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Bhagavata Purana is silent about what happened to residents of Vrindavan after Krishna left Vrindavana.

What happened to Radha?

To be more generic, What happened to all residents of Vrindavan?

Related questions: What happened to radha when she grew up?

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In short, they all went to Krishna's abode after Dantavakra was killed.

This answer is based on Krishna Sandarbha by Jiva Goswami wherein he draws conclusions connecting Padma Purana and Bhagavata Purana.

The journey of the inhabitants of Vrindavana to Kurukshetra during the solar eclipse occurred only a few years after the killing of Kamsa, and some years before the killing of Shishupala, Shalva, and Dantavakra. Although Shrimad-Bhagavatam describes this pastime (the journey of the residents of Vrindavana to Kurukshetra) after the description of Lord Balarama's pilgrimage to many holy places, and His arrival at Kurukshetra during the war between the Pandavas and the Kurus, and the killing of Duryodhana, the journey of the residents of Vrindavana to Kurukshetra occurred before the Kurukshetra war, because the Bhagavatam also explains that Bhishma, Drona, and Duryodhana also came to Kurukshetra at the time of the solar eclipse. This would not have been possible after the Kurukshetra war (where they all died).

In this connection, someone may raise the objection that Lord Krishna's grandson Aniruddha was already full grown when the residents of Vrindavana met Lord Krishna at Kurukshetra and therefore that event must have been many years after the killing of Kamsa. That Aniruddha was already an adult by that time is proven by the following statement of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.82.6):

"When the residents of Vrindavana and the members of the Yadu dynasty went to Kurukshetra at the time of the solar eclipse, some important personalities like Aniruddha(the son of Pradyumna) , and Kritavarma, the commander-in-chief of the Yadu dynasty, along with Sucandra, Shuka, and Sharana, remained in Dvaraka to protect the city."

This objection is answered by the fact that both Pradyumna and Aniruddha grew very quickly. It did not take many years for them to change from new-born infants to fully grown adults. And therefore, there need not have been a period of many years between the killing of Kamsa and the adulthood of Pradyumna and Aniruddha. The rapid growth to adulthood by Pradyumna is described in the following statement of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.55.9):

"Pradyumna, the son of Lord Krishna grew very swiftly, and before long he was fully grown."

Another explanation may also be given: Another person, one of the direct sons of Lord Krishna was also named Aniruddha. This Aniruddha was one of the 18 maharatha sons of Lord Krishna and he is mentioned at the end of the Tenth Canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. It may be that the Aniruddha who remained in Dvaraka at the time of the pilgrimage to Kurukshetra was this Aniruddha. At any rate, there was not a very long interval of time between the killing of Kamsa and the meeting of Lord Krishna with the inhabitants of Vrindavana at Kurukshetra.

That the meeting of Lord Krishna with the inhabitants of Vrindavana at Kurukshetra happened shortly after the killing of Kamsa is also confirmed by the following words spoken at that meeting in reply to Shrimati Kunti-devi by Maharaja Vasudeva (Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.82.21):

"My dear sister, you know that we were very much harassed by King Kamsa, and by his persecutions, we were scattered here and there. We were always full of anxieties. Only recently have we returned to our own places, by the grace of God."

We may also conclude that the meeting at Kurukshetra happened not long after the killing of Kamsa because Draupadi asked the different queens of Krishna how they had accepted the Lord's hand in marriage. That Draupadi was just then learning about Lord Krishna's marriages indicates that the meeting at Kurukshetra happened soon after the killing of Kamsa, and before the Rajasuya sacrifice. It was also before the Rajasuya sacrifice that Uddhava delivered Lord Krishna's message to the gopis and promised (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.46.34):

"Lord Krishna will soon return to Vrajabhumi."

After the meeting at Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna became full of anxiety as He remembered the sufferings of the residents of Vrindavana in their separation from Him. He personally sent Uddhava to see them, and when Uddhava saw the condition of the residents of Vraja, he also became full of anxiety about their condition.

Uddhava's delivery of Lord Krishna's message to the gopis occurred before the Rajasuya sacrifice, for he mentioned about them when he advised Lord Krishna to kill Jarasandha and attend the Rajasuya sacrifice. Uddhava said (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.71.9):

"My dear Lord, when Jarasandha is killed then the queens of all the imprisoned kings will be so joyful at their husbands' being released by Your mercy that they will all begin to sing Your glories. They will be as pleased as the gopis were when they were relieved from the hands of Shankhasura. All the great sages, the King of the elephants, Gajendra, the goddess of fortune, Sita, and even Your father and mother, were all delivered by Your causeless mercy. We also have been thus delivered, and we are always singing the transcendental glories of Your activities."*

After the Rajasuya sacrifice had been concluded, and after the demons, Shalva and Dantavakra were killed, Lord Krishna quickly returned to Gokula. This is described in the following prose and verse passage from the Uttara-khanda of the Padma Purana:(6.252.19)

atha shishupalam nihatam shrutva dantavakrah krishnena yodddhum mathuram ajagama. krishnas tu tac chrutva ratham aruhya tena yoddhum mathuram ayayau tayor dantavakra-vasudevayor aho-ratram mathura-dvare sangramah samavartata. krishnas tu gadaya tam jaghana. sa ca curnita-sarvango vajra-nirbhinno mahidhara iva. gatasur avani-tale papata. so 'pi hareh sarupyena yogi-gamyam nityananda-sukhadam sasvatam paramam padam avapa. ittham jaya-vijayau sanakadi-shapa-vyajena kevalam bhagavato lilartham samshritav avatirya janma-traye 'pi tenaiva nihatau janma-trayavasane muktim avaptau. krishno 'pi tam hatva yamunam uttirya nanda-vrajam gatva sotkanthau pitarav abhivadyasvasya tabhyam shasru-kanöham alingitah sakala-gopa-vrindan pranamyasvasya bahu-vastrabharanadibhis tatra-sthan sarvan samarpayam asa.

"Hearing that Shishupala had been killed by Krishna, Dantavakra arrived at Mathura to fight with the Lord, and when Lord Krishna heard about this, He mounted a chariot and went to Mathura to fight with the demon. Krishna and Dantavakra remained at the entrance of Mathura and fought day and night for a long time. In the midst of this battle Lord Krishna struck Dantavakra so heavily with His club that the demon immediately fell down dead to the ground, all his limbs crushed by the force of Lord Krishna's blow. He seemed like a great mountain smashed to pieces by a powerful bolt of lightning. Because he was killed by Lord Krishna, the demon Dantavakra attained a spiritual form like the Lord's and entered the eternal and blissful spiritual world, which is only approached by the perfect yogis. Dantavakra and Shishupala had actually been the gatekeepers of Vaikunöha, and their names were Jaya and Vijaya. On the pretext of being cursed by the four Kumaras, they had descended to the material world for three lifetimes in order to facilitate the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. Now that the three lifetimes were completed, they were killed by the Lord, and they attained liberation, returning to their original posts in the spiritual world.

"After killing this demon, Lord Krishna crossed the Yamuna river, and entered Vrajabhumi, the kingdom of Nanda Maharaja. His foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda had been greatly aggrieved because of separation from the Him, and He greeted them and consoled them. Tears running down their necks, Lord Krishna's parents embraced their dear son. Lord Krishna also offered respectful obeisances to all the cowherd residents of Vraja, consoling them with many words, and offering them many gifts of costly garments, ornaments and other things.

kalindyah puline ramye punya-vriksha-samacite gopa-naribhir anisham kridayam asa keshavah

Having returned to Vrindavana, Lord Krishna continuously enjoyed pastimes, day and night, with the gopis on the charming Yamuna shore, which had many groves of transcendental desire-trees.

ramya-keli-sukhenaiva gopavesha-dharah prabhuh bahu-prema-rasenatra masa-dvayam uvasa ha iti.

"The Lord remained in Vrindavana for two months. Garbed as a cowherd boy, He enjoyed many delightful pastimes with the residents of Vraja, and reciprocated their expressions of love in many ways."

It may seem to some readers that this account of the killing of Dantavakra and Lord Krishna's return to Vrindavana contradicts the description found in Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Actually, there is no contradiction here, and the accounts of the Padma Purana and Shrimad-Bhagavatam are in perfect agreement. This may be understood in the following way: Dantavakra considered that, upon Uddhava's advice, Lord Krishna had asked Bhima to kill Jarasandha in a club duel, because Lord Krishna Himself was not very expert at fighting with clubs. Proud of His own skill in club-fighting, Dantavakra planned to challenge Lord Krishna to a private club duel, and then kill Him. Dantvakra wanted to fight with Lord Krishna alone in order to protect himself from any possible revenge Lord Krishna's friends might try to take on him after he had killed the Lord. Thinking in this way, Dantavakra specifically did not want to fight Lord Krishna in Dvaraka, but in some place far away from the Lord's capital city. Thinking that Lord Krishna had remained in Indraprastha after the Rajasuya sacrifice had ended, Dantavakra sent a message challenging the Lord to come to Mathura and fight with him. The message came to Indraprastha, and Narada Muni, travelling on Lord Krishna's personal chariot, which moves as swiftly as the mind, instantly carried it to Dvaraka, where Lord Krishna had just finished killing Shalva. Lord Krishna and Narada Muni immediately travelled to Mathura on the Lord's transcendental chariot, (the place in Mathura where they arrived is still known, even today, as the "Dvaraka Gate"), and the Lord answered Dantavakra's challenge and killed him. Because Vrindavana is so close to Mathura, Lord Krishna took the opportunity to visit the gopas and gopis there.

The Padma Purana's description of Lord Krishna's return to Vrindavana is in perfect harmony with the account of the Lord's pastimes found in Shrimad-Bhagavatam. This may be seen in the following quotation from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.39.35):

"Krishna was very much affected upon seeing the plight of the gopis, and He therefore consoled them. He told them they should not be aggrieved; He was coming back very soon after finishing His business."

Lord Krishna's promise to return to Vrindavana is also recorded in the following verse (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.45.23) spoken by the Lord to Nanda and Yashoda, shortly after the Lord had killed Kamsa.

"My dear father and mother, I know you will be feeling separation by returning to Vrindavana and leaving Us here, but please rest assured that I shall be coming back to Vrindavana just after giving some satisfaction to my real father and mother, Vasudeva and Devaki, My grandfather, and other relatives and family members."*

The following verses (spoken by Uddhava to Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda-devi) also record Lord Krishna's promise to return to Vrindavana (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.46.35 and 34):

"I have brought a message from Krishna to the effect that He will soon come back to Vrindavana and satisfy you both by His personal presence. Now that Krishna has killed King Kamsa, the Yadava's enemy, in the wrestling arena, Krishna has promised that He will come back to Vrindavana after finishing His business in Mathura. This promise He will surely fulfill."

Many different times Lord Krishna promised that He would return to Vrindavana, and His devotees also repeated that promise. It is not reasonable to assume that Lord Krishna would not keep such a promise repeated so many times.

That Shri Krishna visited Vrindavana after the killing of Dantavakra is confirmed by these verses of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and also by the following verse (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.45.23), where Lord Krishna (just after killing King Kamsa) says to Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda-devi:

"My dear father and mother, I know you will be feeling separation by returning to Vrindavana and leaving us here, but please rest assured that I will be coming back to Vrindavana just after giving some satisfaction to my real father and mother, Vasudeva and Devaki, My grandfather, and other relatives and family members."*

That meeting of Lord Krishna with the residents of Vrindavana at the holy place of Kurukshetra occurred before His visit to Vrindavana and also before the killing of Dantavakara is confirmed by the following words spoken by Lord Krishna to the gopis during their meeting at Kurukshetra (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 10.82.41):

"My dear friends, you know that Lord Balarama and Myself left Vrindavana just to please our relatives and family members. Thus we were long engaged in fighting with our enemies and were obliged to forget you, who were so much attached to Me in love and affection. I can understand that by this action I have been ungrateful to you, but still I know you are faithful to Me. May I inquire if you have been thinking of Us although We had to leave you behind? My dear gopis do you now dislike remembering Me, considering Me to have become unfaithful to you? Do you take My misbehavior with you very seriously?"*

Lord Krishna did not want to return to Vrindavana until after most of the important demons had been killed. After Dantavakra was killed, however, He considered that most of the demons had already been dispatched, and He could then return to Vrindavana for a visit.

Lord Krishna then returned to Vrindavana and enjoyed manifest pastimes with the devotees there for two months. When Lord Krishna became aware that the inhabitants of Vrindavana were very anxious about the possibility of being again separated from, He reassured them, telling them that He would never be separated from them. He remained in Vrindavana with them in His aprakata form, invisible to the eyes of ordinary conditioned souls, and He fulfilled their earnest desire to have His association constantly. At the same time in His prakata(manifested) form, He left Vrindavana and returned again to Dvaraka. Lord Krishna's eternal aprakata(unmanifested) presence in Vrindavana in the spiritual world (Goloka) is described in the following verse from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.28.17):

"All the cowherd men saw Krishna, who was being worshiped with excellent prayers on the Goloka Vrindavana planet."

After Lord Krishna's two-month visit to Vrindavana He brought all the residents of Vrindavana back with to Goloka Vrindavana in the spiritual world. This is confirmed in the following prose passage from the Padma Puriana, Uttara-khanda. (Chapter 252)

tatha padmottara-khanda eva tad-anantaram gadyam atha tatrastha nandadayah sarve janah putra-dara-sahitah pashu-pakshi-mrigadyash ca vasudeva-prasadena divya-rupa-dhara vimanarudhah paramam vaikunthalokam apur iti. krishna tu nanda-gopa-vrajaukasam sarvesham paramam niramayam sva-padam dattva divi deva-ganaih samstuyamano dvaravatim vivesha iti ca.

"Then, by Lord Krishna's mercy, Nanda Maharaja, and all the cowherd men of Vraja, along with all their wives, children, cows and other domestic animals, as well as all the deer and other wild animals in the Vrindavana forest, and every living entity in Vrindavana, all manifested eternal spiritual forms and, boarding transcendental airplanes, traveled to Goloka Vrindavana, the highest planet in the spiritual sky. Lord Krishna thus gave to His friends' eternal residence in His own abode, which is free from all imperfection. After this, Lord Krishna, who was being glorified by the demigods in the upper material planets, entered Dvaraka and continued His manifest pastimes within the material world."

The phrase "nandadayah dara-sahitah" in this passage means that Nanda Maharaja, Krishna, Yashoda-devi, and all the cowherd men, boys, and gopis went to Goloka Vrindavana. Krishna remained with them, appearing as the youthful son of Maharaja Nanda, and all the residents of Vrindavana became unaware tha Krishna had ever gone to Mathura, or that they had ever been separated from Him.

The phrase beginning with the word "vimanarudhah" means that they traveled on transcendental airplanes to the highest spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindavana.

The words "dvaravatim vivesha" (and then the Lord entered Dvaraka) at the end of the prose passage from the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda may be explained in the following way:

Lord Krishna and the members of the Yadu dynasty left Dvaraka to kill Shalva. After Shalva was killed, the Yadavas waited for Lord Krishna to return with Him. Therefore, after the killing of Shalva, Lord Krishna entered Dvaraka, along with all the members of the Yadu dynasty. This description follows the account given in Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Although the Yadavas waited for two months for Lord Krishna to return from Vrindavana, that two months seemed to them to be only a few moments. A similar contraction of time was experienced by the Vrindavana cowherd boys stolen by Lord Brahma. This is described in the following words of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.43):

"Although they had been absent for an entire year, the cowherd boys thought that year to be as long as half a moment."

Although the greatly elevated gopis were extremely dear to Lord Krishna from the very first time they met Him, they still were separated from Him for a certain time. Their reunion with Him and the end of their separation from Him is alluded to in the following verses of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.12.8, 11.12.10, and 11.12.11):

"All the inhabitants of Vrindavana, including the gopis, cows, unmoving creatures, the twin arjuna trees, animals, living entities with stunted consciousness, bushes and thickets and snakes like Kaliya all achieved the perfection of life by unalloyed love for Me and thus very easily achieved Me."

"The residents of Vrindavana headed by the gopis were always completely attached to Me with deepest love. Thus when I, along with My brother Balarama, was brought to Mathura City by My uncle Akrura, the residents of Vrindavana suffered extreme mental distress due to separation from Me, and could not find any other source of happiness in their lives."

"Dear Uddhava, all of those nights which the gopis spent with Me, their most dearly beloved, in the land of Vrindavana, seemed to them to pass in less than a moment. Bereft of My association, however, those same nights appeared to the gopis to drag on forever, as if each night were equal to a day of Brahma."

We may note that in these verses the verbs "dadrishuh" (saw) and "babhuvuh" (became) are in the past tense. Using the past-tense, these verses describe the gopis' unhappiness because of separation from Krishna and their experiencing a single night to be as long as a day of Brahma because of Lord Krishna's absence. Because these activities are described in the past, we may conclude that they are no longer happening at the time Lord Krishna spoke these verses to Uddhava. At that time the gopis' separation from Lord Krishna had ended, and they were continually enjoying pastimes with Him in His aprakata(invisible to ordinary conditioned souls) form.

The sequence of events may be given as follows:

  1. First, the residents of Vrindavana traveled to Kurukshetra at the time of the solar eclipse, then

  2. there was the Rajusuya sacrifice of Maharaja Yudhishöhira, during which

  3. Shishupala was killed. Then

  4. there was the gambling match between the Kurus and Pandavas, and then

  5. the killing of Shalva, the celebrated description of which is found in the Vana-prarva of the Mahabharata. After that

  6. Dantavakra was killed, and after that

(Here, Krishna returns to Vrindavan and takes them all residents of Vrindavan to His abode or put in other way, pastimes of Vrindavan become aprakata, invisible to others and Krishna stays with them, He expands as another Krishna (like he explanded into 16,108 forms in Dwaraka to stay with each queen) and returns to Dwaraka to continue earthly lilas)

  1. the Pandavas were exiled to the forest. After that

  2. Lord Balarama went on His tour of all the holy places, and after that

  3. the Kurukshetra war was fought, and Duryodhana was killed.

  • 2
    Excellently answered! – Surya Dec 17 '18 at 8:12
  • 2
    What a lovely detailed answer! – Amrit Dhara Dec 20 '18 at 15:46

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