T oday is the divine appearance of Srimati Lalita Devi, Lalita Devi was born in the village of Karhala, and later on her father brought her to Uccagaon, which is known as the place of her pastimes. There are still many remains of her having lived there, like a rock containing the imprints of her lotus feet. There are also imprints of some small utensils she used when she and the other sakhis fed Lord Krsna, when He would come to visit them. When the sun-rays fall on the imprints of those pots and plates, they glitter and shine. All the sakhis used to play with Krsna and Lalita in Uccagaon, and there are many places there where you can see their footprints to this day.
On the hill there is a slippery rock showing where a specific pastime was enacted in a marriage arena. There, the gopis arranged a special kind of marriage between Lalita and Krsna. This should not be misunderstood as a real marriage, but rather a play marriage, like the marriage that was once enacted between Srimati Radhika and Krsna.
In that pastime, Krsna was sitting beside Lalita, and the sakhis began to play mischievously. Visakha and some of the other sakhis tied Sri Lalita’s veil to Krsna’s pitambara (yellow shawl). Then suddenly, on the indication of Srimati Radhika, Rangadevi and other sakhis started to sing wedding songs, while Tungavidya and others uttered wedding mantras. The remaining sakhis showered flowers on Sri Krsna and Lalita. When Lalita noticed that something tricky was being done to her, she tried to run away; but because she was tied to Krsna’s pitambara she could not do so. All the sakhis then surrounded the couple and married them.
Even today, one can see the signs of the slide on the hill, as well as the markings of ‘alta’ (red lac) from the gopi’s feet. Although this pastime took place 5000 years ago, you can still visualize these signs with your own eyes.
There are four types of sakhis: svapaksa, vipaksa, tatastha and suhrt. Sva-paksa means those sakhis who are totally on the side of Srimati Radhika. Vipaksa means those gopis who are totally on the opposite side, i.e. supporting Candravali and opposed to Radhika. Tatastha means those who are neutral towards Srimati Radha Rani and more favorably inclined towards Candravali. Suhrt means those who are more favorably disposed towards Srimati Radhika and neutral towards Candravali.
Lalita-devi and Visakha-devi are examples of gopis who are svapaksa to Srimati Radhika, Candravali is vipaksa, Bhadra is tatastha, and Syamala is suhrt.
Lalita Devi is the prime ashtasakhi of the eight primary sakhis of Srimati Radharani. She generally has the same loving attitude towards both Radha and Krishna, yet she is more protective of and loyal to Srimati Radharani. Lalita sakhi is always favorably disposed towards the pastimes of Radha and Krishna, and she always tries to please Them. When Radha and Krishna meet and engage in amorous pastimes, Lalita gently wipes away the perspiration on Their lotus feet.
Sometimes she authoritatively commands both Radha and Krishna, wagging her index finger at them, but she is able to do this only because she is also fiercely loving towards them. Also this sort of affectionate ‘bullying’ heightens the Divine Couple’s enjoyment in union.
Lalita has many charming qualities. For the sadhakas she is their best hope, if she sees in Vrndavana any gopi, or anyone who has even the slightest desire to serve Srimati Radhika, she immediately fulfills that person’s wish and gives her the unlimited wealth of the service of Srimati’s lotus feet. If anyone has a one-pointed desire to perform service to Srimati Radharani under the direct guidance of Srimati Lalita-devi and furthermore under the shelter of Sri Rupa Manjari, that devotee should know that Lalita-devi’s shelter is the only path by which one can achieve this.
Like Radharani, Lalita also has all the qualities of being a yuthesvari – group leader of a band of gopis. However, despite being older than Radhika and having the qualification of a yuthesvari, still, the only goal of her life is to serve Srimati Radhika and to facilitate the meeting of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Her only happiness is the meeting of Radha and Krishna and to achieve that goal, she never considers any amount of discomfort or suffering.
She is so beautiful that her beauty surpasses the autumnal full moon. Her specific quality is that she is very expert in applying make-up, and especially in arranging the hair decoration of Srimati Radhika. Although all the eight principal sakhis are very famous for adorning and applying the make-up of Srimati Radharani, Lalita and Visakha are the most expert. And of these two, Lalita is considered the most proficient.
Lalita is the siksa-guru of all the gopis in Radhika’s group, and also of Radha Herself. Srila Rupa Gosvami writes: Lalita-devi sometimes chastises Radhika, saying, “Oh Kalankini, Oh unchaste one, don’t give in to Krishna so easily.” And she does not spare Krishna when he shows up at Sri Radha’s kunja “You blackguard, why have you come now? Go back to that one with whom you have been dallying…”
In his Lalita Ashtakam, Srila Rupa Gosvami prays, “I offer pranama again and again unto Srimati Lalita-devi.”
yam kam api vraja-kule vrsabhanu-jayah
preksya sva-paksa-padavim anurudhyamanam
sadyas tad-ista-ghatanena krtarthayantim
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami
“I offer pranama unto the supremely charming Sri Lalita-devi, the treasure house of all good qualities. Upon seeing any young maiden anywhere in Vraja and discerning that she is inclined towards her priya-sakhi Srimati Radhika, Lalita immediately tells Radha that She must accept this person in Her own party (svapaksa). Radha obeys Lalita, who thus fulfills that maiden’s desires.” (Sri Lalitastakam, verse 7)
Rupa manjari (Rupa Goswami) is the chief assistant and follower of Lalita-sakhi. All those who consider themselves as Rupanuga bhaktas (followers of Rupa Goswami) are ultimately the followers of Lalita-devi and thus through the system of parampara should always be longing to assist her in her service to the Divine Couple. When finally Lalita devi is pleased with our service, she will engage us directly in the intimate loving service of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna according to our heart’s desire.
Our very own Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s transcendental identity had been revealed to the members of his spiritual family, as being the best of the followers of Rupa Manjari who is the leader of Lalita Sakhi’s entourage. In various places in his own writings, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has indicated this divine identity:
yugala-sevaya, shri-rasa-mandale, niyukta kara amay
lalita-sakhira, ayogya-kinkari, vinoda dhariche pay
Bhaktivinoda holds your feet and asks you to engage this unworthy servant of Lalita Sakhi in the service of the Divine Couple while they are performing the rasa-lila.
The Radha Krishna Ganoddesha Dipika states the following about Srimati Lalita Devi,
Among these most exalted gopis who are most dear to Krsna, the leader and controller is Lalita-devi. Lalita-devi is full of ecstatic love for the divine couple. She is expert at arranging both Their meeting and Their conjugal struggle. Sometimes, for Radha’s sake, she offends Lord Madhava. The beauty of all the other gopis appears to be conserved in the form of Lalita-devi. In an argument her mouth becomes bent with ferocious anger and she expertly speaks the most outrageous and arrogant replies. When the arrogant gopis pick a quarrel with Krsna, she is in the forefront of the conflict. When Radha and Krsna meet, she audaciously remains standing a little away from them. With the help of Purnamasi-devi and the other gopis she arranges for the meeting of Radha and Krsna. She carries the parasol for the divine couple, she decorates Them with flowers and she decorates the cottage where They rest at night and rise in the morning.
The Gaura-Govindarcana Smarana Paddhati states the following about Srimati Lalita Devi,
On the northern petal of Ananga-sukhada Kuñja, there is a beautiful kuñja covered with various kinds of flowers and trees. This place is known as Lalitanandada Kuñja and is the color of lightning. The lovely Lalita Sakhi always lives here. She has a beautiful bright yellow (gorocana) complexion and wears a dress the color of peacock feathers. She is adorned with celestial ornaments and personifies the type of bhava known as khandita. She and Sri Krishna are very, very dear to each other and her sea is to bring camphor and tambula to Him. Her age is 14 years, 8 months and 27 days. In the opinion of the pandits, her father’s name is Visokaka, her mother’s Sarada, and her husband’s Bhairava Gopa. Her home is in Yavata and her nature is vama-prakhara. In gaura-lila, she has assumed the form of Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami.
The characteristics of khandita-bhava are: When the time for the pre-arranged meeting has passed, and the nayaka arrives in the morning bearing the love marks from another girl, the nayika’s condition at that time is called khandita. Her behavior is marked by anger, long and deep breathing, refusing to speak, etc.
The characteristics of vama-prakhara are now described. The good fortune of the gopis (such as prema, beauty, sweetness, wit, etc.) is divided into three categories—adhika (abundant), sama (moderate) and laghu (slight).
Moreover, each of these categories is again divided into prakhara (acute), madhya (moderate) and mridvi (mild). She whose speech is very bold and sometimes impudent, and whose statements no one can refute, is called prakhara. One possessing this intensity in a lesser degree is called madly, and in the least degree, mridvi. Laghu-prakhara is also of two kinds, namely vamp (left-wing, or contrary) and daksina (right-wing, or compliant).
Now the characteristics of vama: The nayika who always maintains her pride and becomes angry when her nayaka neglects her is called vamp. Her resolve can’t be broken by the nayaka and, at times like this, she is very hard on him. In this youth (group), Lalita and others are celebrated as being vama-prakhara. An example is such: One day, bringing fresh ghee for a yajña, Sri Radha and Her sakis went to the place called Dana-ghata, where Sri Krishna pretended to be a tax collector. As Sri Radha was talking with Lalita-sakhi, Krishna began touching Her. Then Lalita proudly stepped up and stopped Him, saying, “‘Each of these beautiful vraja-gopis is worth more than 84 lakhs,’ Your dear friend Madhumangala has said. Among all of them my priya-sakhi is the most precious and hard to get. O Crooked One! In spite of that, why do You still try to grab Her, huh?”
The chief sakis in Lalita’s group are Ratnarekha (or Ratnaprabha), Ratikala, Subhadra, Candrarekhika (or Bhadrarekhika), Sumukhi, Dhanistha, Kalahamsi and Kalapini.
mayura-piñcha-vasanam subha-bhusanadhyam |
sri-radhika-priya-sakhim lalitam smarami || 210 ||
Sri Lalita’s dhyana is: I meditate upon the lovely Sri Lalita, whose beautiful bright yellow (gorocana) complexion rebukes the luster of a precious jewel. She has long beautiful braided hair and wears a dress the color of peacock feathers. She serves Sri Krishna by offering tambula to Him, and she is a very dear friend of Sri Radha.