Śrī-Śrī Rādhāṣṭamī Līlā

From the first day of the bright lunar quarter of the month of Bhādra, a band is sitting down at the Lion Gate of Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja’s town, making it as beautiful as Nandīśvara (at the time of Kṛṣṇa’s birthday).

On the third day of the light lunar quarter of Bhādra is the birthday of Tungavidyā Sakhī. That night there will be Rāsa-līlā and Śayan līlā (taking rest) in her Kunja. The same thing happens on Aṣṭamī (the eight lunar day) in the Kunja of Śrī Rādhā and Viśākhā, on Navamī (the ninth day) in the Kunja of Campakalatā, on Ekādaśī in the Kunja of Indurekhā, on Pūrṇimā (fullmoon night) in the Kunja of Rangadevī and Sudevī and on the third bright lunar day in Āśvina in the Kunja of Citrā Sakhī.

Two days before Rādhāṣṭamī, on the sixth day of the light quarter of the month of Bhādra, father Vṛṣabhānu sends an invitation to Nanda Mahārāja (Kṛṣṇa’s father) at Nandīśvara to come and celebrate Śrī Rādhikā’s birthday. Śrīdāma, Śrī Rādhikā’s elder brother, and Ṛṣikanyā deliver the invitation.

The next day, after performing their daily morning-duties, Nanda Mahārāja and his entire entourage, including Goṣṭha Candra Śrī Kṛṣṇa, come to Vṛṣabhānupura (Varṣānā) on foot, with bullock-carts or in palanquins. Hearing the musical instruments of their approaching guests resounding, Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja and his brothers and Mother Kīrtidā and her sisters-in-law are awaiting them. They show the guests their quarters and take a meal with them. Śrī Rādhikā and Her Yūtheśvarīs (group-leaders) cook rice, vegetables, purīs, kṣīra (sweet rice) and many other delicious dishes, and the pūjārī offers everything to Mahārāja Vṛṣabhānu’s Nārāyaṇa-deity. After the pūjārī puts the deity to rest Śrīdāma arranges for prasāda to be served on the courtyard of the palace and Śrī Rādhikā starts quarreling with Her Yūtheśvarīs about who can serve first. Externally angry Śyāmā-sakhī says to Śrī Rādhikā: “It’s Your father’s invitation! What’s it to us? You can serve first or not, whatever You like!”

Hearing this loving quarrel Mother Kīrtidā decides to make lines for serving, and every sakhī can serve her own line of guests. After eating, chewing betel leaves and washing the mouth, everyone lies down in his own guestroom. On the pretext of picking flowers Śrī Rādhikā then goes to Vilāsa Kuṇḍa, which is situated west of Varsānā, where She secretly meets Śrī Śyāmasundara. After a brief meeting everyone returns to their own rooms. Then Śrī Rādhikā cooks something and takes that along for Her usual noontime meeting with Kṛṣṇa at Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa.

On the morning of Rādhāṣṭamī-day, after performing their morning-duties, everyone assembles to witness Śrī Rādhikā’s abhiṣeka (bathing ceremony). Śrī Rādhikā wears a thin, white dress along with all Her usual ornaments for the abhiṣeka. Musicians start playing their instruments (like Vīṇā, Upāṅga, Pakhowāj, Mṛdaṅga, Dundubhīs, Bherīs and Dolaks) and the maidservants come in to bring all the paraphernalia for the bathing-ceremony. Paurṇamāsī-devī chants the mantras and Gargī (the daughter of the priest Gargamuni) starts the abhiṣeka. First she pours Mahauṣadhi-water, water that contains many auspicious herbs, over Śrī Rādhikā’s delectable limbs, then Panca-Gavya, five kinds of dairy-products, like milk, yoghurt, buttermilk, clarified butter and cow’s urine, then a hundred jugs of clear water and finally She bathes Her with a conchshell that makes a thousand streams. The maidservants dry Śrī Rādhikā off with soft white towels and anoint Her with fragrant oils and Catuḥ-Sama (a blend of sandalpaste, vermilion, camphor and musk). Then they take Her to Her Śṛṅgāra Vedī (dais for ornamentation), dress Her in Her usual splendid blue sārī and decorate Her with Her shimmering ornaments, the sixteen śṛṅgāras and twelve ābharaṇas. Gargī worships Śrī Rādhikā with Dūrva-grass (bright green grass which is highly auspicious) and wheat in her hand, and Paurṇamāsī offers Her brahminical blessings. After a maidservant has offered ārati to Śrī Rādhikā, mother Yaśodā blesses Her and presents Her with a jeweled necklace, clothes and ornaments. She also gives such presents to the Yūtheśvarīs. Then Śrī Rādhā gives ornamented cows in charity. Father Vṛṣabhānu also gives thousands of cows and calves. Śrī Rādhikā offers Her obeisances unto all these superiors.

After this Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His friends take a snack and Śrī Rādhā and Her girlfriends and groupleaders also take a snack. Śrī Rādhikā then takes off Her ornaments and cooks Her own birthday-feast together with mother Rohiṇī – sweet rice, savouries, rice and vegetables. Hundreds of brāhmaṇas are cooking another feast for all the villagers outside. Compassionate Yaśodā says to her friend Kīrtidā: “Sakhi! Your heart is so hard! You make Śrī Rādhikā, who is as tender as a Śirīṣa-flower, cook so much! You don’t have any love and affection! Just see how warm She feels of this hard labour on Her very birthday!” Mother Kīrtidā replies: “Because Śrī Rādhikā got the blessing that whatever She cooks would be more delicious than nectar, Vṛṣabhānu-Mahārāja wanted Nanda Mahārāja and his family to savour this once. That’s why Śrī Rādhikā is cooking on this special occasion! O Queen of Vraja! Just see how nice Her preparations are!” Mother Rohiṇī then shows mother Yaśodā all the preparations Śrī Rādhikā had cooked. Śrī Rādhikā offers Her obeisances unto Queen Yaśodā’s feet and Yaśodā blesses Her, saying: “O Rādhe! Your preparations please my eyes with their form and my nose with their fragrance!” Then Lalitā and Śyāmalā come and offer their obeisances to mother Yaśodā’s lotus feet and she then also affectionately praises and blesses them. Mother Rohiṇī then says: “O Kṛṣṇa-Janani, mother of Kṛṣṇa! This Śrī Rādhikā is a golden gem and Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a sapphire gem-stone! They are just like a couple of necklaces for the Vraja-Lakṣmī (the goddess of Vraja’s pastoral beauty)!” Śrī Rādhikā’s nostrils bloom of shyness when She hears this. When Lalitā and the other sakhīs see this they rejoice. Śrī Yaśodā then orders some maidservants to prepare the offering for the deities and to fan Śrī Rādhā to remove Her fatigue. After this the pūjārī offers the bhoga and puts the deities to rest. (Meanwhile outside hundreds of brahmins have also completed their enormous cooking work)

After this everyone dresses properly and, like on Kṛṣṇa-Janmāṣṭamī in Pāvan Sarovara, proceed to Bhānukhora, the pond that lies east of Varsānā, to play Dadhikādā, a game of throwing butter, yoghurt and other dairy-products at each other, and splashing each other with water from different corners of the Khora – one ghāṭa (bathing place) is reserved for men, one for women, one for girls and one for boys. After this Mahārāja Vṛṣabhānu and Kīrtidā Mahārāṇī present all ladies and gentlemen present with proper gifts of clothes and ornaments. Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja first sumptuously feeds all the brāhmaṇas and then all other people, on a large courtyard. Everyone eats in supreme ecstasy, and after flushing their mouths they take betelleaves and take rest in their individual abodes.

In the inner chambers of the palace mother Kīrtidā and mother Śrī Yaśodā also feed all the ladies, after which they too take rest in their individual quarters. After this he generously gives clothes, ornaments and dakṣiṇā (monetary donations). Then everyone takes rest in their own rooms.

After taking some rest Śrī Rādhikā goes picking flowers with Her girlfriends on the bank of Vilāsa Kunda in the west of Barsana. While they depart the sakhīs give a hint to Śrī Kṛṣṇa through the window. Śrī Kṛṣṇa then joins them at Vilāsa Kuṇḍa, performs His amorous pastimes with Śrī Rādhā there, performs Yogapīṭha pastimes and then everyone returns to their own bedroom for taking some rest. After this Śrī Rādhā’s pastimes of cooking offerings for the Sun-god and going on abhisāra are the same as on the Saptamī. At night They dance the Rāsa and recline in the kunja of Viśākhā-sakhī, because it is also her birthday on this day.

Source: “Śrī-Śrī Gaura Govinda Līlāmṛta Guṭikā”, by Siddha Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Bābājī, presented by Rādhākuṇḍa Mahānta Paṇḍita Śrī Ananta Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja.

Translation: Advaita das Ji

Śrīmati is the ocean of playfulness

Śrīmati is the ocean of playfulness, which means Her frolics with Her beloved Śyāmasundara.

She keeps Śyāmasundara immersed in the waves of the ocean of Her pastimes when She meets Him. When the waves of mādana rasa swell in the ocean of Śrī Rādhā’s pastimes, even Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental youthful Cupid of Vṛndāvana, does not dare to place His boat-like heart on its surface, just as a boatman fearfully keeps his boat on the bank of the Gaṅgā when her huge waves meet the ocean.

This ocean of play is compared to the first cosmic ocean, the ocean of salt water, because although the very sight of this ocean destroys all sins, a person who drinks its water will die.
Similarly, when one faithfully chants and hears about the pastimes of Rādhā and Mādhava one will become free from all sins and from the heart’s disease of lust,
but when one tries to imitate these pastimes one will perish.

This is confirmed in the last verses of the Rāsa-līlā narration in Śrīmad Bhāgavata:

naitat samācarej jātu manasāpi hy anīśvaraḥ
vināśatyācaran mauḍhyād yathā rudro’bdhijaṁ viṣam

“Even in one’s mind a non-God should not imitate these pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. A fool who does so will destroy himself. He can, after all, also not drink poison from the ocean of Milk, as Lord Śiva did!”

Śrīpāda Rūpa Gosvāmī wrote in his ‘Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi’ (Haripriya prakarana):

vatitavyaṁ samicchadbhir bhaktavan na tu kṛṣṇavat
ityevam bhakti śāstrāṇāṁ tatparyasya vinirnayaḥ

“A person who desires auspiciousness should act like a devotee, he should never imitate Kṛṣṇa (in His amorous dalliances). This is the purport of all the scriptures!”

The darkness of despair in Śrīpāda’s heart over his own unworthiness is destroyed by the light of Śrīmatī’s sweet attributes.

Śrīpāda thinks: “Hā Svāmini! I am completely unable to serve You with expertise, how can I become qualified to join Your expert maidservants? You are the ocean of cleverness, please make Me a qualified maidservant by teaching Me this expertise in service! anurāga is also required with that expert service, otherwise that service cannot make You happy. You are the ocean of anurāga, so please make me qualified by giving me one drop of this anurāga! Although I am the most wretched of the wretched, You are the shore-less ocean of motherly affection! Please sprinkle me with just one drop of that vātsalya-affection and keep me with Your lotus-feet! What an audacity! Although I am so unqualified, still I have the courage to pray for Śrīmatī’s service and Her motherly affection? She’s not only the ocean of vātsalya, She’s also the ocean of great mercy! She will surely bestow Her mercy on fallen souls like me!”

When Śrīpāda becomes aware of Śrīmatī’s compassion, he forgets about his own unworthiness and he prays for entrance into the oceans of Śrīmatī’s lāvaṇya, forms and pastimes. Such eager prayers will unlock the chains of Śrīmati’s compassion, that is the essential teaching for the devotees here. (7)

Śrī Rādhā is the ocean of amṛta cchabi rūpa (the very form of glowing nectar)

Śrī Rādhā is the ocean of amṛta cchabi rūpa.

She is the very form of glowing nectar and Her form is like a vast ocean.
She is mahābhāva personified and mahābhāva is compared to nectar. It is the deepest possible love for Kṛṣṇa, and Rādhā’s form reveals this beauty and tastefulness to the utmost, therefore She is the amṛtacchabi rūpa sindhu.
Although Śrī Kṛṣṇa inundates the world with a mere drop of His beauty, even He drowns in the nectar-ocean of Rādhā’s form!

Kṛṣṇa says in ‘Caitanya Caritāmṛta’ (Ādi 4, 242 243):

koṭi kāma jini rūpa yadyapi āmāra; asamordhva mādhurya sāmya nahi yāra
mora rūpe apyāyita hoy tribhuvana; rādhāra darśane āmāra juḍāya nayana
eimata jagatera sukhe āmi hetu; rādhikāra rūpa guṇa āmāra jivātu

“Although My form defeats millions of Cupids, is unrivalled in its sweetness and pleases all the three worlds, My eyes are still pleased by seeing Rādhā….In this way I am the cause of joy to the world. But Rādhikā’s form and attributes are My very life!”

Because the ocean of Rādhā’s form is so sweet it is compared to the second cosmic ocean, the ocean of sugarcane juice. (6)

Śrīmatī is the ocean of “lāvaṇya”

Śrīmatī is the ocean of “lāvaṇya”.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī defines lāvaṇya as follows in his ‘Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi’:

muktāphaleṣu chāyāyās taralatvam ivāntarā
pratibhāti yad aṅgeṣu lāvaṇyam tad ihocyate

“The luster that gushes out of each bodily limb like the luster shining out from inside pearls, is called lāvaṇya.”

Śrīmati is the ocean of lāvaṇya, or elegance.

The fish-like eyes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Who is called lāvanya sāra (the essence of lāvaṇya, or elegance) in Śrīmat Bhāgavata (10.44.14), never get tired of swimming in the ocean of Śrī Rādhā’s lāvaṇya.
Indeed, His desire to swim in that ocean simply increases!

Śrīpāda Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura said in Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛtam (3):
lāvānyāmṛta vīci lolita dṛśaṁ – “Kṛṣṇa’s eyes billow on the waves of nectarean lāvanya.”

Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja writes in his ‘Sāraṅga Raṅgadā’-commentary on this verse: śrī rādhāyā eva lāvanyāmṛta vīcibhir lolite satṛṣṇīkṛte dṛśau yasya tam –
“Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s eyes have become very thirsty after the nectar-waves of Śrī Rādhā’s lāvaṇya.”

Because Kṛṣṇa is intoxicated by seeing Rādhā’s lāvaṇya, Her maidservants and girlfriends are intoxicated by seeing Kṛṣṇa looking at Rādhikā like this.

The ocean of lāvaṇya is compared to the third cosmic ocean, the ocean of wine.
The practicing devotees should also forget everything related to this world or the next world and become intoxicated by worshiping the lotus-feet of that Śrī Rādhā! (5)

tika to Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi, verse 18

Śrī Rādhā is the ocean of deep compassion

Śrī Rādhā is the ocean of deep compassion, always showering Her devotees with the nectar-stream of Her mercy.
Those who have been touched by the nectar of that compassion, can testify.

Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī says:
karuṇā vidravad dehā – “Her body melts with compassion”.

Normally, a person’s heart melts with compassion, but only in Rādhārāṇī’s case the whole body melts with compassion. She always bathes in streams of ambrosial compassion, and because Kṛṣṇa accepted Her mood when He became Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Mahāprabhu is so merciful!

Mahāprabhu does not consider who is qualified or unqualified, who is from which caste or from which āśrama. He gives prema (love of God) without making such distinctions! That is ‘a body melting with compassion’!

It is Rādhā’s storehouse of compassion, not Kṛṣṇa’s!

In Vraja-līlā the storehouse of Rādhā’s mercy remained hidden and closed, but when Mahāprabhu accepted the mood and complexion of Śrī Rādhā, it became manifest to the world!
Mahāprabhu showed the people of the world how the body can melt with compassion, because He assumed Śrī Rādhā’s merciful mood.
Because Rādhikā’s body melts with compassion, it can be compared to the fourth cosmic ocean, the ocean of clarified butter. (4)

tika to Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi, verse 18

Śrī Rādhā is the ocean of vātsalya

Śrī Rādhā is the ocean of vātsalya.

Vātsalya means love for the poor and the fallen. Just as Śrī Rādhā is an inexhaustible storehouse of amorous rasa, She is also a great ocean of vātsalya-affection.

The writers of the rasa śāstras (aesthetic scriptures) say that the vātsalya rasa is not compatible with the madhura rasa, but Rādhārāṇī makes them compatible in some situations.

For instance, She gives the greatest bliss to Rasika Śiromaṇi (Kṛṣṇa) and Her girlfriends and maidservants when She gives this ‘motherly’ affection to Kṛṣṇa while He takes His meal.
Śrī Rādhā’s vātsalya towards Her girlfriends is also most wonderful. She is always controlled by their affection.

Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī gives the following example in his ‘Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi’ (Rādhā Prakaraṇa 34):

upadiśa sakhi vṛnde vallabendrasya sūnuṁ
kim ayam iha sakhīnāṁ mām adhīnāṁ dunoti
apasaratu saśaṅkaṁ mandirān māninīnāṁ
kalayati lalitāyāḥ kiṁ na śauṭīrya dhāṭīm

Śrī Rādhā had a quarrel with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but now She regrets it (this is called kalahāntarita bhāva). She is once more very eager to meet Him, but in order to show that She is under the full control of Her girlfriends, She tells Vṛndā:
“O sakhi Vṛnde! Tell this prince of Vraja that I am controlled by My girlfriends! Why does He waste His words on Me? We are proud girls, it is not proper for Him to stay in our abodes! Tell Him that He’d better fearfully flee! Doesn’t He know the prowess of My friend Lalitā?”

With these words sakhī vatsalā Śrī Rādhā pleases Her girlfriends and gives a hidden instruction to Śyāmasundara to come and meet Her at the same time.

Śrī Rādhā’s vātsalya towards Her maidservants is incomparible!
The maidservants are always showered by waves from the ocean of Her ‘motherly’ affection ! She always keeps them by Her side, calling them “My Rūpa Manjarī, My Rati Ṁañjarī”, with strong feelings of mineness.

In the eighth canto of his ‘Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta’, Śrīpāda has drawn a very sweet picture of how Śrī Rādhā showers Her maidservants with the nectar of Her compassion:

kṣaṇaṁ caraṇa vicchedyāc chrīśvaryāḥ prāṇa hāriṇīm
padāravinda samlagna tayaivāharniśaṁ sthitām
preṣṭha dvandva prasāda srag vastra bhūṣādi mohinīm
mahā vinaya sauśilyādy anekāścarya sad guṇām

“Day and night the maidservants are staying at Śrīśvarī’s (Rādhikā’s) lotus-feet, for they will die if they are separated from them for even a second. They are very enchanting as they wear the leftover garlands, dresses and ornaments of the loving divine Couple and they are also adorned with many amazing attributes such as great humility and good behaviour.”

Because there is a lot of the essential part of affection in the vātsalya-ocean, just as yoghurt is the essence of milk, this ocean can be compared to the fifth cosmic ocean, the ocean of yoghurt. (3)

tika to Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi, verse 18

Śrīmatī Rādhā is the only ocean of anurāga (mahā-bhāva)

Śrīmatī is the only ocean of anurāga.

ānurāga means mahā-bhāva.
ānurāga is ever-fresh and ever-astonishing.

Śrīmatī thinks Kṛṣṇa’s sweetness is ever fresh and She always has more taste for His sweetness, so She always relishes it.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in His ‘Ujjvala Nilamaṇi’ (Sthāyibhāva 104):

ko’yam kṛṣṇa iti vyudasyati dhṛtim yas taṇvi karṇaṁ viśan
rāgāndhe kim idaṁ sadaiva bhavati tasyorasi krīḍati
hāsyaṁ mā kuru mohite tvam adhunā nyastāsya haste mayā
satyaṁ satyam asau dṛg aṅganam agād adyaiva vidyun nibhaḥ

One day Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Her friends headed by Lalitā met Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa became overwhelmed by Rādhikā’s mādana rasa and just to joke with Him, Śrīmatī went to see Her girlfriends in another bower. When the sakhīs there pronounced Kṛṣṇa’s name, Śrī Rādhā told Lalitā:
“O Kṛśodari (slender girl)! Who is that, whose name you are pronouncing?”
Lalitā said: “Whoever it is, what’s that to You?”
Śrī Rādhā said: “Sakhi! I have to know, because I am worried about how to keep My vow as a chaste housewife after hearing that name!”
Lalitā replied: “O Rāgāndhe (Girl blinded by love)! But You are always playing at His chest!”
Śrī Rādhā said: “Sakhi! Are You joking with Me? I have never even met this boy!”
Lalitā said: “O Mohite (bewildered girl)! Has Your knowledge been covered over by intense desire? I have just handed You over to Him!”
Śrī Rādhikā then remembers and says: “Sakhi! You speak the truth! In this lifetime He has appeared before My eyes today for one second, just like a lightning-flash!”

This example shows how anurāga makes the anurāgavati (passionate girl) ever more thirsty after Kṛṣṇa’s great and astonishing sweetness and thus makes Her relish this sweetness more and more. With the statement that Rādhārāṇī is the only ocean of anurāga rasa is meant that when anurāga increases, it becomes mahā-bhāva and that when mahā-bhāva increases it is called mādana mahā-bhāva.

Śrī Rādhārāṇī is the only One who has this mādana mahābhāva and She is the fountainhead of all mahā-bhāva, just as the ocean is the fountainhead of all the rivers and ponds.
The other gopīs are Her phalanx who help Her to complete Kṛṣṇa’s relishing of transcendental mellows.

Just as milk becomes thick kṣīra (cream) when it is boiled down, anurāga turns into mahā-bhāva when it becomes ‘thick’ (intensified). Therefore the anurāga-ocean is compared to the sixth cosmic ocean, the ocean of milk.

tika to Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi, verse 18