Q. Why did Krishna leave Vrindavana and went to Mathura? And by doing this He left Radharani and gopis in Vrindavana who love Him so much? Does this act of Krishna not a unfaithful act? If He had to do that why did He at first place love Radharani and gopis?
A. Krishna’s leaving Vrindavana and all of His beloved associates there was not an act of unfaithfulness; rather it has very deep spiritual import.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead accomplishes many purposes through one action. The external reason for Krishna’s leaving Vrindavan was to attend to other affairs such as killing the demons and establishing religious principles (as He had promised Mother Earth prior to His appearance, and which He did in the battle of Kurukshetra) as well as to reciprocate with His other devotees in Mathura and Hastinapura.
However, the internal reason was His desire to reciprocate with the unparalleled love of the residents of Vrindavan. Krishna actually never leaves His devotees and Vrindavan. It only appears to be so. When Krishna left Vrindavan to go to Mathura, He entered into the hearts and into the minds of all the devotees in Vrindavan and in this way Krishna never left them even for a moment.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the Krishna book ch.46,
“When Krishna was starting for Mathura on the chariot driven by Akrura and the gopis were blocking the way, Krishna assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathura. He told them not to be overwhelmed and in this way pacified them. But when He failed to come back with Nanda Maharaja, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise. Expert devotees, however, have decided that Krishna was neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Krishna, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Maharaja and stayed with the gopis and mother Yashoda in His bhava expansion. Krishna and Balarama remained in Mathura not in Their original forms but in Their expansions as Vasudeva and Sankarsana. The real Krishna and Balarama were in Vrindavan in Their bhava manifestation, whereas in Mathura They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Krishna. Externally, however, They were absent from Vrindavan.”
Krishna explains this in His message through Uddhava (Krishna book, Ch.47),
“My dear gopis, in order to increase your superexcellent love for Me, I have purposely separated Myself from you. I have done this so that you may be in constant meditation on Me.”
This constant meditation on Krishna by the gopis is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita to be the topmost yoga. Krishna knew very well the psychology of women. When a woman’s beloved is away, she thinks of him more in meditation than when he is present before her. Krishna wanted to teach through the behavior of the gopis that one who is constantly in trance like the gopis surely attains His lotus feet.
Krishna reminded the gopis that at the time of the rasa dance those gopis who could not join Him for the rasa-lila gave up their bodies simply by thinking of Him. Absorption in Krishna consciousness by feeling separation is thus the quickest method for attainment of the lotus feet of Krishna. By the personal statement of Krishna, the gopis were convinced about the strength of feelings of separation. They were actually experiencing the supernatural method of Krishna worship and were much relieved by understanding that Krishna was not away from them but always with them.
It is stated by Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur that Krishna saved the cowherd boys from the blazing forest fire within a second, while their eyes were closed. Similarly, Uddhava advised the gopis that they could be saved from the fire of separation by closing their eyes and meditating on the activities of Krishna from the very beginning of their association with Him. From the outside, the gopis could visualize all the pastimes of Krishna by hearing the descriptions of Uddhava and from within they could remember those pastimes. From the instructions of Uddhava, the gopis could understand that Krishna was not separate from them. As they were constantly thinking of Krishna, Krishna was also thinking of them constantly at Mathura.
Lord Caitanya taught people in general the method of vipralambha-seva, which is the method of rendering service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the feeling of separation.
The six Gosvamis also taught worship of Krishna in the feeling of the gopis in separation. Shrinivasacharya said that the Gosvamis were always absorbed in the ocean of transcendental feelings in the mood of the gopis. When they lived in Vrindavana they were searching for Krishna, crying, “Where are You, Krishna? O gopis, where are You? Where are You, Shrimati Radharani?” They never said, “We have now seen Radha and Krishna and therefore our mission is fulfilled.” Their mission remained always unfulfilled; they never met Radha and Krishna.
This method of loving and serving in the mood of separation is the highest form of absorption in Krishna and the highest source of spiritual ecstasy – and this fact is very difficult to understand from the material point of view. Krishna Himself was constantly absorbed in this mood of love in separation from Radharani while in Dvaraka and Mathura.
Also when Krishna had disappeared from the rasa lila and gopis were very much feeling separation of Him. When He returned they asked Him what kind of lover you are?
In answer, Krishna said that He, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is self-satisfied. He does not require anyone’s love but at the same time He said that He is not ungrateful.
Srila Prabhupada writes in Krishna book, Ch. 32
My dear friends, Krishna continued, you might be aggrieved by My words and acts but you must know that sometimes I do not reciprocate My devotees dealings with Me. My devotees are very much attached to Me but sometimes I do not reciprocate their feelings properly in order to increase their love for Me more and more. If I can very easily be approached by them, they might think, ‘Krishna is so easily available.’ So sometimes I do not respond. If a person has no money but after some time accumulates some wealth and then loses it, he will think of the lost property twenty-four hours a day. Similarly, in order to increase the love of My devotees, sometimes I appear to be lost to them and instead of forgetting Me, they feel their loving sentiments for Me increase.
My dear friends, do not think for a moment that I have been dealing with you as I do with ordinary devotees. I know what you are. You have forsaken all kinds of social and religious obligations; you have given up all connection with your parents. Without caring for social convention and religious obligations, you have come to Me and loved Me, and I am so much obliged to you that I cannot treat you as ordinary devotees. Do not think that I was away from you. I was near to you. I was simply seeing how much you were anxious for Me in My absence. So please do not try to find fault with Me. Because you consider Me so dear to you, kindly excuse Me if I have done anything wrong. I cannot repay your continuous love for Me, even throughout the lifetimes of the demigods in the heavenly planets. It is impossible to repay you or show enough gratitude for your love; therefore please be satisfied by your own pious activities. You have displayed exemplary attraction for Me, overcoming the greatest difficulties arising from family connections. Please be satisfied with your highly exemplary character, for it is not possible for Me to repay My debt to you.