Lord Krishna was one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. In His human form, He was a very charming person and had a good personality. The women would love him and wanted to spend a lot of time with him. He would play the flute and the women would surround him and dance. Sometime he too would join in the dance. This dance form was popularly called a Raas Leela. There are a lot of songs and poems that have been dedicated to this dance form of Lord Krishna. This is still performed and is an integral part of our culture.
There is a person who dresses like Lord Krishna and he is surrounded by the gopis or those women who were enchanted by the flute and the personality of Lord Krishna. These women would forget where they are and would get into a trance. The same scene is depicted in the Raas Leela that we see today. We can also say that it can become a form of dance rather.
The General View
Swami Vivekananda had a very unique way of looking at Raas Leela. Some people consider it as unethical and immoral. However, Vivekananda said that Raas Leela was a medium that Lord Krishna used to prove that there is a strong connection between the universe and all the souls that live in it. The lord wanted each and every one to feel the universal power and connect to the ultimate truth. His medium was the sweet sound of the flute that he used to play always. Unless we learn to reach a state of trance and completely surrender ourselves to the supreme power we will not be able to understand the essence of the Raas Leela.
The most difficult part in any devotion is to surrender yourself completely to the lord and lose your identity. The devotion of the gopis to the Lord Krishna was unquestionable. They would be completely mesmerised by the sweet sound of the flute and would forget what they had to do. Similarly in Raas Leela we can see the deep love of Lord Krishna and Radha. Radha loved Krishna and there was no logic in her love. She just blindly loved him and considered him as her own. She would not care about the society or her family and would always come running to Lord Krishna when he would play the flute. There is a deep spiritual significance in this action of Radha. The lord wanted to prove that love for the lord is of prime importance. Unless you can give off your bonds and ties and run to the lord whenever he calls you your path to salvation cannot be reached. One must be free of all fear of loss and of the society and should always think of God.
It is said that Radha had told Lord Krishna to incarnate so that the concept of Radha bhava could start. Some say that Chaitanya mahaprabhu was this incarnation of Radha Bhava. Lord Krishna said that only those who have supreme and unconditional love for lord can only reach the lord. The mind must be pure to feel the presence and the essence of god. This can only come from true and unquestioned love. Love that is similar to the love gopis felt for Lord Krishna. It is said that saints who did very hard penance in their previous life got the chance of being born as gopis and they had the chance of taking part in the Raas Leela.
You must have seen the paintings of Raas Leela. Different artists have tried to project the beauty of the Raas Leela in their art. It is said that this flirtatious act of the Lord Krishna on the bank of the Yamuna was a very beautiful act and was a great pleasure to watch. Lord Krishna would hide and tease the gopis and then on a lot of insisting would come out and dance with them. Raas Leela is spiritually very significant and has a lot to teach all of us. The gopis in some of their songs say that Lord Krishna is present everywhere. He is there in the trees, leaves, water and sky. We do not need to close our eyes to see him. If we open our eyes we will be able to see and feel his presence in everything that is around us.
Raas Leela of Krishna
Lord Krishna in the centre of the Raas Leela dance depicts that there is a Parmatma or the lord around whom the whole universe is formed. The gopis dance around the lord and they all are considered as the partner of the lord. This means that there is a lord with each one of us and he is looking after us. Just that we have to recognise and appreciate him. We can do so only when we surrender ourselves completely to this divine power. The gopis were always women and hardly was a man enchanted by Lord Krishna in this form. This too has a deep spiritual essence. This says that god is man and all the human beings are feminine. They have a relationship of a spouse with the lord.
The Lord is knowledge supreme and he gets this importance only when the students in the form of gopis come to him to gain the knowledge. The Raas Leela is a good way to learn and appreciate the Brahma Vidya. It has nothing to do with sensual behaviour as explained by many. We hope that this article will help our readers to understand the deep and the spiritual importance of the Raas Leela.
~ Jyotsna Vaid