Raas Leela – The Dance of Passion, Divine dance
In dwapar yug, at the age of 8, Krishna moved from Gokula to Vrindavan, and he became immensely popular among the village folk. It was at the time of the Holi festival, just after spring when everything was in full bloom, on one full moon night Lord Krishna played his flute and the Gopis of Vrindavan joined him in a night of dancing. And they danced and danced because they were in such an exuberant and joyful state. It is said that the gopikas were sadhus reincarnated so they could spend time with Krishna.
According to ancient texts, during the event, Krishna turned this time period into a ‘Brahma night’, equal to 4.32 billion years. The place where Raas Leela is said to have taken place is Madhuban, now called Nidhiban in the Vrindavan city of Mathura.
The term “Raas Leela” roughly means Dance of Divine Love. The dance form tells the story of Krishna, Radha, and the Gopis, and is considered Krishna’s favorite thing to do. In the Braj region, Raas Leela is played out as folk dance and theatre. In this dance-based storytelling, dancers dressed as gopis and Radharani & Krishna enchant viewers. When the artists perform the Raas Leela, it symbolizes the spiritual love for Lord Krishna.
How does the word “Leela” meaning ‘act’ fit in here? Back in the time of traditional Raas Leela performances in Vrindavan, the songs were sung in Braj language which many followers and devotees found it quite hard to follow. The need for a visual representation was felt. Thus started the enactments. The dancers or actors still follow the traditional form of dance and music.
Spiritual Significance of Raas Leela
Raas Leela is the story of an eternal bond between Krishna —an embodiment of universal love — and his devotees. A universal truth that masculine and feminine energies floating in a sea of love and devotion is transformative — that’s the essence of Raas Leela.
Raas Leela is the most beautiful part of Shrimad Bhagwat and is considered the fruit of Krishna Bhakti. This leela is about the union of a pure being with the Purushottam . When the Jeev (being) transcends the boundary of the gender of the mortal body and immerses all the senses in transcendental love for the Lord, it culminates in the union of Jeev with the PURE BRAHM. When all the desires of the Jeev melt away in the fire of BHAKTI (LOVE), Gopi bhaav arouses and life gets rid of all the impurities and the true knowledge extinguishes ignorance within. In fact, Raas is a call from the LORD to each one of us. THE LORD WANTS US TO REDIRECT OUR FOCUS WITHIN AND DISCOVER THE BLISS. When the self meditates on the RAAS LEELA, bhakti (LOVE) for the Lotus Feet of the LORD makes him restless and tears of separation roll down his eyes compelling the Lord to appear without delay. And the union between the two takes place.
Hence, the Raas Leela signifies the unification of the individual soul with the over soul
It’s the endeavor of Brij Lok Kala Manch Samiti that we present this divine play as best as we can in the most authentic way so that the audience can achieve the supreme bliss.