The Meeting Of The Lord And The Gopis by Srila Sukadeva Goswami
This chapter narrates how the Yadavas and many other kings met at Kurukshetra during a solar eclipse and discussed topics concerning Lord Krishna. It also relates how Krishna met Nanda Maharaja and the other residents of Vrindavan at Kurukshetra and gave them great joy. Hearing that a total eclipse of the sun was soon to occur, people from all over Bhārata-varṣa (greater India), including the Yadavas, visited Kurukshetra to generate special pious credit. After the Yadus had bathed and performed other obligatory rituals, they noticed that kings of Matsya, Ushinara and other regions had also come, as well as Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd community of Vraja, who were always feeling the intense anxiety of separation from Krishna. The Yadavas, overjoyed to see all these old friends, embraced them one by one as they shed tears of happiness. Their wives also embraced one another with great pleasure.
When Queen Kunti saw her brother Vasudeva and other members of her family, she forgot all sorrow. Yet still she said to Vasudeva, “O brother, I am so unfortunate, because all of you forgot me during my tribulations. Alas, even one’s relatives forget a person whom Providence no longer favors.” Vasudeva replied, “My dear sister, everyone is merely a plaything of fate. We Yadavas were so harassed by Kamsa that we were forced to scatter and take shelter in foreign lands. So there was no way for us to keep in touch with you.” The kings present were struck with wonder upon beholding Lord Sri Krishna and His wives, and they began to glorify the Yadavas for having gotten the Lord’s personal association.
Seeing Nanda, the Vrsnis were delighted and stood up like dead bodies coming back to life. Having felt much distress at not seeing him for so long, they held him in a tight embrace. Vasudeva embraced Nanda Maharaja with great joy. Beside himself with ecstatic love, Vasudeva remembered the troubles Kamsa had caused him, forcing him to leave his sons in Gokula for Their safety. O hero of the Kurus, Krishna and Balarama embraced Their foster parents and bowed down to them, but Their throats were so choked up with tears of love that the two Lords could say nothing. Raising their two sons onto their laps and holding Them in their arms, Nanda and saintly mother Yashoda forgot their sorrow. Then Rohini and Devaki both embraced the Queen of Vraja, remembering the faithful friendship she had shown them. Their throats choking with tears, they addressed her as follows. What woman could forget the unceasing friendship you and Nanda have shown us, dear Queen of Vraja? There is no way to repay you in this world, even with the wealth of Indra. Before these two boys had even seen Their real parents, you acted as Their guardians and gave Them all affectionate care, training, nourishment and protection. They were never afraid, good lady, because you protected Them just as eyelids protect the eyes. Indeed, saintly persons like you never discriminate between outsiders and their own kin.
Sukadeva Goswami said: While gazing at their beloved Krishna, the young gopis had previously condemned the creator of their eyelids, which would momentarily block their vision of Him. Now, seeing Krishna again after such a long separation, with their eyes they took Him into their hearts, and there they embraced Him to their full satisfaction. In this way they became totally absorbed in ecstatic meditation on Him, although the great yogīs who constantly practice mystic yoga find such absorption
difficult to achieve.
The Supreme Lord approached the gopis in a secluded place as they stood in their ecstatic trance. After embracing each of them and inquiring about their well-being, He laughed and spoke as follows. My dear friends, do you still remember Me? It was for My relatives sake that I stayed away so long, intent on destroying My enemies. Do you perhaps think I’m ungrateful and thus hold Me in contempt? After all, it is the Supreme Lord who brings living beings together and then separates them. Just as the wind brings together masses of clouds, blades of grass, wisps of cotton and particles of dust, only to scatter them all gain, so the creator deals with His created beings in the same way. Rendering devotional service to Me qualifies any living being for eternal life. But by your good fortune you have developed a special loving attitude toward Me, by which you have obtained Me. Dear gentle ladies, I am the beginning and end of all created beings and exist both within and without them, just as the elements ether, water, earth, air and fire are the beginning and end of all material objects and exist both within and without them. In this way all created things reside within the basic elements of creation, while the spirit souls pervade the creation, remaining in their own true identity. You should see both of these- the material creation and the self – as manifest within Me, the imperishable Supreme Truth.
Sukadeva Goswami said: Having thus been instructed by Krishna in spiritual matters, the gopis were freed of all tinges of false ego because of their incessant meditation upon Him. And with their deepening absorption in Him, they came to understand Him fully. The esoteric meaning of Krishna’s teachings to the gopis is found in Vaiṣṇavatoṣaṇī. This instruction on spiritual knowledge was meant for enlightening the gopis. However that did not happen at all. The gopis incessant meditation on Krishna which was constantly arising from their feelings of separation from Him was like a scorching sun which destroyed the inner recesses of their night blooming lotus like lives, just as a flower is destroyed by excessive sunlight. The only thing that kept the gopis alive was their hope of attaining Krishna.
It is not correct to say that the subtle material bodies (liṅga deha ) of the gopis were destroyed, because the eternal associates of Krishna do not have material bodies. It cannot be accepted that even the sādhana-siddha gopis who enjoyed pastimes with Krishna had material bodies. Thus the summary is offered as a rational explanation meant to satisfy those whose internal vision was not awakened.
The gopis responded thus: Dear Lord, whose navel is just like a lotus flower, Your lotus feet are the only shelter for those who have fallen into the deep well of material existence. Your feet are worshiped and meditated upon by great mystic yogīs and highly learned philosophers. We wish that these lotus feet may also be awakened within our hearts, although we are only ordinary persons engaged in household affairs.
— Adapted from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam » Canto 10 » Chapter 82 : Krishna and Balarama Meet the Inhabitants of Vrindavan.