The Rasa Lila episode in the Bhagavata Purana highlights the Lord’s compassion towards the Gopis who prove to be the most staunch bhaktas for He provides them a taste of the bliss of union with Him, a state which even yogis and sages who are engaged in severe penance find it hard to attain.

The Gopis are not learned; they do not know any philosophy. But they are strong in their single-minded devotion to Krishna. This is the most important requirement for God realisation. Krishna’s life among the Vrishnis illustrates how He is the means and the goal for all the Jivatmas keen on seeking salvation, pointed out Sri B. Sundarkumar in a discourse.

He leads them step by step to understand the ultimate purpose of life. In His own way, the Lord teaches them to shed their possessiveness towards the material and physical aspects of human existence and makes them turn inwards to understand the subtle essence of their selves which they have to offer to Him unconditionally. This spirit of surrender and yearning is the hallmark of a true bhakta. The soul has to long for union with the Lord and has to transcend the physical limitations of its embodied state. Tremendous effort is the basis of God realisation. There are many stages in devotion.

In the initial stages, a Jivatma is engaged in devotional practices and is aware of his role in demonstrating his love through offerings to the Lord. This is the sadhana to be practised. The soul realises God when Bhakti and Jnana provide mutual strength to one another. Bhakti implies the feeling of devotion with respect to God. The Jivatma caught in samsara has to realise the meaninglessness of this state and be determined to transcend its pulls. As a result, it has to turn its attention to spiritual development and this is achieved through Bhakti. But Bhakti becomes pure when the individual understands his true state in relation to the Lord’s ultimate supremacy and consequently experiences His boundless grace. When the Gopis revel in the dance with the Lord in the moonlit night abandoning their hearth and homes, it is the cause of Visesha dharma overriding Samanya dharma. Constant meditation on the Lord is absolutely necessary.

More In: Faith | Friday Review