Oh! The Days Without Him
As the darkness of the night gives way to dawn and the rays of the infant sun start painting the distant sky with a vibrant red, the gopis suffer as the time has come for Krishna to go to the forest with the cows and the gopas. Only if they had been born in male form, they could have so easily followed Krishna to the dense thickness of the trees without anyone raising an eyebrow and reminding them of their duties at home. They carry on with their chores at home, but their minds can only focus on Krishna and his leelas with every passing breath and eagerly waiting for his return from the woodlands. Standing with other gopis, here and there in Vraj, they sing pairs (yugala) of verses visualising the acts of Krishna in the forest and his return from the pastures with the cows and cowherd friends at the end of the day. While the first verse of this pair sings about Krishna’s actions, the second verse elucidates the reaction of every being around him, the cause and the effect. The gopis cannot run out with Shyam when he goes to the forest every day. But he takes their mind along with him and the gopis sing the Yugala Geet (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.35.2-25). Yugal means united together. The mind of the Gopis is united with him, even in his absence.
As the gopis express their feelings to each other, envisioning the actions of Krishna, they sing, “In the middle of the forest, Mukunda stands with his feet crossed, shifting his weight to one foot, as if he is leaning and slowly brings the flute to his lips. The flute vibrates in ecstasy as his soft, tender fingers touch and caress it. How his eyebrows dance when he raises his left arm and places it on his left cheek, humming the notes on the flute! Looking at his form engrossed in playing the flute, the siddhas and their wives above are stunned. They are so enchanted that they become unaware of their garments slipping off. Even the bulls, cows and deer grazing in their groups are captivated by that melody and stop chewing the food in their mouths. Stunned, their ears stand up erect and they appear like paintings.”
Another gopi joins in, “At times, Mukunda decorates himself with leaves, peacock feather and colourful stones and minerals like a wrestler and standing in the midst of his cowherd friends and Balaram, plays his flutes to call the cows. Hearing the sound of his flute, the rivers stop gushing as the waters wait in ecstasy, trembling in love, for the wind to bring to them the dust from the lotus feet of Krishna. It steals the minds of the cranes and the swans and they close their eyes, meditating on his form. Aroused by the calling of the flute, flowers blossom in the trees and creepers that become overladen with fruits, and become drenched in the overpouring of sweet sap. Intoxicated by the aroma of the tulasi flowers on Krishna’s garland, swarms of bees follow him, buzzing loudly.
Wearing a garland of wild, colourful flowers on his head, as Krishna plays around in the mountain slopes with Balaram, even the roar of the clouds become gentle. They shower flowers on his friends and become his umbrella to shade him from the sun.”
Turning towards Mother Yashoda, they continue, “Your son has devised such mystical melodies in his flute that when he puts it on his red lips and starts playing, even the all-knowing Brahma, Shiva and Indra too become confused listening to the flute. They surrender their hearts and bow down their heads in front of this invincible musician. O Mother! Your child, the son of King Nanda, has ornamented his attire with a garland of jasmine flowers. As he is engaged in a game with his friends along the river Yamuna, the breeze blows, gently caressing him with the fragrance of sandalwood. The divine beings stand in awe watching him and singing his praise, offering their tribute.”
Another gopi bursts out as if watching the scene unfold before her very eyes, “Krishna’s body moves gracefully like an elephant as he strolls in Vraj, playing his flute. The gopis, enchanted by his beauty are pierced with the arrows of Kamadeva and stand still in their places like trees, unable to flicker even an eyelid, unaware of their condition and attire. As Krishna stands in his tribhanga posture, counting the cows with the help of a string of gems, adorned with a garland of tulasi and one arm resting on the shoulder of his dear friend, the wives of the black deer come and sit beside him, listening to his flute, renouncing the joy of family life just like the gopis.
When the sun prepares to ride down in his chariot and its rays become soft, Krishna gathers all his cows and returns home. The dust raised by the hooves of the cows glisten on his garland, and his beauty is enhanced by the fatigue. The moon of Vraj walks elegantly with the gopas following him, singing his glories. Krishna acknowledges his dear friends by rolling his eyes intoxicated with love for them. His soft cheeks radiate with the sparkle of the golden earrings that adorn his ear. As Krishna returns home in the evening, delivering his cows from the heat of the day, his majestic gait complements his bright face that shines with the brilliance of the moon.”
And so on and so forth, the gopis of Vrindavan, having surrendered their body, mind and soul at his lotus feet, celebrate Krishna by singing about him, reciting his leelas, taking his name again and again, trying to cool their pangs of separation.
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