srasta-srasta niruddha-nīvi vilasad-gopī-sahasrāvṛtaṁ
Those flute vibrations loosen all tightly bound, dazzling skirts (and all bonds of ignorant infatuation with superficial glitter) which fall away to reveal thousands of splendid gopīs, who surround and smother him.
The key phrase in this line (line 3 of Krishna Karnamṛta, Verse 2) is निरुद्धनीवि (niruddha-nīvi) the nīvi is the more original style of dress that eventually evolved into the sārī. It’s a short skirt. Under Muslim influence, presumably, this became longer and longer and also covered the head (but at least still shows the belly button and face, unlike the Muslim burka). Indian girls used to wear nīvi and kanchuki (a cloth tied around the breasts). This evolved into sārī and sewn cholī (kanchuki is not sewn. It’s simply tied).
Bilvamaṅgal Kavirāja describes the gopīs in this attire. Generally gopīs are painted in this attire as well, although their nīvi are painted much longer than they probably should be. ISKCON artists sometimes paint gopīs in sārī. Artists and poets also depict the gopīs often wearing dupatti (top cloth) which is a third piece of cloth (essentially the saree fused the dupatti and neevi into a single garment).
Anyway, the literal meaning of nīvi is “tied-thing, tied-cloth.” So it allows the line to take dual-meaning. On one hand it means, “the skirts tied around the gopīs’ hips.” On the other hand it means, “the ignorance that binds the jīva (soul) to māyā (illusion).”
The direct meaning of the line appears when we take the direct meaning of nīvi as “skirt.” Then it means “Krishna’s flute makes a vibration that loosens the gopīs’ tightly bound skirts, and makes them fall off. This reveals their splendid beauty as they smother and cover Krishna.”
So Krishna is covered in two things, flower petals (line 1) and beautiful young girls!
Therefore we cannot approach him with male mentality. We must adopt a female identity and perspective, then we can participate. Otherwise we have to access some compromised version of this most primordial reality which BIlvamaṅgala Ṭhākur describes. The direct reality of the primordial absolute truth is only accessible through a feminine perspective.
The male mentality is niruddha-nīvi – a very tight bondage. It is the tight bondage of attraction to vilasat, the sparkle and glitter of external objects which seem to be feminine (i.e. sources of happiness and pleasure). [psychologically, “male” means enjoyer of pleasure and happiness, while “female” means origin of happiness and pleasure. The male mentality is an imposition on the original nature of the spiritual entity, “soul.”].
If we listen to the sound of Krishna’s flute, this male mentality which keeps our soul tied as a hostage to māyā will loosen and fall away. Then we will be anāvṛtam / avṛtam (un-eclipsed) in our true spiritual nature, which is patently feminine through and through by design. At that time we will be able to join this incredibly primevally blissful, decadent, joyful scene as a gopī smothering Krishna in joy.
But how can we listen to the sound of Krishna’s flute?
The flute was described in the previous line as the prastuta of the vastu. The vastu is Krishna, and the prastu is the thing that is integrally proximate to the vastu. In short, the flute is an integral part of Krishna, like a limb is part of a body. Therefore the flute sound is within the Hare Krishna mahāmantra, which is non-different from the vastu Krishna. Therefore we must listen for the flute vibration within the name and the name-mantra.
It is also noted that the flute sound is present in the klīṁ kṛṣṇāya govindāya… mantra, upon which we should carefully meditate.
It is also understood from Brahmā-saṁhita and Bhāgavatam that Brahma chanted this very mantra (klīṁ kṛṣṇāya…) and eventually heard the flute-sound in it, which filled him with knowledge, which he later put into words as the veda, which in its most mature, ripe form is Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
So listening deeply to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and hearing deeply the holy name in meditation and in kīrtan… this is how to listen to the sound of Krishna’s flute. These sound vibrations will untie our souls bound in the false, perverse gender-abnormality of masculine psychology (female embodied persons are only slightly less immersed in the masculine mental psychology), and allow us to exist in true spiritual form as a participant in Krishna’s absolute, original, primeval festival of wanton bliss, from the perspective of a nīvi-kanchuki tying (and retying and retying) gopī.