SB 1.9 - The exalted prema of the gopīs

Bhīṣma fixed his mind on Kṛṣṇa, whose motions and smiles of love attracted the gopīs of Vraja, who imitated the characteristic movements of the Lord after His disappearance from the rāsa dance. By intense ecstasy in loving service, the damsels of Vraja, attained qualitative oneness with the Lord by dancing with Him on an equal level, embracing Him in nuptial love, smiling at Him in joke, and looking at Him with a loving attitude. Arjuna was fortunate enough to have the fraternal service of the Lord as chariot driver, but the Lord did not award Arjuna with equal strength. The gopīs, however, practically became one with the Lord by attainment of equal footing with the Lord. The gopīs had the most exalted prema among all devotees. Bhīṣma aspired to have the mercy of the gopīs at the last stage of his life. The Lord is satisfied more when His pure devotees are glorified, and therefore Bhīṣma has not only glorified the acts of Arjuna but has also remembered the gopīs. The equality of the gopīs with the Lord is one of perfect ecstasy where the differential conception is completely eradicated for the interests of the lover and the beloved become identical. In the extreme state of madness in separation, some of the gopīs even merged with the Lord. This is the highest level of exalted prema.

Kṛṣṇa was expert at physical arts such as dancing in the rāsa-līlā, expert in expressing mental qualities such as dhira-lalita, expert in words with joking, expert with the eyes at glancing to show all aspects of prema. The gopīs were to be worshipped by all these skilful actions of Kṛṣṇa. In order to please them, Kṛṣṇa endowed them with all the best, outstanding qualities of Himself. The result of their extreme prema, was that Kṛṣṇa, in giving all His own qualities, attempted to please them with conciliating love. That display of love, which is without restraints for either party, showed extreme control of Kṛṣṇa by the gopīs and was filled with great bliss. Control of the Lord, manifested as a result of Arjuna’s prema, was that Kṛṣṇa became His messenger and charioteer. That role had restraints for both parties. Kṛṣṇa did not give His unique, extraordinary power to Arjuna.