1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: During the first month of the winter season, the young unmarried girls of Gokula observed the vow of worshiping goddess Katyayani. For the entire month they ate only unspiced khichri.
2-3. My dear King, after they had bathed in the water of the Yamuna just as the sun was rising, the gopis made an earthen deity of goddess Durga on the riverbank. Then they worshiped her with such aromatic substances as sandalwood pulp, along with other items both opulent and simple, including lamps, fruits, betel nuts, newly grown leaves, and fragrant garlands and incense.
4. Each of the young unmarried girls performed her worship while chanting the following mantra. “O goddess Katyayani, O great potency of the Lord, O possessor of great mystic power and mighty controller of all, please make the son of Nanda Maharaja my husband. I offer my obeisances unto you.”
5. Thus for an entire month the girls carried out their vow and properly worshiped the goddess Bhadrakali, fully absorbing their minds in Krsna and meditating upon the following thought: ”May the son of King Nanda become my husband.”
6. Each day they rose at dawn. Calling out to one another by name, they all held hands and loudly sang the glories of Krsna while going to the Kalindi to take their bath.
7. One day they came to the riverbank and, putting aside their clothing as they had done before, happily played in the water while singing the glories of Krsna.
8. Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and master of all masters of mystic yoga, was aware of what the gopis were doing, and thus He went there surrounded by His young companions to award the gopis the perfection of their endeavor.
9. Taking the girls’ garments, He quickly climbed to the top of a kadamba tree. Then, as He laughed loudly and His companions also laughed, He addressed the girls jokingly.
10. [Lord Krsna said:] My dear girls, you may each come here as you wish and take back your garments. I’m telling you the truth and am not joking with you, since I see you’re fatigued from executing austere vows.
11. I have never before spoken a lie, and these boys know it. Therefore, O slender-waisted girls, please come forward, either one by one or all together, and pick out your clothes.
12. Seeing how Krsna was joking with them, the gopis became fully immersed in love for Him, and as they glanced at each other they began to laugh and joke among themselves, even in their embarrassment. But still they did not come out of the water.
13. As Sri Govinda spoke to the gopis in this way, His joking words completely captivated their minds. Submerged up to their necks in the cold water, they began to shiver. Thus they addressed Him as follows.
14. [The gopis said:] Dear Krsna, don’t be unfair! We know that You are the respectable son of Nanda and that You are honored by everyone in Vraja. You are also very dear to us. Please give us back our clothes. We are shivering in the cold water.
15. O Syamasundara, we are Your maidservants and must do whatever You say. But give us back our clothing. You know what the religious principles are, and if You don’t give us our clothes we will have to tell the king. Please!
16. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: If you girls are actually My maidservants, and if you will really do what I say, then come here with your innocent smiles and let each girl pick out her clothes. If you don’t do what I say, I won’t give them back to you. And even if the king becomes angry, what can he do?
17. Then, shivering from the painful cold, all the young girls rose up out of the water, covering their pubic area with their hands.
18. When the Supreme Lord saw how the gopis were struck with embarrassment, He was satisfied by their pure loving affection. Putting their clothes on His shoulder, the Lord smiled and spoke to them with affection.
19. [Lord Krsna said:] You girls bathed naked while executing your vow, and that is certainly an offense against the demigods. To counteract your sin you should offer obeisances while placing your joined palms above your heads. Then you should take back your lower garments.
20. Thus the young girls of Vrndavana, considering what Lord Acyuta had told them, accepted that they had suffered a falldown from their vow by bathing naked in the river. But they still desired to successfully complete their vow, and since Lord Krsna is Himself the ultimate result of all pious activities, they offered their obeisances to Him to cleanse away all their sins.
21. Seeing them bow down like that, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the son of Devaki, gave them back their garments, feeling compassionate toward them and satisfied by their act.
22. Although the gopés had been thoroughly cheated, deprived of their modesty, ridiculed and made to act just like toy dolls, and although their clothing had been stolen, they did not feel at all inimical toward Sri Krsna. Rather, they were simply joyful to have this opportunity to associate with their beloved.
23. The gopis were addicted to associating with their beloved Krsna, and thus they became captivated by Him. Thus, even after putting their clothes on they did not move. They simply remained where they were, shyly glancing at Him.
24. The Supreme Lord understood the determination of the gopis in executing their strict vow. The Lord also knew that the girls desired to touch His lotus feet, and thus Lord Damodara, Krsna, spoke to them as follows.
25. [Lord Krsna said:] O saintly girls, I understand that your real motive in this austerity has been to worship Me. That intent of yours is approved of by Me, and indeed it must come to pass.
26. The desire of those who fix their minds on Me does not lead to material desire for sense gratification, just as barleycorns burned by the sun and then cooked can no longer grow into new sprouts.
27. Go now, girls, and return to Vraja. Your desire is fulfilled, for in My company you will enjoy the coming nights. After all, this was the purpose of your vow to worship goddess Katyayani, O pure-hearted ones.
28. Sukadeva Gosvami said: Thus instructed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the young girls, their desire now fulfilled, could bring themselves only with great difficulty to return to the village of Vraja, meditating all the while upon His lotus feet.
29. Some time later Lord Krsna, the son of Devaki, surrounded by His cowherd friends and accompanied by His elder brother, Balarama, went a good distance away from Vrndavana, herding the cows.
30. Then the sun’s heat became intense, Lord Krsna saw that the trees were acting as umbrellas by shading Him, and thus He spoke as follows to His boyfriends.
31-32. [Lord Krsna said:] O Stoka Krsna and Amsu, O Sridama, Subala and Arjuna, O Vrsabha, Ojasvi, Devaprastha and Varuthapa, just see these greatly fortunate trees, whose lives are completely dedicated to the benefit of others. Even while tolerating the wind, rain, heat and snow, they protect us from these elements.
33. Just see how these trees are maintaining every living entity! Their birth is successful. Their behavior is just like that of great personalities, for anyone who asks anything from a tree never goes away disappointed.
34. These trees fulfill one’s desires with their leaves, flowers and fruits, their shade, roots, bark and wood, and also with their fragrance, sap, ashes, pulp and shoots.
35. It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others with his life, wealth, intelligence and words.
36. Thus moving among the trees, whose branches were bent low by their abundance of twigs, fruits, flowers and leaves, Lord Krsna came to the Yamuna River.
37. The cowherd boys let the cows drink the clear, cool and wholesome water of the Yamuna. O King Pariksit, the cowherd boys themselves also drank that sweet water to their full satisfaction.
38. Then, O King, the cowherd boys began herding the animals in a leisurely way within a small forest along the Yamuna. But soon they became afflicted by hunger and, approaching Krsna and Balarama, spoke as follows.