The conception of being a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā is described in the following words of the Gosvāmīs:
abhimānaṁ parityajya prākṛta-vapur-ādiṣu
śrī-kṛṣṇa-kṛpayā gopī-dehe vraje vasāmy aham
rādhikānucarī bhūtvā pārakīya-rase sadā
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-vilāseṣu paricaryāṁ karomy aham
After giving up false identification with this material body, may I obtain the body of a gopī and reside in Vraja by the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Becoming a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā, may I always serve and attend Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, who enjoy pastimes of paramour love (pārakīya-rasa).
sthūla-dehādite ātma-buddhi parihari’
kṛṣṇa-kṛpa-āśraye nitya-gopī-deha dhari’
kabe āmi pārakīya rase nirantara
rādhā-kṛsna-sevā-sukha labhiba vistara
As long as the sādhaka identifies himself with the material body, he cannot enter the kingdom of bhajana. Only after one has rejected all kinds of false identities pertaining to the body, such as, “I am a brāhmaṇa”, “I am a kṣatriya”, and pertaining to character, such as, “I am so qualified”, “I am rich”, “I am a scholar”, and only after he becomes more humble than a blade of grass (tṛṇād api sunīca) and prays with extreme distress, is it possible to obtain Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. All types of anarthas, aparādhas and abhimānas (false identifications) can only be eradicated by good association (sat-saṅga).
We should weep and pray in a distressed and humble voice, “O Śrī Kṛṣṇa! O Śrī Rādhā! Gopī-dehe vraje vasāmy aham – when will I obtain such mercy as to reside in Vraja and become the dāsī of the dāsī of the dāsīs of Rādhikā, and when will I eternally serve Your pārakīya-rasa-vilāsa day and night?”
By such distress-filled prayers, gopī-bhāva will arise in the heart by the mercy of Śrī Rādhā’s sakhīs, the eternally perfected gopīs of Vraja. Without gopī-bhāva it is impossible to attain the land of Vṛndāvana-dhāma where Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa perform Their amorous pastimes in the solitary nikuñjas. This mood is attained only by following Śrī Rādhā’s intimate sakhīs, who attend Her in Her private chambers. Only they can enter these pastimes, no one else, and only they expand these pastimes and taste them. The ekādaśa-bhāvas and the five daśās1 are evoked by their mercy.
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings in Prema-bhakti-candrikā (5.8):
yugala-caraṇa sevi nirantara ei bhāvi
anurāge thākiba sadāya
sādhane bhāviba yāhā siddha-dehe pāba tāhā
rāga-pathera ei se upāya
I will constantly serve the lotus feet of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa with loving attachment. Whatever I contemplate during sādhana will certainly be achieved upon attaining the perfection of a spiritual body (siddha-deha). This is the method of the path of rāga.
Pārakīya-rase sadā – The scriptures establish the pre-eminence of the pārakīya-rasa of Vraja. By serving Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the mood of wedded love (svakīya), one will attain Goloka Vṛndāvana, and by serving in paramour love, one will attain Vraja-Vṛndāvana, the absolute innermost chamber of Goloka-dhāma where Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s nikuñja-līlās take place. There, the mañjarī-sakhīs, being endowed with ullāsa-rati (much stronger affection for Rādhā than for Kṛṣṇa), are topmost. They render service to the rasa-keli-līlā-vilāsa in the secluded groves without any hesitation. Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī says in Vraja-vilāsa-stava (38):
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
kelī-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjarī-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye
I take shelter of the maidservants of Śrīmatī Rādhikā of whom Rūpa Mañjarī is prominent. Unlike the prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhīs, they can perform any service without hesitation. They perpetually and affectionately satisfy Śrīmatī Rādhikā by their various services, such as offering tāmbūla, massaging Her feet, bringing Her water and arranging for Her trysts with Kṛṣṇa.
The rejection of all types of dharma, out of the desire to serve Śrī Rādhā’s lotus feet, is described in Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (33):
dūrād apāsya svajanān sukham artha-koṭiṁ
sarveṣu sādhana-vareṣu ciraṁ nirāśaḥ
varṣantam eva sahajādbhuta-saukhya-dhārāṁ
śrī-rādhikā-caraṇa-reṇum ahaṁ smarāmi
The desire for the pleasure received from relationships with family and friends; for the four goals of life, namely dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa; and for countless wealth and so forth, are the causes of anarthas. Knowing this, I abandoned them all. I worship the foot-dust of Śrī Rādhā, which showers natural, wonderful happiness, and I always hold this foot-dust upon my head.
svajana-sambandha-sukha, catur-varga artha
sakala-sādhana chāḍi’ jāniyā anartha
sahaja-adbhuta-saukhya-dhārā vṛṣṭi kari
rādhā-pada-reṇu bhaji, śire sadā dhari’
The first line of this Text, dūrād apāsya sva-janān sukham artha-koṭim, means that the desires for wealth and the happiness derived from the company of relatives cause impediments in remembering the dust of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s lotus feet; they are therefore worthy of being rejected. Pure vairāgya, renunciation, is actually a natural distaste for material matters and a taste for the dust of Śrī Rādhā’s lotus feet. Sādhakas who possess exclusive faith in Śrī Rādhā (rādhā-niṣṭhā) are solely attached to the fragrance of Her lotus feet. Without Śrī Rādhā, they do not even have a taste for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Material happiness seems insignificant to such sādhakas, who have firm attachment for Her lotus feet and who are not inclined towards any other spiritual goal (sādhya) or any other practice (sādhana) to attain it. Even other exalted sādhanas are obstacles on the path of prema-bhakti.
puṇya ye sukhera dhāma, tāra nā laio nāma,
puṇya mukti dui tyāga kari’
prema-bhakti-sudhā-nidhi, tāhe ḍūba niravadhi,
āra yata kṣāra-nidhi prāya
Although piety is the abode of material happiness, do not strive for it. Rather, give up the desire for piety, as well as that for liberation. Loving devotional service is an ocean of nectar – always be immersed in it.
Pious activities, liberation and so forth are like a pile of ashes to the devotee on the stage of prema. Indeed, how can the devotee, who persistently desires to submerge himself in the nectarean ocean of loving devotional service and whose bee-like heart is attracted by the fragrance of Śrī Rādhā’s foot-dust, which is full of immaculate rasa, go anywhere else? After receiving happiness from a supremely excellent object, can one become attracted by some trifling pleasure? Compared to the happiness of merging with Brahman (brahmānanda), the happiness of bhajana (bhajanānanda) is a greater source of bliss. That ecstasy is indescribable. The most condensed nature of bhajanānanda is premānanda, but it is beyond words to express the nature of premānanda, as it is a stage that can only be realised. Amongst all varieties of premānanda, the prema of the gopīs when distressed in separation crosses beyond the ultimate limit of ānanda and attains a state that cannot be expressed in words. From the dust of the lotus feet of the crest-jewel of all gopīs, Śrī Rādhā, a stream of this indescribable happiness continuously flows towards that sādhaka who remembers Her. This stream of ānanda, composed of pure sweetness and devoid of even a scent of aiśvarya-jñāna, is natural and filled with wonderful astonishment. This is the meaning of the words sahajādbhuta-saukhya-dhārā in this Text.
Śrī-rādhikā-caraṇa-reṇum aham smarāmi – In the absence of directly receiving the exceedingly rare dust of Śrī Rādhā’s lotus feet, the sādhaka who is established in śrī-rādhā-dāsya remembers that dust. What this actually means is that he yearns to obtain his cherished sevā in Śrī Rādhā’s pastimes in the vilāsa-kuñjas. This is the heartfelt desire of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, and their topmost sādhana. Prema-bhakti-candrikā (2.2) states: “sādhana smaraṇa-līlā, ihāte nā kara helā, kāya mane kariyā susāra – the sādhana at this stage is to remember Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes; do not neglect this. Make this the most essential endeavour of your body and mind.”
In this way, the sādhaka worships the dust of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s lotus feet. In Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (198) Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī prays:
āśāsya dāsyaṁ vṛṣabhānu-jāyās
tīre samadhyāsya ca bhānu-jāyāḥ
kadā nu vṛndāvana-kuñja-vīthiṣv
ahaṁ nu rādhe hy atithir bhaveyam
O Rādhā! O Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī! When will I, with the hope of becoming Your maidservant, reside on the bank of the Yamunā as a guest on the pathways of Vṛndāvana’s kuñjas?
vṛṣabhānu-kumārīra haiba kiṅkarī
kalinda-nandinī tīre ra’ba vāsa kari’
karuṇā kariyā rādhe e dāsīra prati
vṛndāṭavī kuñja-pathe haiba atithi
Similarly, in one place Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura prays, “O Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī, there is a hope growing in my heart, that You will become a guest on the path of my vision as You go to Your rendezvous (abhisāra) on the paths of Vṛndāvana’s kuñjas on the bank of the Yamunā.”
In an extremely restless condition, Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda has composed this Text while remembering service to Śrī Svāminī. In the absence of this service, vast pain and longing has arisen in his heart as he remembers the sweetness of these pastimes. Realising his disqualification to taste such sweetness, his life-air is agitated by an intolerable unhappiness and pain. However, a firm hope of one day attaining the eternal service of Svāminī is stirring his heart. One symptom of the jāta-rati-bhakta is āśā-bandha, a firm hope of attaining Bhagavān, and the ultimate development of this āśā-bandha is seen in mahābhāva. The resolute hope of the vraja-devīs is indescribable. Even in the condition of long-term separation from Kṛṣṇa, the hope of attaining Kṛṣṇa’s service maintains their lives. They have faith in Kṛṣṇa’s words spoken when He left for Mathurā (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.39.35)): “āyāsya iti – I will return.”
With this hope the poet prays at Śrī Svāminī’s lotus feet, “O Rādhā! O Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī! When will I, with the hope of becoming Your maidservant (kiṅkarī), be a guest on the pathways of the kuñjas situated on the bank of the Yamunā?
“O Rādhā, You are the daughter of King Vṛṣabhānu, the empress of Vṛndāvana and a treasury of abundant compassion. Therefore do not neglect me, a destitute and lowly person. Please engage me as a maidservant in the service of You and Your prāṇa-priyatama in Your pastimes within the secluded groves. Filled with premānurāga, You move along the bank of the Yamunā towards the nikuñjas of Vṛndāvana to meet with Your prāṇanātha – when will this destitute guest sit on the path of Your travels? My determination will be fixed; I will not move from that place without first receiving Your mercy. Upon seeing this destitute guest sitting like this, Your heart will certainly become aroused with compassion. O Svāminī, You are Kṛṣṇa’s most beloved and His worshipper. Please make me successful by giving me an opportunity to perform some tiny service in the worship of Your dearmost beloved. Now, at the end of my life, I am a beggar for Your mercy. Please accept me as Your unpaid maidservant. If You deprive me of this, Your name will be defamed, and that I cannot tolerate.”
Constantly seeking Kṛṣṇa through saṅkīrtana in the mood of śrī-rādhā-dāsya is described in Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (259):
dhyāyantaṁ śikhi-piccha-maulim aniśaṁ tan-nāma saṅkīrtayan
nityaṁ tac-caraṇāmbujaṁ paricaran tan-mantra-varyaṁ japan
śrī-rādhā-pada-dāsyam eva paramābhīṣṭaṁ hṛdā dhārayan
karhi syāṁ tad-anugraheṇa paramādbhutānurāgotsavaḥ
Keeping at my heart my highest aspiration of one day becoming a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā’s lotus feet, I will constantly meditate on Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose head is decorated with a peacock feather. I will constantly chant His name, eternally serve His lotus feet and always utter His most excellent mantras. May He bestow mercy upon me at any moment so I will attain anurāgotsava, the great festival of attachment to Śrī Rādhā.
nirantara kṛṣṇa-dhyāna, tan-nāma-kīrtana
kṛpāya labhiba rādhā-rāgānubhāvana
Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda is expressing a desire to continuously seek Śrī Kṛṣṇa through saṅkīrtana in the mood of rādhā-dāsya. The only desire and cherished objective of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas is to attain rādhā-dāsya. It is the only goal of their kṛṣṇa-bhajana. The principal mantra of their kṛṣṇa-bhajana is found in the ninth verse of Manaḥ-śikṣā: “mad-īśā-nāthatve vraja-vipina-candraṁ vraja-vaneśvarīṁ tāṁ nāthatve – always remember Vṛndāvana-candra as the prāṇanātha of my Svāminī, Vṛndāvaneśvarī Śrī Rādhikā.”
This Text 14 describes that, upon decorating the heart with the most-cherished wealth of rādhā-dāsya, one will meditate upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose head is adorned with a peacock feather. Kṛṣṇa is a little late in arriving at the kuñja, so Rādhā, endowed with madīya-abhimāna (the mood that “Kṛṣṇa is Mine”), becomes māninī, sulky. To please His beloved, Śyāmasundara bows His head at Her lotus feet, and His peacock feather crown falls to the ground. This is described in Gīta-govinda: smara-garala-khaṇḍanaṁ mama śirasi maṇḍanam.
May the remembrance of how my Svāminī controls the dhīra-lalita-nāyaka Śrī Kṛṣṇa, that eminent festival of anurāga, manifest in my heart. May I remain submerged in this most charming śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana.
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī prays, “The name of Rādhā is unprecedented, beautiful and enchanting like nectar. The name of Kṛṣṇa is delicious like condensed milk. O my tongue, O you who are faint with hunger, please constantly drink these two unprecedented substances, which are made delightful by the ice of fragrant anurāga.”
I will worship Śrī Svāminī by serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, and then giving Her Kṛṣṇa’s prasāda and flower remnants. The nitya-sakhīs and prāṇa-sakhīs serve Kṛṣṇa in the mood that they will offer to Svāminī whatever articles, like flower remnants, are obtained by serving Him. Upon receiving the objects used by Her prāṇanātha, Svāminī will become extremely pleased. The ultimate attachment for service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa will manifest in my heart because my Īśvarī is pleased.
A prayer to attain the service of Śrī Rādhā birth after birth is given in Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (40):
kaiṅkaryam eva mama janmani janmani syāt
Birth after birth, may I attain the position of being a maidservant of the daughter of King Vṛṣabhānu. She is the vilāsa-mūrti (personification of playful pastimes) of Śyāmasundara, who is Himself the essence of limitless rasa. She is Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s supremely wonderful pleasure-Lakṣmī, and She is most difficult to attain for Brahmā and others.
apāra-rasera sāra, vilāsa-mūrati
brahmādira sudurlabha vṛṣabhānu-kanyā
janme janme tāṅra dāsye hai yena dhanyā
In a voice filled with extreme distress, the poet is praying to attain the position of a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā. This prayer can never be fulfilled in this gross body. The sādhaka attains his eternal identity by continuously reciting the mantra and nāma given by his spiritual master. Upon attaining his svarūpa, deep attachment for Svāminī, Śrī Rādhā, arises in his heart and he receives an internal vision (sphūrti) of Her sweetness and beauty. Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the personification of Śyāmasundara’s playful pastimes (vilāsa). In other words, Her intrinsic nature as concentrated rasa manifests in the kuñjas, where it is tasted by Śrī Śyāmasundara, the emporium of all rasa. Rādhikā, the essence of all rasa, is the personification of vilāsa. She is the essence of unlimited mādhurya-rasa. The joy of meeting is hidden within the mind of Śrī Govinda, who is the embodiment of condensed happiness. Śrī Rādhā’s mādanākhya-prema causes this joy to blossom, thus making Him restless and beside Himself to meet with His beloved by any means possible. Therefore, in His eagerness to meet Her, He sometimes dresses Himself as a woman, and sometimes He bows down at the feet of the sakhīs. The bliss of meeting (sambhoga-rasānanda) that Śrī Svāminī provides is indescribable, even more so than Govinda Himself can imagine.
rātri-dina kuñje kriḍā kare rādhā-saṅge
kaiśora-vayasa saphala kaila krīḍā-raṅge
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.189)
Day and night Śrī Kṛṣṇa enjoys the company of Śrī Rādhā in the kuñjas of Vṛndāvana. Thus His early youth was made successful through His sports with Her.
Śrī Rādhā is the hlādinī-svarūpa-śakti of Vrajacandra, who is ānanda-kanda, the source of transcendental bliss. She is a dhīrādhīrā-nāyikā, a heroine who with tearful eyes speaks crooked words to her beloved, and for this reason Śrī Nanda-nandana is completely controlled by Her. As stated in Śrī Rādhā-kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-stavarāja (3): “nirantaraṁ vaśī-kṛta-pratīti nanda-nandane – She always brings Nanda-nandana into submission.” Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the source of transcendental bliss and Śrīmatī is His supremely wonderful saumya-lakṣmī, gentle goddess of fortune. Lakṣmī-devī, who always enjoys pastimes on the chest of Nārāyaṇa, is restless and proud of her opulence, but the prema-lakṣmī of Vraja, Śrī Rādhā, is very sweet and endowed with a gentle, steady nature. She is kṛṣṇa-mayī in prema, which means She sees Kṛṣṇa everywhere, internally and externally; She is gaurāṅgī in rasa, which means She is so expert, so beautiful, dances so well and sings so sweetly that She becomes gaurāṅgī (golden-limbed), and Kṛṣṇa becomes so attracted by Her that He becomes rādhā-mayī and gaurāṅga; She is sarva-lakṣmī-mayī in aiśvarya, which means She manifests everywhere, and Kṛṣṇa sees Her everywhere; and She is the prominent gopikā in mādhurya.
Service to Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī Śrīmatī Rādhikā is very difficult to attain for Brahmā and others. Brahmā, being endowed with an awareness of Bhagavān’s majesty (aiśvarya-jñāna), is unable to comprehend the mādhurya-rasa of Vraja. He could not even understand Śyāmasundara’s early boyhood pastimes (paugaṇḍa-līlā), and he became an offender by stealing the calves and cowherd boys. How, then, can he possibly understand the profound secrets of the highly confidential adolescent pastimes (kaiśora-līlā)? Only the vraja-gopīs have the qualification to serve in these most confidential pastimes that take place in the secluded bowers. Without following in the footsteps of the sakhīs, it is impossible to attain this sevā.
sakhī vinā ei līlāya anyera nāhi gati
sakhī-bhāve ye tāṅre kare anugati
rādhā-kṛṣṇa kuñja-sevā-sādhya sei pāya
sei sādhya pāite āra nāhika upāya
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.204–5)
Without the guidance of the sakhīs, one cannot enter these pastimes. One who worships Kṛṣṇa in the mood of the sakhīs, following in their footsteps, can attain the service of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the kuñjas of Vṛndāvana. There is no other means to achieve this goal.
Śrī Kiśorī’s maidservants (kiṅkarīs) are always devoted to Her service. The word kaiṅkarya expresses a mood of being ardent to serve and it means kiṁ karomi, “What may I do? What service can I do?” – this mood is expressed in pure rādhā-dāsya, or mañjarī-bhāva. May I attain this kaiṅkarya of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī birth after birth.
To serve exclusively under the guidance of the vraja-devīs is called tat-tad-bhāva-icchāmayī kāmānugā-bhakti. This is the deep meaning of this Text.