Steadiness in perfection – that is, one-pointed dependence on Kṛṣṇa – is described in Śikṣāṣṭaka (8):
āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām
adarśanān marma-hatāṁ karotu vā
yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo
mat-prāna-nāthas tu sa eva nāparaḥ
Let that debauchee (Kṛṣṇa) tightly embrace this maidservant, who is devoted to serving Him, and thus delight Me. Or, let Him trample Me under His feet, or break My heart by not giving Me His darśana. He may do whatever He desires. Even if He sports with His other beloveds directly in front of Me, He is still My prāṇanātha. In My heart there is none other than Him.
āmi – kṛṣṇa-pada-dāsī, teṅho – rasa-sukha-rāśi,
āliṅgiya kare ātmasātha
kibā nā deya daraśana, jārena mora tanu-mana,
tabu tiṅho mora prāṇanātha
In relation to this Text, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 20.49–52) states:
sakhi he, śuna mora manera niścaya
kibā anurāga kare, kibā duḥkha diyā māre,
mora prāṇeśvara kṛṣṇa – anya naya
chāḍi’ anya nārī-gaṇa, mora vaśa tanu-mana,
mora saubhāgya prakaṭa kariyā
tā-sabāre deya pīḍā, āmā-sane kare krīḍā,
sei nārī-gaṇe dekhāñā
kibā teṅho lampaṭa, śaṭha, dhṛṣṭa, sakapaṭa,
anya nārī-gaṇa kari’ sātha
more dite manaḥ-pīḍā, mora āge kare krīḍā,
tabu teṅho – mora prāṇanātha
nā gaṇi āpana-duḥkha, sabe vāñchi tāṅra sukha,
tāṅra sukha – āmāra tātparya
more yadi diyā duḥkha, tāṅra haila mahā-sukha,
sei duḥkha – mora sukha-varya
[Śrīmatī Rādhikā said:] Sakhī, I am a maidservant of the lotus feet of rasika-śekhara Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is an ocean of happiness. He may make Me joyful by tightly embracing Me, or He may trample Me beneath His feet. He may make Me happy by mercifully giving Me His darśana, or He may break My heart by not appearing before Me. He may not understand My inner desires; nonetheless, He is My prāṇanātha, the Lord of My life. Sakhī, I have decided that He may love Me and display My fortune by abandoning other beautiful ladies in order that He be controlled by Me; He may make them unhappy by sporting with Me in front of them, or, He may be deceitful, arrogant, duplicitous and debauched, and, just to provoke Me, He may torment Me by sporting before Me with other ladies. Still, He and only He is My prāṇanātha. I am not slightly concerned for My own suffering; I only desire His happiness, always. The goal of My life is to make Him happy in every way. If He feels happiness by giving Me distress, that distress is My greatest happiness.
A devotee who remembers these pastimes is transcendental, being filled with eternality, knowledge and bliss (sac-cid-ānanda) just like Bhagavān. A Vaiṣṇava’s body is non-different from Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s body. In this regard, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.29.34), Śrī Kṛṣṇa says to Uddhava:
martyo yadā tyakta-samasta-karmā
niveditātmā vicikīrṣito me
mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai
When a person abandons all fruitive activities and fully surrenders himself to Me, he becomes a recipient of special prema. This is a result of My merciful treatment towards him. I release him from old age and grant him entrance into My eternal pastimes, where he serves Me eternally.
sarva karma teyāgiyā, more ātma nivediyā,
yei kare āmāra sevana
amṛtatva-dharma pāñā, līlā-madhye praveśiyā,
āmā-saha karaye ramaṇa
Having explained sambandha-tattva (the jīva’s relationship with Bhagavān), abhidheya-tattva (the process to attain the supreme goal) and prayojana-tattva (the supreme goal) to His dear devotee Uddhava, here Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes the situation of a pure devotee who is exclusively surrendered to Him.
As the mortal jīva wanders throughout this material existence, he attains the association of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s eternal associates according to the extent of his sukṛti. Due to his association with pure devotees, the devotee relinquishes the desire for nitya-karma and naimittika-karma (daily and occasionally prescribed duties), sense enjoyment and liberation, and he cultivates pure bhakti. The darkness of his ignorance is removed by the light of bhakti, just as darkness is removed by the light of the sun. The devotee then serves Bhagavān with a full sense of possessiveness (mamatā) towards Him, and Bhagavān bestows upon that devotee a spiritual body appropriate for rendering eternal service to Him. That means He bestows a body, qualities, activities, service and so on according to the particular mood of the sādhaka.
As a result of associating with svajātīya-snigdhāśaya-bhaktas, affectionate devotees who are of the same mood as himself and more advanced, the sādhaka who is endowed with mādhurya-rati attains a desire in his heart to render service in the amorous mellow. And, by practising bhakti and by the mercy of devotees, he attains the state of perfection (siddha-avasthā). Such a devotee performs his sādhana internally under the guidance of Lalitā and other sakhīs, and by their mercy he receives bodily features equal to those of the nitya-siddha-mañjarīs and also obtains the pleasure of directly rendering kuñja-sevā in Śrī Vraja-dhāma. After this attainment of svarūpa-siddhi, the jīva achieves vastu-siddhi and for eternity serves Śrī Rādhā in the eternal land of Vṛndāvana. Such service is only attained by sādhakas in mādhurya-rati; it is not attained by others.
Steadiness in bhajana is described in Manaḥ-śikṣā (2):
na dharmaṁ nādharmaṁ śruti-gaṇa-niruktaṁ kila kuru
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pracura-paricaryām iha tanu
śacī-sūnuṁ nandīśvara-pati-sutatve guru-varaṁ
mukunda-preṣṭhatve smara param ajasraṁ nanu manaḥ
O my dear mind, please do not perform either the dharma, which produces piety, or adharma, which gives rise to sin, that are mentioned in the Śrutis. Rather, render profuse loving service to Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala, who the Śrutis have ascertained to be supremely worshipful above all others and the topmost Truth. Always remember Śacīnandana Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is endowed with the sentiments and bodily lustre of Śrī Rādhā, knowing Him to be non-different from Śrī Nanda-nandana; and always remember śrī gurudeva, knowing him to be most dear to Śrī Mukunda.
chāḍi’ bhaja rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pada
gaurāṅge śrī-kṛṣṇa jāna, guru kṛṣṇa-preṣtha māna,
ei bhāva tomāra sampada
Dharma and adharma are defined in the Śrutis and literature pursuant to the Śrutis, such as the Smṛtis. Every activity a person performs falls into one of these two categories. If people were prohibited from performing dharma and adharma, it would be impossible for them to live a moment more. Therefore, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has not prohibited all of the activities performed by the sense organs. Those who are ignorant are meant to perform dharma and auspicious activities, whereas learned jīvas who have attained knowledge of their spiritual identity are instructed to act on the platform of ātma-rati, or kṛṣṇa-rati. In other words they are instructed to perform loving service to Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala. The sādhaka should perform all his activities in a mood of service to Bhagavān. Householder devotees should worship deities at home and perform the activities of earning money, maintaining their family members and protecting their assets and home as services to their Lord. One should consider oneself a mere servant of the Lord.
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī’s mood of humility is reflected in the following statement, which is imbued with the firm hope (āśā-bandha) characteristic of a jāta-rati-bhakta devoted to bhajana. This verse is quoted by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.3.35):
na premā śravaṇādi-bhaktir api vā yogo ’tha vā vaiṣṇavo
jñānaṁ vā śubha-karma vā kiyad aho saj-jātir apy asti vā
hīnārthādhika-sādhake tvayi tathāpy acchedya-mūlā sati
he gopī-jana-vallabha vyathayate hā hā mad-āśaiva mām
My heart is devoid of prema for You, and I am not qualified to perform bhakti by hearing and chanting. I possess no knowledge, pious activities or qualifications of a Vaiṣṇava, nor have I taken birth in a high-class family. I am, therefore, unqualified in every respect. Nevertheless, O beloved of the gopīs, Your mercy also falls upon the lowest of the low. This firm hope of attaining You is making me very anxious.
śravaṇādi-bhakti, prema-bhakti, yoga hīna
jñāna-yoga-karma hīna, saj-janma-vihīna
kāṅgālera nātha tumi rādhā-prāṇa-dhana
tomā-pade dṛḍha-āśāya vyakulita mana
Humility is the foundation of bhakti, and it is by humility that bhakti increases. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī defines humility as follows: “When a person has all good qualities but feelings arise in his heart of being unqualified, wretched and inferior, this is called humility. In other words, humility is the utmost anxiety to attain Bhagavān. A person with humility is without false ego even though he possesses all good qualities.” Only humility can attract Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, and genuine humility only appears when prema is fully ripe. To attain such humility the jāta-rati-sādhaka prays, “O Prāṇa-vallabha, I have no attachment for You and am incapable of performing śravaṇa and the other practices in the ninefold path of devotion. My meditation is not unbroken like that of the jñānīs. I do not perform service according to varṇāśrama, I have not taken birth in a high-class family and I have not performed any pious activities. My hope is solely dependent on Your mercy, which all the mahājanas glorify. You are the master of the wretched, and You bestow Your mercy upon them.”
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī possesses all virtues, yet filled with humility, he spoke this verse. Although a jāta-rati-sādhaka performs abundant service, he thinks, “I perform no sevā at all.” The sādhaka’s only desire is to perform prema-sevā, pure bhakti that is devoid of karma and jñāna. This is svarūpa-siddha-bhakti, and it is attained only through śravaṇa, kīrtana and so forth. If a person is too attached to fruitive activities, whatever little devotion is in his heart disappears. And if someone desires material gain, adoration and fame, Bhakti-devī neglects that person. Bhakti only increases in the heart of one who is humble and sincere, and only humility that is thoroughly devoid of pride causes the flowing current of mercy to swell.
The method of performing nāma-sādhana is to chant the holy name while feeling more humble than a blade of grass. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 17.31–3) says:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
ūrdhva-bāhu kari’ kahoṅ, śuna sarva-loka
nāma-sūtre gāṅthi’ para kaṇṭhe ei śloka
prabhu-ājñāya kara ei śloka ācaraṇa
avaśya pāibe tabe śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇa
“Considering oneself to be even lower and more worthless than insignificant grass that has been trampled beneath everyone’s feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being prideless and offering respect to everyone according to their respective positions, one should continually chant the holy name of Śrī Hari. Raising My hands, I declare, ‘Everyone please hear Me! For continuous remembrance, string this śloka on the thread of the holy name and wear it around your neck.’” One must strictly follow the principles given by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in this verse. If one simply follows in the footsteps of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and the Gosvāmīs, he will certainly achieve the ultimate goal of life, the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
The identity of a perfected soul (siddha-paricaya) is described in Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi (53):
dukūlaṁ vibhrāṇām atha kucataṭe kañcu-kapaṭaṁ
prasādaṁ svāminyāḥ svakara-tala-dattaṁ praṇayataḥ
sthitāṁ nityaṁ pārśve vividha-paricaryaika-caturāṁ
kiśorīm ātmānaṁ caṭula-parakīyāṁ nu kalaye
When will I remain near Svāminī eternally, intent on serving Her in various ways? When, wearing Her silken cloth and bodice that She affectionately gave me with Her own hands, will I be able to count myself as a clever and very beautiful kiśorī?
siddha-deha gopī āmi śrī-rādhikā kiṅkarī
rādhā-prasādita vastra-kañculikā pari
gṛhe pati parihari, kiśorī-vayase
rādhā-pada sevi kuñje rajanī-divase
The rasika-ācāryas conclude that when the sādhaka enters the stage of perfection, he attains that bhāva upon which he meditated when he was in the stage of sādhana. The cherished desire of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas is to possess the self-identity (abhimāna) of being a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā. The appropriate sādhana to attain one’s svarūpa and one’s service to Śrī Rādhā is revealed by the spiritual master.
ātmānaṁ cintayet tatra
tāsāṁ madhye manoramām
ājñā-sevā-parāṁ tat tat
A sādhaka of rāga-mārga should internally perceive himself to be one of the young, beautiful gopī beloveds of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He should meditate on his desired svarūpa as a female companion of Śrī Rādhā’s maidservants, such as Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī and Śrī Rati Mañjarī, and adorned in the ornaments mercifully given by them, he should completely absorb himself in service to Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava according to their instructions.
The word cintayet in the above verse from the Sanat-kumāra-saṁhitā means that the sādhaka should nourish the following firm conception: “I am a kiśorī with the same moods and qualities as the nitya-siddha-mañjarīs of Śrī Rādhā.” A Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhaka in deep meditation will maintain the conception that, “I am not this body, these senses and so forth; I am a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā and I am endowed with qualities such as the beauty and rasa of a gopa-kiśorī.” This deep meditation on the soul (ātma-cintana) will quickly result in his giving up identification with the material body, and he will attain svarūpa-siddhi.
In this Text 5, Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī describes the method of becoming a beautiful young gopa-kiśorī: “I will medi-tate on myself as a kiśorī adorned with the silken cloth and bodice that Svāminī gave me with Her own hands.” The remnant objects Svāminī gives with Her own hands carry the mood of Her affectionate compassion, and the cloth and bodice remnants are connected with the sweet mood of the Divine Couple’s amorous play (vilāsa).
Absorption in one’s internal svarūpa is accompanied by the rendering of sevā and a feeling of intimacy. For this reason, Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī mentions the form of a clever kiśorī who is always close to Svāminī and intent on performing various services to Her. Sevā-rasa, which establishes one’s svarūpa, takes place as a person serves Svāminī, who is the life and soul of Her maidservants. The main goal of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas is to become a rādhā-dāsī, a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā. The sādhaka remains ever fixed on this goal, just as the position of the pole star is fixed in the sky. By the mercy of śrī guru, the sādhaka is introduced to his eternal identity as a maidservant of Śrī Rādhā. Upon attaining that, he abandons his bodily identity as a servant of māyā, and he completely maintains the self-identity of being a rādhā-dāsī.
In his song Śrī Rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pada-kamale, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura prays: “lalitā sakhīra, ayogyā kiṅkarī vinoda dhariche pāya – Vinoda, the unqualified maidservant of Lalitā Sakhī, clasps the lotus feet of the Divine Couple.”