We are very fortunate to be in the line of the Svarūpa-rūpānuga-gauḍīya-guru-paramparā. If we cherish the aspiration to serve Śrīmatī Rādhārānī in Vraja, we must be in the anugatya, guidance, of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī and Śrī Lalitā-devī. They are our group leaders. Without Lalitā-devī’s mercy and acceptance, we cannot enter Rādhārānī’s group. Today we are celebrating the glories of Śrī Lalitā-devī.
In Vraja-maṇḍala, Kṛṣṇa always desires to meet with Rādhārānī, to speak with Her, to go nearby and sit with Her. Lalitā-devī is very strong and will not allow Kṛṣṇa to openly meet with Rādhikā. When Kṛṣṇa pleads for a chance to meet, Rādhārānī’s heart may melt a little bit, Her māna may soften, but then Lalitā would chastise Her and say, “Why are You looking at Him? Why are You thinking about Him or becoming soft towards Him? He is a rascal and cheater.”
Viśākhā is śikṣā-guru and somewhat favorable to Kṛṣṇa, although she is on Rādhārānī’s side. She is not so vāmya, left-sided, and pragabhā, bold and outspoken, as Lalitā. Lalitā-devī increases the pleasure of the Divine Couple’s meetings by making them sudurlabhā, very rare. When meeting is open and free, then the sweetness is not so great as when it is very difficult to meet. Kṛṣṇa meets in Dvārakā with the queens openly, but He cannot sit openly with Rādhārānī in Vraja-maṇḍala. Everything is ready, ready, ready, and Kṛṣṇa comes to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, but Lalitā-devī says, “Rādhe! Don’t look at Kṛṣṇa. Turn Your face the other way.”
Rūpa Gosvāmī prays to Lalitā-devī—
dhūrte vrajendra-tanaye tanu suṣṭhu vāmyaṁ
mā dakṣiṇā bhava kalaṇkini lāghavāya
rādhe giraṁ śṛṇu hitām iti śikṣayantīṁ
devīm guṇaiḥ su-lalitāṁ lalitāṁ namāmi
(Śrī Lalitāṣṭakam 4)
[I offer praṇāma unto Śrī Lalitā-devī, the charming treasure-house of all good qualities, who instructs Śrīmatī Rādhikā in this way: “O Kalaṇkini Rādhe, listen to my good instructions which are favorable for You. Vrajendra-nandana is very crafty (dhūrta). Do not display Your mood of gentle submission to Him; instead, in all circumstances, always be contrary.]
When Kṛṣṇa persisted in His attempts to meet with Rādhikā, Lalitā took Her away to another kuñja. Rādhārānī lamented, “Oh, Kṛṣṇa will never meet with Me.” She feels so much pain. How sweet is that pain? It is unfathomable. The sweetness of meeting is enhanced by separation and in separation, there is unlimited sweetness. In separation, Rādhārānī’s loving moods increase higher and higher without limit. Lalitā-devī helps nourish these moods of separation. Rādhikā laments and suffers so much without meeting Kṛṣṇa, and also when meeting, She feels separation. Sometimes, when the Divine Couple meet, They do not speak. They sit side by side but Rādhikā turns Her face away from Kṛṣṇa. She has very strong māna, jealous anger. There seems to be no solution. Then, Lalitā-devī will arrange reconciliation. The sakhīs will speak Kṛṣṇa’s glories and Lalitā-devī arranges a sweet playful program for Kṛṣṇa.
When Kṛṣṇa left Vraja, the gopīs stayed at Uddhava-kyārī, experiencing intense pangs of separation. We have heard of the position of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī there. Lalitā-devī was there with Śrīmātī. If she liked she could have called Kṛṣṇa at once. But after meeting, would Rādhārānī’s feeling of separation be solved? It would only increase more and more. If there is a large fire and one puts a thick metal plate on top of the fire and heats it until it glows red, then he may put thousands of drops of water or liters of water on the plate, but it will not be cooled. If you shower the burning plate with a stream of water, the water will sizzle and evaporate. Even the air around the fire place will heat up from the steam, it is not cooled. The separation of Rādhārānī is so strong. People cannot understand Her moods. When Kṛṣṇa is far away from Her, then sometimes She meets with Kṛṣṇa in a dream and talks with Him. Awake, She sees Kṛṣṇa, smiles, runs forward and embraces a tamāla tree, thinking it to be Kṛṣṇa. Lalitā-devī collects all these pastimes and offers them to Kṛṣṇa.
These are called bhāva-taraṅga, the waves of Rādhārānī’s loving moods, coming one after the other endlessly. Rādhārānī’s moods develop through the stages of sneha, māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahābhāva, modana, mādana, rūḍha, ādirūḍha, citra-jalpa and up to madanākhya-mahābhāva, the highest limit of love. These moods are so sweet and tasteful. They cannot be experienced without vipralambha. Meeting is one rasa, and separation is another. In meeting there is so much sweetness. But in vipralambha, there are feelings of meeting as well as separation. And separation increases the pleasure of meeting. Vipralambha is very helpful for the sādhakas, those who are practicing in this world, and also for the siddhas, the divine personalities in the transcendental world.
Kṛṣṇa, Baladeva, and Subadrā left Dvārakā and came to Nīlācala, nearby the ocean. This is Vipralambha-kṣetra, the land of separation. Here, Kṛṣṇa is only crying and weeping, trying to understand Rādhārānī’s moods. Kṛṣṇa next appeared as Caitanya Mahāprabhu and also stayed in Jagannātha-kṣetra. He hid in a small room with Svarūpa Damodara nearby to help Him relish Śrīmātī’s moods. Svarūpa Damodara is Lalitā-devī. She taught Mahāprabhu each mood and way of serving. Mahāprabhu would go from the Gambhīrā to Ṭoṭā Gopinātha, where He heard Rādhārānī, Gadādhara Paṇḍit, speak on the Bhāgavatam.
One day, while Gadādhara Paṇḍit was singing and describing Gopī-gīta, hearing the pathetic moods of the gopīs in separation from Kṛṣṇa, Mahāprabhu became maddened with prema and began to search for Kṛṣṇa. Before, as Kṛṣṇa, He could not understand the gopī’s feelings when He disappeared from the Rāsa dance. Now as Mahāprabhu, endowed with the moods and complexion of Rādhārānī, He felt Her moods of separation and became maddened. When the gopīs moved throughout the forests and gardens searching for Kṛṣṇa, they would ask the trees and creepers where Kṛṣṇa was. Kṛṣṇa watched from a hidden place and could not fully understand why the gopīs were maddened in love and separation from Him. But now Kṛṣṇa Himself was maddened.
Mahāprabhu ran in the garden of Ṭoṭā, searching for Gopinātha, and calling out, “Where is Kṛṣṇa?” He embraced the trees and asked them, “Where is Kṛṣṇa?” He rolled on the ground, weeping and calling out for Kṛṣṇa. Then He dug in the earth and found Gopinātha. Why? The gopīs could not bear the feeling of separation from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa could not tolerate their pain and had to appear. Now, Gadādhara Paṇḍit and Svarūpa Dāmodara could not tolerate seeing Mahāprabhu’s separation from Kṛṣṇa. Gopinātha came out from their hearts. Mahāprabhu took that Gopinātha in His lap and brought Him to Gadādhara. He said, “O Gadādhara, Gopinātha is here.” Gopinātha smiled and played on His flute. He was shy. The gopīs gave Him their shawls as a seat and He sat there and smiling played His flute.
In Vraja, the gopīs are very shy. They are not married to Kṛṣṇa. If Kṛṣṇa married with just one of them what would the rest feel? What are the rules in the Western countries? If a man has five or six partners, they will fight so much amongst each other. They may kill one another, or commit suicide themselves. The Vraja-devīs all have love for Kṛṣṇa. And they all know that all the other gopīs also love Kṛṣṇa. And they are very shy. But they do not fight. If one were to ask, “Why do you love Kṛṣṇa?” “I don’t know,” they would say. “I simply love Kṛṣṇa.” Why? There is no cause. The gopīs know that they love Kṛṣṇa, but it is hidden from their parents, husbands and other relatives. It must remain hidden. This is the parakīya mood.
Lalitā-devī cools and nourishes the hearts of the gopīs. The gopī’s receive special qualities from Lalitā-devī. They are under her guidance. And they become so sweet and happy. Lalitā is the group leader teaching how to serve Kṛṣṇa. She divides services, giving some mañjarīs the tāmbūla sevā, or the service of giving water, or of making sweets or flower garlands, some to dress Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and some to decorate and prepare the kuñjas. She divides services amongst the gopīs. When the gopīs’ hearts burn in vipralambha, Lalitā is like sandal cooling this separation. She gives the gopīs many lalita qualities, making them charming, soft, polite, humble and peaceful. When one of the gopīs thinks about Kṛṣṇa then Lalitā-devī gives her a service and the ability to properly serve. They serve both externally and internally. They have this vipralambha and feel, “I’m very small and have no good qualities. How can I serve him? Will He accept my service?”
Lalitā-devī then shows to the gopīs, “Kṛṣṇa is wearing the flower garland you made.” She says to another, “Oh, Kṛṣṇa is wearing the outfit you made.” And to another, “Look, Kṛṣṇa is wearing the turban you made.” “He is wearing the necklace you made.”
Kṛṣṇa accepts the gifts of the gopīs and feels like He is directly meeting with them. The gopīs think about Kṛṣṇa; their hearts have room only for Him. Thus Kṛṣṇa comes in their hearts, plays with them, and He embraces, kisses them and plays in their hearts. Their love increases more and more. Kṛṣṇa tastes that sweetness and then runs.
We are in the Svarūpa-rūpānuga-gauḍīya-guru-paramparā. There are different lines one may follow. There are different rasas, and amongst madhurya-rasa, some have vāmya-bhāva and some have dakṣiṇa-bhāva. We are in this svarūpa-rūpānuga line, following Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī and Śrī Lalitā-devī. Lalitā-devī is the best friend of Śrīmātī Rādhikā. By pleasing her, it is very easy to please Rādhikā.
Therefore, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura petitions Śrīmatī Rādhikā to engage him in service in Vraja, identifying himself as the unworthy maidservant of Lalitā—
yugala sevāya, śrī rāsa-maṇḍale
niyukta koro’ āmāya
lalitā sakhīra, ayogyā kiñkorī
vinoda dhariche pāya
[Bhaktivinoda, the unworthy servant of Lalitā Sakhī, tightly holding Your lotus feet close to his heart, begs to be engaged in Your confidential sevā in the śrī rāsa-maṇḍala. Please hear my supplication and appoint me as Your maidservant.]
Lalitā-devīs followers are very straight and strong. They are not scared of anything. Kṛṣṇa accepts whatever they prepare for Him and tastes all their moods. Followers of others may miss something, or have shortage of something, but the followers of Lalitā never miss anything. Their service is guaranteed. Wherever they begin their service, Kṛṣṇa will come. But direct meeting makes one proud. The Vraja-devīs and Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇavas do not directly jump to be guru, founder, and ācārya. They are tṛṇād api sunīcena, more humble than a blade of grass. Why? If you go in the direction of being Guru, pride will come and how will you then remain under guidance of Lalitā-devī? The mood of Brahma or God will come and you will go far away from the bhāgavat-paramparā. All the ācāryas in the bhāgavat-paramparā feel themselves to be servants of the servants of the servants. They are special ācāryas, for they always remain under guidance of Lalitā-devī. They will help whoever comes to them, but they never think they are the ones who are helping. They are not proud. Śrī Guru will say, “The guru-varga are helping you.” They offer everyone who comes to them to the guru-varga. Śrīla Gurudeva would tell everyone who came to him to aspire to be rūpānugas, the followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Śrī Lalitā-devī kī jaya! Gaura-premānande! hari hari bol!
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]