Sri Ramakrishna would often quote the love of the Gopis of Vraja as exemplary of true devotion, said Swami Vimurtananda in a lecture.
The purpose of life is to seek liberation but the challenges in this quest are many and difficult to surmount. The paths of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti are suggested as possible means towards liberation. Of these, Bhakti is shown to be accessible to a majority of people but this too has its difficulty level in terms of sincerity and humility. But it has the guarantee of salvation if practised in its true form. In a lecture, Swami Vimurtananda said that Sri Ramakrishna would quote the love of the Gopis of Vraja as exemplary of true devotion.
Though unlearned, the Gopis have shown the way to attain Lord — a feat that even great sages and wise men have realised with utmost difficulty. The Bhagavata Purana extols the selfless love of the Gopis. It is also stated that Lord Krishna held the highest regard for their love and enacted a situation that would reveal and clarify the subtleties of selflessness. Lord Krishna had feigned to be indisposed and also suggested the remedy — rubbing the dust from the feet of the truly devout on his head. Many devotees who were with Him were anxious to see Lord Krishna relieved of his pain; but they hesitated to offer the dust for fear of incurring the sin of disrespecting the Lord by such an act. But when the Gopis heard that Lord Krishna was unwell and of the special demand in this case, they spontaneously collected the dust from their feet. Their only concern was to ensure Lord Krishna’s well being and there was no thought about the consequences of such an act to their own selves.
The greatest hurdle to God realisation is one’s ego. Once, Brahma, jealous of Lord Krishna’s popularity in Vraja, stole the cows, cowherds, etc., from His presence and kept them in Brahma Loka for almost a year. The omniscient Lord knew the streak of ego behind Brahma’s act and created the entire team of cows and cowherds so that there was no disruption in the lives of the people of Vraja. Brahma then realised his presumptuousness in slighting Lord Krishna. Repenting, he propitiated the Lord, seeking His pardon and grace.
It is difficult to overcome the power of the individual ego.