The Raas dance that took place on the full-moon night of the sarat season, the night on which Krsna played upon His transcendental flute at Vamsivata by the Yamuna River in Vrndavana and called the gopis (cowherd girls) to dance with Him. Now, we may take it that He played on His flute and in a figurative way called the gopis to dance with Him, but actually Krsnas flute is one of His messengers, and so the gopis not only heard the beautiful, melodious sound of the flute, but they actually received the message that Krsna wanted to meet them. And because their only desire was to please Krsna, to fulfil His desires and make Him happy, they all went to Him, not with the aim of fulfilling any selfish desire of their own, but only with the aim of fulfilling Krsnas transcendental desire to dance with them.
Because the rasa dance superficially resembles the dancing of men and women in the material world, it can easily be misunderstood, and there are critics of Lord Krsna and Srimad-Bhagavatam and Krsna consciousness itself that find fault with the rasa-lila. I know religious groups outside of the Vedic tradition that criticize and challenge: Oh, Krsna is a womanizer. How can you worship a god that enjoys with women?" They do not understand the pure love exchanged by Krsna and the gopis. In Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami explains the difference between love, or prema, and lust, or kama. In lust, the person wants to gratify his or her own senses, whereas in pure love, the devotee wishes to satisfy Krsnas transcendental senses. The two may resemble each other, but actually they are completely different.