By enacting His intimate pastimes, Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, evokes deep primeval emotions in the hearts of the sleeping souls. Generally, when the Lord displays His pastimes in the material world the mood is one of separation. This mood of vipralambha—separation—is repeated in various degrees whenever the Supreme Lord descends into the material world for the salvation of the conditioned souls.
This mood of separation is very important for the conditioned living entities who are dwelling in this material world. Not only they have forgotten their eternal identities as Shri Krishna’s servants but they have fallen into the mode of unrealistic feelings. All their sentiments are masked by the false pursuance of temporary happiness. The Supreme Lord comes to shake the rusty and crude feelings of the conditioned living entities whose hearts have become like stones. He knows exactly how to call the ones that are ready to come back to Him by playing the deepest sentiment of disconnection. This mode of separation is the surest attracting factor that propels the living entity to realize that he needs to reunite with the Supreme Lord as His eternal loving servant. The Supreme Lord plays the lila of separation although in fact He is never separated from the living entity. He is all-cognizant at all times and at the same time He is in everyone’s heart. He tells Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita 18.61:
hrid-deshe ‘rjuna tishthati
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
Yet, even though the Lord dwells in our hearts, still with the help of His potencies He enacts pastimes involving the mood of separation in order to attract the living entities back into His loving service. The Lord teaches the conditioned living entities by His own example showing them how they have been separated from Him and what the method is to get back with Him.
It is worth noting how in the different Yugas the Lord acts according to the Age he appears into and yet He conveys the unchanged mood of separation. For example, Lord Vishnu appeared on Earth as Lord Ramachandra with the main mission to kill Ravana. This was the external lila that He played although the internal pastime was aimed at attracting His devotees. This is confirmed in Bhagavad Gita 4.8:
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskritam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge
To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.
In His form as Lord Ramachandra the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort Sita Devi underwent numerous tests and tribulations. Lord Ramachandra lived most of His life in separation from His spouse. Both Sita Devi and Lord Rama had to go into the forest due to the wish of Kaikeyi; the youngest wife of king Dasharath. While in the forest, Sita Devi was kidnapped by Ravan and remained in separation for one year after which she was rescued by her Lord Ramachandra. Sita Devi and Lord Ramachandra returned to Their kingdom of Ayodya and ruled the monarchy happily. But one day Lord Ram overheard a rumor that was not favorable to His reputation. An ordinary citizen was rebuking his own wife for coming home late. According to him it was not right for Lord Ramachandra to take back Sita Devi when She had lived in the home of another for an entire year. So to defend the reputation of not only Himself but also His beloved Sita Lord Ramachandra was forced to banish His wife once again to the forests. He was the ideal king and had to teach the kshatriya code of righteousness even at the cost of His own pain of separation. Sita Devi, as none-different from Him, accepted Her fate.
There are those who feel that what Lord Ramachandra did to Mother Sita was unjust. But they do not take into account that She did not abandon Shri Ramachandra in Her thoughts even for a second. She did not revolt against His decision. We have to take into account that the moral code is presented differently throughout the ages. For example, when Satya Yuga was on Earth it was ruled by the demigods, in Treta Yuga the main rulers on Earth were the rishis, In Dwapara Yuga the Earth was ruled by kings in human form and in Kali Yuga the Earth is ruled by the demons. All these different classes of living entities have different moral code.
In Kali Yuga everyone is a shudra or lower than a shudra. Such a society is equal to the societies of the animal kingdom. The morality of the animals is basically centered on reproduction. Animals do not have the facility to develop God consciousness. Yet, we see that in Treta Yuga when Lord Ramachandra appeared on Earth even the monkeys had a good understanding of dharma. The king of Kishkinda, the varnara Sugriva, had a more profound understanding of the structure of the universe than any modern scientist has today. According to Shrila Prabhupada, the modern men in Kali Yuga are actually lower than the animals:
At the present moment all human society is laboring under the bodily conception; therefore in the shastras people in this age are referred to as dvipada-pashu, two-legged animals. No one can be happy in a civilization conducted by such animals. Bhaktivedanta Purport to SB 5.10.10
If there were leaders strongly devoted like Sugriva and Hanuman then the world will actually be a blissful place in which to live. Despite their lack of qualification, some people in Kali Yuga often have the audacity to judge Lord Ramachandra for abandoning mother Sita to the forest. This is because the short-lived population of this Age has no idea of the moral code of other Yugas, times when righteousness and an honorable name were of topmost importance. During the previous Yugas when a person gave his word he was bound by his promise. But the sentimental attitude of Kali Yuga has brought about only so-called good things in name only. We see that good judgment is lacking in this age. Criminals receive only the mildest form of punishment only to be recycled into society, while the rich are not accountable for their crimes. Such a course of action is neither beneficial for either the criminal or their victims as it plunges society into further suffering.
But Lord Ramachandra as the ideal king in Treta Yuga showed a different attitude. When the Lord heard that the son of one brahmana in his kingdom had died He immediately wanted to know the cause of this untimely death. He was informed by his ministers that a shudra was practicing austerities for which he should be killed. In previous yugas, a shudra was the servant of all higher classes. A shudra’s advancement depended on how well he executed his duty. In Kali Yuga every shudra can take up the practice of self realization, but that was not possible in previous Yugas. Those were different times. Therefore Lord Rama found the shudra and killed him for his transgression of duty. To our modern standards this would be considered an atrocity. “Why,” we ask, “should the poor shudra be put to death when all he wanted was self-realization?” We are amazed that the Supreme Lord followed the code of the particular Yuga into which He appeared yet at the same time promoted the mood of separation for His devotees. In Treta Yuga the Supreme Lord could not have played His flute and enjoyed with many gopis if He was to be accepted by the world. And yet, within guidelines of that Yuga, He distributed love of Godhead. Ultimately, the Yugas are created by Him. In the different Yugas human population shares diverse mentalities, and the Supreme Lord comes in the different times to attract all of them. In Treta Yuga Lord Ramachandra lived a life of such deep love intertwined with the mood of separation that even today His devotees cry as they listen to His pastimes in the Ramayana.
In Dwapara Yuga the Lord came in His original form of Shri Krishna and again His deepest feelings of attraction were expressed in the mood of separation. He enacted His lila with His dearest devotees. The gopis were constantly experiencing the mood of vipralambha. They felt separation from Shri Krishna when He was in their presence and then they continued to live in that mood after Shri Krishna left Vrindavan. He never left Vrindavan since His original form always remains there. But He was visible only in the mood of separation for the length of His lila on Earth.
And finally in Kali Yuga Lord Shi Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came in the form of His devotee plunged in the mood of separation. He chanted loudly His Own Names calling the conditioned living entities back to Him. As life is short in Kali Yuga, the method of deliverance is also short and easy. The chanting of the Holy Names of Shri Krishna is the beneficial method of deliverance even for the lowest of the low. The mercy of the Supreme Lord in this age is inconceivably limitless.
This mood of separation manifested in the Lord’s different lilas is like a mirror for our own condition. We have been living long enough separated from the Lord. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who is Shri Krishna in the Form of His Own devotee, shed tears of separation for the Lord of Vrindavana. He is also exhibiting the same mood through His most intimate associates. By His example we learn of our own need to cry to become reinstated into the devotional service of Shri Krishna by understanding the message of His pastimes. The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is subtle in attracting the living entities back to Him. He does not want to force anyone to love Him. Love is voluntary. Yet He leaves us many suggestions by His own example: how we can return back to Him if we so desire.