One summers evening, with a full moon shining in the sky like a huge orange globe, Krishna decided to keep the promise he had made some time ago to the Gopis, to make them happy. Krishna went to the banks of the Yamuna river and started to play his flute in the moonlight. The music reached the houses in Vrindavan and the ears of the young Gopis who were thinking of Krishna and only Krishna – nothing else. The music was irresistible. Each of them wanted to go to Krishna, and their madness was so intense that they did not even pause to think. Whatever chores they were doing, they forgot about them, rushed out of their houses and ran as fast as they could to the Yamuna. The women forgot their husbands, their elders, their children, their duties; their only desire was to be with Krishna. Some Gopis however, were restrained by people at home, and even those Gopis thought only of Krishna.
With their minds focused on Krishna, they went in to a deep trance, their sins were destroyed by their devotion to Krishna, and they attained Moksha. Even though the Gopis thought of Krishna as an earthly lover and not as Narayana Himself, the fact that Krishna was Narayana changed this love into bhakti and they attained salvation. As Suka says in the Bhagavatam “Those who have constant desire for him, constant anger against him, constant hatred towards him, constant love for him, or any other kind of kinship, are sure to attain salvation.”
Krishna’s flute – the inner calling of the Lord
The Gopis surrounded Krishna, lost in the music of his flute. Krishna spoke to them softly, asking them why they had come to the forest at this late hour. He asked them sweetly why they had come, and requested that they return to their homes and their families, and not forget their duties. The Gopis didn’t move; their hearts were filled with sorrow at Krishna’s words. They asked him not to dismiss them; they told him of how they could think of nothing else but him, and that every action was guided only by thoughts of Krishna. They begged that he accept their love. So Krishna simple kindly upon them, and accepted their offering. Krishna, the incarnation of Narayana, who had no desires, pretended to be an ordinary human being and allowed the Gopis to make love to him, and dance with him. Each one of the Gopis thought that Krishna had fallen in love with her and her alone. But pride manifested in the heart of each of them. Krishna had to teach them a lesson, and suddenly he vanished.
Despair seized the Gopis when they realised they couldn’t find Krishna anywhere. Their love had reached a point of frenzy; they were almost bereft of reason. They wondered in the forest looking for him, moaning and weeping. Suddenly they saw Krishna’s footprints, and they followed them. Having followed for some distance, to their dismay they found the footprints of a woman alongside his. The footprints changed such that it appeared that at some points they were intertwined, and at others that Krishna must have been carrying her. They were burning with jealousy.
The Gopi who had gone with Krishna was herself later filled with pride, thinking that Krishna loved her the most. At one point when she had been consumed with the thought that she was one with Krishna, he had dropped her and vanished. The Gopis who had gone in search of Krishna found her and she told them how she too had been abandoned.
They all returned to the banks of the Yamuna and sang the praises of Krishna with tears in their eyes, and prayed for him to return to them. Krishna, knowing that they were rid of their pride, then appeared in front of them. They rushed towards him, and all tried to embrace him, and were entirely at peace. When Krishna spoke to them later of love, he said that their devotion to him had increased since going through the agony of losing him. He did what he had done to strengthen their bhakti.
Raas Leela Dancing
Krishna suggested they should dance the Raas. The Gopis stood in a circle and between two Gopis was a Krishna. Each thought that he was holding only her hand. They all sang and danced together. The moon and the planets stopped in their tracks transfixed on the beauty of the Raas leela, and making this night longer than others. Krishna entered the waters of the Yamuna and the Gopis followed him, swimming and playing in the waters. They enjoyed the highest experience of Prema Bhakti, where the Lord gave Himself fully to each one. Krishna expanded Himself for each gopi, so each one felt they had Krishna for themselves.
The night came to and end, and Krishna made the Gopis return home. Because of Krishna’s maya, those left at home were unaware of the absence of their women and soon the night became to each of them a beautiful memory which they re-lived again and again in their minds.
Celebrate Kartik Night with us in Southall, London
When: Saturday 27 October from 5pm to 12pm (doors open at 4pm)
Where: SSPC Southall, Drill Hall, Featherstone Road, Southall, UB2 5AQ
Visit Shree Peetha Nilaya
So you love the picture at the top and wonder where it is from? This is one of over 100 glorious murals that were painted by Bhakti Marga Artists at the Bhutabhrteshwarnath Mandir, which is based at Bhakti Marga International’s headquarters – the Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram near Frankfurt, Germany.
If you are interested in going there in person and wish to travel with others from the UK, then let us know here and we’ll get back to you.