Srimad Bhagavatam

Dasama Skandham !

Raslila - Krishna and the Gopis

Dasama Skandham - in Bhagavatam :

In these pages we have brought together the Dasama Skandha of Srimad Mahabhagavatam . For many the Dasama Skandha represents the heart of Bhagavatam relating the complete story of Krishna from his birth to the pinnacle. It is the story of Krishna Avatara. The withdrawal of Krishna avatara happens in the eleventh book ! The chapter wise links are available on this page . The listed chapters include all but one Chapter, namely Chapter 87, of Dasama Skandha.!!

A linked summary of Dasama skandha is also made available


Raslila - Krishna and the Gopis

The story of Krishna and Gopis woven into the epic is an intriguing one making even King Parikshit ask questions which would occur to a simple mind and we have Sage Suka clarifying the same.

The Raslila could be treated as simply the story of the few chapters 29 to 33 covering the 'Gopis meeting the Lord', 'Gopis in separation', 'the Song of Gopis', 'the Lord's re-appearance', 'the Carnival of Rasa Dance'.

We thought of a broader based presentation covering all aspects of Krishna and Gopis from the time Gopis fell in love with the childish pranks of baby Krishna to the chapters where Uddhava comes to convey Krishna's message which culminates with Bhramara Gitam, as well as the last meeting with Gopis at Syamantapanchaka which figures almost the end of Dasama skandha, thus covering all chapters where Gopis figured in Dasama Skandha.

Accordingly we are presenting the following.

The love affair of Krishna and the Gopis starts right in his child hood

सहरामो व्रजस्त्रीणां चिक्रीडे जनयन् मुदं !

Along with Balarama with their pranks Krishna made the women of Vraja delighted !
Then we have Gopis in the form of other mothers complain to Yashoda

वत्सान् मुंचन् क्वचिदसमये क्रोस संजात हासः
स्तेयं स्वाद्वत्त्यथ दधि पयः कल्पितै स्तेय योगैः ।
मर्कान् भोक्ष्यन् विभजति स चेन्नाति भांडं भिन्नति
द्रव्यलाभे स ग्रुह कुपितो यात्युपक्रोश्य तोकान् ॥

" O mother he comes and releases the calves even before milking time. If any one scolds him he laughs at them. Then he makes arrangements for thieving the milk products and consumes all milk and curds he gets that way. When he does not consume their contents he breaks the containers. If he nothing is in a place he goes away in anger , pinching the little children there and making them cry". Poor Yashoda could not do anything but laugh away !

Then we have the delightful story of Yashoda seeing the whole universe in Krishna's open mouth as she looks in search of the mud he is supposed to have put in his mouth ! There are countless songs on that event alone..

As Balarama and Krishna grow up we read about the magic of Krishna's flute in Chapter 21. The description of Krishna here is most captivating ..

बर्हापीडं नटवरवपुः कर्णयोः कर्णिकारं
बिभ्रद् वासः कनक कपिशं वैजयंतीं च मालां।
रंध्रान् वेणो रधर सुधया पूरयन् गोपवृंदैः
वृंदारण्यं स्वपद रमणं प्राविशद् गीतकीर्तिः ॥

This sloka rendered exquisitely invariably forms the highlight of Ramesh Bhai Ojha's description of Krishna in his Bhagavata Katha discourse. This is followed by the Gopis swooning on the acts of Krishna and Balarama.

अक्षण्वतां फलमिदं न परं विदामः ...

" We cannot think of any other supreme fulfilment for eyes than this ... "
One ought to hear these slokas sung with that verve that Rameshbhai Ojha brings !

Here we get the glimpse of Gopis with their minds absorbed in Krishna at that young age.

एवं विथा भगवतो या व्रुंदावनचारिणः ।
वर्णयंत्यो मिथो गोप्यः क्रीडास्तन्मयतां ययुः ॥

Thus the Gopis had their minds fully absorbed in Him !!

Then we have other acts of stealing of Gopis clothes in chapter 22. Here we have a telling line where Krishna puts it in black and white !

न मय्यावेशित धियां कामः कामाय कल्पते ।
भांजिता क्वथिता धाना प्रायो बीजाय नेष्यते ॥ Ch 22.26||

" Sexual passion directed towards me will not end in sensual enjoyment. Just as the cooked grain loses its germinating capacity , the association with me destroys the sensuous nature of the passion"

With this one statement the Lord has removed the sensual nature of Gopis involvement inspite of all implied sexual passion ! At that time he promises them a future meeting ( मयेमा रंस्यथ क्षपाः | 22.27) All this comes well before the chapters of "Raslila" which are more like keeping the promise !

Then we have chapter 29 where the meeting of Gopis with the Lord is described.

Inevitably King Parikshit asks Suka. "O holy one ! the Gopis knew Krishna as a lover not as Brahman. Their outlook was therefore physical being born of "rajoguna". How can such frame of mind bring about erasing of ignorance of the bodily existence ?"

Suka answers that . First giving the example of Sisupala who attained Moksha even while practicing confrontation, Suka asks if an enemy can thus be blessed why not a lover who yearned for the Lord !. Then he answers himself.

कामं क्रोथं भयं स्नेहं इक्यं सौहृदमेवच ।
नित्यं हरौ विदधतो यांति तन्मयतां हि ते ॥

"All those who fix their mind on the Lord through sexual love, anger, fear, affection, sense of unity or devotion - they all attain his nature ( Moksha )"

Chapter 29 describes how Krishna tries to dissuade the Gopis and their reply. And how Krishna becomes one with them though he is self absorbed. When the Gopis think

" आत्मानं मेनिरे स्त्रीणां मानिन्यो अभ्यधिकं भुवि " ,

They think themselves to be most superior being entertained by no other than Krishna himself ! , then Krishna in his inimitable style disappears in order to purify them.

Then in chapter 30 we see Gopis in separation and searching for Krishna. The song of Gopis in Chapter 31 is the most enchanting and one would be tempted read again and again for the sheer music of the words !

The reappearance of Krishna is the gist chapter 32. We have a very interesting poser from the Gopis who are aware of the tricks played by Krishna on them.

Gopis ask Krishna ," Some love others according to as they are loved in return. In contrast some love even those who have no love for them. There are others who have no love for any neither for those who love them nor for those who do not love them. Please say who is the most virtuous of the three ".

The nature of questioning is such as to bring out that their love is most virtuous. Krishna is not easy to be pinned down. His reply is as interesting.

Bhagavan says " In case mutual love where love is some thing returned for something got, the motive on both sides is self interest only. Among those who love others even if they are not loved in return there are two kinds. Men who are by nature loving and kind , and men who are loving like parents. As for the third category who have no love for anybody there are three types of people. Those who are absorbed in Self for whom everybody is included in Self , those who have no need for any wants and so do not have any dealings with anybody and the brute man who has no need for any and has no gratitude or respect for elders ". Then he clarifies that he belongs to none of these groups !!

Even more interestingly he tells Gopis that their love is profound because they have spurned the rewards offered by vedic rituals and so on.

Then in Chapter 33 we have the carnival of enchanting Rasa dance.

We have one more query from Parikshit asking the propriety of the Raslila of the Lord who descended with sole purpose of establishing righteous and eradicate unrighteous acts acting. He specifically asks " O holy one he is the maker of moral codes, their protector as well as their teacher . How did he then commit the sin of association with others wives? O holy one please clarify this doubt of mine "

The answer is revealing.

" Supermen have been found to transgress the moral code and indulge in aggressive actions. But just like fire which can consume anything and yet remain pure and unaffected , these powerful ones cannot be contaminated by any evil. But insignificant man should not imitate them in this respect even mentally. If he behaves like that it would be like the one who without the power of Rudra imitates Rudra in drinking poison. Death would certainly be the consequence".

After the death of Kamsa , while Krishna decided to stay put in Mathura he did not forget Gopis . He sends Uddhava to assuage the grief of the Gopis over the separation ( Chapter 46). The dialog of Uddhava and the Gopis too is enchanting. The monologue of a Gopi addressing bee , Bhramara Gitam , too is very enchanting. The admiration of Uddhava for the Gopis and the residents of Vraja is eloquently stated.

Then there is the meeting of Krishna with Gopis at Syamantapanchaka ( Chapter 82) where Krishna again instructs them on the oneness of Jivatma and Paramatma.

That was the true culmination of Raslila !!


|| om tat sat ||