Published on January 3rd, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada | Full size image3
Following the Path of the Gopis
As for your desire to follow the path of the gopis, that can only be done by following the rules and regulations of devotional service in the association of devotees.
Dallas, 30 July, 1975
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated July 21, 1975 and have noted the contents. It is a very good sign that although you are not happy now you know it is only because you are not in the company of Krishna and the devotees. It is true that in the past there was some mismanagement in our Honolulu temple, but I was there recently, and it is nicely organized. But, since you have moved to San Francisco, I advise you to go there to our very nice temple in Berkeley. All the things you say you are yearning for are there. Radha Krishna are being worshipped, and there are many devotees there. So I am sure that if you go there and join with the devotees, all your problems will be solved, Krishna Consciousness is so nice.
As for your desire to follow the path of the gopis, that can only be done by following the rules and regulations of devotional service in the association of devotees. Once you have joined the temple, then we can see about Deity worship.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Pls accept my humblest obeisances and sashtang dandvat pranam…
What does GOPI-BHAVA actually mean?
Can one follow gopi-bhava in this age of Kali??
What are the symptoms of those who are following gopi-bhava???
How should one strive to attain this bhava????
Respectful pranams to you Ashwini,
Gopi-bhava is refers to the extraordinary loving sentiments manifest in the hearts and demeanor of the gopis of Vrajadham, Sri Vrindavan. And to understand their exalted position we should refer to the statements of Lord Brahma in his enlightening treatise, Brahma Samhita. There it is stated, “ananda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhavitabhis tabhir ya eva nija-rupataya kalabhi goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhuto govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami” “I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who resides in His own realm, Goloka, with Radha, who resembles His own spiritual figure and who embodies the ecstatic potency [hladini]. Their companions are Her confidantes, who embody extensions of Her bodily form and who are imbued and permeated with ever-blissful spiritual rasa.” (Bs. 37) The gopis are expansions of the Lord’s “hladini shakti” and to understand their feeling of love for Krishna it is imperative that one understand them from this ontological perspective. Otherwise one may fall into the gross misunderstanding that the gopis are ordinary girls, Krishna is an ordinary boy and their relationship is a mundane, material affair.
One cannot “follow” gopi-bhava, it is not a process. This is a serious misunderstanding. Rather, whatever rasa or humor we have with Lord Krishna eternally is manifest in due course of time by strict adherence to the path of sadhana bhakti. There is no other way. Love for God is the innate characteristic of the soul. It is not external and is manifest by the process of hearing and chanting the holy names of the Lord. It is stated in Chaitanya Charitamrita, “ nitya-siddha krishna-prema sadhya kabhu naya shravanadi-shuddha-citte karaye udaya” “Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens. (CC Madhya 22.107)
The symptoms of a person who exhibits the rare quality of gopi-bhava can be judged by their extreme detachment from all things material. Gopi-bhava is rarely manifest even in the hearts of the most serious sadhaka. The prime example of devotees of this character who actually exhibited gopi-bhava are the six Goswamis of Vrindavana about whom Srinivasa Acharya wrote, “tyaktva turnam ashesha-mandala-pati-srenim sada tuccha-vat bhutva dina-ganeshakau karunaya kaupina-kanthashritau gopi-bhava-rasamritabdhi-lahari-kallola-magnau muhur vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri jiva-gopalakau” “ I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, namely Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Sanatana Goswami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunätha das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Goswami, who kicked off all association of aristocracy as insignificant. In order to deliver the poor conditioned souls, they accepted loincloths, treating themselves as mendicants, but they are always merged in the ecstatic ocean of the gopés’ love for Krishna and bathe always and repeatedly in the waves of that ocean.” (verse 4)
This is a deep subject, but suffice to say that any kind of perfection that can be achieved in Krishna Consciousness is dependent on our strict adherence to the path of sadhana which begins with the chanting of Sri Harinama. Please take this process seriously. Hare Krishna.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3. 25.25
In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.
The process of advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service is described here. The first point is that one must seek the association of persons who are Kṛṣṇa conscious and who engage in devotional service. Without such association one cannot make advancement. Simply by theoretical knowledge or study one cannot make any appreciable advancement. One must give up the association of materialistic persons and seek the association of devotees because without the association of devotees one cannot understand the activities of the Lord. Generally, people are convinced of the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Because they do not associate with devotees, they cannot understand that the Absolute Truth can be a person and have personal activities. This is a very difficult subject matter, and unless one has personal understanding of the Absolute Truth, there is no meaning to devotion. Service or devotion cannot be offered to anything impersonal. Service must be offered to a person. Nondevotees cannot appreciate Kṛṣṇa consciousness by reading the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or any other Vedic literature wherein the activities of the Lord are described; they think that these activities are fictional, manufactured stories because spiritual life is not explained to them in the proper mood. To understand the personal activities of the Lord, one has to seek the association of devotees, and by such association, when one contemplates and tries to understand the transcendental activities of the Lord, the path to liberation is open, and he is freed. One who has firm faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes fixed, and his attraction for association with the Lord and the devotees increases. Association with devotees means association with the Lord. The devotee who makes this association develops the consciousness for rendering service to the Lord, and then, being situated in the transcendental position of devotional service, he gradually becomes perfect.