Transcendental Exclusivism of Gopis

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.82.48 - Transcendental Exclusivism of Gopis (download mp3)
by Radhika Vallabha Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.82.48
ahus ca te nalina-nabha padaravindam
yogesvarair hrdi vicintyam agadha-bodhaih samsara-kupa-patitottaranavalambam
geham jusam api manasy udiyat sada nah

The gopis spoke thus: Dear Lord, whose navel is just like a lotus flower, Your lotus feet are the only shelter for those who have fallen into the deep well of material existence. Your feet are worshiped and meditated upon by great mystic yogis and highly learned philosophers. We wish that these lotus feet may also be awakened within our hearts, although we are only ordinary persons engaged in household affairs.

The translation and word meanings for this verse are taken from Srila Prabhupada’s English rendering of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 1.81), where this verse is quoted.

Revealing the jealous mood in which the gopis spoke these deceptively reverential words, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti gives their statements as follows: “O Supreme Lord, O directly manifest Supersoul, O crest jewel of instructors in definitive knowledge, You were aware of our excessive attachment to home, property and family. Therefore You previously had Uddhava instruct us in the knowledge that dispels ignorance, and now You have done so Yourself. In this way You have purified our hearts of contamination, and as a result we understand Your pure love for us, free from any motivation other than assuring our liberation. But we are only unintelligent cowherd women; how can this knowledge remain fixed in our hearts? We cannot even meditate steadily on Your feet, the focus of realization for great souls like Lord Brahma. Please be merciful to us and somehow make it possible for us to concentrate on You, even a little. We are still suffering the reactions of our own fruitive work, so how can we meditate on You, the goal of great yogis? Such yogis are immeasurably wise, but we are mere feeble-minded women. Please do something to get us out of this deep well of material life.”

Pure devotees are never motivated by a desire for material elevation or spiritual liberation. And even if the Lord offers them such benedictions, the devotees often refuse to accept them. As stated by Lord Krsna in the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.20.34):

na kiñcit sadhavo dhira
 bhakta hy ekantino mama
vañchanty api maya dattam
 kaivalyam apunar-bhavam

“Because My devotees possess saintly behavior and deep intelligence, they completely dedicate themselves to Me and do not desire anything besides Me. Indeed, even if I offer them liberation from birth and death, they do not accept it.” It is quite appropriate, therefore, that the gopis respond with a trace of jealous anger to Lord Krsna’s attempt at teaching them jñana-yoga.

Thus, according to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the words the gopis speak in this verse may be interpreted as follows: “O sun who directly destroys the darkness of ignorance, we are scorched by the sun-rays of this philosophical knowledge. We are cakora birds who can subsist only on the moonlight radiating from Your beautiful face. Please come back to Vrndavana with us, and in this way bring us back to life.”

And if He says, “Then come to Dvaraka; there we will enjoy together,” they reply that Sri Vrndavana is their home, and they are too attached to it for them to take up residence anywhere else. Only there, the gopis imply, can Krsna attract them by wearing peacock feathers in His turban and playing enchanting music with His flute. Only by His appearing again in Vrndavana can the gopis be saved, not by any other kind of meditation on Him or theoretical knowledge of the self.

Thus end the purports of the humble servants of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to the Tenth Canto, Eighty-second Chapter, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled “Krsna and Balarama Meet the Inhabitants of Vrndavana.”