Tales from Srimad Bhagavatam: What did Krishna Promise to the Gopis – LVII?

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Nilanjana recounts a popular tale from the Bhagavatam where Krishna steals the clothes of the Gopis, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths. 

Pariskhit was all ears as Sukha continued narrating the stories of Krishna. Sukha said, “The gopis were full of love for Krishna. He was still, what you would say, a little boy. But the gopis of all ages felt this unconditional love for him.

“They had heard that the month of Marghashirsha (latter half of November – first half of December) was one of the holiest of the year. Prayers that were offered to Devi Katyayani would be answered. Hence they all followed the and started praying to the mystical goddess. They would wake up early in the morning when winter was just setting in, take a bath in the cold waters of river and offer and fruits to the mystical goddess to grant their prayers. They would pray to her to make Krishna (the son of Nandgopa) look at them with love. They had no other desires, no other expectations. Their was amazing, isn’t it?”

Parikshit could not agree more. Sukha smiled as he narrated the rest of the story, “One fine morning, Krishna decided to play a prank on them. Before sunrise, when the gopis were busy taking bath and making merry in the cold water of the river, Krishna quietly collected their clothes, climbed one of the trees and sat there listening to their chit-chat. As the gopis completed their bath and were about to step out of the water, they could not find their clothes anywhere.

“Krishna’s mischievous voice made them alert, ‘Your clothes are here. If you come here and ask for it, I will give it to you’.”

The girls were puzzled. They begged and pleaded to Krishna, but he would not budge. They even threatened to complain to the king. Krishna, however, argued that, on the one hand, they say that they will obey all his commands and, on the other hand, they threaten to complain about him. He, therefore, commanded them to come and take all their clothes.

The gopis were left without any alternative. They stepped out of the water; however, they used their hand to cover a bit of themselves. But Krishna insisted that they put their hands up in Anjali mudra (both palms joined on top of their heads). Since it was time for the Sun to rise, the whole village would wake up and come to the river for their morning ablutions. The gopis, therefore, hurried up and did as Krishna bid them to. Eventually, Krishna gave them their clothes.

Krishna had caused so much trouble, but all that they had for him was love. Even if they wanted to, they could not be angry with him.

Krishna, however, made a promise to them, “I am very touched by your to me. I only see love in your hearts. Your to me is far beyond the lust that affects humans. Love for me is an end in itself and will never make you earthbound. Go with the assurance that your love will not be unrewarded.”

Parikshit was left in wonder as Sukha narrated the story that has been so differently interpreted through generations. Through the stories of Bhagavatam, we are made to realise that the life that we think is “real” is just a cosmic drama. This world, the body, and our ego are just puppets in the cosmic drama. However, as mere mortals, we get attached to the body and our ego. Dropping the attachment to the body is almost like death. Since the gopis could go beyond the attachment to their bodies, they could experience the love that the showered on them…

[To be continued]

Author’s Note: This particular column is inspired by Rajima Ratan’s interpretation of the same story.

Footnote:  is often called the Bhagavad Purana. Authored by Ved Vyasa, the stories are about the various avatars(incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, also known as Narayana. These stories are narrated by Sukhadeva to King Parikshit.

©Nilanjana Dey

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A story-teller at heart, Nilanjana Dey is on a journey to experiment with fiction and poetry. Her first novel, largely aimed towards children, is titled ‘The Adventures of Puti – The Cheese Trail’. Her poems have been published at various prestigious portals. An alumni of English Literature from Jadavpur University (Kolkata), she is a marketing and communication professional based in Mumbai. She volunteers with a Mumbai based NGO working with the marginalised sections of the society.