Raas, the dance of celebration, is the most profound attribute of the mighty stream of creation The whole of life is a meeting of contradictory forces, and that all its happiness comes from this union of the opposites. The very mystery and ecstasy of life lies hidden in this unio mystica, Raasleela, the dance of celebration.
Raas has a universal meaning; it has a cosmic connotation and signiﬁcance.
Firstly, the meeting of opposite energies is the cornerstone of all creation, of the universe. This division of energy is at the root of all creation. When the same energy becomes one, when it returns to its primordial state, total destruction, the ending of the universe happens. And when the same energy again divides itself into two, creation begins a new.
Without the meeting of the two, creation is impossible. So we have to go into the signiﬁcance of
Krishna’s raas in this context.
Krishna’s raas with the milkmaids of his
village is not an ordinary dance, on a small scale it really represents the
universal dance of creation that goes on and on. It epitomizes the everlasting
drama of the making and unmaking of the universe.
It is for this reason that
ceases to have a sexual connotation. Not that it prohibits any sexual
interpretation, but for certain, sex has been left far behind. In reality
Krishna does not dance as a mere Krishna, he
represents her, the whole of the male element in creation, known in Sanskrit as
purusha. And similarly the gopis represent the entire female element, prakriti.
The maharaas represents the combined dance of prakriti and purusha.
People who take the maharaas as a sexual representation of life are mistaken; they really don’t understand it. To put it rightly, it is a dance of the meeting of the male and female energies, of purusha and prakriti. It has nothing to do with any individual man and woman; it represents the mighty cosmic dance. It is because of this that a single
with any number of gopis. Ordinarily it is not possible for a single man to
dance with many women at a time. Ordinarily no man can be in love with many
women together, but Krishna does it, and does
it beautifully. It is amazing that every milkmaid, every gopi taking part in
the maharaas, believes that Krishna is dancing
with her, that he is hers. It seems Krishna has turned into a thousand Krishnas so that he pairs off with each of the thousand
women present there.It is utterly wrong to take the maharaas, the celebration
dance of Krishna, as that of an individual
person. Krishna is not a person here; he
represents the great male energy, purusha. The maharaas is a representation in
dance of the great meeting between male and female energies.
But the question is: Why only dance is chosen as a medium for this representation? Nothing can express it better than dance. Dance is the most primitive form of human language, because when man had not yet learned to speak, he spoke through gestures. To me, the great raas happening in inﬁnite space, with millions of stars like the sun and moon dancing rhythmically, is not an ordinary dance. In a sense it should be described as overﬂowing bliss. There is such an abundance of bliss in the heart of existence that it is ﬂowing, overﬂowing. That is what we call the river of existence. The presence of the polar opposites in the universe facilitates its ﬂow.
Man alone cannot ﬂow; he needs the presence of woman. Without the woman man is inhibited and closed. In the same way, without man the woman is inhibited and closed. Their togetherness causes their energies to spring into the form of love. What we know as love between man and woman is nothing but the ﬂowing of yin and yang together. And this love, if it is not personalized, can have great spiritual signiﬁcance. The attraction of man and woman for each other is what brings them together so that their latent energies ﬂow into the stream of love and life. That is why a man feels relaxed with a woman and a woman feels at ease with a man. Separated and alone they feel tense and anxious; coming together they feel as light as feathers, weightless. In this interplay of energies, which is raas, And this dance of male and female energies together brings deep contentment and bliss; it turns into an outpouring of joy and bliss.
Krishna and his girlfriends are no more with us as
people, the moon and the stars under which they danced together are still with
us, and so are the trees and the hills and the earth and the skies that were
once so drunk with the bliss of the raas. So, although millenia have passed,
the vibes of the maharaas are still with us.
Now scientists have come forward with a strange theory. They say although people come and go, the subtle vibes of their lives and their living remain suffused in existence forever. If someone goes to dance on the grounds where
Krishna once danced with his
gopis he can hear the echoes of the maharaas even today. If someone can play a
ﬂute near the hills that in the past echoed with the music of Krishna’s
ﬂute, he can hear those hills still echoing it, everlastingly.
In my view, the raas symbolizes the overﬂowing, outpouring of the primeval energy as it is divided between man and woman. And if we accept this deﬁnition, the raas is as relevant today as it was in the times of
Then it is everlastingly relevant.