The Gopikas observe Katyayani vrata to reach Lord Krishna. The vrata entails early rising, bathing in the river and praising the Lord. The Gopikas rise early, and leaving their clothes on the banks of the river, they step into the river, to have their bath.
Krishna takes their clothes away, and climbs up a tree. Having had their bath, the women look for their clothes, and when they realise Krishna has taken them away, they beg Him to return the clothes. Why does Krishna take away their clothes?
The sastras say that one should not bathe without any clothes on, and since the Gopikas violated this rule, Krishna wants to teach them a lesson. At the same time, He wants to forgive them. So He suggests that they put their hands together and do an anjali to Him. Their mistake will then be forgiven.
There are 64 mudras, of which the anjali mudra is the best, said Adur Asuri Madhavachari in a discourse. The Lord melts when devotees do an anjali — that is the bringing together of one's palms. He at once forgives them for their mistakes.
When Vibhishana comes to Lord Rama and surrenders at His feet, those around the Lord suspect Vibhishana's intentions. They are not in favour of the Lord offering him shelter and protection. But the Lord tells them patiently that Vibhishana has his hands in anjali mudra. How can such a one be turned away? When Bharata comes to the forest with the army, Lakshmana is enraged. He wants to slay Bharata. Rama calms him down and says that he should not misjudge Bharata for the latter is one who obeys Rama implicitly. Moreover, Bharata is approaching with his hands folded together in supplication. So it is wrong to suspect him.
Lakshmana then asks why Bharata is bringing the army with him, if his intentions are honourable. Rama says that Bharata is hoping that if the whole army does an anjali to Rama, He would be moved to return to Ayodhya.
The Lord craves an anjali from His devotees. Krishna takes away the clothes of the Gopikas, and then tells them He will return the clothes, if they do an anjali. It is as if He is using the mistake of the Gopikas as an excuse to ask for an anjali.