Dance of Divine Love

Even the Beloved Lord,
seeing those nights
in autumn filled with
blooming jasmine flowers,
Turned his mind toward
love’s delights,
fully taking refuge in
Yogamaya’s illusive powers.

One special evening, the rising moon reached its fullness with a resplendent glow. Its reddish rays lit up the forest as night-blooming lotus flowers began to unfold. The forest during those nights was decorated profusely with delicate star-like jasmine flowers, resembling the flowing dark hair of goddesses adorned with flower blossoms. So rapturous was this setting that the supreme Lord himself, as Krishna, the eternally youthful cowherd, was compelled to play captivating music on his flute. Moved by this beauteous scene, Krishna was inspired toward love.

Upon hearing the alluring flute music, the cowherd maidens, known as the Gopis, who were already in love with Krishna, abruptly left their homes, families and domestic duties. They ran off to join him in the moonlit forest. Krishna and the Gopis met and played on the banks of the Yamuna River. When the maidens became proud of his loving attention, however, their beloved Lord suddenly vanished from their sight. The Gopis searched everywhere for Krishna. Discovering that he had run off with one special maiden, they soon found that she too had been deserted by him. As darkness engulfed the forest, the cowherd maidens gave up their search, singing sweet songs of hope and despair, longing for his return. Then Krishna cleverly reappeared and spoke to them on the nature of love.

The story culminates in the commencement of the Rasa dance. The Gopis link arms together, forming a great circle. By divine arrangement, Krishna dances with every cowherd maiden at once, yet each one thinks she is dancing with him alone. Supreme love has now reached its perfect fulfillment and expression through joyous dancing and singing long into the night, in the divine circle of the Rasa. Retiring from the vigorous dancing, Krishna and the Gopis refresh themselves by bathing in the river. Then reluctantly, the cowherd maidens return to their homes.

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