Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the position of the dearmost of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Rādhā.
Today is Śrī Lalitā Saptamī. It is an extremely worshippable and merciful day for conditioned souls because only the mercy of Lalitā Devī can give them service to Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa, the Divine Couple. We know Lalitā Devī’s position through Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu and the other Goswāmīs. She is the supreme servitor, and her service is more valuable than Rādhārāṇī’s service to Kṛṣṇa. She is very strict about the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. She cannot tolerate even slight faults, but she is also very merciful to sincere seekers who are junior practitioners.
Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s eight principal sakhīs are all under the guidance of Lalitā Devī. It puzzling to us that a servant can tell their master, “Sit down. Don’t interfere with my service”, yet Lalitā Devī, and only Lalitā Devī, has the right to speak this way. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī composed a poem for Lalitā Devī:
devīṁ guṇaiḥ sulalitāṁ lalitāṁ namāmi
Gunaiḥ sulalitāṁ: she has all varieties of sweet qualities, and her service is incomparable. She is very merciful to everyone, but she knows how to serve better than anyone. Rādhā-Mukunda-pada-sambhava-gharma-bindu-nirmañchanopakaraṇī-kṛta-deha-lakṣām: if she sees any deficiency or disturbance in the service being offered to Rādhā and Govinda, she becomes very furious and desires to take on thousands of bodies to remove Rādhā and Govinda’s unhappiness. Naturally as Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa play, sweat appears on Their lotus feet, and They sometimes begin to feel some fatigue. To remove that sweat, Lalitā Devī desires to take on thousands and thousands of bodies.
Uttuṅga-sauhṛda-viśeṣa-vaśāt pragalbhāṁ: sometimes she chastises Rādhārāṇī, and sometimes she chastises Śrī Kṛṣṇa. But always for Their satisfaction, Their service, Their happiness, Their joy. She has no other intention.
There are many groups of sakhīs. Lalitā, Viśākhā, Chitrā, Champakalatā, Tuṅgavidyā, Indulekhā, Sudevī, and Raṅga Devī are the eight principal sakhīs, and each of them have groups of sakhīs, but Lalitā Devī is the chief of them all.
To serve Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī sometimes shows vāma-bhāva, that is, she sometimes becomes angry or strongly opposes Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes others find this very unpalatable to see, but Lalitā Devī always wants to harmonise, and if necessary, she chastises Rādhārāṇī, or chastises Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Her position, nature, and mood are like that. We know that one hundred per cent is the maximum in mathematical calculations, but Lalitā Devī is two hundred percent dedicated.
Ultimately, service is given by Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu on the order of Lalitā Devī to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Rādhā Kuṇḍa, Śyām Kuṇḍa, the Rāsa Sthalī, and everywhere else. Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu is a very close servitor of Lalitā Devī but by age is very junior to her. Śrī Rūpa is very, very dear to Lalitā Devī, and she does not know anything other than Lalitā Devī. Without Lalitā Devī’s consent, she does not do any service for Rādhārāṇī. We can understand chastity through Narottam Ṭhākur’s song:
This is the Gauḍīya–Vaiṣṇava sampradāya’s chief, most honoured song, and it is very dear to the devotees because every devotee wants to serve Lalitā Devī under the guidance of Rūpa Goswāmī and have Lalitā Devī engage them in service to Rādhārāṇī. Our Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur always follows the line of Rūpa Goswāmī. The order and satisfaction of Rūpa Goswāmī is our target in going to render exclusive service with the full consent of Lalitā Devī to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. That is our line.
Śrīla Dās Goswāmī was exclusively attached to Lalitā Devī and Rūpa Goswāmī. He wrote many verses glorifying them. Once Śrīla Dās Goswāmī’s servant passed through Sakhī Sthalī, which is the village of Chandrāvalī, Rādhārāṇī’s competitor. There he collected some buttermilk in a very big leaf. When he gave it to Dās Goswāmī, who is in last years ate only buttermilk, Dās Goswāmī asked him, “Where did you get this big big leaf bowl?” The servant was a simple-hearted Vaiṣṇava and said, “I came through Sakhī Sthalī, and there I saw this leaf and collected some buttermilk for you inside it.” “Huh! You have given me a leaf bowl from Sakhī Sthalī?!” Then Dās Goswāmī threw it on the ground! Through this Pastime, we can see how much he is dedicated to the line of Lalitā Devī and Rūpa Goswāmī.
dekhile śaibyāke paḍaye mane
prāṇe duḥkha pāi tāhāre dekhi’
This is Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur’s very exclusive song about Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī, Rādhārāṇī, and Lalitā Devī’s line.
Every day new arrangements for Rādhā and Govinda’s enjoyment are made. In different places in the forest amidst flowering trees, arrangements are made for Rādhā and Govinda’s kuñja-līlās. Lalitā Devī gives all of the directions for this and also tells Kṛṣṇa where the festive meetings are being arranged. Then Kṛṣṇa goes there to meet Rādhārāṇī. In this way, Lalitā Devī arranges everything, before, during, and after. She is constantly conscious about the service of Rādhā and Govinda.
Today is Lalitā Devī’s appearance day. We know that Lalitā Devī was born in Uchchā Gāo, near Vṛṣabhānupur, Varṣāṇā. Lalitā Devī is a little elder than Rādhārāṇī. I think she appeared one year and one day before Rādhārāṇī.
The supreme form of service to Kṛṣṇa is paramour love. Love, affection, beauty, charm, and so on—everything—are found in Kṛṣṇa’s service, but paramour love is the most tasteful for Kṛṣṇa. For this reason, Rādhārāṇī shows that She has a husband, Abhimanyu Ghoṣ. Lalitā Devī and others also have husbands. If they did not, paramour love would not exist in Lord Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental abode.
We are not qualified to speak about the service Rādhārāṇī and the sakhīs offer to Kṛṣṇa or how they are offer it, but Vaiṣṇavas have said something about that in the scriptures. So many poems have been written in the Vaiṣṇava literature about that, and the poets have given supreme honour to Lalitā Devī.
Every night Śrīman Mahāprabhu tasted the ecstasy of paramour love for Kṛṣṇa. Svarūp Dāmodar sang songs by Chaṇḍī Dās, Vidyāpati, Rāmānanda Rāy, and Jayadev Goswāmī. These compositions are all built by a mountain of dedication in paramour love. Jayadev Goswāmī wrote,
naktam bhīruḥ ayam tvam eva tat imam rādhe gṛham prāpaya
ittham nanda-nideśataḥ chalitayoḥ praty-adhva-kuñja-drumam
rādhā-mādhavayoḥ jayanti yamunā-kūle rahaḥ-kelayaḥ
The raha-keli [confidential Pastimes] of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are the super expression of paramour love, but all arrangement for this is done by Lalitā Devī [‘Their friend’] within Rādhārāṇī’s society. In Chandrāvalī’s society, Śaibyā, a sakhī of Chandrāvalī, and her group make arrangements and sometimes steal Kṛṣṇa while He is on the road. Kṛṣṇa often goes to Rādhārāṇī’s kuñja, but Chandrāvalī is also very clever, and she takes Kṛṣṇa’s hand while He is walking towards Rādhārāṇī and says, “Come to my kuñja.” Kṛṣṇa gives some expression, but not a satisfactory explanation. Then Kṛṣṇa goes to Chandrāvalī’s kuñja, and Rādhārāṇī cries in Her kuñja. Like this, different kinds of Pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa happen in Vṛndāvan-līlā.
We are so fortunate that today we have had a little festival, and as possible by me, I have tried to glorify Lalitā Devī. I think that she not will be angry with me, and by the grace of Śrīla Guru Mahārāj, one day we will get the opportunity to serve her divine grace.
Jay Oṁ Viṣṇupād Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj ki jay!