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Embracing at Times Square: Learning


Love from The Gopis of Vrindavan

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Embracing at Times Square: Learning Love


from The Gopis of Vrindavan
Article of the Month Sep 2007

According to the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, all manifested world is a
work of prakriti while Krishna is the supreme purusha. What this suggests is that
everything in this world is an expression of the feminine creative principle. The
scriptures further define a woman as "one who fears." Thus, only one who has no
fear is a purusha. All of us have numerous fears hounding our lives, the most
intense of which is the fear of death. Therefore, it remains firmly established that
the only true male in this world is Krishna, while the rest all are females.
The objective of human life is to kindle in the heart loving devotion towards god. The
nature of this affection is exclusive, that is, excluding the entire world, all our
attachment needs to be directed to the feet of god. The Gita says:
The Supreme Purusha is attainable by exclusive devotion to him alone. (8.22)

Thankfully, we are fully geared for this aim.


Since we are all women, we are by nature
possessed of possessive love and inherently
tuned to offer ourselves with complete devotion,
attachment and surrender. Here it must be
understood that loving god is different than
merely believing in him. It is another thing, for
example, to appreciate his splendor in the rising
sun and bow our heads before it. This does not
make us a lover of god, but only a believer.
Believing
is
different
than
having
an
overwhelming desire for union with god.

Surya Namaskara

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Way of Loving God Same as We Love This World

It is also important to realize that the


manner in which we love god is not different
than the love we indulge in the world. Its
method, technique etc is totally the same;
and how otherwise could it be? It is the only
way to love we know. The only difference
being that in the latter case we have in our
minds a worldly man or a woman, and in the
former, god is enshrined in our hearts. The
lamp of love is in our hands; it is up to us
whom we direct it towards the world or
god. For example, attachment to money is
called greed, however, the same attachment
when directed towards god becomes bhakti.

Mere To Girdhar Gopal Doosra Na Koyi


(Mirabai)

The Supreme Emotion in Man


Of all the emotions in man, kama, or desire, is the strongest because he is born due
to it. In fact, the world came into being because in the beginning god was alone and
desired to become many:
He desired that "Let me be many. Let me procreate." He concentrated with fervor;
and having concentrated, created all that is. (Taittriya Upanishad 2.61)
When kama affects a man he thinks of a woman, and vice versa. Now, what one
does is replace the man or woman with the image of god. Let kama remain the
same, only the subject needs to be changed. It is similar to the moment of creation
above. When god desired, he meditated on himself, similarly, by making god the
object of our kama, we are but reflecting on our innermost selves.

From Whom Can We Learn The Art of Love?


The ancient scriptures are unanimous in declaring that the gopis of Vrindavana are
the ideal teachers from whom one can learn the art of loving god. The word gopi
itself explains the manner in which this love can be inculcated in our lives.
The primary meaning of the word gopi is secret. Thus, a gopi is one who keeps her
love and lover secret. Indeed, it is never a good idea to display ones love in front of
all. Love is softer than a rose petal. When exposed to touch, the petal will shrink.
Love should never come under the pressure of anybodys gaze.

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Love is a lamp lighted inside the temple of the heart. Till the gate of the mouth is
closed it burns uninterrupted inside. However, once the mouth opens and the
outside air enters, it flickers and dies out. A love exposed requires much more care
to sustain than one kept secret. People of the world are not firmly established in any
one position. When they see you secure in love in one place, they get together to
shake it, trying to make it as shaky as they themselves are.
The love of the gopis with Krishna does not belong to the parks, or to the streets.
Therefore, if you want to keep your love intact, dont embrace at the Times Square
in front of a thousand eyes. Leave it for those sacred moments when you are alone.

Objection: If we have to love god like a


woman, we can nourish love for Krishna as a
mother for her son, rather than the gopis
dalliance with him.

Yashoda Krishna

Resolution: A mother, though extremely fond of her son, reserves priority for her
husband, and, if having more than one offspring, her affection is not exclusive as
mentioned above.
Also, there always will remain a thick curtain of modesty between a mother and
child, preventing a union without any inhibiting screen between the two.

God and Jiva Standing in Mutual Exposure


In the highest state of love, there is no restraining screen between lovers, all
separating layers having been peeled off. Both stand vulnerable and fully exposed to
each other.
This is akin to the situation of a king who when going to his court has to dress
himself up in all finery and also carry on his body a heavy armor. When the same
man comes home, he frees himself of all the trappings of his office, and his wife
helps him relieve himself out of these outward signs of majesty and power. He finds
true rest only in front of his beloved.

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Indeed, no man and woman can get intimately intimate without first standing
undraped to each others gaze, even a mother cannot feed her child before revealing
her breast to him, nor can a husband and wife reach the peak of their affection
without first removing all screens concealing one body from the other.

Like
Krishna
who
divested gopis of their
clothes
and
exposed
them fully to his gaze, a
devotee in his home too
indulges
his
god,
undraping him and then
draping him in his choice
of clothes. Here it is the
creative power of love
transforming a piece of
stone into god.

Radhey Shyam

Objection: We can meditate on Vishnu Lakshmi or Rama and Sita as couples; why
meditate on the gopis games with Krishna, especially since their relationship in
formal terms remains ambiguous?

Resolution:
No
doubt
Goddess Lakshmi loves Lord
Vishnu very much; however,
he is somewhat of an
indifferent recluse and does
not assert his authority nor
expresses
any
possessiveness towards her.
The initiative is totally hers in
their relationship and even as
she tenderly presses his feet
with affection he dozes off in
his yoga nidra.
Shesha Shayi Vishnu

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Rama definitely loves Sita very much.


Look at how he lamented after Ravana
carried her off. However, his top
priority is to establish the ideal of
dharma and sacrifice in this world, for
the sake of which he is ever ready to
give up his personal pleasure,
friendship or even his beloved Sita.
Perhaps, he has not married her, but
his duty. The common everyday
sweetness of encounter is missing
from this loving couple.

Whole world is Rama Sita I know, With folded


hands to them I bow

In the case of Krishna however, he is but sweetness personified. His appearance on


earth has the sole purpose of attracting us towards him. Leaving his grand, opulent
abode Vaikuntha, he has manifested himself in terms we can easily relate to.
Indeed, one shrinks away from majesty and grandeur, being unable to open up fully
in its presence. However, the same god who rules over the world runs barefoot after
cows in Vrindavana making us forget his real stature as the highest and mightiest,
enabling our stream of human emotions like love, affection and care to flow towards
him.
The gopis, seeing him go barefoot into the forests to graze the cows, sing out in
distress:
Oh loving lord, when you go to cattle graze,
Our hearts get agitated and we are in a daze,
That your lotus-feet will suffer pricks,
Pained by pebbles, grass and twigs. (Shrimad Bhagavata Purana 10.31.11)

Locking Eyes with Krishna


In Vaikuntha, the lords eyes are closed. Nor does he open them easily. What does
Krishna do in Vrindavan however? He literally invites the gopis to lock their eyes
with his, establishing a bond between them. This is what happened with a new
bride. When Krishna passed her street, he saw her cleaning rice, focused totally on
her job. Krishna wondered: "All the wives, daughters, mothers and mothers in laws
of this village look at me (and I at them), however, surprise of surprises, this bride
does not do so. So she should be made to do so."

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Krishna then turned around, and to catch her attention, walked slowly in front of her
with a slow and dance-like gait (thumak), moving as if to the rhythm of his anklets.
When that did not work, he coughed a little which too was not sufficient to make her
raise her eyes. He then threw a small pebble at her and started playing a melodious
tune on his flute. Who could resist it? Her eyes met his and the bond which grants
one everlasting freedom was established.

This is one of the reasons why Krishna is dark, because he


lives in the eyes of the gopis, which are lined with black kohl,
leaving a permanent mark on him.

Lord Krishna as
Shyam (Black) Sundar
(Beauty)

This is also an effective method of meditation. If you are unable to concentrate,


close your eyes and think that your eyes are looking straight into the deity of your
choice. You will be established in dhyana.

Gopi One Who Has Married off All Her Senses to Krishna
The eyes of the gopis are married to Krishna. Indeed, our eyes cannot have anybody
else as their lord.
Objection: You say that eyes are wedded to Krishna, but they go (like prostitutes),
to whatever attracts their attraction. Similarly do our ears go wherever they hear a
favorable sound. Thus, our sense organs do not have a single constant husband they
feel attracted towards.
Resolution: It is a common experience that when we see a beautiful form it churns
our mind enough to render us sleepless in the night. Meaning that our senses are
unable to "sleep" with their object of interest. However, when the same senses leave
the outside object, only then can they peacefully go to sleep with the Supreme

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Purusha resting within each of us. Thus like a wife who can only sleep with her true
husband, the sense organs too find rest only with our inner being.

The word gopi also means one who


drinks (pi) Krishna from all her sense
organs (go). Actually, the divine
principle in each of us is Nirguna,
unmanifest.
However,
the
mere
knowledge that fire resides in a piece
of wood is of no use to a person
shivering with cold. It is only when the
fire is made manifest that its heat
relieves the person. Similarly, it is the
intense need of the gopis to love and
mate with Krishna that compels him to
spring out of their hearts and take a
manifest (Saguna) form. The gopis
have thus unified their inner and outer
vision.

The Freudian Vision of Krishna

Why The Love of Gopis Goes Beyond the Physical


The gopis affection for Lord Krishna is a supreme tribute to the creative power of
love, which transforms a gross physical emotion (kama) into divine love (prema).
Remember, this is the same love and faith which has the power to transform a piece
of stone into god.

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When we enter the lila of


Krishna with the gopis, the
first
reaction
is
purely
physical. However, the effect
is not tantalizing, rather, it
has a calming effect on our
otherwise constantly restless
senses. Hence, we understand
that the purpose of this lila is
to make us realize that for the
numerous births we have been
playing with jivas in this
world, we have never found
peace. Only when we play
with the lord alone do we gain
everlasting shanti.

Krishna Swinging on a Swing Made of Gopis

There are many aspects which make it amply clear that the lords sport with the
gopis is something beyond the physical. Some of these are:

Shukadev Ji Narrating The Bhagavata Purana to King


Parikshit

1). The story of Lord Krishna


and the gopis was narrated
to King Parikshit, who was
destined to die within a
week. The whole purpose of
the exercise was to render
the king fearless of his
impending death enabling
him to attain Moksha. Would
a king on the brink of death
be inclined to hear tales of
lust? Could such stories in
any way help his liberation?

2). When Krishna wanted to dance with the gopis (rasa lila), he let forth from his
flute a sweet melody. Hearing this music the gopis lost all external consciousness,
left whatever they were doing and rushed out to meet Krishna. One such gopi was
applying cow dung paste to the walls of her house. She too ran without even
bothering to wipe her hands. Would a woman desiring physical union with her lover
go in this state to meet him?
3). The gopis were intimate enough with Krishna to ask for the "nectar of his lips."
(Shrimad Bhagavata Purana 10.31.14). This demand however is loaded with
philosophical symbolism. The Sanskrit word here is a-dhara-amrit. The word dhara

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means the earth and the prefix a negates it, i.e. what the gopis were asking for
was a heavenly nectar, which did not belong to this world.
4). There have been innumerable instances of individuals, who, having studied the
gopis love with Lord Krishna, have given up their homes, becoming ascetics
wandering freely around the world, meditating solely on the gods lila. Is it possible
for a worldly tale made up of luscious physical love to have this kind of an effect?

Conclusion:

God is lord of the world,


which but dances to His
tune. The lord of god
however is love, which
makes Him dance to its
tune.

Radha Krishna in Joyous Dance

References and Further Reading:

Chinmayananda, Swami. The Holy Geeta: Mumbai, 2002.


Devi, Shrimati Dayakanti. Shrimad Bhagavata Mahapurana (With Word to
Word Meaning in 8 Volumes): Allahabad, 1993.
Dongre ji, Shri Rama Chandra. Shri Gopi Geet (Discourses on the Shrimad
Bhagavata Purana 10.31): Vrindavan, 2007.
Goswami, C.L. and Shastri, M.A. Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana (English
Translation in Two Volumes) Gorakhpur, 2005.
Gupta, Som Raj. The Word Speaks to the Faustian Man (Volume III - Shri
Shankaracharya's Commentary on the Taittriya Upanishad): Delhi, 1999.
Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda. Discourses on the Gopi Geet: Vrindavan,
2003.

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Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda. Discourses on the Pranaya Geet:


Vrindavan, 2004.
Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda.Narada Bhakti Darshan (Discourses on the
Narada Bhakti Sutras): Vrindavana, 2003.
Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda (tr). Shrimad Bhagavata Purana (2
Volumes): Gorakhpur, 2004.
Sivananda, swami. Yoga Vedanta Dictionary Rishikesh, 2004.
Tagare, G.V. (tr). The Bhagavata Purana (5 Volumes (Annotated)) Delhi,
2002.
Tejomayananda, Swami. Gopika Gitam: The Gopis' Song Mumbai, 2001.
Gupta, Som Raj. The Word Speaks to the Faustian Man (Volume III - Shri
Shankaracharya's Commentary on the Taittriya Upanishad) Delhi, 1999.

This article by Nitin Kumar.


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