Some ask that if Kṛṣṇa is self-sufficient, why did He at all manifest the pastimes with the gopīs, which are disturbing to the so-called moralists of the world? The answer is that such activities show special mercy to the fallen, conditioned souls. The gopīs are expansions of His internal energy, but because Kṛṣṇa wanted to exhibit the rāsa-līlā, they appeared as ordinary human beings. In the material world, pleasure is ultimately manifested in the sex attraction between man and woman. The man lives simply to be attracted by women, and the woman lives simply to be attracted by men. That is the basic principle of material life. As soon as these attractions are combined, people become more and more implicated in material existence. In order to show them special favor, Kṛṣṇa exhibited this rāsa-līlā dance. It is just to captivate the conditioned souls. Since they are very much attracted by sex, they can enjoy the same life with Kṛṣṇa and thus become liberated from the material condition. In the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Mahārāja Parīkṣit also explains that the pastimes and activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa are medicine for the conditioned souls. If they simply hear about Kṛṣṇa, they become relieved of the material disease. They are addicted to material enjoyment and are accustomed to reading sex literature, but by hearing these transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs, they will be relieved of material contamination.
How they should hear and from whom is also explained by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. The difficulty is that the whole world is full of Māyāvādīs, and when they become professional reciters of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and when people, without knowing the effect of the Māyāvāda philosophy, hear from such persons, they become confused. Discussion of the rāsa-līlā among people in general is discouraged because they are affected by the Māyāvāda philosophy, but if one who is advanced explains and people hear from him, certainly the hearers will be gradually elevated to the position of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and liberated from materially contaminated life.
Another important point is that none of the gopīs who danced with Kṛṣṇa were in their material bodies. They danced with Kṛṣṇa in their spiritual bodies. All their husbands thought that their wives were sleeping by their sides. The so-called husbands of the gopīs were already enamored with the influence of the external energy of Kṛṣṇa; so by dint of this very energy they could not understand that their wives had gone to dance with Kṛṣṇa. What then is the basis of accusing Kṛṣṇa of dancing with others' wives? The bodies of the gopīs, which were their husbands’, were lying in bed, but the spiritual parts and parcels of Kṛṣṇa were dancing with Him. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme person, the whole spirit, and He danced with the spiritual bodies of the gopīs. There is therefore no reason to accuse Kṛṣṇa in any way.
After the rāsa dance was over, the night—a night of Brahmā, a very, very long period, as mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā—turned into the brāhma-muhūrta. The brāhma-muhūrta takes place about one and a half hours before sunrise. It is recommended that one should rise from bed at that time and, after finishing daily ablutions, take to spiritual activities by performing maṅgala-ārati and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. This period is very convenient for the execution of spiritual activities. When that auspicious moment arrived, Kṛṣṇa asked the gopīs to leave. Although His beloveds were not willing to quit His company, they were very obedient to Him. As soon as Kṛṣṇa asked them to go home, they immediately left and returned home. Śukadeva Gosvāmī concludes this episode of the rāsa-līlā by pointing out that if a person hears from the right source about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, who is Viṣṇu Himself, and the gopīs, who are expansions of His energy, then he will be relieved of the most dangerous type of disease, namely lust. In other words, one who actually hears the rāsa-līlā will become completely freed from the lusty desire of sex life and elevated to the highest level of spiritual understanding. Generally, because they hear the rāsa-līlā from Māyāvādīs and they themselves are Māyāvādīs, people become more and more implicated in sex life. The conditioned soul should hear the rāsa-līlā dance from an authorized spiritual master and be trained by him so that he can understand the whole situation. Thus one can be elevated to the highest standard of spiritual life; otherwise one will be implicated. Material lust is a kind of heart disease, and to cure the material heart disease of the conditioned soul, it is recommended that one should hear, but not from the impersonalist rascals. If one hears from the right sources with right understanding, then his situation will be different.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī has used the word śraddhānvita for one who is trained in spiritual life. Śraddhā, or faith, is the beginning. One who has developed his faith in Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Spirit Soul, can both describe and hear the rāsa-līlā. Śukadeva also uses the word anuśṛṇuyāt. One must hear from the disciplic succession. Anu means "following," and anu also means "always." So one must always follow the disciplic succession and not hear from any stray professional reciter, whether a Māyāvādī or an ordinary man. Anuśṛṇuyāt means that one must hear from an authorized person who is in the disciplic succession and is always engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When a person hears the rāsa-līlā in this way, the effect will be sure: he will be elevated to the highest position of spiritual life.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī uses two specific words, bhaktim and parām. Bhaktiṁ parām means execution of devotional service above the neophyte stage. Those who are simply attracted to temple worship but do not know the philosophy of bhakti are in the neophyte stage. That sort of bhakti is not the perfectional stage. The perfectional stage of bhakti, or devotional service, is completely free from material contamination. The most dangerous aspect of contamination is lust, or sex life. Bhaktiṁ parām devotional service is so potent that the more one advances in this line, the more he loses his attraction for material life. One who is actually deriving benefit from hearing the rāsa-līlā dance surely achieves the transcendental position. He surely loses all traces of lust in his heart.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura points out that according to the Bhagavad-gītā, Brahmā’s day and Brahmā’s night are periods of solar years expanding to 4,300,000 multiplied by 1,000. According to Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the rāsa dance was performed during the long period of Brahmā’s night, but the gopīs could not understand that. In order to fulfill their desire, Kṛṣṇa extended the night to cover such a great period of time. One may ask how this was possible, and Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura reminds us that Kṛṣṇa, although bound by a small rope, could show His mother the whole universe within His mouth. How was this possible? The answer is that He can do anything for the pleasure of His devotees. Similarly, because the gopīs wanted to enjoy Kṛṣṇa, they were given the opportunity to associate with Him for a long period. This was done according to His promise. When Kṛṣṇa stole the garments of the gopīs while they were taking a bath at Cīraghāṭa on the Yamunā, He promised to fulfill their desire in some future night. In one night, therefore, they enjoyed the company of Kṛṣṇa as their beloved husband, but that night was not an ordinary night. It was a night of Brahmā, lasting millions and millions of years. Everything is possible for Kṛṣṇa, for He is the supreme controller.