SHARAD PURNIMA is the full moon day in the autumn season. The full moon on this day is closest to the earth and therefore its influence and healing benefits are immense and profound. The moon represents the mind and the sun represents the Light of Knowledge. On the purnima day, all of the sun’s light falls on the moon unobstructed. Therefore the full moon in all its glory represents a pure satwic mind endowed with knowledge. The minds of the Gopis of Vrindavan are likened to the full-moon and Sri Krishna, the Personification of Knowledge (Sun) danced in their minds! This is the true inner RAASA-KREEDA. The entire inner Raasa-kreeda is externalised and dramatized beautifully as the dance-sport of Sri Krishna with the Gopis. Therefore Sharad Purnima is also called as RAASA PURNIMA. In some parts of the country, Karthik Purnima which comes in the next calendar month is also called as Raasa Purnima.
On the full moon night (Sharad Purnima), Sri Krishna revelling in His own Ananda Swaroopa picked up His flute by name “Aakarshini” (the one which attracts) and started playing upon it. The flute represents the entire world of things and beings, macro as well as micro, through which Krishna – the LIFE flows, enlivening it and making it dynamic. SAARA means “essence”, the INCOMPREHENSIBLE “TOUCH-OF-LIFE” – the Ultimate Reality. When the word is reversed, it becomes RAASA, the COMPREHENSIBLE “PLAY-OF-LIFE” through the gross and subtle matter-equipments. KREEDA is “sport”. Hence RAASA-KREEDA represents the CELEBRATION-OF-LIFE: the play or sport of SPIRIT (Purusha) through MATTER (Prakriti): the Creation-Sustenance-Dissolution of the Universe. This Celebration is full of Joy and Happiness (Rasavath). This “Eternal Dance of Life-through-Matter” is both, at the individual (micro) as well as at the cosmic (macro) level, and hence it is known as MAHA-RAASA.
There is Naada (music), Nritya (dance) and Naataka (drama) very beautifully represented in the Raasa-Kreeda of Lord Krishna with the Gopis. The Nava-rasas (the nine moods) of the mind starting from Shringara (Beauty) to Shanta (Peace) are beautifully depicted. The GOPIKAS danced with KRISHNA. “Go” means “knowledge”. “Pi” means “to drink” and “Ka” means “happiness”. Therefore GOPIKA means “one who is revelling in the blissful spiritual knowledge”. GOPIKA hence symbolises all spiritual seekers. Infact, all things and beings created by the Lord are GOPIS – all for the Lord’s Leela (Sport). The Lord’s music enthralls the whole of Nature, the whole Universe.
In Sage Bharata’s Natya Sastra, RAASA has been defined as “a form of dance wherein a number of women, dance in a circle with their hands interlocked in the company of men who dance with them with their arms placed round the neck of their female partners.” In the Raasa-kreeda, though Lord Krishna stood at the centre, each gopi visualised the presence of Krishna next to her. Hence there were as many Krishnas as there were Gopis on the circumference of the circle.
Krishna as the “motionless centre” represents the Absolute Reality: the UNIVERSAL LIFE, the BRAHMAN. All movement is at the circumference. Each Gopi representing the mind or the thoughts totally identifies herself with Krishna, and therefore sees Krishna next to her rather than at the centre. Therefore, the Krishna-and-Gopi pairs represent the “Individual Life expressing through the mental-thoughts”. Their dance of identifying and interlocking with each other, and their movement represent the INDIVIDUAL LIFE functioning through MATTER: the relationship between Prakriti and Purusha, the Vishwa and Vishwanatha.
According to Bhagavat Purana, Krishna is blue in colour representing Infinitude. Gopis are depicted as yellow (brilliant lustre) in colour. When they are dancing, the blue and yellow mutually overlap to yield green colour. Hence Krishna as well as the Gopis look like green emeralds! Green is the colour of balance, equilibrium and equipoise. In the infinite play of Prakriti and Purusha, there is divine equilibrium and balance in the cosmos (macro) and in each individual (micro).
The Krishna-Gopi pair at the micro level represent “Consciousness+Thought” playing about within oneself – a mini Raasa! Infact, the Whole Universe is a MAHA-RAASA. From the celestial bodies, the planetary system, the silent mountain ranges, the rains, the roaring ocean, the flowing rivers, the passing breeze, the nodding fields upto the complex body system, the mind-intellect equipment – all are a play of Prakriti and Purusha – perpetual Raasa-Kreeda! So many…many mini Raasa-s in the Cosmic Raasa!
“Tava kathaamrutam tapta jeevanam kavibhiriditham kalmashapaham; sravana mangalam srimadaatatam Bhuvi grhnanti te bhuridaa janaaha” (Lord’s divine glories in the form of nectarine stories, most auspicious to hear are recited and spread amongst the mortals by the great and compassionate sages which alone is the life-giving antidote to the miseries of samsara) ~ Gopika Geeta (Bhagavat Purana)
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