the contaminated stage, or māyā. Since the gopīs are on the platform of pure transcendental knowledge, their minds are always filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For example, as there is no separation between fire and air, there is no separation between Kṛṣṇa and the living entities. When the living entities forget Kṛṣṇa, they are not in their normal condition. As for the gopīs, because they are always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, they are on the absolute stage of perfection in knowledge. The so-called empiric philosophers sometimes think that the path of bhakti is meant for the less intelligent, but unless the so-called man of knowledge comes to the platform of bhakti, his knowledge is certainly impure and imperfect. Actually, the stage of forgetfulness of our eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa is separation. But that is also illusory because there is no such separation. The gopīs were not situated in that illusory condition of life, so even from the philosophical point of view, for them there was no separation.
Uddhava continued reading Kṛṣṇa’s message: “‘Nothing is separate from Me; the whole cosmic manifestation is resting on Me and is not separate from Me. Before the creation, I was existing.’” This is confirmed in the Vedic literature: eko vai nārāyaṇa āsīn na brahmā neśānaḥ. “Before creation, there was only Nārāyaṇa. There was no Brahmā and no Śiva.” The whole cosmic manifestation is manipulated by the three modes of material nature. It is said that Brahmā, the incarnation of the quality of passion, created this universe. But Brahmā is the secondary creator: the original creator is Nārāyaṇa. This is confirmed by Śaṅkarācārya: nārāyaṇaḥ paro ’vyaktāt. “Nārāyaṇa is transcendental, beyond this cosmic creation.” In this way, nothing within this cosmic manifestation is separate from Kṛṣṇa, although Kṛṣṇa’s original form is not visible in everything.
Kṛṣṇa creates, maintains and annihilates the whole cosmic manifestation by expanding Himself in different incarnations. Everything is Kṛṣṇa, and everything depends on Kṛṣṇa, but He is not perceived in the material energy, and therefore it is called māyā, or illusion. In the spiritual energy, however, Kṛṣṇa is perceived at every step, in all circumstances. This perfectional stage of understanding is represented by the gopīs. As Kṛṣṇa is always aloof from the cosmic manifestation although it is completely dependent on Him, so a living entity is also completely aloof from his material, conditioned life although the material body has developed on the basis of spiritual existence. In the Bhagavad-gītā the whole cosmic manifestation is accepted as the mother of the living entities, and Kṛṣṇa is the father. As the father impregnates the mother by injecting the living entity within the womb, Kṛṣṇa injects all the living entities into the womb of the material nature. They come out in different bodies according to their different fruitive activities. But in all circumstances, the living entity is aloof from this material, conditioned life.
If we simply study our own bodies, we can understand how a living entity is always aloof from this bodily encagement. Every action of the body takes place by the interactions of the three modes of material nature. We can see at every moment many changes taking place in our bodies, but the spirit soul is aloof from all changes. One can neither create nor annihilate nor interfere with the actions of material nature. The living entity is therefore entrapped by the material body and conditioned in three stages, namely while awake, asleep and unconscious. The mind acts throughout all three conditions of life; the living entity in his sleeping or dreaming condition sees something as real, and when awake he sees the same thing as unreal. It is concluded, therefore, that under certain circumstances he accepts something as real, and under other circumstances he accepts the very same thing as unreal. These matters are the subject of study for the empiric philosopher or the sāṅkhya-yogī. To come to the right conclusion, sāṅkhya-yogīs undergo severe austerities and penances, practicing control of the senses and renunciation.
All these different ways of determining the ultimate goal of life are compared to rivers, and Kṛṣṇa is compared to the ocean. As the rivers flow down toward the ocean, all attempts for knowledge flow toward Kṛṣṇa. After many, many births of endeavor, when one actually comes to Kṛṣṇa, he attains the perfectional stage. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, kleśo ’dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām: “All are pursuing the path of realizing Me, but those who have adopted courses without any bhakti find their endeavor very troublesome.” Kṛṣṇa cannot be understood unless one comes to the point of bhakti.
Three paths are enunciated in the Bhagavad-gītā: karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga and bhakti-yoga. Those who are too much addicted to fruitive activities are advised to perform actions which will bring them to bhakti. Those who are addicted to the pursuit of empiric philosophy are also advised to act in such a way that they will realize bhakti. Karma-yoga is therefore different from ordinary karma, and jñāna-yoga is different from ordinary jñāna. Ultimately, as stated by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gītā, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: only through execution of devotional service can one understand Kṛṣṇa. The perfectional stage of devotional service was achieved by the gopīs because they did not care to know anything but Kṛṣṇa. It is confirmed in the Vedas, kasminn u bhagavo vijñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavatiti. This means that simply by knowing Kṛṣṇa one automatically acquires all other knowledge.
Uddhava continued reading Kṛṣṇa’s message: “‘Transcendental knowledge of the Absolute is no longer necessary for you. You were accustomed to loving Me from the very beginning of your lives.’” Knowledge of the Absolute Truth is specifically required for persons who want liberation from material existence. But one who has attained love for Kṛṣṇa is already on the platform of liberation. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, anyone engaged in unalloyed devotional service is to be considered situated on the transcendental platform of liberation. The gopīs did not actually feel any pangs of material existence, but they felt the separation of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa therefore said, “My dear gopīs, to increase your superexcellent love for Me, I have purposely separated Myself from you so that you may be in constant meditation on Me.”
The gopīs are in the perfectional stage of meditation. Yogīs are generally more fond of meditating than of executing devotional service to the Lord, but they do not know that the perfection of the yoga system is the attainment of devotion. This constant meditation on Kṛṣṇa by the gopīs is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā to be the topmost yoga. Kṛṣṇa knew very well the psychology of women. When a woman’s beloved is away, she thinks of him more in meditation than when he is present before her. Kṛṣṇa wanted to teach through the behavior of the gopīs that one who is constantly in trance like the gopīs surely attains His lotus feet.
Lord Caitanya taught people in general the method of vipralambha-sevā, which is the method of rendering service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the feeling of separation. The Six Gosvāmīs also taught worship of Kṛṣṇa in the feeling of the gopīs in separation. The prayers composed by Śrīnivāsācārya about the Gosvāmīs explain these matters very clearly. Śrīnivāsācārya said that the Gosvāmīs were always absorbed in the ocean of transcendental feelings in the mood of the gopīs. When they lived in Vṛndāvana they were searching for Kṛṣṇa, crying, “Where are You, Kṛṣṇa? O gopīs, where are you? Where are You, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī?” They never said, “We have now seen Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and therefore our mission is fulfilled.” Their mission remained always unfulfilled: they never met Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa reminded the gopīs that at the time of the rāsa dance those gopīs who could not join Him for the rāsa-līlā gave up their bodies simply by thinking of Him. Absorption in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by feeling separation is thus the quickest method for attainment of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. By the personal statement of Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs were convinced about the strength of feelings of separation. They were actually experiencing the supernatural method of Kṛṣṇa worship and were much relieved by understanding that Kṛṣṇa was not away from them but always with them.
The gopīs therefore received Uddhava very happily and began to speak as follows: “We have heard that king Kaṁsa, who was always a source of trouble for the Yadu dynasty, has now been killed. This is good news for us. We hope, therefore, that the members of the Yadu dynasty are very happy in the association of Kṛṣṇa, who can fulfill all the desires of His devotees. My dear Uddhava, kindly let us know whether Kṛṣṇa sometimes thinks of us while in the midst of the highly enlightened society girls in Mathurā. We know that the women and girls in Mathurā are not village women. They are enlightened and beautiful. Their bashful smiling glances and other feminine features must be very pleasing to Kṛṣṇa. We know very well that Kṛṣṇa is always fond of the behavior of beautiful women. It seems, therefore, that He has been entrapped by the women of Mathurā. My dear Uddhava, will you kindly let us know if Kṛṣṇa sometimes remembers us while in the midst of other women?”
Another gopī inquired, “Does He remember that night in the midst of kumuda flowers and moonlight, when Vṛndāvana became exceedingly beautiful? Kṛṣṇa was dancing with us, and the atmosphere was surcharged with the sound of foot bells. We exchanged pleasing conversation then. Does He remember that particular night? We remember that night, and we feel separation. Separation from Kṛṣṇa makes us agitated, as if there were fire in our bodies. Does He propose to come back to Vṛndāvana to extinguish that fire, just as a cloud appears in the sky to extinguish a forest fire by its downpour?”
Another gopī said, “Kṛṣṇa has killed His enemy, and He has victoriously achieved the kingdom of Kaṁsa. Maybe He is married with a king’s daughter by this time and living happily among His kinsmen and friends. Therefore, why should He come to this village of Vṛndāvana?”
Another gopī said, “Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the husband of the goddess of fortune, and He is self-sufficient. He has no business either with us, the girls in the Vṛndāvana forest, or with the city girls in Mathurā. He is the great Supersoul; He has nothing to do with any of us, either here or there.”
Another gopī said, “It is an unreasonable hope for us to expect Kṛṣṇa to come back to Vṛndāvana. We should try instead to be happy in disappointment. Even Piṅgalā, the great prostitute, said that disappointment is the greatest pleasure. We all know these things, but it is very difficult for us to give up the expectation of Kṛṣṇa’s coming back. Who can forget a solitary conversation with Kṛṣṇa, on whose chest the goddess of fortune always remains, in spite of Kṛṣṇa’s not desiring her? My dear Uddhava, Vṛndāvana is the land of rivers, forests and cows. Here the vibration of the flute was heard, and Kṛṣṇa, along with His elder brother, Śrī Balarāma, enjoyed the atmosphere in our company. Thus the environment of Vṛndāvana constantly reminds us of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. On the land of Vṛndāvana are the impressions of His footprints, the residence of the goddess of fortune, and because of such signs we cannot forget Kṛṣṇa.”
The gopīs further expressed that Vṛndāvana was still full of all opulence and good fortune; there was no scarcity or want in Vṛndāvana as far as material necessities were concerned. But in spite of such opulence they could not forget Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.
“We constantly remember various attractive features of beautiful Kṛṣṇa – His walking, His smiling, His joking words. We have all become lost by the dealings of Kṛṣṇa, and it is impossible for us to forget Him. We always pray to Him, exclaiming, ‘Dear Lord, dear husband of the goddess of fortune, dear Lord of Vṛndāvana and deliverer of the distressed devotees! We have now fallen and merged into an ocean of distress. Please, therefore, come back to Vṛndāvana and deliver us from this pitiable condition.’”
Uddhava minutely studied the transcendental abnormal condition of the gopīs in their separation from Kṛṣṇa, and he thought it wise to repeat again and again all the pastimes they had enjoyed with Him. Materialistic persons are always burning in a blazing fire of material miseries. The gopīs were burning in a transcendental blazing fire due to separation from Kṛṣṇa. The blazing fire exasperating the gopīs, however, is different from the fire of the material world. The gopīs constantly wanted the association of Kṛṣṇa, whereas materialistic persons constantly want the advantage of material comforts.
It is stated by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura that Kṛṣṇa saved the cowherd boys from the blazing forest fire within a second, while their eyes were closed. Similarly, Uddhava advised the gopīs that they could be saved from the fire of separation by closing their eyes and meditating on the activities of Kṛṣṇa from the very beginning of their association with Him. From the outside, the gopīs could visualize all the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa by hearing the descriptions of Uddhava, and from within they could remember those pastimes. From the instructions of Uddhava, the gopīs could understand that Kṛṣṇa was not separate from them. As they were constantly thinking of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa was also thinking of them constantly at Mathurā.
Uddhava’s messages and instructions saved the gopīs from immediate death, and the gopīs acknowledged the benediction from Uddhava. Uddhava practically acted as the preceptor spiritual master of the gopīs, and in return they worshiped him as they would worship Kṛṣṇa. It is recommended in authoritative scriptures that the spiritual master be worshiped on the level of the Supreme Personality of Godhead because of being His very confidential servitor, and it is accepted by great authorities that the spiritual master is the external manifestation of Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs were relieved from their transcendental burning condition by realizing that Kṛṣṇa was with them. Internally, they remembered His association within their hearts, and externally Uddhava helped them associate with Kṛṣṇa by his conclusive instructions.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is described in the scriptures as adhokṣaja, which indicates that He is beyond the perception of all material senses. Although beyond the material senses, He is present in everyone’s heart. At the same time, He is present everywhere by His all-pervasive feature of Brahman. One can realize all three transcendental features of the Absolute Truth (Bhagavān, the Personality of Godhead; Paramātmā, the localized Supersoul; and the all-pervasive Brahman) simply by studying the condition of the gopīs in their meeting with Uddhava, as described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
It is said by Śrīnivāsācārya that the Six Gosvāmīs were always merged in thoughts of the activities of the gopīs. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has also recommended the gopīs’ method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead as superexcellent. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī has also recommended that anyone who hears from the right source about the dealings of the gopīs with Kṛṣṇa and who follows the instructions laid down by the previous ācāryas will be elevated to the topmost position of devotional service and be able to give up the lust of material enjoyment.
All the gopīs were solaced by the instructions of Uddhava, and they requested him to stay in Vṛndāvana for a few days more. Uddhava agreed to their proposal and stayed with them not only for a few days but for a few months. He always kept them engaged in thinking of the transcendental message of Kṛṣṇa and His pastimes, and the gopīs felt as if they were experiencing direct association with Kṛṣṇa. While Uddhava remained in Vṛndāvana, the inhabitants enjoyed his association. As they discussed the activities of Kṛṣṇa, the days passed just like moments. Vṛndāvana’s natural atmosphere, with the presence of the river Yamunā, its nice orchards of trees decorated with various fruits, Govardhana Hill, caves, blooming flowers – all combined to inspire Uddhava to narrate Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. The inhabitants enjoyed Uddhava’s association in the same way that they enjoyed the association of Kṛṣṇa.
Uddhava was attracted by the attitude of the gopīs because they were completely attached to Kṛṣṇa, and he was inspired by the gopīs’ anxiety for Kṛṣṇa. He offered them his respectful obeisances and composed songs in praise of their transcendental qualities as follows: “Among all the living entities who have accepted the human form of life, the gopīs are superexcellently successful in their mission. Their thought is eternally absorbed in the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Great sages and we ourselves also try to be absorbed in meditation on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, but the gopīs, having lovingly accepted the Lord, are automatically accustomed to this and do not depend on any yogic practice. The conclusion is that one who has attained the gopīs’ condition of life does not have to take birth as Lord Brahmā or be born in a brāhmaṇa family or be initiated as a brāhmaṇa.”
Śrī Uddhava confirmed Lord Kṛṣṇa’s statement in the Bhagavad-gītā that one who takes shelter of Him for the right purpose, be that person a śūdra, a woman or a member of a low-grade family, will attain the highest goal of life. The gopīs have set the standard of devotion for the whole world. One who follows in the footsteps of the gopīs by constantly thinking of Kṛṣṇa can attain the highest perfectional stage of spiritual life. The gopīs were born not of any highly cultured family but of cowherd men, yet they developed the highest love of Kṛṣṇa, who is the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Supreme Brahman. For self-realization or God realization there is no need to take birth in a high family. The only thing needed is development of ecstatic love of God. For achieving perfection in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, no qualification is required other than to be constantly engaged in the loving service of Kṛṣṇa, the supreme nectar, the reservoir of all pleasure. The effect of taking up Kṛṣṇa consciousness is just like that of drinking nectar: with or without one’s knowledge, it will act. The active principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness will equally manifest itself everywhere; it does not matter how and where one has taken his birth. Kṛṣṇa will bestow His benediction upon anyone who takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, without any doubt.
Uddhava continued: “The supreme benediction attained by the gopīs in spite of their being born in the families of cowherd men was never attained even by the goddess of fortune herself, and certainly not by the denizens of heaven, though the bodily scent of the women there is exactly like the scent of the lotus. The gopīs are so fortunate that during the rāsa-līlā Kṛṣṇa personally embraced them with His arms and kissed them face to face. Certainly it is not possible for any women in the three worlds to achieve this except the gopīs.
“Therefore I wish to take birth as one of the plants or creepers in Vṛndāvana, who are so fortunate that the gopīs trample them. The gopīs have so lovingly served Kṛṣṇa, Mukunda Himself, the giver of liberation, who is searched after by great sages and saintly persons. For His sake they left everything – their families, their children, their friends, their homes and all worldly connections.”
Uddhava appreciated the exalted position of the gopīs and wished to fall down and take the dust of their feet on his head. Yet he dared not ask the gopīs to offer the dust from their feet; perhaps they would not be agreeable. Therefore, to have his head smeared with the dust of the gopīs’ feet without their knowledge, he desired to become only an insignificant clump of grass or herbs in the land of Vṛndāvana.
The gopīs were so much attracted to Kṛṣṇa that when they heard the vibration of His flute they instantly left their homes, families, children, honor and feminine bashfulness and ran toward the place where Kṛṣṇa was standing. They did not consider whether they were passing over the road or through the jungles. Imperceptibly, the dust of their feet was bestowed on small grasses and herbs of Vṛndāvana. Not daring to place the dust of the gopīs’ feet on his own head in this life, Uddhava aspired to have a future birth in Vṛndāvana in the position of a clump of grass or herbs. He would then be able to have the dust of the gopīs’ feet.
Uddhava appreciated the extraordinary fortune of the gopīs, who were relieved of all material pangs and anxieties by placing on their beautiful high breasts the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, which are worshiped not only by the goddess of fortune but by such exalted demigods as Brahmā and Lord Śiva, and which great yogīs meditate upon within their hearts. Thus Uddhava prayed to be constantly honored by the dust from the lotus feet of the gopīs, whose chanting of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental pastimes has become celebrated all over the three worlds.
After living in Vṛndāvana for some time, Uddhava desired to go back to Kṛṣṇa, and he begged permission to leave from Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā. He had a farewell meeting with the gopīs, and, taking permission from them also, he mounted his chariot to start for Mathurā.
When Uddhava was about to leave, all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, headed by Mahārāja Nanda and Yaśodā, came to bid him good-bye and presented him with various kinds of valuable goods secured in Vṛndāvana. They expressed their feelings with tears in their eyes due to intense attachment for Kṛṣṇa. All of them desired a benediction from Uddhava. They desired to always remember the glorious activities of Kṛṣṇa and wanted their minds to be always fixed upon His lotus feet, their words to be always engaged in glorifying Him, and their bodies to be always engaged in bowing down as they constantly remembered Him. This prayer of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana is the superexcellent type of self-realization. The method is very simple: to fix the mind always on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, to talk always of Kṛṣṇa without passing on to any other subject matter, and to engage the body in Kṛṣṇa’s service constantly. Especially in this human form of life, one should engage his life, resources, words and intelligence for the service of the Lord. Only such activities can elevate a human being to the highest level of perfection. This is the verdict of all authorities.
The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana said, “By the will of the supreme authority and according to the results of our own work, we may take our birth anywhere. It doesn’t matter where we are born, but our only prayer is that we may simply be engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” A pure devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa never desires to be promoted to the heavenly planets, or even to Vaikuṇṭha or Goloka Vṛndāvana, because he has no desire for his own personal satisfaction. A pure devotee regards heaven and hell to be on an equal level. Without Kṛṣṇa, heaven is hell; and with Kṛṣṇa, hell is heaven.
When Uddhava had been fully honored and worshiped by the pure devotees of Vṛndāvana, he returned to Mathurā and to his master, Kṛṣṇa. After offering respects by bowing down before Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, he described the wonderful devotional life of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana. Then he presented to Vasudeva, Kṛṣṇa’s father, and Ugrasena, Kṛṣṇa’s grandfather, all the gifts given by the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the forty-seventh chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “Delivery of the Message of Kṛṣṇa to the Gopīs.”
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