KB 21: The Gopīs Attracted by the Flute
With the arrival of the beautiful autumn season, the waters in the lakes and rivers became as clear as crystal and filled with fragrant lotus flowers, and breezes blew very pleasantly. At that time Kṛṣṇa entered the forest of Vṛndāvana with the cows and cowherd boys. Kṛṣṇa was very much pleased with the atmosphere of the forest, where flowers bloomed and bees and drones hummed very jubilantly. While the birds, trees and plants were all looking very happy, Kṛṣṇa, tending the cows and accompanied by Śrī Balarāma and the cowherd boys, began to vibrate His transcendental flute. After hearing the vibration of the flute of Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs in Vṛndāvana remembered Him and began to talk amongst themselves about how nicely Kṛṣṇa was playing His flute. When the gopīs were describing the sweet vibration of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, they also remembered their pastimes with Him; thus their minds became disturbed, and they were unable to describe completely the beautiful vibration. While discussing the transcendental vibration, they remembered also how Kṛṣṇa dressed, decorated with a peacock feather on His head, just like a dancing actor, and with blue flowers pushed over His ear. His garment glowed yellow-gold, and He was garlanded with a Vaijayantī necklace. Dressed in such an attractive way, Kṛṣṇa filled up the holes of His flute with the nectar emanating from His lips. So they remembered Him, entering the forest of Vṛndāvana, which is always glorified by the footprints of Kṛṣṇa and His companions.
Kṛṣṇa was very expert in playing the flute, and the gopīs were captivated by the sound vibration, which was attractive not only to them but to all living creatures who heard it. One of the gopīs told her friends, “The highest perfection of the eyes is to see Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma entering the forest and playing Their flutes and tending the cows with Their friends.”
Persons who are constantly engaged in the transcendental meditation of seeing Kṛṣṇa, internally and externally, by thinking of Him playing the flute, entering the Vṛndāvana forest and tending the cows with the cowherd boys have really attained the perfection of samādhi. Samādhi (trance) means absorption of all the activities of the senses in a particular object, and the gopīs indicate that the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa are the perfection of all meditation and samādhi. It is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that anyone who is always absorbed in the thought of Kṛṣṇa is the topmost of all yogīs.
Another gopī expressed her opinion that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, while tending the cows with the cowherd boys, appeared just like actors going to play on a dramatic stage. Kṛṣṇa was dressed in glowing garments of yellow, Balarāma in blue, and They held new twigs of mango tree, peacock feathers and bunches of flowers in Their hands. Dressed with garlands of lotus flowers, They were sometimes singing very sweetly among Their friends. One gopī told her friends, “How is it Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are looking so beautiful?” Another gopī said, “My dear friends, we cannot even think of His bamboo flute—what sort of pious activities did it execute so that it is now enjoying the nectar of the lips of Kṛṣṇa, which is actually the property of us gopīs?” Kṛṣṇa sometimes kisses the gopīs; therefore the transcendental nectar of His lips is available only to them. So the gopīs asked, “How is it possible that the flute, which is nothing but a bamboo rod, is always engaged in enjoying the nectar from Kṛṣṇa’s lips? Because the flute is engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord, the mother and the father of the flute must be happy.”
The lakes and the rivers are considered to be the mothers of the trees because the trees live simply by drinking water. So the waters of the lakes and rivers of Vṛndāvana were in a happy mood, full of blooming lotus flowers, because the waters were thinking, “How is it that our son, the bamboo rod, is enjoying the nectar of Kṛṣṇa’s lips?” The bamboo trees standing by the banks of the rivers and the lakes were also happy to see their descendant so engaged in the service of the Lord, just as persons who are advanced in transcendental knowledge take pleasure in seeing their descendants engage in the service of the Lord. The trees were overwhelmed with joy and were incessantly yielding honey, which flowed from the beehives hanging on their branches.
Another gopī spoke thus to her friends about Kṛṣṇa: “Dear friend, our Vṛndāvana is proclaiming the glories of this entire earth because this planet is glorified by the lotus footprints of the son of Devakī. Besides that, when Govinda plays His flute, the peacocks immediately become mad, as if they had heard the rumbling of a new cloud. When all the animals and trees and plants, either on the top of Govardhana Hill or in the valley, see the dancing of the peacocks, they all stand still and listen to the transcendental sound of the flute with great attention. We think that this boon is not possible or available on any other planet.” Although the gopīs were village cowherd women and girls, they had extensive Vedic knowledge. Such is the effect of Vedic civilization. People in general would learn the highest truths of the Vedas simply by hearing from authoritative sources.
Another gopī said, “My dear friends, just see the deer! Although they are dumb animals, they have approached the son of Mahārāja Nanda, Kṛṣṇa. Not only are they attracted by the dress of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, but as soon as they hear the playing of the flute, the deer, along with their husbands, offer respectful obeisances unto the Lord by looking at Him with great affection.” The gopīs were envious of the deer because the deer were able to offer their service to Kṛṣṇa along with their husbands. The gopīs thought themselves not so fortunate because whenever they wanted to go to Kṛṣṇa, their husbands were not very happy.
Another gopī said, “My dear friends, Kṛṣṇa is so nicely dressed that He appears to be the impetus to various kinds of ceremonies held by the womenfolk. Even the wives of the denizens of heaven become attracted after hearing the transcendental sound of His flute. Although they are traveling in the air in their airplanes, enjoying the company of their husbands, on hearing the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, they immediately become perturbed. Their hair is loosened, and their tight belts are slackened.” This means that the transcendental sound of the flute of Kṛṣṇa extended to all corners of the universe. Also, it is significant that the gopīs knew about the different kinds of airplanes flying in the sky.
Another gopī said to her friends, “My dear friends, the cows are also charmed as soon as they hear the transcendental sound of the flute of Kṛṣṇa. It sounds to them like the pouring of nectar, and they immediately spread their long ears just to catch the liquid nectar of the flute. As for the calves, they are seen with the nipples of their mothers pressed in their mouths, but they cannot suck the milk. They remain struck with devotion, and tears glide down from their eyes, illustrating vividly how they are embracing Kṛṣṇa heart to heart.” These phenomena indicate that even the cows and calves in Vṛndāvana knew how to cry for Kṛṣṇa and embrace Him heart to heart. Actually, the perfection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness can be culminated in the shedding of tears from the eyes.
Another young gopī told her mother, “My dear Mother, the birds, who are all looking at Kṛṣṇa playing on His flute, are sitting very attentively on the branches and twigs of different trees. From their features it appears that they have forgotten everything and are engaged only in hearing Kṛṣṇa’s flute. This proves that they are not ordinary birds; they are great sages and devotees, and just to hear Kṛṣṇa’s flute they have appeared in Vṛndāvana forest as birds.” Great sages and scholars are interested in Vedic knowledge, but the essence of Vedic knowledge is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ
The scorching heat of the autumn sunshine was sometimes intolerable, and therefore the clouds in the sky appeared in sympathy above Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma and Their boyfriends while They engaged in blowing Their flutes. The clouds served as a soothing umbrella over Their heads just to make friendship with Kṛṣṇa.
The aborigine girls became fully satisfied when they smeared their faces and breasts with the dust of Vṛndāvana, which was reddish from the touch of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. The aborigine girls had very full breasts, and they were also very lusty, but when their lovers touched their breasts, the girls were not very much satisfied. When they came out into the midst of the forest, they saw that while Kṛṣṇa was walking some of the leaves and creepers of Vṛndāvana had turned reddish from the kuṅkuma powder which fell from His lotus feet. His lotus feet are held by the gopīs on their breasts, which are smeared with kuṅkuma powder, but when Kṛṣṇa travels in the Vṛndāvana forest with Balarāma and His boyfriends, the reddish powder falls on the ground. So the lusty aborigine girls, while looking toward Kṛṣṇa playing His flute, saw the reddish kuṅkuma on the ground and immediately took it and smeared it over their faces and breasts. In this way they became fully satisfied, although they were not satisfied when their lovers touched their breasts. All material lusty desires can be immediately satisfied if one comes in contact with Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Another gopī began to praise the unique position of Govardhana Hill in this way: “How fortunate is this Govardhana Hill, for it is enjoying the association of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, who are accustomed to walking on it. Thus Govardhana is always in touch with the lotus feet of the Lord. And because Govardhana Hill is so obliged to Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, it is supplying different kinds of fruits, roots and herbs, as well as very pleasing crystal water from its lakes, in presentation to the Lord. The best presentation offered by Govardhana Hill, however, is newly grown grass for the cows and calves. Govardhana Hill knows how to please the Lord by pleasing His most beloved associates, the cows and the cowherd boys.”
Another gopī said, “Everything appears wonderful when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma travel in the forest of Vṛndāvana playing Their flutes and making intimate friendship with all kinds of moving and nonmoving living creatures. When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma play on Their transcendental flutes, the moving creatures become stunned and stop their activities, and the nonmoving living creatures, like trees and plants, begin to shiver with ecstasy. These are the wonderful reactions to the vibration of the transcendental flutes of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.”
Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma carried binding ropes on Their shoulders and in Their hands, just like ordinary cowherd boys. While milking cows, cowherd boys bind the cows' hind legs with a small rope. This rope almost always hangs from the shoulders of cowherd boys, and it was not absent from the shoulders of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. In spite of Their being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, They played exactly like cowherd boys, and therefore everything became wonderful and attractive.
While Kṛṣṇa was engaged in tending the cows in the forest of Vṛndāvana or on Govardhana Hill, the gopīs in the village were always absorbed in thinking of Him and discussing His different pastimes. This is the perfect example of Kṛṣṇa consciousness: to somehow or other remain always engrossed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa. The vivid example is always present in the behavior of the gopīs; therefore Lord Caitanya declared that no one can worship the Supreme Lord by any method which is better than the method of the gopīs. The gopīs were not born in very high brāhmaṇa or kṣatriya families; they were born in the families of vaiśyas, and not in big mercantile communities but in the families of cowherd men. They were not very well educated, although they heard all sorts of knowledge from the brāhmaṇas, the authorities of Vedic knowledge. The gopīs’ only purpose was to remain always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-first Chapter of