Today marks the end of the month of Kartik (Damodara), and it is the day of Lord Krsna’s rasa lila with His beloved gopis – Lord Krsna’s most exalted pastime…
Krsna’s rasa dance should never be compared with any kind of material dance, such as a ball dance or a society dance. The rasa dance is a completely spiritual performance. In order to establish this fact, Krsna, the supreme mystic, expanded Himself in many forms and stood beside each gopi. Placing His hands on the shoulders of the gopis on both sides of Him, He began to dance in their midst. The mystic expansions of Krsna were not perceived by the gopis because Krsna appeared alone to each of them. Each gopi thought that Krsna was dancing with her alone. Above that wonderful dance flew many airplanes carrying the denizens of the heavenly planets, who were very anxious to see the wonderful dance of Krsna with the gopis. The Gandharvas and the Kinnaras began to sing, and, accompanied by their respective wives, all the Gandharvas began to shower flowers on the dancers.
As the gopis and Krsna danced together, a very blissful musical sound was produced from the tinkling of their bells, ornaments and bangles. It appeared that Krsna was a greenish sapphire locket in the midst of a golden necklace decorated with valuable stones. While Krsna and the gopis danced they displayed extraordinary bodily features. The movements of their legs, their placing their hands on one another, the movements of their eyebrows, their smiling, the movements of the breasts of the gopis and their clothes, their earrings, their cheeks, their hair with flowers–as they sang and danced these combined together to appear like clouds, thunder, snow and lightning. Krsna’s bodily features appeared just like a group of clouds, their songs were like thunder, the beauty of the gopis appeared to be just like lightning in the sky, and the drops of perspiration visible on their faces appeared like falling snow. In this way, both the gopis and Krsna fully engaged in dancing.
When some of the gopis became very tired from dancing and moving their bodies, they placed their hands on the shoulders of Sri Krsna. Then their hair loosened and flowers fell to the ground. When they placed their hands on Krsna’s shoulder they became overwhelmed by the fragrance of His body which emanated from the lotus, other aromatic flowers, and the pulp of sandalwood. They became filled with attraction for Him, and they began to kiss one another. Some gopis touched Krsna cheek to cheek, and Krsna began to offer them chewed betel nuts from His mouth, which they exchanged with great pleasure by kissing. And by accepting those betel nuts, the gopis spiritually advanced.
The gopis became tired after long singing and dancing. Krsna was dancing beside them, and to alleviate their fatigue they took Sri Krsna’s hand and placed it on their raised breasts. Krsna’s hand, as well as the breasts of the gopis, are eternally auspicious; therefore when they combined, both of them became spiritually enhanced. The gopis so enjoyed the company of Krsna, the husband of the goddess of fortune, that they forgot that they had any other husband in the world, and upon being embraced by the arms of Krsna and dancing and singing with Him, they forgot everything. The Srimad-Bhagavatam thus describes the beauty of the gopis while they were rasa dancing with Krsna. There were lotus flowers over both their ears, and their faces were decorated with sandalwood pulp. They wore tilaka, and there were drops of sweat on their smiling mouths. From their feet came the tinkling sound of ankle bells as well as bangles. The flowers within their hair were falling to the lotus feet of Krsna, and He was very satisfied.
As stated in the Brahma-samhita, all these gopis are expansions of Krsna’s pleasure potency. Touching their bodies with His hands and looking at their pleasing eyes, Krsna enjoyed the gopis exactly as a child enjoys playing with the reflection of his body in a mirror. When Krsna touched the different parts of their bodies, the gopis felt surcharged with spiritual energy. They could not adjust their loosened clothes, although they tried to keep them properly. Their hair and garments became scattered, and their ornaments loosened as they forgot themselves in company with Krsna.
While Krsna was enjoying the company of the gopis in the rasa dance, the astonished demigods and their wives gathered in the sky. The moon, being afflicted with a sort of lust, began to watch the dance and became stunned with wonder. The gopis had prayed to the goddess Katyayani to have Krsna as their husband. Now Krsna was fulfilling their desire by expanding Himself in as many forms as there were gopis and enjoying them exactly as a husband…
Note: Images from http://flickr.com/photos/iriskovalio/
Text adapted from Krsna Book by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.