Here, I would like to explore the meaning of the Gopala chant and the various facets of Krishna, his beauty, his fearlessness and how he played with the juice of life.
GopalaGopalaGopiVallabhaGopala GovindaGovinda Rasa LeelaGovinda
GopalaGopalaGopiVallabhaGopala GovindaGovindaYadu Kula ShuraGovinda
GopalaGopalaGopiVallabhaGopala GovindaGovindaMurali Lola Govinda
What is meant by Gopala?
Go means ‘cow’ while pala means ‘one who tends to it.’ Krishna has always been referred to as a cowherd. In general, a divine soul like Krishna has always been recognized in great ascetic yogis or in the form of kings, but Krishna has always been seen as a cowherd. That is why he was called ‘Gopala’ in an endearing way. When addressed as ‘Govinda,’ people bow down to him as the Divine. One moment he is a cowherd, the other moment he is a child, the next moment he is God while the very next moment he is just a man, Krishna is so many things at the same time.
By ‘Leela,’ I mean playfulness. I believe one can portray and deliver the profound dimensions of one’s life and the ultimate nature of one’s existence in a playful manner. So, when we see Krishna doing ‘Raas-leela,’ we can say that it is playing with the juice of life for him. It meant ‘playing with the juice of life.’ These dance sessions soon began to be referred to as a space where there was no place for anger or desire. It was not limited to dance alone, it took him, and all the others involved, into a different dimension of transcendence.
This Krishna culture has developed in different ways in different parts of India since India has a multicultural scene. In the state of Tamil Nadu, they sing ‘Aasaiyumkopamumillaanagaram,’ where there is no desire or anger and one is no more a vested interest but would be full of love and joy.
Krishna is also referred to as ‘Yadu Kula SHura,’ meaning that he belongs to the clan of Yadavas or Yadus, a dynasty of kings who belonged to the Lunar Dynasty. ‘Shura’ means a brave or a valiant person, and is also the name of the tribe that Krishna was born into. His father Vasudeva was a Shura.
We also call him ‘Murali Lola’ which means a person who loves to play the flute. Murali means flute while the person who enchants people with is flute is called ‘Murali Lola.’
Krishna is also called ‘RadheMohana’ meaning one who loved and mesmerized Radha. In fact it is vice versa as well- one who mesmerizes Radha and even gets mesmerized by her.
The last notation to Krishna is ‘ShyamaSundar,’ where Shyama means evening and Sundara means beautiful. Owing to his complexion, Krishna was known as a dusky beauty, like twilight when the setting sun fades away the light blue color of the sky and gives way to a blackish blue hue, this was what Krishna looked like- ShyamaSundara.