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The Song of Separation

Gopi Geet


What a sight it was! Krishna and the gopi, hand in hand, walking through the forests of Vrindavan. The trees bloomed, offering their flowers to make the most colourful path for them to tread on. The birds sang their most musical notes and the moon brightened up the canvas of the woodland with its silvery glow. The water of the flowing river sparkled and the grass stood erect, making a soft carpet for the divine couple. The gopi was intoxicated to have Krishna all to herself. The special attention that Krishna showered on her made her feel like the most fortunate of all women. Or else, why would Krishna leave all the gopis and bring her here to this place, which was heaven on earth?! Krishna kept fulfilling every wish of hers and her pride grew. At one point, she looked at Krishna and complained that she could walk no further and he had to carry her on his shoulders to wherever he wanted to go. But Krishna who is saksan-manmath-manmathah – who enchants and churns even the heart of Cupid, read the mind of the gopi and not wasting a moment, disappeared from sight. The gopi stood there appalled. She cursed herself for her foolishness. Being fully aware that Krishna does not tolerate pride and arrogance, how did such a thought cross her mind! She got up and began looking for him everywhere.

Meanwhile the other gopis who were following the footsteps and signs of Krishna arrived at the same place. And there they stood, facing each other, not a single word coming out of anyone’s mouth. Looking at the miserable state of the gopi, they understood something dreadful had happened. The gopi, tears running down her face, her clothes disarrayed, was running around searching and calling out Krishna’s name loudly. When the gopis got back to their senses, they encircled the most fortunate gopi and asked her why Krishna was not with her. Where did he go? The gopi replied, wailing hysterically about how her ego had taken over and Govinda, the vanquisher of all pride, had left her. Seeing her in a state of utmost distress, the gopi tried to console her and calm her down. All of them were on the same boat. All the gopīs then went out to look for Krishna in the forest, going as far as the rays of the moonlight lighted their path. Unsuccessful to find any trace of Krishna and unable to go any further, they had only themselves to blame for their plight. Helpless and without any guide, they went back to the bank of Yamuna and simply sang glories of Krishna, seeking his mercy and pleading him to show up.

गोप्य ऊचु: जयति तेऽधिकं जन्मना व्रज: श्रयत इन्दिरा शश्वदत्र हि । दयित द‍ृश्यतां दिक्षु तावका स्त्वयि धृतासवस्त्वां विचिन्वते ॥ jayati te ’dhikaṁ janmanā vrajaḥ śrayata indirā śaśvad atra hi dayita dṛśyatāṁ dikṣu tāvakās tvayi dhṛtāsavas tvāṁ vicinvate

(Srimad Bhagavatam 10.31.1)

“With your birth, the land of Vraj has become beautiful and glorious and even Goddess Lakshmi always resides here. We, your devoted servants also live only for you and have been searching for you everywhere. Please have mercy and show yourself to us.

O bestower of benedictions! You are killing us by the glance of your unparalleled, deep sparkling eyes, that steal even the proud beauty of the whorl of enchanting lotuses that blossom exquisitely in ponds during the autumn season. Is killing by a glance not considered murder in this world?

Having saved us from so many danger and calamities, from the poisonous water where the serpent Kaliya resides, from the terrible demons, from the anger of Indra, from the dreadful forest fire, from terrifying forms of death, why are you killing us now? We gave up everything, surrendered our very existence to you and came running to you. Why did you save us if you desire to kill us now?

You are not only the son of Yashoda but you are the divine Lord dwelling in every being. You are the fulfiller of all desires of those who seek refuge in your lotus feet. You protect them and take their fear away. Please lay your hands on our head, the hand so affectionately held by the hands of Goddess Lakshmi.

We, your maids have been bought over by your sweet voice and enchanting words. Even the wise sacrifice everything to be able to listen to it. After tasting that nectar in your voice, we gopis fell in love with you. Now enliven us with the divine nectar from your lips. Thoughts of your alluring laughter, graceful gait, captivating looks is so blissful. Having conversed with you, danced so intimately with you, our minds are bewildered and the memories intensify our hankering to meet you.

O beloved! When you take the cows for grazing, your feet that are more tender than the lotus, get hurt by the stones and grass. You may not feel the pain but it pierces our soul, because you are our life, you are our soul, you are everything. And when you return at dusk, your lotus face is covered by the bluish black locks of curly hair and veiled with a thin layer of dust raising from the hooves of the cows. At that time, by repeatedly showing us your lotus face, you arouse intense love within us.

Your lips passionately kiss your flute filling it with divine notes and every being who hears it forgets about every other attachment and desire. We have come to you giving up the ties and orders of our husbands, sons, parents and relatives. You are fully aware of our innermost thoughts. We have come here attracted by your divine music. O cheater! How can you abandon us now? You must come to meet us at once. We won’t survive any longer without seeing you. Our lives are only for you. We live only for you. We are only yours!”

The heart wrenching prayers of the gopis penetrated the heart of Sri Krishna. His heart melted and he couldn’t conceal himself anymore. Shyamsundar appeared before the gopis, adorned in a brilliant yellow garment (pitambara) and a fresh garland of forest flowers (vanamala) around his neck, a radiant, attractive smile on his bright face. His captivating smile was to remove the distress of gopis and console them for he was aware that seeing his enchanting lotus face would remove all their sorrows. Conscious that he had given great suffering to his dear ones, admitting that he was an offender, he held his upper garment in his hands to show the gopis that he was at their service.

The Gopi Geet (Srimad Bhagavatam, canto 10, chapter 31) is the song of separation where the gopis pine to have a glimpse of Sri Krishna. It is the most divine song, when sung earnestly from the heart, pulls the Lord to the devotee. For the gopis of Vrij, Krishna is the essence of their very existence. They see only him within and without. Renouncing everything, they surrendered themselves, with nothing left to call heir own. They made themselves mere instruments for Krishna to do what he wished. Krishna was the only desire that remained with them, the reason of their existence.

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Dec 11, 2022


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