Dhanurdhara Swami February 11th, 2002
Bhagavatam Meditation IV
The gopis are chaste village cowherd girls. Thus they can never openly express their love for their paramour, Sri Krishna. In fact, the traditional mores are so strict that in a proper family, even the mere statement of romantic love between a husband and wife is reserved for a special section of the house, off limits to others?even the children. Such love is never expressed publicly. But what are the gopis to do? Krishna is leaving Vrindaban and no one is protesting. The gopis ponder their dilemma. If they speak, they will lose their reputation and such social condemnation will be like death. But if they don’t, the separation from Krishna itself will be worse than death. “O Govinda! O Kesava! O Madhava! Don’t leave us!” they shout, oblivious to society, friendship, and familial love.
The gopis reasoning is pure and simple: “The pain of separation from Krishna is worse than the pain of being socially ostracized, losing ones reputation, or even death, so we must try anything to retain His association no matter how dire the consequence.”
As practitioners, we should act in devotional service according to our realization without superficially renouncing what we need in Krishna’s service. However, to achieve perfection, our love for Krishna has to become far greater than anything else?even family, social acceptance, or reputation. We are not required to renounce these things for Krishna’s service, but the love of those who hanker for the highest devotion is often tested. Tests help gauge our position and push us to new heights in realization, so it is not unheard of for devotees to face difficult tests, especially for those who yearn for the highest excellence of love. And certainly in the penultimate stage of perfection, where our devotion has carried us to birth in Krishna’s pastimes in Gokula Vrindaban but not yet to His direct association, when the sound of Krishna’s flute calls us for that transcendent perfection, we will have to shun society, friendship, and familial love. A sincere devotee questions his heart:”How much am I anchored by my attachments? Am I moving toward the goal?