Lord Krsna's dancing with his gopi (cowherd) girlfriends is probably the most misunderstood of all His transcendental pastimes. In Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Chapter 29) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada guides us in understanding this spotless activity of the Lord:

"The dancing of young boys and girls within the material world is in the kingdom of mahamaya, or the external energy. The rasa dance of Krsna with the gopis is on the platform of yogamaya. The difference between the platforms of yogamaya and mahamaya is compared in the Caitanya-caritamrta to the difference between gold and iron. From the viewpoint of metallurgy, gold and iron are both metals, but the quality is completely different. Similarly, although the rasa dance and Lord Krsna's association with the gopis appear like the ordinary mixing of young boys and girls, the quality is completely different. The difference is appreciated by great Vaisnavas because they can understand the difference between love of Krsna and lust.

"On the mahamaya platform, dances take place on the basis of sense gratification. But when Krsna called the gopis by sounding His flute, the gopis very hurriedly rushed towards the spot of the rasa dance with the transcendental desire to satisfy Krsna. The author of Caitanya-caritamrta, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, has explained that lust means sense gratification, and love also means sense gratification but for Krsna. In other words, when activities are enacted on the platform of personal sense gratification, they are called material activities, but when they are enacted for the satisfaction of Krsna, they are spiritual activities. On any platform of activities, the principle of sense gratification is there. But on the spiritual platform, sense gratification is for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, whereas on the material platform it is for the performer.

"For example, on the material platform, when a servant serves a master, he is not trying to satisfy the senses of the master, but rather his own senses. The servant would not serve the master if the payment stopped. That means that the servant engages himself in the service of the master just to satisfy his senses. On the spiritual platform the servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead serves Krsna without payment, and he continues his service in all conditions. That is the difference between Krsna consciousness and material consciousness."