Krishna used the yoga-illusion
and his body became many parts,
To all, the pleasure they were wishing he gave,
sport and the highest affection.
As many cowherdesses were there,
just so many bodies Shri Krishna Chandra assumed,
And taking all of them on the terrace of the dancing ring,
again began to dance and sport.
And there was such harmony of the Ragas and Raginis,
that, hearing it wind and water also no longer flowed, And the moon
together with the starry firmament,
rained down nectar with its rays.
Meanwhile night advanced,
then six months had passed away
And no one was aware of it.
From that time,
The name of that night has been
The Night of Brahma.
( Translation by Walter M. Spink )
Clearly such verses emphasize, however circumspectly, the cosmic nature of the circular dance bringing it conceptually closer to Shiva's ananda tandava. In this dance of delight, Krishna is the source of eternal bliss and the gopi represents the individual human soul longing for salvation. Visually too, the form is closer to that of dancing Shiva than one might think at first. Just as Shiva dances in the center of the universe symbolized by the ring of fire, so also Krishna does surrounded by the milkmaids. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad states: 'The vast universe is a wheel. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth, death and rebirth. Round and round it turns and never stops. It is the wheel of Brahman. As long as the individual self thinks it is separate from Brahman, it revolves upon the wheel in bondage to the laws of birth, death and rebirth. But when through the grace of Brahman it realizes its identity with him it revolves upon the wheel no longer. It achieves immortality.'
Pal Pratapaditya (Ed). Dancing to the Flute, Music and Dance in Indian Art: Australia, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1997.
Spink, Walter M. Krishnamandala: Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan, 1971.