Saturday, December 08, 2012

48 Bhagavatha - Krishna steals the garments of the gopis

In the winter month of Margasirsha, the maids of Vraja undertake a vow by worshipping Goddess Katyayani. They take a dip in the river Yamuna at day break. They make a sand image of the goddess and pray: "O Goddess Katyayani (the Lord's deluding potency), possessed of infinite powers, we pray that you make our dear Krishna my husband, hail to you!" With their mind set on Krishna, the maidens observed the vow for a whole month. Rising early in the morning, they loudly sang the praises of Krishna as they went with their hands clasped together to bathe  in the Kalindi everyday. On the last day of the month (a full moon day - when they were to conclude their vow), they leave their clothes on the bank as usual and sported in the waters, glorifying Krishna.
Yogacharya as he was, Krishna came to know what was in their minds, and went there to reward their worship. He was accompanied by his cowherd friends. Taking the scattered clothes of the maidens on the bank, he hastily climbed up a kadamba tree. Indulging in fun with the laughing boys, he spoke to the maidens in jest : "O young girls with slender waists, come here and take your clothes from me one by one or all together, as you please. I am not joking since you are all exhausted with the performance of the vow. Never has a lie been uttered by me, and these boys here know it."
Although the maidens knew Krishna was making fun, they were overwhelmed with love. They were abashed to see one another, and were inclined to laugh, but did not venture out of the water. They were neck-deep in the water, shivering due to the winter chill. "We know you well to be the dear son of Nanda, and praised all over Vraja, O dear Krishna! Please return our clothes, as we are all shivering. O shyama sundara! we are your servants, we will do whatever you say, but give us back our clothes. If not we will report the matter to the king."  
Krishna replies: "Very well, if you will do whatever I say, come here and receive the clothes, with a bright smile." Shivering with cold, the maidens emerged from the river, covering themselves with their palms. Pleased with their pure heart, Krishna places the clothes on his shoulder and smilingly said: "You have committed a grave offence to the god of water, by taking a dip in the holy river in a nude state. It has violated the sanctity of your vow. You can be redeemed of that sin if you bow low after joining your palms, raising your hands above your head."
The maidens, keen to see that their vow is fulfilled, bow to Krishna knowing that it is he, who washes away all transgressions. Krishna returns their clothes. Even though they were deprived of their clothes, stripped of all shame, ridiculed and treated as toys, they did not find fault with him, gratified as they were in his joyful company. They put on their clothes. But they could not stir from their place as their bashful looks were riveted on Krishna.
Krishna delighted them with his charming words: "O chaste girls, your desire is known to me. The craving for enjoyment on the part of those whose mind is devoted to me, cannot lead to further enjoyment even as seeds of grain, once it is fried or boiled, are unfit to be sown. Go back to Vraja, O damsels. You will sport with me during the coming nights, for which purpose you have observed this vow."
Having virtually realised their ambition, the maidens return to Vraja with great difficulty, their minds contemplating on his lotus feet.

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Srimad Bhagavatham