How Krishna's stealing the garments of the gopis is not immoral but transmoral

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.22.09-12 - How Krishna's stealing the garments of the gopis is not immoral but transmoral (download mp3)
by Chaitanya Charan Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.22.9
tasam vasamsy upadaya
 nipam aruhya satvarah
hasadbhih prahasan balaih
 parihasam uvaca ha

Taking the girls’ garments, He quickly climbed to the top of a kadamba tree. Then, as He laughed loudly and His companions also laughed, He addressed the girls jokingly.

SB 10.22.10
atragatyabalah kamam
 svam svam vasah pragrhyatam
satyam bravani no narma
 yad yuyam vrata-karsitah

[Lord Krsna said:] My dear girls, you may each come here as you wish and take back your garments. I’m telling you the truth and am not joking with you, since I see you’re fatigued from executing austere vows.

SB 10.22.11
na mayodita-purvam va
 anrtam tad ime viduh
ekaikasah praticchadhvam
 sahaiveti su-madhyamah

I have never before spoken a lie, and these boys know it. Therefore, O slender-waisted girls, please come forward, either one by one or all together, and pick out your clothes.

SB 10.22.12
tasya tat ksvelitam drstva
 gopyah prema-pariplutah
vriditah preksya canyonyam
 jata-hasa na niryayuh

Seeing how Krsna was joking with them, the gopis became fully immersed in love for Him, and as they glanced at each other they began to laugh and joke among themselves, even in their embarrassment. But still they did not come out of the water.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains this verse as follows:

“The gopis were from most respectable families, and they might have argued with Krsna: ‘Why don’t You simply leave our clothes on the bank of the river and go away?’

“Krsna might have replied, ‘But there are so many of you that some of the girls might take clothes belonging to another.’

“The gopis would reply, ‘We are honest and never steal anything. We never touch another’s property.’

“Then Krsna would say, ‘If that’s true, then simply come and get your clothes. What is the difficulty?’

“When the gopis saw Krsna’s determination, they were filled with loving ecstasy. Although embarrassed, they were overjoyed to receive such attention from Krsna. He was joking with them as if they were His wives or girlfriends, and the gopis’ only desire was to achieve such a relationship with Him. At the same time, they were embarrassed to be seen naked by Him. But still they could not help laughing at His joking words and even began to joke among themselves, one gopi urging another, ‘Go ahead, you go first, and let us see if Krsna plays any tricks on you. Then we will go later.’”