The poem "depicts the quest of a group of nameless gopi ['cowherd
', from the mythology of Krsna] girls" and "is neatly divided into three distinct sections that trace the girls' path to Krsna, a journey that takes them from the shared public arena of the outside world, to the inner, private chambers of their beloved," beginning with the "details of their vow" in the first five verses of the poem (p.
He therefore engages the bulls and the cowherds in battles (63.16-17), and while the men are suitably distracted, he enjoys himself with the gopis:
Among those that more clearly indicate their age and marital status, gopakanya (63.22) and gopakanyaka (63.25, 32) denote unmarried girls and daughters (kanya, kanyaka) of the cowherds (gopa), (6) while nava yauvana (63.15) and yuvatl gopakanya (63.18) specify adolescence.
etah param tanubhrto bhuvi gopavadhvo govinda eva nikhilatmani rudhabhavah I 10.47.58ab Embodied on earth--their beings ascended to Govinda, the cosmic self--the wives of the cowherds have reached the supreme?
Unambiguously, however, the gopis are the "wives of others" (paradara) whom Krsna has touched (10.33.28), and explicitly the wives (dara) of the cowherds in Vraja, the men who imagine their women by their sides all along (10.33.38).
(8.) If one reads yuvatyo gopakanyas ca (63.18) as two separate nouns in the accusative, the verse could also be translated: "Gathering together the young women and the daughters of the cowherds ...," which might imply a distinction between young women (or young wives, yuvatl) and girls (or daughters, kanya), with Krsna taking them both.
Because the story depicts simple cowherd women enjoying intimate contact with Krsna without knowing he is God, scholars have often viewed the gopls and their spontaneous love as proof that bhakti is a democratizing force allowing all people, regardless of caste or gender, unmediated access to divinity and deliverance from samsara.
The fact that cowherd women are seduced and goaded on by God himself legitimizes all of this and--at the least--applies a strong counterbalance to a confining social order.
Kamsa, hearing a prophecy that he should be destroyed by Devaki's child, tried to slay her children, but Krishna was smuggled across the Yamuna River to Gokula (or Vraja, modern Gokul), where he was raised by the leader of the cowherds
, Nanda, and his wife Yasoda.
Earlier this week the manager of an old drinking haunt of mine, The Cowherds
in Southampton, threw four mums and their babies out because he couldn't cope with "women, babies and their emotions".