May Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja’s daughter, who becomes startled when She hears the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, and whose limbs become like a blossoming campaka creeper when She gazes at Kṛṣṇa, become pleased with my singing songs about Kṛṣṇa’s glories. May She suddenly embrace me.
Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī sees Kṛṣṇa from a distance and hears Him as He is playing His flute. She then trembles like a campaka flower creeper in a strong breeze. The campaka flower is endowed with the special qualities of Campakalatā–sakhī. Each of Rādhārānī’s aṣṭa-sakhīs have special qualities particular to them. Campakalatā-sakhī distributes the nectar of Rādhārānī’s heart. She is like the blossomed campaka flower that spreads the fragrance of Rādhārānī’s moods. She instills within everyone around her a happy and enthusiastic mood. When people are happy then naturally they become enthusiastic. Bhakti cannot increase without utsaha, enthusiasm.
When we have faith, then utsaha can come to us. But if we always have doubts and always think ourselves to be great while finding faults in others, then we can never be enthusiastic. Campakalatā-sakhī gives strong utsaha, niścaya, enthusiasm, faith, determination, and dhairya, patience or fortitude. When we are fixed in our possession of these qualities, we can perform tat-tat-karma-pravartanat—we become eager to do all those activities that are favorable to devotion.
Campakalatā-sakhī gives us the desire or tendency to serve. Our direct medium for receiving this is through Guru-pāda-padma. Guru-pāda-padma carries all these special qualities of the aṣṭa-sakhīs and Śrīmatī Radhika within him for the benefit of the sādhakas and he empowers them as necessary.
So many people of this world spend great amounts of wealth on their birthdays or anniversaries, but they do not spend anything on the days celebrating the birth of Rādhārānī or Kṛṣṇa. Devotees however feel great joy in arranging these festivals with all their energy. This is the main aspect of tat-tat-karma-pravartana—activities favorable for increasing our love and devotion.
Why is it said ‘tat-tat?’ The first tat refers to Kṛṣṇa and the second tat refers to Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. We therefore celebrate both Kṛṣṇa’s festival days as well as those of His bhaktas.
The word campaka is used in this verse. One reason for its use here is to mention the glories of Campakalatā-sakhī who helps us to always be inspired and who increases our love and joy in our services. Before, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda prayed to the Yamunā or Viśākhā-devī indirectly in his poetry and now he is praying indirectly to Campakalatā-sakhī.
The happiness that she gives is everlasting and ever increasing. One becomes more and more enthusiastic to serve by receiving this power of happiness and enthusiasm from Her.
When Kṛṣṇa plays on His flute, He does so especially for Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. When Rādhārānī hears the flute sound, She experiences supreme joy and longing to be with Kṛṣṇa. In this world people make many announcements and others receive them with their own judgment and conclusions through the media. People hear so many things in this world, but unfortunately they do not hear Kṛṣṇa’s flute-song or Śukadeva Gosvāmī’s hari-kathā. They do not hear the discourses of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Hari-kathā is in fact Kṛṣṇa’s flute-call incarnated in this world for the benefit of all people.
Campakalatā-sakhī gives us spiritual eagerness to hear Kṛṣṇa’s flute-song, or in other words, the hari-kathā of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Kṛṣṇa infuses His flute-call with His desire. This sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute goes specifically to those who are the followers of Rādhārānī in mādhurya-rasa. Kṛṣṇa sends His flute-call to them. So only those who are in mādhurya-rasa will hear the flute sound. When we hear Kṛṣṇa’s flute-song in the form of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas’ hari-kathā then the special attractive qualities of Śyāmasundara become visible within our hearts and our love becomes fixed towards the Divine Couple.
It is when one’s love is lost that he will feel sad and hopeless. If one can collect all his love and offer it to Kṛṣṇa then he will always be happy. The heart of that person will attract Kṛṣṇa to come and enter there. Kṛṣṇa does not wish to enter any place that is dark and cold. By hearing the divine message from Kṛṣṇa’s bhaktas we will soon understand the glories of hari-kathā and we ourselves will become glorious and close to Kṛṣṇa.
When will that day come where we surrender completely to Rādhārānī? Rādhārānī will arrange a kuñja-kuṭīra for us to stay in and serve from. If we go to Kṛṣṇa directly, His three hundred million servants—the demigods—will offer their help to us. This is the system that is in place. He will not send those who approach Him to His loving devotees—tad-anurāgīs. If we take shelter of Rādhārānī however, She will give us the shelter of the Vraja-devīs and the Guru-varga. They are tad-anurāgī and to become their follower is the perfection of our existence. That soul who remembers and takes shelter of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and has a relationship with Her followers is the most fortunate soul.
paṅkeruhaiḥ śiśirayā sva-rasa-cchaṭābhiḥ
O Śrīmatī Rādhikā, whose hips are the dancing arena of amorous play, with the cooing swan of Your belt, the buzzing bees of Your anklets, and the splendor of Your graceful beauty, please bring coolness to the heart of Your beloved, Kṛṣṇa. (Verse 20)
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s belt has many small bells that are always sounding softly as She walks. Her ankle bells sound like the buzzing of bees. Rādhārānī’s ornaments exist only to please Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī wears these ornaments exclusively for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure. These ornaments are each one of Kṛṣṇa’s desires. All the Vraja-devīs are wearing different ornaments that also represent Kṛṣṇa’s different desires. The gopīs are naturally fulfilling Kṛṣṇa’s desires at every moment and this is represented in their ornaments. Kṛṣṇa’s desires are each like an ornament and the gopīs like to wear these ornaments.
In our line, a sannyāsī holds a tridaṇḍa, or staff made of three sticks of bamboo. This has great significance.
Śrīla Gurudeva used to speak on the special meaning behind the sannyāsa-daṇḍa. When someone receives tridaṇḍi–sannyāsa, then guru gives this daṇḍa, which is like a limb of Bhagavān. The tridaṇḍa represents sat–svarupa Baladeva Prabhu, cit–svarupa Kṛṣṇa, and ananda–svarupa Rādhārani.
The tridaṇḍa is thus part of Kṛṣṇa’s own transcendental form and it gives the jīva the transcendental śakti to be aloof from māyā. A sannyāsī will feel, “I am present with Guru-pāda-padma, I am present with Kṛṣṇa, I am present with Rādhārānī, and with my spiritual form, I am always serving them.” So for this reason they have a tridaṇḍa.
Similarly, the ornaments the Vraja-devīs wear are like limbs of Kṛṣṇa Himself. Their bangles, their earrings, their necklaces—don’t think these ornaments are ordinary things, some jewellery or something to enhance their beauty.
If you read Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi you will find description of the different bhavas, or moods, that are present on the bodies of the Vraja-devīs as their ornaments. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta describes how Rādhārānī’s different attire is Her different moods of love and service to Kṛṣṇa. The Vraja-devīs are constantly serving Kṛṣṇa even in the seemingly simple activity of wearing ornaments.
The ornaments the gopīs wear are all Kṛṣṇa’s Anga-kanti, like His own limbs or desires.
The Brahma-saṁhita (32) describes: aṅgani yasya sakalendriya vrtti manti—any part of Kṛṣṇa can perform the function of any
of His other limbs. Similarly, the Vraja-devis’ ornaments are like Kṛṣṇa’s limbs and Kṛṣṇa can meet them through these.
Rādhārānī’s waist has a very nice belt. During the time of Dāmodara-vrata, the gopīs tied Rādhārānī to Kṛṣṇa; at that time they become Rādhā-damodara. This is permanent. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that they are bound together like a cow is bound with a rope; this is not like that. Rādhārānī is wearing this belt and even without being directly attached with one another all the time, They are still bound by this rope of affection.
Yaśodā Mātā bound Kṛṣṇa with a rope, but then later this rope would unbind and Kṛṣṇa again could move around, but the belt of Rādhārānī is a rope that is always binding Kṛṣṇa to Her. He always has the most affection and attachment to Her and is always thinking of Her.
Kṛṣṇa is always bound to the gopīs by their waist belts; for Kṛṣṇa’s happiness they wear these belts. On these belts, there are small chains and bells, and in this way they show their affection for Kṛṣṇa, and by wearing these it is like they are praying to always be present with Him.
If a sannyasi gives up his daṇḍa or does not carry it with him, it is like neglecting Gurudeva or Baladeva, Kṛṣṇa, and Rādhārānī. It is like saying, “Oh, I don’t need you, I don’t need Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārānī.”
Therefore, a sannyasi should always carry his daṇḍa with him the same way the Vraja-devīs always wear their ornaments. Most ladies these days don’t wear ornaments. They don’t have bangles on their hands, they don’t have nose rings or earrings or necklaces or any ornaments. It means they like to be free and independent from everything. But a chaste lady will wear various ornaments. Even in this world these ornaments are representing her chastity or relation to her husband.
If a brahmacārī is not wearing kanti-mālā or tilaka, he is showing that he is not faithful to his Gurudeva and is just like a mayāvādī. The Vraja-devīs are not like this and we must follow them. Real followers will always follow the proper etiquette of wearing tilaka, neck-beads, japa–mālā, and dhotī. Also, a proper sannyāsī will always carry his daṇḍa.
The ornaments of the gopīs are always singing songs like swans or like bees. In Vraja every step is a dance and every word is a song. When the song and the dance of the gopīs is accompanied by all their ornaments jingling and chiming sweetly all the Vrajavāsīs’ utsaha to serve and engage in loving pastimes with Kṛṣṇa increases.
When Yaśodā Mātā ran to catch Kṛṣṇa, as He fled from her in fear of being scolded for breaking the yogurt pot, the flowers in her hair told her, “We are with you, do not worry.” Her ornaments were encouraging her in the same way. Thus the ornaments of the gopīs are not ordinary.
śrī-rādhike sura-taraṅgini divya-keli-
āvarta-nābhi-rucire mama sannidhehi
O Śrīmatī Rādhike, You are like the happy Gaṅga-devi, garlanded with the waves of so many pastimes. You have a glistening lotus like face and are like a river passionately flowing to meet the dark ocean of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. O Goddess, Your whirlpool navel is so graceful and beautiful. Please appear before my eyes. (Verse 21)
Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:
jayatāṁ suratau paṅgor
mama manda-mater gatī
He says, “Jayatāṁ-suratau.” He is praying, “O Rādhe! Please conquer over my lusty desires. Kṛṣṇa is surati, full of so much love. I am blind and lame. Even if I want to go to Kṛṣṇa, I have no strength. I am spiritually crippled and blind, so please, even though I am so foolish and weak, kindly grant me Your darśana.”
sārān ajasram abhitaḥ sravad-āśriteṣu
śrī-rādhike tava kadā caraṇāravindaṁ
govinda-jīvana-dhanaṁ śirasā vahāmi
O Śrī Rādhā, when will I place on my head Your lotus feet, which are a flood of the nectar of divine love, a flood that always flows among those who have surrendered to You, and which are a treasure dearer than life for Śrī Kṛṣṇa? (verse 22)
Gurudeva taught us to pray:
śyāmasundara śikhaṇḍa śekhara
smera hāsa muralī-manohara
rādhikā-rasika māṁ kṛpā-nidhe
“O beautiful dark-hued boy with a peacock-feather crown, Your playful smile and Your flute completely bewilder the mind. You are expert at tasting the nectar of Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s love, and You are an ocean of mercy. O Śyāmasundara, I beg You to make me a maidservant of Your beloved, under the guidance of Her followers.”
saṅketa-kuñjam anu kuñjara-manda-gāminy
tvāṁ kāma-keli-rabhasena kadā calantīṁ
rādhe ‘nuyāmi padavīm upadarśayantī
O Śrīmatī Rādhikā! When will I, carrying sandalwood paste, fragrances, and flower garlands, walk slowly behind You, whose graceful gait is like that of an elephant? I will show you which path to take to meet with Kṛṣṇa in Your forest rendezvous. (verse 23)
The Signal of Service
In this verse Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda indicates how Rādhārānī becomes completely absorbed with desire to meet Kṛṣṇa. The amorous desire in Kṛṣṇa reflects in Her heart and then eager to please Kṛṣṇa, She departs for Saṅket, Their secret meeting place in the forest. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda longs for the chance to carry sandalwood paste, flower garlands, and other fragrant articles for the pleasure of the Divine Couple and to follow slowly behind Śrīmatī Rādhikā as She progresses toward Saṅket. He is praying that in such a situation Śrīmatījī will give a signal indicating what service is needed and in his eternal form he will carry out that service. The true guru-sevaka is like this. He is always eager to serve and receive instruction from Guru-pāda-padma.
Rādhārānī does not have to speak in order to communicate the need of a service to be done. She and Her sakhīs and mañjarīs have a heart-to-heart connection. The sakhīs and mañjarīs can understand when Rādhārānī has a desire and each of them can feel when that desire is directed to them. As soon as Śrīmatī desires that a service be done, the Vraja-devīs automatically understand and perform that service.
The author is praying for that day when he shares that heart connection with Śrīmatī and the Vraja-devīs and receives orders for service as he—in his form as a gopī—escorts Rādhārānī to the kuñja where She will meet with Kṛṣṇa.
Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from a Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Radha-Rasa-Sudha-Nidhi”. Available from: [email protected] )