As soon as the gopis learned that Akrura was going to take Krsna and Baladeva to Mathura, their hearts broke and they were filled with unbearable anxiety. They knew what would follow. “Take all our sweets and cows,” they exclaimed, “but do not take Krsna! This is worse than killing us.”
Unaware that their garments had become disheveled and that their bangles and other ornaments had broken or slipped from their bodies, the gopis entered a state of devastation so intense that Sukadeva Gosvami express to King Pariksit that it was impossible for him to describe that scene. The Vraja-devis became like lifeless statues, not breathing or moving.
The gopis whose hearts had already been stolen by Krsna stopped all sensory activity. As a flower that falls from the tree-branch becomes lifeless, similarly the gopis now seemed deprived of their life-force. Somehow or another, they came to Nanda-bhavana. They knew Krsna would leave from that gate in the morning.
“We will not let him leave,” they thought. At that time, the veil of secrecy that usually kept society blind to their deep love for Krsna was gone and they began to cry uncontrollably. They became like a person deprived of his greatest treasure, or like mothers whose sons had just died.
“O Creator,” they said, “how could You be so hard-hearted? What is this arrangement of Yours? Why are You killing us?”
yas tvam pradarsyasita-kuntalavrtam
Mukunda-vaktram su-kapolam un-nasam
karosi paroksyam asadhu te krtam
“Having shown us the face of Mukunda, framed by dark locks of hair and beautified by His shining cheeks, raised nose, and charming smiles, which destroy all misery, You will now make that face invisible to us. This behavior of Yours is not good at all.”
The gopis were not worried that Krsna may be harmed by Kamsa. That is not why they were distressed. They knew that Krsna’s heart was very soft and that as soon as Vasudeva and Devaki saw Krsna they would offer their affection and prayers to Him and not allow Him to ever return. They knew this would come to pass.
The gopis continued, “O Providence, although You have come here with the name Akrura, You are actually cruel (krura). It seems You have lost all sense, for You are taking away what You once gave us. You are depriving us of the sole meaning to our eyes’ existence. You are suggesting to us to look at anything other than Krsna.
“This destroyer (Akrura) has come and done his work in mere moments. In just a second he has stolen our life away from us. Tomorrow morning our lives will be devoid of meaning. The songs, sweet words, and dancing of Mathura’s girls will arrest Krsna and keep Him their forever.”
Nanda Baba announced in Vraja that everyone should prepare to go to Mathura with presentations for Kamsa. “We will attend the Dhanusa-yajna and offer our respects to Siva Thakura as well as the king. The yajna takes place on Siva Ratri in front of Rangesvara, and there will be many festivities. Krsna and Balarama have requested by the king to wrestle in his presence.”
All arrangements were being made but the gopis of Vraja alone considered their lives finished. They doubted, in fact, they were sure, that Krsna would never return. Why did they have this doubt? Were they astrologers? Did they read the stars to see the future? Why did they think like this?
Nanda Baba is in vatsalya–rasa. He did not doubt the way the gopis did. Because the depth of the gopis love is greater than that of those in vatsalya–rasa, the gopis consideredthemselves already lifeless and felt that Krsna would never return to them after going to Mathura.
The gopis knew that Krsna and Baladeva were very softhearted. If anyone in Mathura were to just offer them a little love and service then they will come under their control. The gopis thought, “If you give Krsna anything His heart melts; even if its just a little bit of butter or misri. He dances for such simple in joy and eagerness loving gifts. In Mathura there is so much opulence. The Mathura-vasis will give Krsna many nice things and He will be arrested.”
Do the gopis mean to say that Krsna is greedy? Not exactly. Krsna is not attracted to any gift itself but to love. When a gift is given as a representation of love, Krsna must accept it.
“We Vrajavasis have nothing,” the gopis went on, “only some fruits, flowers, leaves, and go-rasa. The Yadavas and the residents of Mathura, have so much wealth and are also very tricky. In Mathura, there are many young girls who are beautiful and clever. They will come close to Krsna and control Him. We simple girls of the forest of Vraja offered our hearts to Krsna and He accepted them, why then would He not accept the hearts of more qualified and expert girls?”
The truth is that, wherever there is deep love, there is doubt. This is not the fault of a person with love; this is natural. For example, when a child goes to school and is only a little bit late to return, his parents think, “There must have been an accident! Perhaps he was kidnapped!” They doubt in this way. But why? Why do they automatically think something bad has happened? Why do they not think positively? This is nature. This kind of doubt comes hand in-hand with deep affection.
“When the Bhojas, Andhakas, Vrsnis, and others see Krsna they will certainly be overjoyed and put on a big festival. They will rejoice—while we die.”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments that because Mahalaksmi is unable to enter Vrndavana she was waiting just outside the border. The gopis thought that as soon as Krsna left Vrndavana, she would definitely make a huge drama. With millions of different attractive svarupas she will endeavor to steal Krsna’s heart. She sees Him as her Narayana, in whose heart she always resides.
Laksmi-devi had been unable to accept Krsna’s conditions when she begged for entrance into Vrndavana. She could not tolerate the idea of being born from the womb of a gopi, marrying a gopa, and becoming a servant of cows.
But now her chance to meet with Krsna was coming. The gopis said, “She has been waiting a long time for this. She will surely have many duplicitous plans and svarupas of ladies to enter His heart and arrest Him.”
If people offer themselves to Krsna, Krsna accepts them. He cannot refuse them. This is His weakness. He even accepted the witch Putana as a mother. She offered her breast milk to Him with the intention of poisoning Him, but despite her ill-intentions, Krsna accepted that as service and gave her a permanent position and seva in relation to Him.
Now Laksmi will steal Krsna from us, and such is our misfortune that we do not have any power born of tapa or yoga to protect ourselves from this robbery.”
maitad-vidhasyakarunasya nama bhud
akrura ity etad ativa darunah
yo ‘sav anasvasya su-duhkhitam janam
priyat priyam nenyati param adhvanah
That merciless Akrura should not be called Akrura (not cruel), for he is in fact so cruel (krura) that without even attempting to console the sorrowful Vrajavasis, he is taking Krsna, who is more dear to us than our very lives, away from us.
“O hard-hearted Akrura, you are rendering us shelterless and indeed taking our lives. You are stealing our heart, intending to present it to Kamsa. No one is more cruel than you. We cannot revolt against Nanda Baba’s arrangement, so you must be sure to bring Krsna back. If you fail to do this, then mark our words, you will realize our pain. The fire in our hearts will continuously burn you. You will never feel well for as long as you live. This pain that you are giving us today will come to you and will drive you mad. We are not just one or two gopis, we are millions. You will feel the pain of each and every one of us.”
“Alas! Look! Krsna is already seated on the chariot, and the bullock carts of the cowherd men are following behind. What has happened to their intelligence? Why are the elders letting this happen? Have they gone mad? They will not be able to bring Him back. They do not realize this. Indeed the creator is against us. Just see how Krsna’s friends, headed by Sridama, are accompanying Him. They do not know that he won’t come back. They do not know that this Vraja-mandala will burn in the fire of our pain.
Nothing here can remain without our Vraja-jivana.” The gopis were normally shy and would never approach Krsna in front of everyone, but they decided now to all go before Him and stop Him from going. “If we cannot stop Him, then at least we will have seen Him this one last time.
If we do not see Him in the last moments of our life then we will not be able to be with Him in our next life.” “We must stop Him,” they thought. Then they surrounded the chariot on which Krsna-Baladeva and Akrura were seated and pleaded with Krsna to not to leave them. They cast off all fear of what society would think of them. They did not care if the consequence for such behavior was punishment or criticism. This is called anuraga.
Who can explain the suffering of the gopis at this time. The time Krsna used to smile at them as they crossed paths. At those times, He would give them hints about the agreed place where He would meet with them. Today, here. Tomorrow, there. He enjoyed rasa with them for an entire night of Brahma, and He had many other loving exchanges with them in Vraja-mandala’s many caves and groves and by the waterfalls and streams. How was it possible that today this would all be over? How could this relationship be broken? How could life ever return to them? How could they ever speak with anyone apart from Him? When their lives and hearts were completely filled with love for Krsna, how could they tolerate Him leaving them?
yo ‘hnah knaye vrajam Ananta-sakhah parito
gopair visan khura-rajas-churitalaka-srak
venum kvanan smita-katakna-niriknanena
cittam kninoty amum rte nu katham bhavema
“How can we survive without that friend of Ananta, Krsna, who, in the company of the cowherd boys, would return to Vraja in the evening, His hair and flower-garland covered with the dust raised by hooves of the cows? As He played on His flute and cast His sidelong glances at us, he captivated our mind.”
“When the dust of Vraja-mandala covered the body of Krsna, to Him it was more soothing than candana and to everyone it was more beautiful than any kind of auspicious decoration. When He returned home from the forest we would busy ourselves in arranges His bath and other services. How can we forget all of this?”
evam bruvana virahatura bhrsam
visrjya lajjam ruruduh sma su-svaram
govinda damodara madhaveti
Sukadeva Gosvami said, “After uttering these words, the women of Vraja, who were so attached to Krnna, felt extremely agitated by imminent separation from Him.
Forgetting all shame, they loudly cried, “O Govinda! O Damodara! O Madhava!” The gopis, great in number, gathered in front of and around the chariot. They prayed to Krsna, “Govinda Damodara Madhaveti! Please, don’t kill us. If you leave us, not only will we die, but your mother Yasoda will die also. Can’t you see this?”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura quotes the gopis as saying, “O Govinda, You are not our husband, but our lover. Being separated from one’s husband is easily tolerable, but being separated from one’s lover is impossible to tolerate.”
Akrura did not show any compassion. He considered that this was just the nature of women. “Sometimes they cry and the next moment they are laughing,” he thought. He did not hear their requests, express his apologies, or promise to bring Krsna back. He proceeded to take Krsna and Balarama out of Vrndavana, having finished chanting his morning mantras and other daily duties.
Akrura drove the chariot, avoiding the gopis who had lied in the way and those who were trying to catch hold of the horses to stop them, and as Krsna made progress on the path leaving Vrndavana, with Nanda Maharaja and the bullock carts filled with go-rasa behind Him, the gopis followed. “Krsna will at least say something,” they thought.
“He will give us some kind of message.” Then finally, the message came: I will return. The gopis stood and watched the chariot depart until the flag above it could not be seen and the dust cleared.
What did they do after that? Did they go to their homes? No. They began to sing sweet songs of krsna-lila and they never returned to their homes.
Akrura drove swiftly. Before long, He, Krsna, and Balarama reached the Yamuna. Krsna and Balarama drank some of the pure water and waited for Akrura on the chariot as he performed oblations. Akrura submerged himself in the water and, as he was reciting mantras, he was surprised to see Krsna and Baladaram before within the water. He figured that they must have left the chariot but when he rose from the water he saw that the brothers were seated there as before.
“How could they be in both places at once?” Akrura thought. He again went underwater and this time saw an extraordinary vision. In the place where He had seen Krsna and Baladeva in the water, Akrura now saw the Lord of the serpents, Ananta Sesa, with His countless hoods and crowns. Lying peacefully in the lap of Ananta was the dark complexioned Supreme Person. He had four arms, yellow garments, eyes like lotus petals, lovely eyebrows, reddish cheeks, a raised nose and reddish lips.
Akrura saw many great souls, such as Lord Siva and Prahlada Maharaja, offering respects to that Supreme Being and circumambulating Him. Thus, Krsna showed Akrura his Narayana svarupa. Akrura had no relationship with the Vrajavasis, therefore, he was not qualified to see Krsna’s vraja–svarupa. It was at this time and place that Krsna left His vraja–svarupa behind and entered Mathura with His Narayana svarupa.
That Narayana svarupa, however, suffered the pain of separation from Krsna and the Vrajavasis while living outside of Vrndavana. All the Incarnations contained within that Narayana svarupa were at first with Krsna in Vrndavana, but now they felt the sorrow of having to leave.
Why did the Narayana svarupa refuse to leave and simple just remerge with Vraja Krsna? He was captured Tusti, Pusti, Sri, Maya, Bhu, Vidya, and all others who were waiting for Him at the border. As soon as they could, they started their service and arrested the Narayana svarupa of Krsna.
From that time on Krsna was seen only with gold cups, chariots, crowns, and jewelry. He no longer looked like a cowherd boy.
In reality, Krsna is eternally in Vrndavana and never leaves. So then what is this viraha that we see in pastimes such as these and those that follow? We know that there was so much pain on both Krsna’s side and the gopis’ side while Krsna resided in Mathura and Dvaraka. In this viraha the gopis remembered Krsna constantly. Their meditation was strengthened and they continuously served Him and met with Him in internal consciousness, antardasa, as they constantly did kirtana of His names, forms, qualities, and pastimes. Our Guru-varga have manifested many commentaries on this mysterious topic.
There are people who, although they have the fortune of being close to God, are completely selfish. They want to steal Krsna, keep Him close, and make Him their servant. Akrura is the leader of all such persons. Akrura wanted Krsna to come and liberate himself, his friends, and his family from the oppression of Kamsa. He thought, “Why is Krsna passing his days happily in the home of Nanda and Yasoda? Why does he not come and help us, who are in great danger and distress?”
There are varied forms of selfishness, but none of them are good. Wishing for nothing but Krsna’s happiness is real bhajana. True love is not just faithful love but loveful love. Pure love does not over take, it overpowers. Krsna is controlled by pure love. The Vrajavasis are so sweet and their love is so pure. Krsna is always eager for that sweetness. When Krsna came as Mahaprabhu, He constantly glorified the Vrajavasis, the Vraja-devis, and especially Srimati Radharani and the supremacy of their love.
If Krsna were to never leave Vrndavana, His bhaktas elsewhere would say, “Oh, He only likes His own enjoyment.” And if Krsna were to return to Vrndavana from Mathura, others would tease and insult Him, saying, “Aha!
He can’t live without those married young cowherd girls!” How unfortunate it is that there are people in this world that find fault in even Krsna and the gopis. There are no impurities in Vraja. There are no politics there. This faultfinding nature is possessed by those who are very proud. Such people destroy themselves by their insults to Bhagavan and His devotees. Therefore, Krsna had to be careful and make a serious decision. Krsna thought, “If I don’t go to Mathura, Kamsa will attack the Vrajavasis with his whole army, now strengthened by his alliance with Jarasandha, Kalayavana and others. I will have to go.”
Even as Akrura was offering many prayers, Krsna withdrew His form that He revealed to Akrura within the waters of the Yamuna. When Akrura immerged Krsna asked him with a smile on His face, “Dear Akrura you were in the water for a long time. What did you do there? Did you see something that interested you?”
“All wonderful things exist within You,” Akrura replied. “Therefore, upon seeing You, what has a man not seen?”
Akura, Krsna and Baladeva mounted the chariot and headed for Mathura. They arrived on the outskirts of the city in the evening. Nanda Maharaja had already set up camp in a garden area. At this time, Krsna requested Akrura to go to his home while they rested in that place for a while before entering Mathura themselves.
Akrura said, “O Krsna, I will not go on without You. Lord, do not neglect me. Let You, Baladeva, Nanda Maharaja, and all the cowherd men come to my home as honored guests. It would be the perfection of my house-hold life if You were to grace my home with Your presence. I will wash Your feet and honor that same bath water that granted Bali salvation, brought great pleasure to Lord Siva, and liberated the sons of Sagara.”
Akrura prayed in this way, addressing Krsna with many respectful titles, but Krsna did not go to his home. He said, “I will come later, after securing the safety of the Yadus.”
Thus, Akrura proceeded into Mathura alone with his head down. He informed Kamsa of Krsna and Baladeva’s arrival and then retired to his abode. A little later that evening, being curious to see the city, Krsna and Baladeva entered Mathura with their friends.
dadarsa tam sphatika-tunga-gopuradvaram
sreni-sabhabhir bhavanair upaskrtam
mukta-haridbhir valabhisu vedisu
Thus, the Lord beheld Mathura, with its tall crystal gates and household entrances, immense arches, and golden doors. He saw its storehouses of grain, copper, and brass, and its impassible defensive moats. Pleasant gardens and parks graced that city. Where the main roads crossed there were various golden decorations. There were manors with secluded pleasure gardens, assembly halls, and many other buildings. The city resounded with the songs of peacocks and doves, who were perched on the balconies, rafters, and jeweled floors, and in the small openings of the windows of artistic wooden craftsmanship. These balconies and rafters were adorned with vaidurya gems, diamonds, crystal quartz, pearls, coral, emeralds, and sapphires. All of the commercial streets, royal avenues, walkways, and courtyards were sprinkled with scented water. Flower garlands, fresh sprouts of various kinds, parched grains, and rice had been scattered everywhere.
Elaborately decorated pots filled with water, graced the doorsteps of houses, the entrances of which were bedecked with streams of mango leaves and flowers and smeared with yogurt and candana. Near those pots were flags, rows of ghee-lamps, trunks of banana and betel-nut trees, and bouquets of flowers.
The women of Mathura ascended to the rooftops, eager to see Krsna and Balarama, whom they had heard so much about. Some women put their clothes and ornaments on backwards while others forgot to decorate themselves properly. Some put kajjala on one of their eyes but not the other. In their excitement to see Krsna, they forgot themselves.
Hearing the commotion made by the onlookers outside, the ladies stopped whatever they were doing, whether they were feeding their infants or still not finished taking their bath, and they ran to see Krsna.
Krsna created a festival within the minds of the Mathuravasis as they watched Him walk through the city and past their homes. The women, with faces blossoming with affection, showered flowers upon Him and Baladeva Prabhu as they passed.
Krsna and Balarama came across a washerman carrying many colorful fine clothes. “Please give Me and my companions some of your nicest cloth,” Krsna requested. But the washerman rudely refused. “I assure you,” Krsna said. “You will become happy by giving us some cloth.”
“These are the garments of the king!” the washerman said. “They are for him, not for lowly cowherds like yourselves. Leave at once, you low-class fellows, if you value your life!”
Hearing the washerman speak like this, Krsna became angry and severed his head from his body with a mere touch of his fingertips. Krsna and Balarama then donned fine garments of their choice and distributed what remained to Their friends, leaving some scattered on the ground. As the two brothers continued to wonder about in the city, they appeared like young elephants, one white and one black, decorated for a festive occasion.
Krsna, Baladeva, and the sakhas next went to the home of Sudama the garland maker, who greeted them by respectfully washing their feet, offering them arghya, pan, candana, and other presentations. After this, he spoke to the Lord, “My life has met its perfection. I have been purified now that you both have come here. I am truly fortunate.”
He went on to glorify the all-opulent Supreme Lord in great reverence and then, understanding their wish, he presented them with beautiful garlands and fragrant flowers.
Krsna and Balarama bestowed many benedictions upon the garland maker Sudama, such as strength, a long life, fame, beauty, and ever-increasing prosperity for his family. Then they left that place.
As He walked, Madhava saw a hunchback girl with an attractive face. She was carrying a tray of fragrant pastes and ointments. The bestower of loving ecstasy smiled and inquired from the girl who she was and who the sweet smelling ointments were for. “Please tell us,” Krsna said, “and kindly give us some of your best ointments. By doing this you will be greatly rewarded.”
The girl replied, “I am Trivakra, O handsome one, and I am a maidservant of the king, who is very fond of my ointments. But now that I see You standing before me I think that only You, and not the king, are worthy of these fine substances.”
dharsitatma dadau sandram
Her mind overwhelmed by the beauty, charm, sweetness, smiles, words and glances of Krsna, Trivakra gave both He and Baladeva Prabhu generous amounts of her ointments. Krsna was very pleased and He decided to reward the maid-servant by straightening her hunched back. He pressed down on her feet with His own, and with one upward-pointing finger of each of His hands He pressed up beneath her chin. By the touch of Mukunda, Trivakra’s body became straight and beautiful.
Now endowed with grace and charm, Trivakra, who was also known as Kubja, began to feel lusty desires for Kesava. Smiling, and taking hold of the end of His upper garment, she said, “O hero, please, come to my home.”
Seeing Kubja behaving like this in front of Baladeva Prabhu and all of His friends made Krsna somewhat embarrassed. He said to her, “Listen fair girl, we are but travelers with a purpose to fulfill here. When I have completed My tasks, I will surely come to see you. Please go home now.”
The boys then went on their way. They asked for directions to the place of the fire sacrifice and where the famous bow was on display.
purusair bahubhir guptam
varyamano nrbhih krsnah
prasahya dhanur adade
That most magnificant bow was being worshiped and guarded by many men. Krsna made His way forward and pushed through the guards, who attempted to stop Him, and then picked up the bow.
Krsna lifted the great bow easily with His left hand. Before the eyes of the guards and everyone there, He strung it in less than a second. He pulled back on the string and the bow snapped in two. A tumultuous sound that terrified those of impure hearts cracked through the ether and sent fear to the heart of Kamsa.
Enraged, the guards advanced on Krsna and His companions with upraised weapons. Krsna and Baladeva swiftly took up the two halves of the bow and struck the guards down.
balam ca kamsa-prahitam
hatva sala-mukhat tatah
niskramya ceratur hrstau
Krsna and Balarama killed a band of troops sent by Kamsa, and then left the sacrificial arena. They exited through the main gate and continued Their tour of the city, looking happily at the opulent sights.
As evening arrived, They returned to Nanda Baba’s encampment. That night They ate rice and yogurt and rested comfortably. The villainous king Kamsa, however, was beside himself with terror, having heard how Krsna and Baladeva had broken the bow and killed his men with ease. He found it difficult to sleep. Both while awake and in his dreams, Kamsa saw many frightening omens of death and destruction.
adarsanam sva-sirasah pratirupe ca saty api
asaty api dvitiye ca dvai-rupyam jyotisam tatha
chidra-pratitis chayayam prana-ghosanupasrutih
svarna-pratitir vrksesu sva-padanam adarsanam
svapne preta-parisvangah khara-yanam visadanam
yayan nalada-maly ekas tailabhyakto dig-ambarah
anyani cettham-bhutani svapna-jagaritani ca
pasyan marana-santrasto nidram lebhe na cintaya
His head was invisible in his reflection; the moon and stars appeared double for no reason; there was a hole in his shadow; he could not hear or feel his pulse within him; a golden hue seemed to cover trees; he left no visible footprints when he walked; he was embraced by ghosts; he rode an ass; drank poison; and saw a naked man pass by him who was covered in oil and wearing a garland of nalada flowers. Observing these omens and others similar to them, Kamsa could not sleep out of anxiety. He was petrified by the prospect of death.
When the morning finally came, Kamsa ordered that the arrangements for the wrestling match be made with haste. When all necessary rituals, worship, decoration, and other preparations were completed, the guests were seated respectfully.
Kamsa sat on his throne. As music fit for a wrestling match was being heard, the proud wrestlers appeared on the scene and took their seats.
Nanda Baba and the cowherd men, summoned by Kamsa, presented their gifts to the king of the Bhojas and then took their seats which overlooked the arena.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “The Life of the Vrajavasis Departs”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org)