FIRST MEETING IN SEPARATION
It is said that when Krsna left for Mathura he did intend to return to Vraja - it would take him just a short time to eliminate Kamsa. But once in Mathura, Krsna realized the scene was set for him to experience a much harder reality than he had expected. It was then, it is said, that the boy’s manhood began.
In Vraja Krsna had been quite carefree, enjoying mostly at the knowledge that, simply at the blow of a few notes on his flute, all of the sweetest girls would rush to his feet.
But in Mathura this wasn’t to be so. His beloved Vraja girls were now far away. Krsna first felt the hardness of this fact when, on defeating Kamsa’s wrestlers, he glanced around to drink in the pleased countenances of his sweethearts but, alas, the girls were not there. Krsna always reserved his best performances for the gopis’ pleasure, for they had always been his best reciprocators. They would be the ones to now fully appreciate Krsna’s heroic act on the arena, but they were not present.
For a fraction of a second Krnsa searched for the gopis’ eyes, but just as quickly he had to contend with the rawness of their absence. He kept his smile, for the galleries were filled with his devotees, all offering their loving applause to the handsome young man. He sustained his smile as long as he could, but the dam of tears was about to break forcefully. Already under the tremendous pressure of separation, he was wrestling also with the cruel knowledge that he would not be returning to Vraja as he had planned.
When he first entered the arena, Krsna looked at all the audience, noticing the different faces. When his eyes noticed Kamsa’s two wives, it dawned on him that on killing Kamsa, he would be incurring the wrath of Jarasandha, the demon’s powerful father-in-law who would not rest until his son-in-law and widowed wives were avenged. He would surely send all his terrifying armies to destroy Gokula as soon as he knew of Krsna setting foot back in the village. Thus Krsna had no choice but to make the decision to stay away from Vraja, for as long as it would be required.
Fighting back the tears he accepted the jeers, the applause and the showers of petals. But then he turned his back to the audience and walked briskly out of the arena. Tears were already flowing from his eyes like a stream, and he quickly proceeded to the river to bathe his face in the fresh water for some relief from the dust, the crying, the torment… His tears mixing with the waters of the Yamuna, he noticed something familiar about the river, something soothing and releasing. The Yamuna wasn’t water any longer but tears, all of it, tears of the vraja gopis! Upstream, from the direction of Vraja, the gopis too were crying in separation from Krsna, and as the river of their tears flowed to Mathura, Krsna was able to gain some relief from his own pain in the tears of his adored girlfriends.
Thus Krsna experienced his first meeting in separation.
The gath in Mathura where Krsna’s tears met with the gopis’ is known as visram gath (gath of tears). It is also known as Bengali gath, for it was there that the sannyasi from Bengal, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, first visited on arriving in Vrindavana, proceeding then on his first parikram of the dham.