1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: When Lord Krsna disappeared so suddenly, the gopis felt great sorrow at losing sight of Him, like a group of female elephants who have lost their mate.
2. As the cowherd women remembered Lord Krsna, their hearts were overwhelmed by His movements and loving smiles, His playful glances and enchanting talks, and by the many other pastimes He would enjoy with them. Thus absorbed in thoughts of Krsna, the Lord of Rama, the gopis began acting out His various transcendental pastimes.
3. Because the beloved gopis were absorbed in thoughts of their beloved Krsna, their bodies imitated His way of moving and smiling, His way of beholding them, His speech and His other distinctive features. Deeply immersed in thinking of Him and maddened by remembering His pastimes, they declared to one another, “I am Krsna!”
4. Singing loudly of Krsna, they searched for Him throughout the Vrndavana forest like a band of madwomen. They even asked the trees about Him, who as the Supersoul is present inside and outside of all created things, just like the sky.
5. [The gopis said:] O asvattha tree, O plaksa, O nyagrodha, have you seen Krsna? That son of Nanda Maharaja has gone away after stealing our minds with His loving smiles and glances.
6. O kurabaka tree, O asoka, O naga, punnaga and campaka, has Balarama’s younger brother, whose smile removes the audacity of all proud women, passed this way?
7. O most kind tulasi, to whom the feet of Govinda are so dear, have you seen that infallible one walk by, wearing you and encircled by swarms of bees?
8. O malati, O mallika, O jati and yuthika, has Madhava gone by here, giving you pleasure with the touch of His hand?
9. O cuta, O priyala, O panasa, asana and kovidara, O jambu, O arka, O bilva, bakula and amra, O kadamba and nipa and all you other plants and trees living by the banks of the Yamuna who have dedicated your very existence to the welfare of others, we gopis have lost our minds, so please tell us where Krsna has gone.
10. O mother earth, what austerity did you perform to attain the touch of Lord Kesava’s lotus feet, which has brought you such great joy that your bodily hairs are standing on end? You appear very beautiful in this condition. Was it during the Lord’s current appearance that you acquired this ecstatic symptom, or was it perhaps much earlier, when He stepped upon you in His form of the dwarf Vamanadeva, or even earlier, when He embraced you in His form of the boar Varahadeva?
11. O friend, wife of the deer, has Lord Acyuta been here with His beloved, bringing great joy to your eyes? Indeed, blowing this way is the fragrance of His garland of kunda flowers, which was smeared with the kunkuma from the breasts of His girlfriend when He embraced Her.
12. O trees, we see that you are bowing down. When the younger brother of Rama walked by here, followed by intoxicated bees swarming around the tulasi manjaris decorating His garland, did He acknowledge your obeisances with His affectionate glances? He must have been resting His arm on the shoulder of His beloved and carrying a lotus flower in His free hand.
13. Let us ask these creepers about Krsna. Even though they are embracing the arms of their husband, this tree, they certainly must have been touched by Krsna’s fingernails, since out of joy they are manifesting eruptions on their skin.
14. Having spoken these words, the gopis, distraught from searching for Krsna, began to act out His various pastimes, fully absorbed in thoughts of Him.
15. One gopi imitated Putana, while another acted like infant Krsna and pretended to suck her breast. Another gopi, crying in imitation of infant Krsna, kicked a gopi who was taking the role of the cart demon, Sakatasura.
16. One gopi took the role of Trnavarta and carried away another, who was acting like infant Krsna, while yet another gopi crawled about, her ankle bells tinkling as she pulled her feet.
17. Two gopis acted like Rama and Krsna in the midst of several others, who took the role of cowherd boys. One gopi enacted Krsna’s killing of the demon Vatsasura, represented by another gopi, and a pair of gopis acted out the killing of Bakasura.
18. When one gopi perfectly imitated how Krsna would call the cows who had wandered far away, how He would play His flute and how He would engage in various sports, the others congratulated her with exclamations of “Well done! Well done!”
19. Another gopi, her mind fixed on Krsna, walked about with her arm resting on the shoulder of a friend and declared, “I am Krsna! Just see how gracefully I move!”
20. “Don’t be afraid of the wind and rain,” said one gopi. “I will save you.” And with that she lifted her shawl above her head.
21. [Sukadeva Gosvami continued:] O King, one gopi climbed on another’s shoulders and, putting her foot on the other’s head, said, “Go away from here, O wicked snake! You should know that I have taken birth in this world just to punish the envious.”
22. Then another gopi spoke up: My dear cowherd boys, look al this raging forest fire! Quickly close your eyes and I will easily protect you.
23. One gopi tied up her slender companion with a flower garland and said, “Now I will bind this boy who has broken the butter pots and stolen the butter.” The second gopi then covered her face and beautiful eyes, pretending to be afraid.
24. While the gopis were thus imitating Krsna’s pastimes and asking Vrndavana’s creepers and trees where Krsna, the Supreme Soul, might be, they happened to see His footprints in a corner of the forest.
25. [The gopis said:] The marks of a flag, lotus, thunderbolt, elephant goad, barleycorn and so forth on these footprints clearly distinguish them as belonging to that great soul, the son of Nanda Maharaja.
26. The gopis began following Krsna’s path, as shown by His many footprints, but when they saw that these prints were thoroughly intermixed with those of His dearmost consort, they became perturbed and spoke as follows.
27. [The gopis said:] Here we see the footprints of some gopi who must have been walking along with the son of Nanda Maharaja. He must have put His arm on Her shoulder, just as an elephant rests His trunk on the shoulder of an accompanying she-elephant.
28. Certainly this particular gopi has perfectly worshiped the all-powerful Personality of Godhead, Govinda, since He was so pleased with Her that He abandoned the rest of us and brought Her to a secluded place.
29. O girls! The dust of Govinda’s lotus feet is so sacred that even Brahma, Siva and the goddess Rama take that dust upon their heads to dispel sinful reactions.
30. These footprints of that special gopi greatly disturb us. Of all the gopis, She alone was taken away to a secluded place, where She is enjoying the lips of Krsna. Look, we can’t see Her footprints over here! It’s obvious that the grass and sprouts were hurting the tender soles of Her feet, and so the lover lifted up His beloved.
31. Please observe, my dear gopis, how in this place lusty Krsna’s footprints are pressed more deeply into the ground. Carrying the weight of His beloved must have been difficult for Him. And over here that intelligent boy must have put Her down to gather some flowers.
32. Just see how in this place dear Krsna collected flowers for His beloved. Here He has left the impression of only the front part of His feet because He was standing on His toes to reach the flowers.
33. Certainly Krsna sat down here with His girlfriend to arrange Her hair. The lusty boy must have made a crown for that lusty girl out of the flowers He had collected.
34. [Sukadeva Gosvami continued:] Lord Krsna enjoyed with that gopi, although He enjoys only within, being self-satisfied and complete in Himself. Thus by contrast He showed the wretchedness of ordinary lusty men and hardhearted women.
35-36. As the gopis wandered about, their minds completely bewildered, they pointed out various signs of Krsna’s pastimes. The particular gopi whom Krsna had led into a secluded forest when He had abandoned all the other young girls began to think Herself the best of women. “My beloved has rejected all the other gopis, “She thought, “even though they are driven by Cupid himself. He has chosen to reciprocate with Me alone.”
37. As the two lovers passed through one part of the Vrndavana forest, the special gopi began feeling proud of Herself. She told Lord Kesava, “I cannot walk any further. Please carry Me wherever You want to go.”
38. Thus addressed, Lord Krsna replied, “Just climb on My shoulder.” But as soon as He said this, He disappeared. His beloved consort then immediately felt great remorse.
39. She cried out: O master! My lover! O dearmost, where are You? Where are You? Please, O mighty-armed one, O friend, show Yourself to Me, Your poor servant!
40. Sukadeva Gosvami said: While continuing to search out Krsna’s path, the gopis discovered their unhappy friend close by. She was bewildered by separation from Her lover.
41. She told them how Madhava had given Her much respect, but how She then suffered dishonor because of Her misbehavior. The gopis were extremely amazed to hear this.
42. In search of Krsna, the gopis then entered the depths of the forest as far as the light of the moon shone. But when they found themselves engulfed in darkness, they decided to turn back.
43. Their minds absorbed in thoughts of Him, they conversed about Him, acted out His pastimes and felt themselves filled with His presence. They completely forgot about their homes as they loudly sang the glories of Krsna’s transcendental qualities.
44. The gopis again came to the bank of the Kalindi. Meditating on Krsna and eagerly hoping He would come, they sat down together to sing of Him.