Similar to Gopikas, who are the female cowherd friends and the close associates of Lord Krishna, Gopalas are the male cowherd friends, and they used to surround Lord Krishna most of the day, especially during his childhood days. They used to joyfully spend their time with Krishna by the way of playing, conversing with him, and by having delicious butter, butter made snacks and fruits for their consumption. They are the herders and they daily used to take the cows to make it to graze in the grass fields.
Since the Yadava friends of Lord Krishna are herders, they are known as Gopalas, Go means Cow, and since Lord Krishna is also a herder, he is called as Gopal. The interaction between Lord Krishna with his friends is like that of the mother and sons relationship.
Lord Krishna showed much love and affection on to his friends, and whenever any demon comes to their place with the intention of killing Krishna, first Krishna used to safeguard his friends by making them to hide in a safety place, and then only he used to challenge with the demon by the way of fighting with him. Though most of his friends were aware that their friend Krishna contains lot of spiritual powers, yet, most of them didn’t realize that he is the full form of Lord Vishnu.
Due to the grace of Lord Krishna, his cowherd friends didn’t suffer from any kind of diseases, problems and from mental tensions. All of them were happily lived a simple, peaceful and a long life along with their family. Even after Lord Krishna had become the King of Dwaraka, some of his childhood friends used to visit him occasionally in his kingdom.
As per the medieval texts, most of the childhood Yadava friends of Lord Krishna have taken birth as the medieval Saints like Swamy Uddharan Dutta Takur. The childhood friends of Krishna invoked the Krishna Bhakti on the minds of the people, by taking the form of pious Saints. Likewise the great 15th century Saint, Sri Haridasa Thakur was considered to be an incarnation of the great Vishnu Bhagavatha, Sri Prahalad Maharajji, who was a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna, and his main mission was to spread the “KRISHNA BHAKTI” amongst the masses, and he has done it in a full-fledged manner.
“GOVINDA, HARI GOPALA, NAMO NAMAHA”