“The gopis would say, "If You dance, my dear Krishna, then I shall give You half a sweetmeat." By saying these words or by clapping their hands, all the gopis encouraged Krishna in different ways. At such times, although He was the supremely powerful Personality of Godhead, He would smile and dance according to their desire, as if He were a wooden doll in their hands. Sometimes He would sing very loudly, at their bidding. In this way, Krishna came completely under the control of the gopis.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.7)Download this episode (right click and save)
gopībhiḥ stobhito ’nṛtyad
bhagavān bālavat kvacit
udgāyati kvacin mugdhas
There is a lot to love about Shri Krishna. The Sanskrit word for God the person is bhagavan. The Vishnu Purana defines this word as “one who possesses six opulences in full.” If you like power, you have it in full in Shri Krishna. He is so powerful that simply through one of His expansions He creates many universes. And even in that expansion, who is known as Lord Vishnu, He barely breaks a sweat. He lays down and exhales for everything to manifest. When He inhales everything comes back into Him.
In Krishna there is full knowledge. The Bhagavad-gita is evidence of this. Having trouble at work? Dealing with an illness while travelling abroad? Not sure which direction to go in life? Are you unsatisfied even after having been reasonably successful in life? The most difficult issues get addressed in this famous conversation between charioteer and bow-warrior. Though Krishna is driving the chariot, He assumes the position of superior when asked by Arjuna, the dear friend and disciple.
Krishna has full beauty as well. This is best appreciated by the gopis of Vrindavana. They are young cowherd girls. They rendezvous with the Supreme Lord in the middle of the night in the forest. The bright moon provides the light and Krishna the ideal dance partner. There are many paintings depicting this famous pastime. As He can do whatever He wishes, the singular God, Krishna, expands into identical forms so that each gopi feels like they are dancing with Him alone.
Vrindavana also has elderly gopis. These are the mothers of the community. They appreciate Krishna in unique ways. Their interactions with Him are not what you would typically associate with the origin of everything.
1. He dances when they ask Him to.
Krishna appears on this earth millennium after millennium, as He states in the Bhagavad-gita.
ajo 'pi sann avyayātmā
bhūtānām īśvaro 'pi san
prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya
“Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.6)
When He comes as Himself, the full incarnation, He spends the early portion in Vrindavana. There He plays the role of adorable son to mother Yashoda and her husband Nanda. One of the ways that Yashoda delights in Krishna’s association is by asking Him to dance. The Supreme Lord happily obliges, showing that His mother is very dear to Him.
2. He tries to bring Nanda’s slippers.
Children imitate the parents. It is only natural. If we go outside to the mailbox every day to pick up the latest mail, our children might notice. They may ask to do the same one day. Though it’s a trivial task to the adults, to the children it’s very important. It makes them feel like grown ups. In keeping with the role of child, Krishna would sometimes try to pick up the slippers of His father and bring them to him. Sometimes the objects in question would fall from His hand. Though He upholds all the planets in the universe, for some reason the slippers are too heavy.
3. He barters for fruits.
Krishna observed how goods were exchanged in Vrindavana. It was the barter system. Having seen His parents give grains in exchange for fruits, Krishna decided to try it one time. Unfortunately, most of the grains fell from His hands. Those same hands which would later give the death-punch to the evil king of Mathura were somehow unable to keep a sufficient amount of grains in them. Never mind, though, as the fruit vendor was more than pleased by the valiant effort of the innocent child. The vendor filled His hands with fruits anyway, and the Supreme Lord then transformed the contents of her basket into jewels. The whole town was delighted by this.
4. He steals butter.
Yes, the Supreme Lord steals. He is all-goodness, or shudda-sattva. There is no such thing as sin in Him. Sin is anything which brings one further away from Krishna consciousness. Piety is the reverse; that which leads to the original mentality of always wanting to please Krishna in service. When Krishna lies, it is adorable. One time Yashoda heard from Krishna’s friends that He had eaten dirt. Krishna said He hadn’t, and no one could tell if He was being truthful. Other times He would get accused of stealing butter from the neighbors and then play innocent when brought in front of the judge, Yashoda.
5. He shows His adorable smile.
The Supreme Lord’s smile is a killer of pride. Pride results from false ego, which is one of the elements of the subtle body. As long as false ego remains, rebirth continues. Just seeing Krishna is so powerful that it removes the catalyst for staying in the material ocean. He showed that smile many times to the elderly gopis, who experienced the real meaning to liberation as a result. They had no interest in mystic perfection, material gain, or strict renunciation. They were as happy as they could be where they were, in the company of the all-attractive Supreme Lord.
Since His adorable smile to see,
Elderly gopis happy as could be.
Not wanting gain or mystic perfection,
Or rebirth in spiritual world’s reflection.
Rather loving Krishna for His stealing,
His bartering for fruits to heart appealing.
From them meaning of liberation learn,
Towards service of Yashoda’s son turn.