Why does Krsna immorally dance with the gopis, who are others’ daughters or wives?

In Srimad-Bhagavatam, the same question was asked by King Pariksit to Sukadeva Gosvami. Sukadeva Gosvami replied that even great persons who are free from false ego and selfish material motivations sometimes act in apparent contradiction to the laws of piety yet are not subject to sinful reactions; how, then, can the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supreme creator of all living beings and everything that exists, have any connection with the piety and impiety that affects His subordinate creations?

Sukadeva Gosvami further explained that even the Lord’s pure devotees are never entangled in material activities, for they find transcendental pleasure in the service of His lotus feet; how, then, can there be any question of bondage for the Lord Himself, who assumes His transcendental forms according to His own sweet will? He is the Paramatma in the hearts of the gopis and their husbands and indeed within all living beings. The Subala Upanisad says:

esa sarva-bhutantaratmapahata-papma

divyo deva eko narayanah

“There is one Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Narayana. He is the transcendental Supersoul in the hearts of all living entities, and He is completely free from all sin.”

Lord Krsna certainly descends to demonstrate religious principles (dharma-samsthapanarthaya) and to punish the miscreants (vinasaya ca duskrtam), but above all, He comes to show mercy to His devotees by enjoying transcendental pastimes with them (paritranaya sadhunam). The Lord enjoys with His internal potency (yoga-mayam upasritah) and thus attracts all conditioned souls to come to the spiritual platform. Neither the Lord, nor His devotees, nor His pastimes are material. The rasa dance is a completely spiritual act. To demonstrate the divinity of His transcendental dance, Lord Krsna, the almighty, expanded Himself into as many forms as there were gopis: “Expanding Himself as many times as there were cowherd women to associate with, the Supreme Lord, though self-satisfied, playfully enjoyed their company.” (Bhagavatam 10.33.19) 

The gopis are eternal associates of Krsna. They are His spiritual potency, expanded into spiritual bodies. They are not ordinary women:


tabhir ya eva nija-rupataya kalabhih

“The gopis are expansions of Krsna’s pleasure potency.” (Brahmasamhita 5.37)

In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 1.5) it is explained:

radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad

“The loving affairs of Radha and Krsna are transcendental manifestations of the Lord’s internal, pleasure-giving potency.”

And in the Padma Purana it is said:

gopyas tu srutayo jneya rsi-ja gopa-kanyakah

deva-kanyas ca rajendra na manusyah kathancana

“It is understood that some of the gopis are personified Vedic literature, while others are reborn sages, daughters of cowherds, or demigod maidens. But by no means, my dear king, are any of them ordinary humans.”

The gopis’ love for Lord Krsna is celebrated as the expression of the highest devotion, being free from any material impurities. Thus, even other great devotees, such as Uddhava, seek their blessings:

asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam

vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam

“Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers, or herbs in Vrndavana, because the gopis trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.” (Bhagavatam 10.47.61)

vande nanda-vraja-strinam pada-renum abhiksnasah

yasam hari-kathodgitam punati bhuvana-trayam

“I repeatedly offer my respects to the dust from the feet of the women of Nanda Maharaja’s cowherd village. When these gopis loudly chant the glories of Sri Krsna, the vibration purifies the three worlds.” (Bhagavatam 10.47.63) 

Even Lord Caitanya Himself—who, after accepting the sannyasa order of life, very strictly avoided the association of women—taught that there is no higher type of worship than that exemplified by the gopis of the Lord. Although the gopis’ attraction for Krsna appears to be lusty, it is not in the least material. Otherwise, why would great sannyasis and acaryas, after having renounced everything material, spend their time discussing Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis? Actually, because those pastimes are not material, lusty activities, discussions about them will indeed purify the participants from material lust, as confirmed by Sukadeva Gosvami:

“Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s playful affairs with the young gopis of Vrndavana will attain the Lord’s pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart.” (Bhagavatam 10.33.39)

Sukadeva Gosvami continued: “Lord Krsna enjoyed with that gopi, although He enjoys only within, being self-satisfied and complete in Himself. Thus, by contrast, He showed the wretchedness of ordinary lusty men and hardhearted women.” (Bhagavatam 10.30.34)

In Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.30) Srila Sukadeva Gosvami says:

naitat samacarej jatu manasapi hy anisvarah

vinasyaty acaran maudhyad yatha rudro ’bdhijam visam

“Certainly one who is not the Supreme Personality of Godhead should never, not even within his mind, imitate the activities of the transcendental rasa-lilaof Krsna. If out of ignorance one does so, he will be destroyed, just as if he were to imitate Lord Siva, who drank poison produced from the ocean.” 

In this regard, Srila Prabhupada has further explained, “We should clearly understand that while Lord Krsna certainly descends to demonstrate religious principles, He also descends to demonstrate that He is God and we are not. That also must be demonstrated. The Lord enjoys with His internal potency and thus attracts us to the spiritual platform. We should not try to imitate Krsna, for we will suffer severely.”

The path of Krsna-bhakti, or the process of developing love for Krsna, demands that under the guidance of an authorized spiritual master a devotee practice devotional service via rules and regulations (sadhana-bhakti). When thus freed from material lust and purified from all selfish desires, one automatically rises to the liberated platform of pure devotional service. Only then will one be able to realize the absolute nature of Lord Krsna’s pastimes.

From the book Who Is Supreme?




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