The gopīs were not ordinary women. In essence they were on an equal level with Kṛṣṇa. They are His eternal associates. As it is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā, they are expansions of the pleasure potency of Kṛṣṇa, and as His potency they are nondifferent from Him. Although they were depressed by the words of Kṛṣṇa, they did not like to use harsh words against Him. Yet they wanted to rebuke Kṛṣṇa for His unkind words, and therefore they began to speak in faltering voices. They did not like to use harsh words against Kṛṣṇa because He was their dearmost, their heart and soul. The gopīs had only Kṛṣṇa within their hearts. They were completely surrendered and dedicated souls. Naturally, when they heard such unkind words, they tried to reply, but in the attempt torrents of tears fell from their eyes. Finally they managed to speak.
“Kṛṣṇa,” they said, “You are very cruel! You should not talk like that. We are full-fledged surrendered souls. Please accept us, and don’t talk in that cruel way. Of course, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead and can do whatever You like, but it is not worthy of Your position to treat us in such a cruel way. We have come to You, leaving everything behind, just to take shelter of Your lotus feet. We know that You are completely independent and can do whatever You like, but we request You, don’t reject us. We are Your devotees. You should accept us as Lord Nārāyaṇa accepts His devotees. There are many devotees of Lord Nārāyaṇa who worship Him for salvation, and He awards them salvation. Similarly, how can You reject us when we have no shelter other than Your lotus feet?
“O dear Kṛṣṇa,” they continued, “You are the supreme instructor. There is no doubt about it. Your instructions to women to be faithful to their husbands and merciful to their children, to take care of household affairs and to be obedient to the elder members of the family, are surely just according to the tenets of the śāstras. But we know that one may perfectly observe all these instructions of the śāstras by keeping oneself under the protection of Your lotus feet. Our husbands, friends, family members and children are all dear and pleasing to us only because of Your presence, for You are the Supersoul of all living creatures. Without Your presence, one is worthless. When You leave the body, the body immediately dies, and according to the injunction of the śāstras, a dead body must immediately be thrown into a river or burned. Therefore, ultimately You are the dearmost personality in this world. By placing our faith and love in Your personality, we are assured of never being bereft of husband, friends, sons or daughters. If a woman accepts You as the supreme husband, then she will never be bereft of her husband, as in the bodily concept of life. If we accept You as our ultimate husband, then there is no question of being separated, divorced or widowed. You are the eternal husband, eternal son, eternal friend and eternal master, and one who enters into a relationship with You is eternally happy. Since You are the teacher of all religious principles, Your lotus feet have to be worshiped first. Accordingly, the śāstras state, ācārya-upāsanā: the worship of Your lotus feet is the first principle. Besides that, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, You are the only enjoyer, You are the only proprietor, and You are the only friend. As such, we have come to You, leaving aside all so-called friends, society and love, and now You have become our enjoyer. Let us be everlastingly enjoyed by You. Be our proprietor, for that is Your natural claim, and be our supreme friend, for You are naturally so. Let us thus embrace You as the supreme beloved.