Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 12 Jun 2019

     

KRISHNA'S BEHAVIOR TOWARDS THE GOPIKAAS: AN IDEAL FOR SOCIETY?

[Shri PVNM Sharma asked: 1) Gopikaas were totally uneducated villagers. How did they recognize Krishna as the contemporary Human Incarnation, when recognizing the Incarnation is very difficult even for great scholars?

2) The Gopikaas were married women and yet they loved Krishna as their Lover. As per pravrutti, the path of worldly justice, relationships outside of the marriage are considered to be sins and are punishable in hell. Will the relationship between the Gopikaas and Krishna not spoil the public and prevent them from following the path of pravrutti?

Answer for the first question was given in previous message. Answer for the second question is given below.]

Identifying Krishna as God

Swami Replied: Krishna Himself said in the Gita that ordinary people follow the actions of a great person (Yadyadaacharati...—Gita). He also said that illegitimate sex and greed are the greatest sins (kaamah Krodhah tathaa lobhah …—Gita). So, illegitimate sex and theft are indeed the biggest sins. Krishna was the greatest Person because He was God who had incarnated in human form. Then why did He steal butter from others’ houses even though He had plenty of butter in His own house? Perhaps He might have stolen in an emergency situation since stealing to save oneself from dying of starvation is justified (aaptadharma). However, that was not the case. There was no such emergency which forced Him to steal. He also danced with the married Gopikaas secretly in Brundavanam and was involved in illegitimate sex (Suratanaatha... Bhagavatam) with them. It appears that both these sins are unjustifiable and that the public might get spoiled by learning that the greatest personality, Krishna, was involved in such sinful actions.

In reality, this case had a divine background. Krishna was God and this point was well-known to the Gopikaas. The Gopikaas were reborn sages, who in their past millions of births had developed a very strong devotion for God. There is no doubt that their souls carried a strong impression or tendency of devotion to God. However, these sages were born as the uneducated cowherd women, the Gopikaas and they lived in the uneducated village atmosphere. Usually, whenever a soul present in the upper energetic world is to be born on earth, it is granted a birth in a congenial environment. In other words, it is ensured that the soul is born in a family and community where people have strong mental tendencies (samskaaras) that are similar to that of the soul. The strong mental tendencies that yield a new birth to a soul are called the praarabdha. This arrangement encourages any soul who has developed good qualities to strengthen and improve those good qualities. Since the sages had a very strong spiritual mentality for numerous births, they should have been born as sages again in their next birth. Then why were they born in the uneducated village atmosphere against the rule of praarabdha?

It was indeed the will of God to give the most learned sages the birth of the uneducated Gopikaas. It was done to rid them of the three types of ego namely the ego of being born in a high caste, the ego of being born with the male gender and the ego of having high education. It is, of course, a misunderstanding of the public that being born in the so-called high caste makes a person superior to others. In fact, the actual caste of a person is determined by a person’s qualities and deeds alone; not by birth. Similarly, the male gender is misunderstood to be superior. Even though these beliefs are false, they develop ego among people. God wanted to free the sages from this three-fold ego of caste, gender and education. So, the will of God influenced the cycle of deeds in such a way that they were born in a low caste as women who were completely illiterate.

Apart from the effect of the strong mental tendencies from past births (samskaaras) on the soul, the effect of the current birth is also very strong. Hence, the Gopikaas were strongly ignorant. Ignorant people believe that miracles are the deciding factor that indicates Godly nature. Ignorant people do not consider knowledge to be the deciding factor in identifying a Human Incarnation of God since they do not recognize the value of knowledge. So, Krishna showed a series of miracles to the ignorant Gopikaas to impress upon their mind the fact that He was an Incarnation of God. Two reasons helped the Gopikaas identify Krishna as an Incarnation of God: (1) The very strong spiritual mentality coming from their previous births and (2) The miracles exhibited by Krishna since they were ignorant in their current birth. Given these two reasons, all the Gopikaas certainly identified Krishna as God. One may fail in identifying the contemporary Human Incarnation due to a defect in one’s analysis arising out of a weak spiritual mental tendency from the previous births or out of the ignorance of the current birth. But in the case of the Gopikaas, both these factors are ruled out as described above.

Passing the Tests of Krishna

Since all the Gopikaas had identified Krishna as God, one would expect all of them to even succeed in the two tests given by Krishna to them. The two tests were (i) testing their ability to overcome their attachment to wealth and their children for the sake of Krishna. Krishna conducted this test by stealing the butter that they had saved for their children and (ii) testing their ability to overcome their attachment to their life-partners, which was done by dancing with them secretly. Unfortunately, all the Gopikaas did not pass both these tests. Only a few could pass. This means that even though the souls had clearly identified God, they failed in the tests because they were more strongly attached to their worldly bonds than to God. The soul cannot escape here by saying that it failed in the test because it was unable to clearly identify God. A student tries to justify his failure in the examination by saying that he was suddenly unable to see the question paper because of some problem with his eyes! The case of the Gopikaas was not like that. They had very well recognized Krishna to be God and this fact has been recorded by sage Narada in his Bhakti Sutras. Some Gopikaas, failed in the first test in which Krishna stole the butter saved by them for their children. These failed Gopikaas went and complained to Krishna’s mother about His theft of their butter. The Gopikaas, who passed this test, were the ones who deliberately left their doors open so that Krishna could easily enter their homes and steal their butter. They enjoyed His stealing of their butter! Some of them even gave Him the extra butter that they had saved for their children. They carried it along in a separate pot and gave it to Krishna on their way to Mathura city, where they would usually go to sell their butter. These Gopikaas passed the test since they gave more importance to God than to wealth and their issues.

With regard to the second test, several Gopikaas did not come to Brundaavanam to dance secretly with Krishna. For some of them, their attachment to their life-partners was stronger than their attachment to God. For others, even though their attachment to God was stronger than their attachment to their life-partners, they felt that cheating their life-partners was the greatest sin. They were afraid of being sent to hell for the sin. By avoiding dancing with Krishna for fear of sin and hell, these Gopikaas, had voted for justice instead of God. Dharmaraja also similarly voted for justice instead of God by refusing to follow Krishna’s advice to tell a lie in the Mahabharata war. All such Gopikaas and Dharmaraja, who failed in God’s test and voted for justice instead of God, only went up to heaven. They had to return to Earth as normal human beings, after some time. But the Gopikaas, who passed the test, went up to Goloka, which is the highest world situated even above the Brahma Loka, which is the abode of God. In the first step of worldly justice, also known as pravrutti, the soul must vote for justice instead of injustice. In the second step of devotion and service to God, also known as nivrutti, the soul must certainly vote for God instead of justice (Sarvadharmaan parityajya...—Gita).

Understanding the Bhaagavatam

One must understand the Bhaagavatam very carefully. It is only in nivrutti that the devotee votes for God even against justice. But a cheat imitating Krishna will violate justice for the sake of himself or for the sake of some other soul dear to him. Note that he is not voting for God instead of justice but is voting for some soul instead of justice. This is clearly a misinterpretation of the nivrutti path depicted in the Bhaagavatam. The cheat may steal the wealth of others or engage in illegitimate sex, thinking that he himelf is God. In that case, he is misinterpreting and exploiting the Advaita philosophy given by Shankara. Shankara said that He was God (Shivoham), which was true since He was an Incarnation of God Śiva. The followers felt that every soul is God and so, they too were God. Therefore, when Shankara drank wine, the followers imitated Him thinking that, being God, they too were above the rule that prohibits a person from consuming alcohol. Next day, to teach them a lesson, Shankara drank molten lead and asked the followers to also drink the same. The followers realized their mistake and fell at His feet. They realized that they were not the omnipotent God but only souls who have very little power. Shankara then confirmed their realization by saying that He alone was the Incarnation of God (Shivah kevaloham) and that other souls were not God.

You want to steal the wealth of others and engage in illegitimate sex. Fine, then why don’t you also lift a hill as Krishna did? Why don’t you lift a very big stone, at least? You need not lift it on your finger, like Krishna; you can use both your hands to lift it. You also need not lift it immediately like Krishna; you practice weight-lifting for several years and then lift the large stone. The ability to perform miracles is the first test to indentify an Incarnation of God. It is like the first stage filter. It filters out most false Incarnations who claim to be God. But sometimes, even demons can possess miraculous powers granted by God. Such demons can be filtered out by the second stage of filtration, which is testing if the person possesses God’s special divine knowledge and divine love. Krishna did not just do miracles. He also preached the wonderful Gita which showed that He possessed special divine knowledge. He helped Draupadi, became the guide of the Paandavaas in the war, ensured their victory and punished the violators of Draupadi. For doing this, He had to accept the horrible curse of Gandhri owing to which His entire dynasty was destroyed. He, thus, proved that He possessed divine love for Draupadi and the Paandavaas who were His devotees. As per the Veda, God is identified by His excellent knowledge (Prajnaanam Brahma), marvellous love (Raso vai sah) for His devotees and the ability to perform miracles (Satyakaamah). Of course, knowledge is the first and best identifying characteristic because it helps the soul progress in the right direction. The last identifying characteristic, which is the ability to do miracles, is possessed even by demons. Moreover, miracles mislead devotees by diverting their attention from the path of devotion to the selfish path of solving their own worldly problems or attaining worldly fame. It, thus, increases the defects of selfishness and the attraction to fame that are present in devotees. Hence, the power to do miracles is stated as the last identifying characteristic of God. All Incarnations of God (Datta) in the past possessed all these three identifying characteristics. They preached excellent spiritual knowledge. They showed wonderful love for their real devotees by transferring the punishments of their devotees’ sins upon themselves and suffering on behalf of their devotees. All of them performed miracles but they did so only in the proper situation. The miracles were done only when the devotee was really deserving and showed the hope of reformation if helped by a miracle. Only demons perform miracles for exhibition and to gain fame. Krishna performed miracles in Brundaavanam to help the Gopikaas identify Him since they were highly deserving. He did not perform many miracles after leaving Brundaavanam.

Krishna Was Above Greed and Lust

People ignorantly think that Krishna’s behavior with the Gopikaas was an ordinary case of the violation of worldly justice. They consider Krishna to have human defects like greed and lust. Listed below are several points which not only prove that Krishna was completely free of greed and lust but also that His behavior with the Gopikaas had the most extraordinary background.

i)   Towards the end of the Tretaa age, the sages, who were later reborn as the Gopikaas, had themselves expressed the desire to become females and embrace God Rama. This desire for a physical union with Rama, their contemporary Human Incarnation of God, was born in the minds of the devoted sages. Such desire was not initiated from the side of God at all! The desire of the sages was fulfilled when they were reborn as the female Gopikaas and God took the Incarnation of Krishna.

ii)  The Gopikaas, the reborn sages, themselves requested Krishna to let them dance with Him in the beginning of autumn (Sharat Rutu). Krishna tried to protect the rules of worldy justice (pravrutti) by informing them that it would be a sin for which they would have to go to hell. But the Gopikaas were prepared to go to hell for the sake of dancing with Krishna. They also threatened Krishna that they would jump into Yamuna River if Krishna refused them. They had crossed every worldly bond and every type of fear for the sake of uniting with Krishna. You cannot point out only to their illegitimate sex, since they had sacrificed everything and everybody for the sake of Krishna. All their worldly bonds were fully cut. For them, only one bond remained and it was their bond with God Krishna.

iii) Krishna did not even have a trace of desire for illegitimate sex. If He had had any such desire, He would have returned to the Gopikaas later, even after leaving Brundaavanam. But He never returned. Moreover, after leaving Brundaavanam, He never showed any illegitimate lust for any other girl anywhere and at any time in His entire life. If He had possessed illegitimate lust, He would either have repeated such behavior elsewhere or He would have returned to the Gopikaas for more. But the truth is that dancing with the Gopikaas and stealing butter from them, were tests that He conducted on His most deserving devotees before granting them eternal divine fruit. Except for the Gopikaas of Brundaavanam, there were no other candidates who had to be tested for their ability to overcome the three strong worldly bonds for the sake of God. Hence, no such tests were repeated by Him anywhere else after leaving Brundaavanam.

iv) Later, there were sixteen thousand and eight girls who came in His life. They all loved Him. But He married all of them legally and did not engage in illegitimate sex with anyone of them. His personality was wonderful in all respects. His charm and beauty were unparalleled. He was never attracted to anybody. In fact, the reverse was true.

v)  Sage Narada has said that a devotee must be bonded with God like a person is bonded with his illegitimate lover (Jaaravat cha). It does not mean that the sage approves of illegitimate sex. It only means that the devotee’s bond with God must be extremely strong just like the bond between two illegitimate lovers. Here, the simile should be confined to only one aspect, which is the strength of the bond. The simile should not be extended to any other point except for this one point of comparison. There is another such simile whereby it is said that the fame of a very great person is spreading like sin in this Kali age! Here, again, the simile is confined to only the point of spreading fast. It should not be extended to any other aspect beyond this one point. It certainly does not mean that sin has become pure and good like fame.

vi) Krishna was the highest Incarnation of God (Paripurna tama avataara). This is said in the sense that He expressed all the hidden divine powers possessed by Him completely. He expressed extraordinary divine knowledge through the Gita. He expressed extraordinary divine love for the Gopikaas and He also exhibited many miracles. The sages who were born as the Gopikaas were devoted souls of the highest order. They even had the power to curse angels. The fruit given by Krishna to the sages who passed all His tests, was Goloka, the highest world in all creation. It is even higher than the abode of God, called Brahma Loka. Krishna’s acts of stealing butter from the Gopikaas and dancing with them secretly, were the highest tests since passing them yielded the highest fruit. Naturally, the Gopikaas who passed these highest tests must have had the highest devotion. Their devotion was the highest since it involved the sacrifice of the three worldly bonds of the highest strength for the sake of God. Since the attraction of the Gopikaas to God was the highest, their detachment from all their worldly bonds occurred as a natural consequence, without any effort. All the worldly bonds of the Gopikaas had naturally dropped off due to their topmost attraction to God. Then, you cannot isolate their sacrifice of any one particular bond and say that it was a violation of justice. A prostitute may sacrifice her bond with her life-partner. But the sacrifice of that one worldly bond does not mean she has total detachment from all the worldly bonds. She definitely has a bond with money. Moreover, her sacrifice of her bond with her life-partner is not done for the sake of God. It is done for the sake of her customers, who are ordinary souls. Hence, there is no comparison between a prostitute and the Gopikaas.

Thus, we see that the case of Krishna’s theft and illegitimate sex with the Gopikaas was completely different from any worldly behaviour of similar nature. It was not a case related to the path of worldly justice (pravrutti) at all! It was a case related to the spiritual path (nivrutti). It was a case of the highest Human Incarnation of God testing the highest devotees in creation for their ability to overcome their strongest worldly bonds for His sake. It was a test that was necessary before granting them the highest eternal fruit of reaching the Goloka. Success in this test lay in the devotee voting for God over justice even though the same devotee had voted for justice over injustice, previously, in the worldly path of pravrutti. The same Gopikaas, in their previous births as sages, had severely condemned unethical behaviour such as theft and illegitimate sex in worldly life (pravrutti).