“Everyone is bound by his fruitive activities, but the devotees, because they work completely for the satisfaction of the Lord, suffer no reactions. Similarly, the gopis’ attitude toward Krishna, although seemingly lusty, should not be considered to be like the lusty desires of ordinary women. The reason is explained by Krishna Himself. Activities in devotional service to Krishna are transcendental to any fruitive result.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 22)
Friend2: One who is conquered by the senses.
Friend1: Which is a negative.
Friend2: Is it?
Friend1: Yes. Jitendriya is the more preferred name. It means one who has conquered the senses.
Friend2: How do you conquer them, though? If there is no sense interaction, there is no life, correct?
Friend1: Conquering means not being driven by them. Think of it like sitting down at your desk at work and someone placing a pizza pie next to your computer. You’ve already eaten breakfast. Lunch is scheduled for sometime later. You shouldn’t be eating this pizza.
Friend2: But it just looks too good to pass up.
Friend1: The senses. Sight triggers the taste buds. Conquering means to control yourself.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: Why am I lecturing you? You lure me into these traps. I was going somewhere with this.
Friend2: Let me guess. That if you try to control the sense objects but still have a taste for them, you are a pretender. Like Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita.
Friend1: No, but that’s a good point. That’s something for another discussion. Oh, okay. So if you don’t have control over the senses, you can’t make progress in spiritual life?
Friend2: Think about it. Hanging on to the senses means being in illusion. If you are in maya, how will you think of “not maya” at the time of death? If you can’t control the urges right now, at the critical moment when quitting the body your focus will be on the material.
Friend1: Listen, I agree with you. It makes sense. But now that you’ve accepted my premise, there is a trap.
Friend1: Are you ready? How do you explain the gopis?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: They lusted after Krishna. The Sanskrit word is kama. They were already married but they couldn’t control their urges to be with the Supreme Lord, to enjoy with Him intimately. They ran out from home in the middle of the night to meet with Him in the forest.
Friend2: Right. No argument here.
Friend1: Yet they are considered the topmost transcendentalists. How do you explain the contradiction?
Friend2: First off, let me just say that the contradiction is beautiful. It is good to have it there. It’s not something any person dedicated to Krishna should worry about. Rather, it reinforces the main point that spiritual life is completely different from material life.
Friend1: How do you explain it, though? These were village girls. They were not yogis. They couldn’t control their urges. Why are they so exalted, then?
Friend2: Because they abandoned everything for God. Their kama was actually bhakti. They weren’t scratching some material itch. They gave up everything, including reputation, to be with God. That is real surrender.
Friend1: Isn’t that sort of a convenient excuse? You’re making an exception to the rule since Krishna is involved.
Friend2: That’s precisely it. Krishna is the exception. If there were no exceptions, then the rules themselves would be superior. They would be God. But we know that God is a person, not just a principle.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: There is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita that confirms this. Bhagavan says that only after a person has exhausted all sinful reactions do they take up devotion to Him in earnest.
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
The gopis have transcended the ordinary rules of right and wrong. They are uncontrolled in their desire to be with Krishna, to please Him. In this way they are always conscious of Him, which is the objective of sense control anyway.
Over senses should have control,
Not that urges upon you having hold.
How then to the gopis treated?
Who to forest for Krishna retreated.
Dancing the night away long,
Having desire for Shyama strong.
Understood since surpassed already,
Highest platform when in bhakti steady.