The position of the dearmost of Sri Rupa and Sri Radha.
Today is Sri Lalita Saptami. It is an extremely worshippable and merciful day for conditioned souls because only the mercy of Lalita Devi can give them service to Radharani and Krishna, the Divine Couple. We know Lalita Devi’s position through Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu and the other goswamis. She is the supreme servitor, and her service is more valuable than Radharani’s service to Krishna. She is very strict about the service of Radha and Krishna. She cannot tolerate even slight faults, but she is also very merciful to sincere seekers who are junior practitioners.
Radha and Krishna’s eight principal sakhis are all under the guidance of Lalita Devi. It is puzzling to us that a servant can tell their master, “Sit down. Don’t interfere with my service”, yet Lalita Devi, and only Lalita Devi, has the right to speak this way. Srila Rupa Goswami composed a poem for Lalita Devi:
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami
(Sri Lalitastakam: 1)
Gunaih sulalitam: she has all varieties of sweet qualities, and her service is incomparable. She is very merciful to everyone, but she knows how to serve better than anyone. Radha-Mukunda-pada-sambhava-gharma-bindu-nirmanchanopakarani-krta-deha-laksam: if she sees any deficiency or disturbance in the service being offered to Radha and Govinda, she becomes very furious and desires to take on thousands of bodies to remove Radha and Govinda’s unhappiness. Naturally as Radharani and Krishna play, sweat appears on Their lotus feet, and They sometimes begin to feel some fatigue. To remove that sweat, Lalita Devi desires to take on thousands and thousands of bodies.
Uttunga-sauhrda-visesa-vasat pragalbham: sometimes she chastises Radharani, and sometimes she chastises Sri Krishna. But always for Their satisfaction, Their service, Their happiness, Their joy. She has no other intention.
There are many groups of sakhis. Lalita, Visakha, Chitra, Champakalata, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Sudevi, and Ranga Devi are the eight principal sakhis, and each of them have groups of sakhis, but Lalita Devi is the chief of them all.
To serve Krishna, Radharani sometimes shows vama-bhava, that is, she sometimes becomes angry or strongly opposes Krishna. Sometimes others find this very unpalatable to see, but Lalita Devi always wants to harmonise, and if necessary, she chastises Radharani, or chastises Sri Krishna. Her position, nature, and mood are like that. We know that one hundred percent is the maximum in mathematical calculations, but Lalita Devi is two hundred percent dedicated.
Ultimately, service is given by Rupa Goswami Prabhu on the order of Lalita Devi to Radha and Krishna in Radha Kunda, Syam Kunda, the Rasa Sthali, and everywhere else. Rupa Goswami Prabhu is a very close servitor of Lalita Devi but by age is very junior to her. Sri Rupa is very, very dear to Lalita Devi, and she does not know anything other than Lalita Devi. Without Lalita Devi’s consent, she does not do any service for Radharani. We can understand chastity through Narottam Thakur’s song:
sri-rupa-manjari-pada sei mora sampada
sei mora bhajana-pujana
This is the Gaudiya-Vaisnava sampradaya’s chief, most honoured song, and it is very dear to the devotees because every devotee wants to serve Lalita Devi under the guidance of Rupa Goswami and have Lalita Devi engage them in service to Radharani. Our Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur always follows the line of Rupa Goswami. The order and satisfaction of Rupa Goswami is our target in going to render exclusive service with the full consent of Lalita Devi to Radha and Krishna. That is our line.
Srila Das Goswami was exclusively attached to Lalita Devi and Rupa Goswami. He wrote many verses glorifying them. Once Srila Das Goswami’s servant passed through Sakhi Sthali, which is the village of Chandravali, Radharani’s competitor. There he collected some buttermilk in a very big leaf. When he gave it to Das Goswami, who is in last years ate only buttermilk, Das Goswami asked him, “Where did you get this big big leaf bowl?” The servant was a simple-hearted Vaisnava and said, “I came through Sakhi Sthali, and there I saw this leaf and collected some buttermilk for you inside it.” “Huh! You have given me a leaf bowl from Sakhi Sthali?!” Then Das Goswami threw it on the ground! Through this Pastime, we can see how much he is dedicated to the line of Lalita Devi and Rupa Goswami.
sakhi-sthali nahi heri nayane
dekhile saibyake padaye mane
[“I never cast my glance towards Sakhi Sthali. If I see it, I am reminded of Saibya.”]
ye ye pratikula chandrara sakhi
prane duhkha pai tahare dekhi’
[“I feel pain in my heart whenever I see any of Chandravali’s unfavourable friends.”]
This is Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s very exclusive song about Sri Rupa Goswami, Radharani, and Lalita Devi’s line.
Every day new arrangements for Radha and Govinda’s enjoyment are made. In different places in the forest amidst flowering trees, arrangements are made for Radha and Govinda’s kunja-lilas. Lalita Devi gives all of the directions for this and also tells Krishna where the festive meetings are being arranged. Then Krishna goes there to meet Radharani. In this way, Lalita Devi arranges everything, before, during, and after. She is constantly conscious about the service of Radha and Govinda.
Today is Lalita Devi’s appearance day. We know that Lalita Devi was born in Uchcha Gao, near Vrsabhanupur, Varsana. Lalita Devi is a little elder than Radharani. I think she appeared one year and one day before Radharani.
The supreme form of service to Krishna is paramour love. Love, affection, beauty, charm, and so on—everything—are found in Krishna’s service, but paramour love is the most tasteful for Krishna. For this reason, Radharani shows that She has a husband, Abhimanyu Ghos. Lalita Devi and others also have husbands. If they did not, paramour love would not exist in Lord Krishna’s transcendental abode.
We are not qualified to speak about the service Radharani and the sakhis offer to Krishna or how they are offer it, but Vaisnavas have said something about that in the scriptures. So many poems have been written in the Vaisnava literature about that, and the poets have given supreme honour to Lalita Devi.
chandidasa, vidyapati rayera nataka-giti
svarupa-ramananda-sane mahaprabhu ratri-dine
gaya, sune—parama ananda
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 2.77)
Every night Sriman Mahaprabhu tasted the ecstasy of paramour love for Krishna. Svarup Damodar sang songs by Chandi Das, Vidyapati, Ramananda Ray, and Jayadev Goswami. These compositions are all built by a mountain of dedication in paramour love. Jayadev Goswami wrote,
meghaih meduram ambaram vana-bhuvah syamah tamala-drumaih
naktam bhiruh ayam tvam eva tat imam radhe grham prapaya
ittham nanda-nidesatah chalitayoh praty-adhva-kunja-drumam
radha-madhavayoh jayanti yamuna-kule rahah-kelayah
(Sri Gita-Govinda: 1.1)
[“‘Radha, the sky is filled with clouds. The forest has been cast into darkness by tamal trees. He is coy at night. So bring Him home alone.’ Thus advised by Their friend, Radha and Madhava passed by every bush and tree along the path. Their confidential Pastimes along the bank of the Yamuna conquer all.”]
The raha-keli [confidential Pastimes] of Radha and Krishna are the super expression of paramour love, but all arrangement for this is done by Lalita Devi [‘Their friend’] within Radharani’s society. In Chandravali’s society, Saibya, a sakhi of Chandravali, and her group make arrangements and sometimes steal Krishna while He is on the road. Krishna often goes to Radharani’s kunja, but Chandravali is also very clever, and she takes Krishna’s hand while He is walking towards Radharani and says, “Come to my kunja.” Krishna gives some expression, but not a satisfactory explanation. Then Krishna goes to Chandravali’s kunja, and Radharani cries in Her kunja. Like this, different kinds of Pastimes of Radha and Krishna happen in Vrndavan-lila.
We are so fortunate that today we have had a little festival, and as possible by me, I have tried to glorify Lalita Devi. I think that she not will be angry with me, and by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, one day we will get the opportunity to serve her divine grace.
Jay Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj ki jay!
Spoken on 20 September 2004.