The ‘Raasleela’ is the Cosmic Dance in which featured Krishna and the Gopis.
Every Gopi believed that Krishna was dancing exclusively with her and for her!
It is very clearly stated in the Scriptures that:
‘Raasleela paanch bhoutik shareer ke tyaag ke baad hee hui hai’
Loosely translated, it means that the ‘Enchanting Drama’ was performed, (by) beyond the physical body.
Listen to a Spiritual lover’s logic: The Gopis felt separate from God before the Rasleela.
Since ‘to be separated’ from the Lord is ‘Fire’.
Therefore the physical body consisting of 5 elements was burnt out (and so there was nothing physical in the Rasleela.
Love starts with ‘Dvait’ ie there is the Lover and the Beloved (Two)
Later Love becomes ‘Advait’ (Both become One)
That is what is believed happened in the Rasleela.
The Thirsty Spirit merged with the Infinite.
This was no mundane sexual desire and its fulfillment.
Let me tell you a story before we enter ‘The Rasleela’
Once Kaamdev (The God of Passionate Sexual desire) came to Krishna.
Krishna said to him: “Don’t you remember that you were defeated by Shivji?”
Kaamdev said: “When I had gone to grapple with Him, He was meditating upon the Almighty and hence I was burnt”.
Sri Krishna reminded Kaamdev that the latter had been defeated by Sri Ram!
Kaamdev admitted that he could not tempt the Lord when He had incarnated as Shri Ram as He was devoted to only Seeta, and was a perfect follower of principles. (Maryaada Purshottam)
Krishna asked Kaamdev: “What is your desire now?”
Kaamdev said: “This incarnation You are not bound by any conditionings, and you freely prance with the Gopis; I shall release my arrow, if you do not succumb to it, I shall consider you God. If however you are defeated, then I shall be God.”
I shall release my arrow on a full moon night!
Krishna said: “If this is your desire, so be it!”
The proof that Krishna was victorious, in his encounter with Kaamdev is that the Shrimad Bhaaagvad proclaims that he who wants to conquer over sexual desire/obsession should read the ‘Rasleela ‘chapter in the Shrimad Bhaagvad!
Besides Krishna won the ‘God’ title!
It is said that when Krishna played the flute that magical night, only the Gopis heard it.
The Gopis left their home, duties and ran towards Krishna!
Those who were milking the cows, ran the minute they heard the first notes of the flute. Some Gopis wore their necklaces on their arms instead of on their neck!
One Gopi ran towards Krishna with cow dung on her hands!
If this was ordinary attraction, the Gopis would have spent hours beautifying themselves before running towards their Beloved.
This is the kind of fervor that is required of an aspirant towards the Lord!
Shri Krishna asked the Gopis: “Why are you running towards me? Has any misfortune struck? You are alright? What can I do for you? It is not right for a woman to be alone in a dense jungle at this time of night. Have you come to admire the beauty? Well, then enjoy the splendor of the night and quickly return to your homes! Your husbands and children must be waiting for you!”
Maybe when you turn to the Lord, He tests you by saying: “What are you going to get from me, go back to your world!”
Maybe He is saying that for a woman, she should first perform her household duties. It is there that she will find God!
When the Gopis were told to return to their homes, they were sad!
Krishna had told them that they belonged to their husbands. The Gopis knew that their husbands were surely the master of their physical form; but what about their Souls!
Their Aatman, their Spirit, their Souls surely belonged to God!
The Gopis said: “How can you ask us to return to the world, when you have promised union, to the one who worships you with love and faith? We have renounced all worldly pleasures for You! Only You reside in our heart!”
Krishna asked the Gopis “What is the proof of what you claim?”
The Gopis answered: “You Yourself are the proof. You alone reside in our hearts! Now we have only one desire! That of merging in You! You are the husband of our Soul! Now that we have seen You, how can we desire anything else? Shall we ask You a question? What is the reward of a faithful wife?”
Krishna answered: “The mind becomes pure.”
The Gopis asked “And what does one achieve when the mind is purified?”
Krishna answered: “One achieves the Lord!”
The Gopis said: “Then why should we go back to the world after we have come to you?”
Krishna said: “You can stay at home and achieve God! At home look upon everything as God Himself!”
The Gopis said: “Life after life we have prayed, but we did not even get a glimpse of You. Therefore we decided to become Gopis this life instead of Sages!”
We recognize ourselves to be the Soul, (not women), therefore we have to fulfill the duty of the Soul, which is to be ‘One’ with You! We do not desire to pray to your picture anymore! Do not forsake us! Make us Your own!”
Krishna said: “If you consider me your real Lord and Master, then I ask you to return to your husbands and children!”
The Gopis said: “We are tired of playing worldly games, life after life, but if You are ordering us, then we will have to go. However to operate in the world, we require our mind and intellect. They both are with you. You return our mind and intellect and we return to the world, to our husbands and children!”
Shri Krishna said: “I cannot return that to you, as once I steal your mind and intellect, it merges into me!”
The Gopis said: “Our feet are not ready to walk a step away from you”
Krishna said: “What if I sent you back to your homes by the power of my Yoga?”
The Gopis said: “You would be able to send our bodies there, but our mind would remain with You!”
Krishna was defeated by the love and perseverance of the Simple Gopis.
The Rasleela took place!
The devotees and the Lord became one, that magical moonlit night!
It is said that at times people would mistake Radha for Krishna and vice-versa!
Not something to be surprised at!
Guru Nanak claims ‘Nanak leen bhayo Govind syon, jyon pani sang pani’
Which means that Guru Nanak has merged into the Lord, like water mixes with water.
Do we possess that kind of love and perseverance?
I am convinced that that is one thing worth aspiring for!
A reader wanted to know more about the nine emotions, the emotions, Navrasas…
Ms Vimla Patil explains Navrasas:
Indian art – sculpture, dance, literature, music and even religious rituals (the Raasleela comes within this in some way) are an expression of the intensity of our responses to the world around us, our emotions and sensibilities.
These, in our dance and music literature are listed as romance, courage, disgust, anger, compassion, love, wonder, fear and peace.
Thus in Sanskrit they are: Shringar, Veer, Bibhatsa, Roudra, Karuna, Prem, Adbhuta, Bhaya and Shanti.
It is possible different sources give different names to these ‘nine moods of art’ in which all art is expressed.
Rasleela would be the ultimate in Shringar and Prema rasa.
In classical literature, the nine moods or intensities are called Navarasas. Love Vimla Patil