The boat festival marks the event that occurred between Radha and Krishna 5000 years ago at Rajghat in River Yamuna.
The Gopis often carried the milk products from Vrindavana and sold them at Mathura to earn their living.
The event was artfully portrayed in the Bhakti Ratnakara when Raghava Pandita was describing the pastimes of the Lord to Srinivasa Acarya, Narottama Das Thakura and Shyamananda Prabhu during in Vraja-parikrama.
Raghava Pandita says:
See this place with beautiful spots, where Nanda Kumara (Krishna) always wanders.
Let us discuss the glorious pastimes of the expansions of Lord such as Krishna, Balarama and Narasimhadeva.
Reaching the banks of Yamuna, Srinivasa Acharya says,
“Krishna started the boat festival from this Raj Ghat with the beautiful Radha and Her associates to cross the River carrying pots of milk products.
See the amazingly beautiful face of Krishna. On the riverside remained Krishna on a worn out boat.
Radha and Her associates urged to Krishna,
“Please take us to the other side of River Yamuna.”
Krishna rowed them down to some distance with great pleasure. Let us describe Krishna’s playful pastimes with them.”
When the old boat floated in violent waters, the Gopis said,
“You are troubling we young girls.
O Madhava, You reap the seed of all troubles and You alone can make us cross this River.”
“All food you carry will be drowned. Please throw away all you carry in water including your unwanted clothing.”
Even at this dreadful moment, Krishna was cutting jokes at the Gopis and clapped hands showing no worries.
The Gopis said,
“We desperately throw water from the sinking boat with our bare hands. Even if we escape from here, we will not surrender to You.”
Some more details on the same story:
Reaching the bank of Yamuna, the Gopis urged the boatman,
“Please take us to the other side.”
Krishna pretended to be in a deep nap.
Sri Sanjaya Kavisekhara says:
Krishna said to Radha,
“My dear young girl, please get in My tari (boat). Radha took it as tarau (trees) and retorted,
“What strength have I to climb on trees?”
Krishna replied, “My charming girl, I didn’t mean tree, but tarani (boat).”
In Sanskrit, tarani means sun as well and therefore, Radha replied, “Why would I go to sun?”
Krishna said, “I always spoke of nau (boat).”
In Sanskrit, nau means we as well and so Radha replied, “These are aimed at to bring Us together.”
I worship the immutable Lord Krishna, who smiled at Radha with pleasure in this playful duel of words.
Srila Rupa Gosvami:
Radha says, “You are right. No waves in Yamuna now and this boat is new and strong. Nevertheless, I am afraid of You, the reckless boatman, O Keshava.
This river is deep and the boat is old. We helpless girls are in dire danger. Now You are the only boatman who can sail us safely on to the shore of Yamuna.
Sri Jagadananda Raya:
Krishna stopped the boat at the middle of the river and demanded the fare. He smiled as He looked at the frightened face of the Gopis, who had no money to pay.
Radha says, “O Krishna, as You said, I have thrown the milk products, My necklace and all My belongings in the river, but still the shore is still afar.”
“The boat is heavily tossed up by the wind. The gushing water is sinking the boat in Yamuna. Destiny is My enemy, but even in this calamity, the lusty Krishna puts His hands on Me.”
Radha again says,
“My hands are tired and I cannot push the water out anymore. Nevertheless, you still joke at Me. Hey Krishna, if I surmount this, I will no more step into Your boat.”
Radha says, “Dear Gopi friends, please pray to your divinities that either the water of Yamuna be knee deep or get a boatman other than Krishna.”
Sri Mukunda Bhattacharya:
“The boat rocks either way in this deep water in the captaincy of reckless Krishna. The sun sets and I am helpless now. O Gopi, Vraja is far away and what can I do?
Krishna pays no heed to My begging even with the throat choked. He disregards My obeisance. O Gopi, even in the midst of waves, Krishna shakes the boat and water seeps in and I am frightened, but Krishna is free from fear.”
Srila Rupa Gosvami:
“Ferocious waves lash at Yamuna now. The boat is full of water, but Krishna seems unafraid.”
“O beautiful Radha, don’t be harsh. We will escape by Your mercy. Please offer Me a fare of promise to enjoy amorous moments with You in Govardhana.”
“You are a cheat, Krishna. Go and hide under a pile of cow-dung. Why do You come and beg so uselessly. Turn away. You have tricked the Gopis and frightened them in an old boat, but why Your tricks vanish with Me?”
Srila Rupa Gosvami:
“When the old boat tossed in the stormy waves of Yamuna, Krishna tricked Radha and received amorous favours for His pastimes from the terrified Gopis in pledge of their rescue.”
 Sloka 1700-1712
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