Yatha Vrajagopikanam. (21)
As the shepherdess.
This Madhurabhava, is perhaps one of the sweetest passions by which one can go to the spiritual heights considering Divine as one's own lover takes one to the spiritual ecstasy. It is not at all a new concept of shepherdess of Gokulam and Krishna Caitanya. It is as old as the Vedic literature itself. Even in the Rig-Veda there are some verses that talk of Madhurabhava.
Later, this Madhuabhava is developed by the scriptures like Visnupuranam, Brahmavaivartaka puranam and above all Bhagavatam which describes the divine love and union of Krishna with shepherdesses of Gokulam.
It is damn sure that the historical Krishna of Mahabharata who was a statesman, philosopher, a spiritual master, and a social worker put together, could not play romance with shepherdesses; as he proclaims Himself that he incarnated to establish dharma, he cannot cross his dharma at any cost. By the by romance with shepherdesses is not mentioned even in a single verse of Mahabharata which has around one lakh verses.
It is a later development of the older puranas like Harivamsa and Visnupuranam and the modern puranas like Brahmavaivartakam and Bhagavatam. Krishna's stay in Gokulam for twelve years from his birth is mentioned in Mahabharata itself.