In Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, Sanatana Goswami beautifully narrates a soul’s journey to the kingdom of God. Gopa Kumara is that fortunate soul who decides to go back to the kingdom of God, Goloka Vrindavan.
In this world we are on a never-ending journey. We have been wandering in this material world away from God for uncountable number of years.
Sometimes we travel to the upper planetary systems to enjoy good karma. Sometimes we are compelled to go to the lower planetary systems to suffer bad karma. Sometimes we wander in a human body, sometimes in a non – human body. Sometimes we live on land, sometimes in water and sometimes in the sky. The dollops of happiness given to us during our travels hardly give any joy, in fact it brings more frustration.
Just as the water of the ocean cannot quench our thirst the allurements of this world cannot satiate our hearts.
During our journey we come across other travellers too. We identify them as our father and mother, brother and sister, spouse and children, friends and foes. We start liking their company. We desire to live with them forever. But just as the waves of the ocean devoid of emotions demolishes the castle of sand, the unconquerable time unmoved by our tears crushes all our dreams and steals all our loved ones from us. This is the nature of this world. This is how this world has been functioning since the dawn of creation.
We are residents of the spiritual world
So, Krishna, the architect of this world, warns us that nowhere in this entire material creation one can enjoy forever, miseries are everywhere because death is everywhere. Bhagavad Gita 8.16. But away from this material world is the spiritual world which is not ephemeral but is eternal. In that world there is no death and is free from all sufferings. We originally belong to the eternal spiritual world. So, Krishna asks us to return back to the spiritual world. Srila Prabhupada in his writings have underlined the importance of returning to the spiritual world thousands of times. In fact, he started a monthly magazine and named it as “Back to Godhead (BTG).”
Just as a fish separated from water will always remain miserable similarly as long as we are separated from our eternal spiritual homes we will continue to suffer. Krishna gives opportunity to each and every one to come back to him. You and I can also live with Krishna in his beautiful kingdom.
Sanatana Goswami in his book, Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, tells the story of a fortunate soul, Gopa Kumara, who also got an opportunity to return back to the spiritual world. Just like us, Gopa Kumara was also in this material world where we are living now. But Gopa Kumara unlike us consciously decided to leave this material world and return back to the spiritual world. In his magnum opus, Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, Sanatana Goswami explain in detail Gopa Kumar’s journey to Goloka Vrindavan.
Goloka Vrindavan is the abode of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Each nugget of the book allows us to experience the emotions he went through during his travel. The book captivates our mind and tantalizes us to join Gopa Kumara in his journey.
Gopa Kumara decides to go back to the spiritual world
Gopa Kumara wanted to end all his sufferings. “Enough is enough. I no longer want to suffer the pains and pleasures of this ephemeral world,” he thought. So, as soon as he got the chance to go back to his original spiritual home, he immediately grabbed it. With enthusiasm, confidence and complete faith in the Supreme Lord, he decided to march towards his final destination.
On his way to Goloka Vrindavan, he also went to the higher planets of this material world where lots of opportunity for sense gratification was present. But he wasn’t happy there.
So, from there he went to the spiritual world. He went to different spiritual planets of the spiritual world. He went to Vaikuntha, to Ayodhya, to Dwarka. In that spiritual abode he met the spiritual residents who were as glorious as the supreme Lord and all were in utter bliss. There he experienced unlimited joy, he achieved complete perfection.
But still he missed something. He missed Krishna. He missed brajvasis, the residents of Vrindavan. There was a tinge of dissatisfaction in his heart. His heart longed to be with Krishna. He desperately wanted to go to Goloka Vrindavan. How will Krishna not fulfill the desire of his dear devotee! A celestial plane which travelled faster than the speed of the mind travelling along a wonderful path took Gopa Kumara to that glorious land which is the topmost of all the spiritual planets.
Gopa Kumara arrives in Goloka Vrindavan
Sages and saints meditate for thousands of years to get a glimpse of that land. In that glorious land of Goloka Vrindavan Gopa Kumara’s heart attained supreme satisfaction. He wanted to see Krishna and so began searching Krishna. He saw the brajvasis, the most exalted devotees, and inquired from them about Krishna. But they were so absorbed in Krishna that they were not able to say a word.
One elderly man who was overwhelmed with emotions in broken words showed him the palace of Gopa King, Nanda. At the palace he saw millions and millions of wonders which he had never seen or imagined. At the entrance of the palace, Gopa Kumara inquired from an elderly brajvasi about Krishna. With a heavy heart she said, “he who has stolen our hearts left with his friends and cows in the morning to the forest to enjoy his pastimes.”
Unable to bear separation from Krishna the brajvasis with great difficulty were spending their time in the day. To alleviate their pain some had absorbed themselves in remembering his many pastimes. Some composed songs which described his many activities and sang it throughout the day. Many got busy in preparing delicious preparations which they planned to serve him as soon as he returns.
Engaged in different activities, everyone tried their best to hide their emotions, but their eyes belied them, tears constantly flowed from their eyes and in broken words they kept calling Krishna, Krishna. It was difficult for anyone to understand whether they were in bliss or were in pain. Whether they were with Krishna or not with Krishna.
They were desperately waiting for Krishna to return from the forest. And as soon as it was evening, all frantically ran towards the shore of Yamuna. Fixing their eyes towards the forest trying their best not to blink they were eagerly waiting for him. Gopa Kumara was also present there.
Krishna welcomes Gopa Kumara to Goloka Vrindavan
Suddenly the atmosphere got filled with the melodious sound of the flute. The Yamuna stopped flowing. The birds flying in the air stood still. The trees decorated with beautiful flowers spread their arms to embrace the sound. Some of the brajvasis overwhelmed with emotions fainted. Many desperately tried looking in the direction of the sound but their tears blurred their vision. Some stood stunned.
Gopis carrying pots of delicacies ran hurriedly. Some fell on the ground. And in great pain of separation they cried again and again. Yashoda with her husband, Nanda Maharaj, Radharani with her many friends and along with all the moving and non- moving residents of braj anxiously waited to have a glimpse of Krishna.
And suddenly a bluish boy in yellow garments appeared. He was decorated with forest flowers and was wearing crown made of peacock feathers. The fortunate flute whom the bluish boy had embraced with his lips joyfully danced and informed all that Krishna has arrived. It was celebration time. Krishna was so happy to see all. After whole day work, he was back home. But suddenly Krishna’s joy multiplied manifold!
Krishna is so happy to see Gopa Kumara
Amongst the brajvasis who had assembled at the shore of Yamuna, he saw Gopa Kumara. He stopped playing his flute. Leaving his friends, leaving his cows, and leaving all confused he ran frantically towards him. He leaped towards Gopa Kumara and embraced him. Seeing his dear friend after such a long time, Krishna overwhelmed with emotion fainted in the arms of Gopa Kumara.
After regaining consciousness, Krishna took the hand of Gopa Kumara in his lotus hand and inquired, “How are you? I missed you so much, Sarupa. Every day I waited for you hoping that you will return one day for sure. I am so thankful. I am so grateful. You are back. Now please stay here. Don’t go anywhere.” Gopa Kumara’s name in the spiritual world was Sarupa. Although Gopa Kumara had forgotten the name Sarupa but Krishna remembered. Sarupa got reunited with Krishna and with his spiritual family in the spiritual world to live eternally and blissfully.
In the spiritual world there is no anxiety, no fear. It is free from all kinds of suffering which afflict us in this world. Scriptures tell us that the same destiny awaits us too. Through his book, Brihad-bhagavatamrita, Sanatana Goswami is inviting us to the spiritual world, our original spiritual home. Are we ready?