“When Krishna saw the full moon night of the sharat season, He decorated Himself with various seasonal flowers, especially the mallika flowers, which are very fragrant, He remembered the gopis’ prayers to goddess Katyayani, wherein they prayed for Krishna to be their husband. He thought that the full night of the sharat season was just suitable for a nice dance. So their desire to have Krishna as their husband would then be fulfilled.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 29)
“Don’t you think the image of the rasa dance is too controversial? Rivals use it to criticize Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They say that it disqualifies the proclaimed status. They warn others to look into the same, as if to run a hit-piece investigation through a fake news organization.
“If they can expose Krishna for who He truly is, a womanizer, they will make people lose their faith. The disenfranchised will then be open to accepting the dogmatic insistence from others, who may have no philosophical foundation to their proposal. They have their book, their savior and their established institution, only. Accept and be saved. Reject and be condemned to hell forever.
“I was just thinking that if such a scene were omitted entirely, it might do more good than harm. Keep the philosophical stuff, like Bhagavad-gita. The teachings on the principles of dharma are outstanding. Practically any doubt a person has in life, they can get the answer from Mahabharata, which is a lengthy sacred text of the Vedic tradition. If you leave the rasa dance out of the presentation, there would be less issues.”
That specific pastime embodies an undeniable truth of life. If the descriptions of the dance were removed from existence, erased from the recorded history of the world, it would be like eliminating life itself. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains it in terms of the nature of enjoyment.
The Sanskrit is ananda-mayo ’bhyasat. It is in the very nature of our existence to seek pleasure and bliss. Our nature is rooted in the Almighty, who is the source of the material and spiritual worlds.
He too has the tendency to enjoy. Pleasure is enjoyed best in the company of many. For this reason the Supreme Lord is not alone in the spiritual world. We have the factual depictions of Krishna with Radha, Vishnu with Lakshmi, Rama with Sita, and so forth. One is the energetic and the other the energy.
Being spirit souls who are part and parcel of the Divine, we belong to the category of the energy. We are the many with whom the original enjoys. He takes pleasure from us. The rasa dance illustrates how this manifests, wherein the singular Almighty expands Himself almost unlimitedly to enjoy individually with those who are His energy.
The image also explains the situation of the manifest world. The countless living entities are expansions from the original. Their essential characteristic, dharma, is to serve and be enjoyed by the enjoyer. In that sense God is the true purusha, while we are all prakriti.
अपरेयम् इतस् त्व् अन्यां
प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम्
ययेदं धार्यते जगत्
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)
It should be noted that Krishna’s dancing with the gopis under the bright moon of Sharada Purnima takes place deep into the narrative of Bhagavata Purana. It is not the initial point of inquiry for Parikshit Maharaja, who has only a short amount of time left to live.
Only after hearing about the origins of the universe, the instruction to Brahma, the manifestation of the planets and their component populations, and the Divine appearance and activities of the different incarnations of the Supreme Lord do we come upon the intimate pastimes between Shyama and His beloved gopis.
If Krishna is indeed responsible for the wonderful and insightful teachings presented by Kapila-deva, if He has previously slain the wicked Ravana of Lanka, if He saved Prahlada from the evil father named Hiranya, then why would He be limited in His enjoyment in the sacred land of Vrindavana?
Rather than a strike against His character, that incident represents unlimited kindness, the likes of which the misers will never understand. If I do not know my true identity as spirit soul, which is found even in the animal species, how will I understand the origin of everything and His actions while interacting with those who love Him the most?
To editors may behoove,
That omission of rasa to choose.
Since criticism made against,
Mean words by rivals sent.
But that pastime everything to show,
God’s all-compassionate nature to know.
That to be enjoyed by Him our mission,
Meeting with gopis not cause for derision.