ei ta’ saṅkṣepe kahila kṛṣṇera svarūpa
ebe saṅkṣepe kahi rādhā-tattva-rūpa
kṛṣṇera ananta-śakti, tāte tina—pradhāna
‘cic-chakti’, ‘māyā-śakti’, ‘jīva-śakti’-nāma
‘antaraṅgā’, ‘bahiraṅgā’, ‘taṭasthā’ kahi yare
antaraṅgā ‘svarūpa-śakti’—sabāra upare

Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya then said, “I have thus briefly explained the fundamentals of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s original form. Now please hear as I give a brief description of Śrī Rādhā. Śrī Kṛṣṇa has unlimited potencies, of which three are prominent. These are the spiritual potency (cit-śakti), the material potency (māyā-śakti), and the marginal potency ( jīva-śakti), which is otherwise known as the living entities. These are also known respectively as the internal potency (antaraṅgā-śakti), the external potency (bahiraṅgā-śakti), and the marginal potency (taṭasthā-śakti); but the internal potency, or svarūpa-śakti, predominates.
The Supersoul (Parabrahman) does not perform any material activities since He does not have material hands or feet. He performs His transcendental pastimes without any material cause. By His transcendental body, He resides everywhere in the whole universe at the same time. There is mention of this cit-śakti (spiritual potency) in the Upaniṣads:

te dhyāna-yogānugatā apaśyan
devātma-śaktiṁ sva-guṇair nigūḍhām
yaḥ kāraṇāni nikhilāni tāni
kālātma-yuktāny adhitiṣṭhaty ekaḥ
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (1.3)


“Those brahmavādī ṛṣis who know the fundamental truths are firmly situated in the trance of samādhi-yoga and are empowered by the qualities of Parabrahman. While rapt in meditation, they have seen, by the influence of the Lord’s energies, the exceedingly confidential divine potency born from His very form. He is the cause of all other causes, and the sole predominant and presiding deity of the living entities, of time, of material nature, and of activity.”

Māyā-śakti is described in the following verse:

chandāṁsi yajñā kratavo vratāni
bhūtaṁ bhāvyaṁ yac ca vedā vadanti
asmān mayi sṛjate viśvam etat
tasmiṁś cānyo māyayā sanniruddhaḥ
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (4.9)


“Paramātmā, who is the master of the deluding material nature, has created all the teachings of the Vedas. He has also created special yajñas, such as jyotiṣṭoma, that are performed with ghee; various types of vrata (fasts, sacrifices, penances); and everything else in existence in the past, present, and future. In other words, He has created the entire world, the description of which is found in the Vedas. The master of māyā has created all of this, and the ignorant jīvas are bound by His māyā.”

It is possible to find further descriptions of this māyā-śakti in the other Upaniṣads:

ajām ekāṁ lohita-śukla-kṛṣṇāṁ bahvīḥ prajāḥ sṛjamānāṁ sarūpāḥ
ajo hy eko juṣamāṇo ’nuśete jahāty enāṁ bhukta-bhogām ajo ’nyaḥ
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (4.5)


“There are two types of unborn jīvas. Jīvas of the first type are ignorant and worship Bhagavān’s material potency called prakṛti. That prakṛti, whose modes are red, white, and black (raja, sattva, and tama), is also unborn like Bhagavān. However, unborn jīvas of the second type of are knowledgeable. They have overcome ignorance, and therefore have completely renounced that material energy which the others strive to enjoy.”

There are two types of jīvas: one type is knowledgeable (jñānīs). They worship the Supreme Soul, completely renouncing the material energy that others are striving to enjoy. The other type of jīvas remains ignorant, engaging in the service of the material energy (māyā).

Although non-different from His own inconceivable internal potency, Bhagavān’s desires are independent. That Supreme Person has an eternal, transcendental form whose glories are self-manifesting. The Supreme and Absolute Truth is eternally self-manifested. The following Vedic mantra provides another account of the three energies of that self-manifesting Truth:

sa viśva-kṛd viśva-vid ātma-yoniḥ
jñaḥ kāla-kālo guṇī sarva-vid yaḥ
pradhāna-kṣetrajña-patir guṇeśaḥ
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.16)


“That Paramātmā is omniscient and the creator of the universe. He is self-born, the controller of time (kāla), the knower of all, the Lord of the material energy (pradhāna), and the controller of all jīvas. He is full of all transcendental qualities and beyond all material qualities, yet He is their master. He binds the jīvas in the repeated cycle of birth and death, places them in their respective situations, and also liberates them from that cycle.”

This mantra mentions the following three divisions of the internal energy of Bhagavān:

  1. pradhāna – the total manifestation of the three modes of material nature. This indicates māyā-śakti, or the illusory energy.
  2. kṣetra-jñā – the knower of the body. This indicates jīva-śakti, the individual souls.
  3. kṣetra-pati – the internal potency, or cit-śakti.

There is an axiom of logic that states, “śakti-śaktimator abhedaḥ – Bhagavān is non-different from His own multifarious potencies; śakti (potency) and śaktimāna (the possessor of potencies) are non-different.” In accordance with this logical principle, we may understand that this world is the work of the external potency known as māyā-śakti; the manifestation of the countless individual souls is the work of the jīva-śakti; and the manifestation of the spiritual world is the work of the internal potency known as cit-śakti.

By the same logic we may appreciate that despite all the work performed by His energy, Bhagavān Himself remains unaffected and immutable at all times. Māyā-śakti is the shadow of cit-śakti. This can be understood by the example of someone’s reflection in a large mirror. At first glance the person and his reflection might appear to be identical, but upon a more thorough examination it becomes apparent that both are, in fact, diametrically opposite each other. One is the person himself and the other is simply his reflection. In a similar fashion, the varieties within the spiritual and material world might at first appear to be alike, but a more careful examination would in fact reveal them to be quite opposite.
Śrīmatī Rādhikā is said to be svarūpa-śakti. Just as musk and its fragrance or fire and its potency to burn are inseparable from one another, similarly, Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa are always inseparable, even though They are eternally distinct in the matter of relishing nectarean līlā. Svarūpa-śakti performs three kinds of functions: manifesting the internal potency (cit-śakti), māyā-śakti, and jīva-śakti.

An alternative name of cit-śakti is antaraṅgā-śakti (the internal potency), another name of māyā-śakti is bahiraṅgā-śakti (the external potency), and lastly, another name for jīva-śakti is taṭasthā-śakti (the marginal potency). Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the root cause and the shelter of limitless incarnations of Bhagavān, and infinite abodes of those incarnations, as well as unlimited universes. Yet despite personally being the limitless ocean of rasa who attracts the hearts of all, and despite directly being the very attractor of Cupid himself, still He is controlled by the prema of Śrī Rādhā.


viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā
kṣetra-jñākhyā tathā parā
tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate
Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.7.61)

“ ‘Śrī Viṣṇu has three energies: the internal potency (parā-śakti), the living entity (kṣetrajñā), and the illusory energy (avidyā-śakti). The internal potency of Viṣṇu is known as svarūpa-śakti, or cit-śakti; the living entity potency is also known as taṭasthā-śakti, or jīva-śakti; and the illusory potency is also known as māyā-śakti, or the external material energy.’


sac-cid-ānanda-maya kṛṣṇera svarūpa
ataeva svarūpa-śakti haya tina rūpa
ānandāṁśe ‘hlādinī’, sad-aṁśe ‘sandhinī’
cid-aṁśe ‘saṁvit’, yāre jñāna kari’ māni

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental form is composed of eternity, bliss, and knowledge (sac-cid-ānanda-maya); therefore His internal potency also has three different forms. From His aspect of eternality, or existence, comes sandhinī, from His aspect of bliss comes hlādinī, and from His aspect of knowledge comes saṁvit. The cognizance portion of the internal potency has been accepted as real jñāna (knowledge).


hlādinī sandhinī samvit
tvay ekā sarva-saṁsthitau
hlāda-tāpa-karī miśrā
tvayi no guṇa-varjite
Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.12.69)

“ ‘O Bhagavān! You are the shelter of everything. Your three spiritual potencies – hlādinī, sandhinī, and saṁvit – are always present within You. When the material energy acts upon the conditioned soul, he experiences happiness, misery, and a mixture of the two. None of these, however, are able to touch You, as the material energy has no influence upon You.’
The meaning here is that the three potencies – hlādinī, sandhinī, and saṁvit – exists within Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s own form, so they are always within Him, but they are never fully within the jīvas. Bhagavān is beyond the influence of the material energy, which consists of the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Thus it is never possible for the potency of the mode of goodness, which gives material happiness to the mind; the potency of the mode of ignorance, which gives suffering; and the potency of the mode of passion, which gives a mixture of both; to touch Śrī Kṛṣṇa. But when the individual soul, who is a minute particle of consciousness, is controlled by the material energy, he obtains the three different results when he takes shelter of the three modes of the material energy.

Bhagavān, who is beyond the modes of materal nature, and His svarūpa-śakti are always one. She is always present in a supremely pure state devoid of any touch of the material qualities. Thus, the internal potency is always separate from these three modes of nature. Furthermore, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the presiding deity of these three modes of material nature, headed by the mode of goodness. These material energies permanently reside under the shelter of the Lord, as do the bliss and other potencies. The difference is that the three varieties of svarūpa-śakti (hlādinī, sandhinī, and saṁvit) are always non-different from the actual svarūpa of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Goodness, passion, and ignorance are functions of His external, illusory potency, and they are not in the category of His internal energy. Thus, even though He is the presiding deity of the external potency, which is endowed with the three modes of nature, still He always remains untouched by them.


kṛṣṇake āhlāde, tā’te nāma—‘āhlādinī’
sei śakti-dvāre sukha āsvāde āpani
sukha-rūpa kṛṣṇa kare sukha āsvādana
bhakta-gaṇe sukha dite ‘hlādinī’—kāraṇa

“The potency that gives Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa transcendental pleasure is called hlādinī. By this pleasure potency, Śrī Kṛṣṇa personally tastes all spiritual pleasure, even though He is the very embodiment of bliss. This potency also gives happiness to the devotees.

Every one of the eternal symptoms of svarūpa-śakti is present in full in cit-śakti, minutely present in jīva-śakti, and present in a distorted manner in the external energy, māyā-śakti. As mentioned above, hlādinī, sandhinī, and saṁvit are three functions of svarūpa-śakti. In Daśa-mūla-śikṣā [instruction on the ten fundamental principles] by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, we find this explanation:

sa vai hlādinyāś ca praṇaya-vikṛter hlādana-ratas
tathā samvic-chakti-prakaṭita-raho-bhāva-rasitaḥ
tayā śrī-sandhinyā kṛta-viśada tad-dhāma-nicaye
rasāmbhodhau magno vraja-rasa-vilāsī vijayate
Daśa-mūla (4)


“There are three functions of svarūpa-śakti. Śrī Kṛṣṇa remains perpetually immersed in the ecstatic transformations of the bliss potency (hlādinī-śakti). By manifesting the internal and confidential devotional sentiments through knowledge potency (saṁvit-śakti), He is always enjoying the mellows of loving exchanges. And by the existence potency (sandhinī-śakti), the pure abode of Vṛndāvana is manifested, where Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who always performs blissful pastimes, eternally sinks by His own volition in the ocean of vraja-rasa.”

In summary, the influence of the three aspects of svarūpa-śakti – hlādinī, sandhinī, and saṁvit – is seen throughout all the activities of the cognizence potency, the marginal potency, and the external potency. The daughter of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, is the personification of the the pleasure function of svarūpa-śakti and She always bestows complete transcendental happiness upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhikā is made of mahābhāva and She is always giving all varieties of bliss to Him. Her non-different expansions (kāya-vyūha-svarūpa), in the form of the eight principal gopīs, are Her eight different bhāvas; and Her four moods of service eternally manifest as the four types of sakhīs, namely, priya-sakhī, prāṇa-sakhī, narma-sakhī, and parama-preṣṭha-sakhī. All of them are eternally perfected sakhīs (nitya-siddha sakhīs) present in the Vṛndāvana of the spiritual realm. The cognizance (saṁvit) function of svarūpa-śakti manifests all of the different relationships in Vraja.

The existence function (sandhinī-vṛtti) manifests the transcendental land, bodies of water, villages, primary and subsidiary forests, mountains like Śrī Giri-Govardhana, and other scenic places where Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His associates perform their pastimes. Moreover, the sandhinī-vṛtti gives rise to the transcendental forms of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Rādhā, the sakhās and sakhīs, cows, and every other servant and maidservant of Vraja, as well as all of the completely spiritual paraphernalia used in their pastimes. Śrī Kṛṣṇa forever remains immersed in the supreme bliss of the loving transformations of the pleasure function (hlādinī-vṛtti), while the full variety of bhāvas generated by the cognizance function (saṁvit-vṛtti) provides Him with the tastes of loving mellows, or rasa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa expands such pastimes as attracting the gopīs by playing His flute, cow grazing, rāsa-līlā, and other such pastimes by the agency of the cognizance function of His internal energy (parā-śakti). Vraja-vilāsī Śrī Kṛṣṇa, He who eternally enjoys pastimes in Vṛndāvana, always remains absorbed in the divine abode, manifested by the existence function (sandhinī-vṛtti).
The jīva-śakti is a minute potency that is reliant upon svarūpa-śakti. The three tendencies of svarūpa-śakti are only present minutely in the jīva-śakti. In the jīva, the bliss function (hlādinī-vṛtti) is present in the form of brahmānanda (the bliss achieved through realization of the formless Brahman); the cognizance function (saṁvit-vṛtti) is present as knowledge of that impersonal Brahman; and the existence function (sandhinī-vṛtti) is always present as minute individual consciousness.

Likewise, the three functions of svarūpa-śakti are present in māyā-śakti. The bliss function is present in the form of material happiness, the cognizance function is present as material knowledge, and the existence function takes the form of the entire material creation, including this universe composed of fourteen planetary systems and the material bodies of the jīvas.

Māyā-śakti is a perverted or reflected form of the superior, internal energy of Bhagavān. In fact, māyā-śakti is only a name for the transformation of Bhagavān’s parā-śakti and is its shadow. It is not a separate, independent power. Māyā is the sole cause of the jīva’s bondage and also his liberation. When the jīva’s orientation is opposed to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, māyā at once places him in bondage and punishes him. And when the jīva turns towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa, māyā bestows knowledge of Śrī Kṛṣṇa upon the jīva by manifesting the material mode of goodness (sattva-guṇa) and liberates him from the ocean of birth and death, thus making him qualified for kṛṣṇa-prema. Bound by māyā in the form of the three modes of material nature, the jīva is unable to understand that the pure form of māyā is the svarūpa-śakti of Bhagavān and instead considers the shadow known as māyā to be the prominent potency.


hlādinīra sāra aṁśa, tāra ‘prema’ nāma
ānanda-cinmaya-rūpa rasera ākhyāna
premera parama-sāra ‘mahābhāva’ jāni
sei mahābhāva-rūpā rādhā-ṭhākurāṇī

“The most essential part of this pleasure potency, or hlādinī-śakti, is called prema, also known as ānanda-cinmaya-rasa, the mellow of transcendental bliss. This mellow can only be tasted by prema. The essence of prema is called mahābhāva, which is personified in Śrī Rādhā Ṭhākurānī.


tayor apy ubhayor madhye
rādhikā sarvathādhikā
guṇair ativarīyasī
Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (4.3)

“ ‘Between the two gopīs [Rādhikā and Candrāvalī], Śrī Rādhikā is superior in every respect, because Her very form is composed of the highest expressions of love (mahābhāva). By qualities, She far outshines all the other beautiful damsels of Vraja.’

Tāpanī-śrutis call Śrī Rādhā “Gāndharvā.” The fundamental truths about Śrī Rādhā are unprecedented and astonishing.


premera ‘svarūpa-deha’—premera bhāvita
‘kṛṣṇera preyasī-śreṣṭha’ jagate vidita

“Śrī Rādhā’s nature (svarūpa) is comprised of prema and Her body is also made of prema. She is the most excellent of all of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beloveds. This fundamental truth is known throughout the entire creation.


tābhir ya eva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ
goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūto
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37)

“ ‘Śrī Govinda, who is all-pervading and who exists within the hearts of all, resides in His Goloka-dhāma along with Śrī Rādhā, who is the embodiment of His pleasure potency and the counterpart of His own spiritual form. She is the epitome of transcendental rasa, and is expert in sixty-four arts. They are also accompanied by the sakhīs, who are expansions of Śrī Rādhā’s own transcendental body, and who are infused with blissful, spiritual rasa. I worship that original personality, Śrī Govinda.’

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī identifies the planet of the gopīs as none other than Goloka-dhāma. Śrī Kṛṣṇa only resides where the gopīs reside. The phrase nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ means that the gopī beloveds of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are actually His parts, non-different from Himself, and the very embodiment of the essential function of hlādinī-śakti. They are expansions of unnatojjvala-rasa, or the amorous mellow, and because of their complete immersion in transcendental ecstasy, they are certainly Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s dear-most beloveds. The word pratibhāvita indicates those gopīs who have immersed themselves completely in the prema-rasa for the king of mellows, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Moreover, it indicates those gopīs whose hearts, being inundated by a deluge of this loving affection, have themselves been loved by Him. By offering Him such wonderful and expert affection, the gopīs bestowed upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa a greatly beneficial gift.

The functions (vṛtti) of the pleasure potency (hlādinī-śakti) are all manifested in the form of different arts. The arts number sixty-four: (1) nṛtya – dancing, (2) gīta – singing, (3) vādya – playing on musical instruments, (4) nāṭya – performing theater, (5) ālekhya – painting, (6) viśeṣakacchedya – painting the face and body with colored unguents and cosmetics, (7) taṇḍula-kusuma-balī-vikāra – preparing offerings from rice and flowers, (8) puṣpāstaraṇa – making coverings of flowers for a bed, (9) daśana-vasanāṅga-rāga – applying preparations for cleansing the teeth and coloring the cloth and body, (10) maṇi-bhūmikā-karma – making a groundwork of jewels, (11) śayyā-racana – preparing the pastime bed, (12) udaka-vādya – playing music on the water or udaka-ghāta – splashing with water, (13) citra-yoga – painting, (14) mālya-grathana-vikalpa – designing varieties of garlands, (15) śekharāpīḍa-yojana – setting a crown upon the head, (16) nepathya-yoga – dressing in the retiring room, (17) karṇapātra-bhaṅga – decorating the ears, (18) sugandha-yukti – applying scents, (19) bhūṣaṇa-yojana – applying or setting ornaments, (20) aindra-jāla – performing jugglery, (21) kaucumāra-yoga – engaging in decorative art, (22) hasta-lāghava – tricking others with sleight of hand, (23) citra-śākā-pūpa-bhakṣya-vikāra-kriyā – preparing varieties of salad, bread, cake and delicious edibles, (24) pānaka-rasa-rāgāsava-yojana – preparing palatable drinks and tingeing drinks with a red color, (25) sūcī-vāya-karma – doing needlework and weaving, (26) sūtra-krīḍā – playing with thread, (27) vīṇā-ḍamarūka-vādya – playing on the lute and small x-shaped drum, (28) prahelikā – posing and solving riddles, (29) pratimālā – reciting a verse as a trial of memory or skill, (30) durvacaka-yoga – speaking in a way that is difficult to understand, (31) pustaka-vācana – reciting books, (32) nāṭikākhyāyikā-darśana – enacting short plays and anecdotes, (33) kāvya-samasyā-pūraṇa – resolving unfathomable statements, verses, or poetry, (34) paṭṭikā-vetra-bāṇa-vikalpa – designing shields, canes, and arrows, (35) tarku-karma – spinning, (36) takṣaṇa – doing carpentry, (37) vāstu-vidyā – engineering, (38) rūpya-ratna-parīkṣā – testing silver and jewels, (39) dhātu-vāda – practicing metallurgy, (40) maṇi-rāga-jñāna – coloring jewels, (41) ākara-jñāna – practicing mineralogy, (42) vṛkṣāyurveda-yoga – practicing medical treatment by herbs, (43) meṣa-kukkuṭa-śāvaka-yuddha-vidhi – training rams, cocks, and birds to fight, (44) śuka-sārikā-pralāpana – training male and female parrots to converse, and also understanding their conversations, (45) utsādana – using perfumes to heal or cleanse a person, (46) keśa-mārjana-kauśala – combing and decorating hair, (47) akṣara-muṣṭikā-kathana – talking with letters and fingers, (48) mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpa – fabricating barbarous philosophies or foreign sophistry, (49) deśa-bhāṣā-jñāna – knowing provincial dialects, (50) puṣpa-śakaṭikā-nirmiti-jñāna – preparing of toy carts using flowers, (51) yantra-mātṛkā – knowing the art of designing yantras, (52) dhāraṇa-mātṛkā – wearing and using yantras, (53) samvācya – conversing, (54) mānasī-kāvya-kriyā – composing verses mentally, (55) kriyā-vikalpa – designing a literary work or a medical remedy, (56) chalitaka-yoga – juggling words to defeat another, (57) abhidhāna-koṣa-cchando-jñāna – using lexicography and meters, (58) vastra-gopana – concealing cloths, (59) dyūta-viśeṣa – specific gambling, (60) ākarṣa-krīḍā – playing with dice by using magnets, (61) bālaka-krīḍanaka – using children’s toys, (62) vaināyikī vidyā – enforcing discipline, (63) vaijayikī vidyā – gaining victory, and (64) vaitālikī vidyā – awakening one’s master with music at dawn.

All of these artistic abilities are eternally present in their personified forms in Goloka-dhāma. By the help of His beloved friend – the flute – Śrī Govinda, the hero of Goloka, accepts the self-conception of being the unmarried lover (upapati) of the gopīs, and enacts His pastimes such as rāsa-līlā. There, too, the gopīs, since time without beginning, retain the feeling that they are His beloveds, while married to another man. Śrī Kṛṣṇa tastes this mood in one form in the spiritual realm (Goloka), and in another form in the Vṛndāvana of this world (Gokula).


seī mahābhāva haya ‘cintāmaṇi-sāra’
kṛṣṇa-vāñchā pūrṇa kare ei kārya tāṅra
‘mahābhāva-cintāmaṇi’ rādhāra svarūpa
lalitādi sakhī—tāṅra kāya-vyūha-rūpa
rādhā-prati kṛṣṇa-sneha—sugandhi udvartana
tā’te ati sugandhi deha—ujjvala-varaṇa
kāruṇyāmṛta-dhārāya snāna prathama
tāruṇyāmṛta-dhārāya snāna madhyama
lāvaṇyāmṛta-dhārāya tad-upari snāna
kṛṣṇa-anurāga—dvitīya aruṇa-vasana
praṇaya-māna-kañculikāya vakṣa ācchādana
saundarya—kuṅkuma, sakhī-praṇaya—candana
smita-kānti—karpūra, tine—aṅge vilepana
kṛṣṇera ujjvala-rasa—mṛgamada-bhara
sei mṛgamade vicitra kalevara
‘dhīrādhīrātmaka’ guṇa—aṅge paṭa-vāsa
rāga-tāmbūla-rāge adhara ujjvala
prema-kauṭilya—netra-yugale kajjala
‘sūddīpta-sāttvika’ bhāva, harṣādi ‘sañcārī’
ei saba bhāva-bhūṣaṇa saba aṅge bhari’
guṇa-śreṇī-puṣpamālā sarvāṅge pūrita
saubhāgya-tilaka cāru-lalāṭe ujjvala
prema-vaicittya—ratna, hṛdaya—tarala
madhya-vayasa, sakhī-skandhe kara-nyāsa
kṛṣṇalīlā-manovṛtti-sakhī āśa-pāśa
nijāṅga-saurabhālaye garva-paryaṅka
tā’te vasi’ āche, sadā cinte kṛṣṇa-saṅga
kṛṣṇa-nāma-guṇa-yaśa—avataṁsa kāṇe
kṛṣṇake karāya śyāma-rasa-madhu pāna
nirantara pūrṇa kare kṛṣṇera sarva-kāma
kṛṣṇera viśuddha-prema-ratnera ākara
anupama-guṇagaṇa-pūrṇa kalevara

“Mahābhāva is the essence of all perfection and is like a wish fulfilling desire stone; its only business is to fulfill all of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s desires. Śrī Rādhā is the topmost spiritual gem, and the other gopīs such as Śrī Lalitā are Her direct expansions (kāya-vyūha). Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s affection for Her is like a perfumed massage, which makes Śrī Rādhā’s transcendental body brilliantly lustrous and fragrant.

“Śrī Rādhā takes Her first bath in the shower of the nectar of compassion, and She takes Her second bath at mid-day in the nectar waves of fresh youth. Later on, Rādhārāṇī takes Her third and last bath in the nectar-ocean of bodily luster. She wears the garment of shyness, in the form of a very fine, dark blue silk sārī.

“Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s affection for Kṛṣṇa is Her upper cloth, which is reddish in color. She then covers Her breasts with a bodice comprised of overwhelming affection (praṇaya) and jealous anger (māna) for Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s personal beauty is the reddish vermilion (saffron) powder known as kuṅkuma placed upon Her body. Her affection for Her sakhīs is sandalwood pulp, and the sweetness of Her gentle smile is camphor. These three combined – camphor, sandalwood pulp, and kuṅkuma – are smeared over Her body.
“Amorous love for Kṛṣṇa is the fragrance of musk, and special decorative pictures drawn with that musk nicely decorate Her entire divine body. Concealed sulkiness and Her unsubmissive leftist mood constitute Her hair style. The quality of dhīrādhīra –
an indignant heroine who greets her faithless beau sometimes with wry politeness while rebuffing him with ambiguous words, and sometimes with harshness, caustically rejecting him – is the silk garment covering Her body. Her attachment for Kṛṣṇa is the reddish stain from betel nuts upon Her lips, which causes them to shine brilliantly. Her crookedness in loving affairs is the decorative black mascara around Her eyes. The ornaments on Her body are the forms of Her eight types of fully blazing devotional ecstatic transformations (sāttvika-bhāvas) and the other sañcārī-bhāvas (thirty-three transitory emotions that swell from the ocean of sthāyi-bhāva) headed by jubilation. All these ecstasies are like the decorations that beautifully embellish Her body.

“These bodily ornaments constitute twenty kinds of ecstatic symptoms, beginning with kila-kiñcita-bhāva (a mixture of seven moods – pride, desire, crying, laughing, malice, fear, and anger – that manifest simultaneously). Her transcendental qualities such as sweetness are the flower garland hanging upon Her whole body. A supremely beautiful tilaka of good fortune adorns Her forehead. Her various loving moods such as prema-vaicittya are the various gems from which Her necklace is composed, and Her heart is the locket of Her affection, which nicely decorates Her.

“She rests Her hands on the shoulder of a sakhī, who represents eternal, fresh adolescence. Rādhā’s sakhīs, who always stay close by Her, are the forms of Her various mental activities, which all dwell upon the pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Within Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s palace, which represents Her bodily beauty, is Her bedstead composed of pride itself; She is always seated there thinking of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s intimate association.

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name, fame, and qualities decorate Her ears, and His name and fame flow continually from Her speech. Śrī Rādhā induces Kṛṣṇa to drink the honey of amorous pleasure, and She completely satisfies all of His desires. Her body is exactly like the valuable jewel of completely pure prema, the only object of which is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. These unparalleled spiritual qualities always decorate Śrī Rādhā’s transcendental body.

Śrī Rādhā is mahābhāva-cintāmaṇi-svarūpa – She is the embodiment of mahābhāva and is just like a wish fulfilling spiritual jewel. As a cintāmaṇi fulfills all of one’s desires, so Śrī Rādhā fulfills all of the desires of Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the hero of unlimited universes and the crest-jewel of those who taste ecstatic devotional mellows. If Śrī Kṛṣṇa has any desire to taste the rasa of associating with the gopīs who are opposed to Śrī Rādhā (the vipakṣa gopīs), then Śrī Rādhā manifests Herself as Candrāvalī, and in that form fulfills Her beloved’s desire. All of the vraja-gopīs are personifications of the different moods of Śrī Rādhā. In harmony with Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s particular desire, She presents Herself accordingly.
The queens of Dvārakā and the different incarnations of Lakṣmī are all Śrī Rādhā’s pastime expansions (vaibhava-vilāsa). Some are aṁśa (parts), and some are kalā (part of a part). Śrī Rādhā has assumed all of these various forms, thus they are Her non-different bodily expansions, known as kāya-vyūha. Each of these forms is always happy and alert to fulfill each of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s desires, but only cintāmaṇi-svarūpā Śrī Rādhā can satisfy all of His desires.

The term kāya-vyūha signifies the multiple distinct forms that are manifest simultaneously in order to perform a variety of different activities. Each kāya-vyūha body is similar to the original one.

Śrī Rādhā’s sakhīs increase the wonder and astonishment of the love-filled pastimes. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s affection for Śrī Rādhā is such that it is extremely fragrant. When Śrī Rādhā recalls Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s astonishing love, Her entire body becomes supremely fragrant and brilliantly radiant. She is the confluence, or meeting place, of the three currents known as kāruṇya-amṛta (the nectar of mercy), tāruṇya-amṛta (the nectar of youth), and lāvaṇya-amṛta (the nectar of beauty).

Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (2.1.64) states: “para-duḥkhāsaho yas tu karuṇaḥ sa nigadyate – One who cannot tolerate the unhappiness of others is called merciful.” When an adjective is formed, the noun “mercy” becomes “merciful.” In addition, the nectar of mercy, or kāruṇya-amṛta, is a wave upon the current of prema, and it is in this nectar of mercy that Śrī Rādhā takes Her first bath. It is very auspicious to bathe in the early morning in a river, as it makes the body extremely smooth, glistening, and soft. For this reason, Śrī Rādhā takes bath in the waves of the nectar of compassion, first thing in the morning. “Early morning” indicates Śrī Rādhā’s age, known as vayasa-sandhi (the conjunction of two ages) and at this time, all the restlessness of infancy (bālya) and childhood (paugaṇḍa) disappear.

At midday, Śrī Rādhā takes Her second bath in tāruṇya-amṛta, or the nectar flow of just-rising youthfulness. Upon completing Her morning bath, Śrī Rādhā goes to Śrī Nanda Bābā’s palace, and after preparing edibles for Her treasured Śrī Kṛṣṇa, She goes to Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa to bathe. Making some excuse to get away from His friends, Śrī Śyāmasundara joins Her there. As soon as Śrī Rādhā catches sight of Him, His body automatically blossoms with ever-fresh youthfulness. Now They very expertly perform boating pastimes, water-sports, and other water pastimes (jala-vihāra), and lastly They take an ecstatic bath in Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa together. This bath is full of wondrous, mutual loving sentiments. After this midday bath the waves of youthful nectar cover Them both, and Śrī Rādhā’s natural youthfulness becomes fully blazing:

muktāphaleṣu chāyāyās taralatvam ivāntarā
pratibhāti yad aṅgeṣu lāvaṇyaṁ tad ihocyate
Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (10.28)


“Just as one can perceive the luster of a pearl from any direction, similarly one can see the heartfelt devotional sentiments radiating from within the body of Śrī Rādhā.”

These bhāvas make Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s beauty shine even more brightly. When She goes to meet with Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the night at the appointed meeting place, Her budding youth and exceeding beauty manifest fully. It is by this lāvaṇya-amṛta (nectar of Her beauty) that She fulfills all the desires of Her most beloved, giving Him the topmost happiness. It is in this flow of lāvaṇya-amṛta in the evening that She takes Her third bath.

Therefore, Śrī Rādhā is the root cause and shelter of all mercy, youthfulness, and beauty. As She approaches Her budding, fresh youth, Her body takes on a sense of gravity, and very naturally, shyness starts to make its appearance in Her. To cover Her femininity, She wears a dark blue sārī, which is the actualized form of the amorous mellow, or śṛṅgāra-rasa. It appears as if Her shyness has wrapped Her entire body with this blue cloth.

Over Her sārī She wears a veil the color of the rising sun that represents Her attraction for Śrī Kṛṣṇa:

sadānubhūtam api yaḥ kuryyān nava-navaṁ priyam
rāgo bhavan nava-navaḥ so ’nurāga itīryate
Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (14.146)


“That ever fresh, all-consuming attraction (rāga) which itself causes one to realize one’s beloved in a novel manner every moment, is called anurāga.”

Since Śrī Rādhā wishes to remain constantly absorbed in this anurāga, She always covers Her upper torso with red cloth.

At all times She is beautifully decorated with sixteen decorative items (ṣoḍaśa-śṛṅgāra): a bath, a shining bejeweled nose-piece, blue cloth, an ornamented belt around Her waist, a braid, swaying earrings, an ointment of camphor, musk, and sandalwood smeared on Her body, flowers decorating Her hair, a garland about Her neck, a pastime lotus in Her hand, tāmbūla in Her mouth, a spot of musk on Her chin, kajjala (black mascara) on Her eyes, tilaka on Her forehead, dolphins (makarī – the aquatic animals on the flag of Cupid) drawn in musk on Her pinkish cheeks, and Her feet tinted with red dye.

Twelve more ornaments (dvādaśa-ābharaṇa) beautifully decorate Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s body: an effulgent jeweled crown, large golden earrings, a golden waist sash, a silver necklace, small golden ear studs and hair pin, rings on Her fingers, a neck ornament, and bangles on Her wrist. Upon Her chest is a glittering chain, upon Her arm are amulets, and on Her ankles and toes are jeweled ankle bells and toe rings.

The following transcendental qualities are always within Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s possession: She is wonderfully beautiful to behold, She is situated in the prime of fresh youth, She has restless eyes and casts sidelong glances, She is always adorned with a mild, sweet smile, and the soles of Her feet are marked with enchanting lines indicating unlimited auspiciousness. Her bodily fragrance maddens Kṛṣṇa, Her singing of the fifth note equals the sweetness of a cuckoo, and She is expert in the science of singing with music. She speaks sweetly, She is expert at joking, She is humble, merciful, extremely clever, and expert in all activities. She is shy and follows proper etiquette. Thus She shows respectful behavior to Her superiors. (This respectful behavior is of three types: inborn, learned from others, and deemed proper by Her own deliberation.) She is patient, grave, expert in knowing appropriate rhythm and tune, and possessed of ecstatic symptoms such as hāva and bhāva. She demonstrates the highest form of love called mahābhāva. Seeing Her, the hearts of all the residents of Gokula flood with prema. Her fame is spread throughout the universe, She is most beloved of Her superiors, She is controlled by the love of Her girlfriends, She is the most prominent of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beloveds, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa always obeys Her orders.

[CC-by-ND GVP]

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