hey have braids that swing to and fro,
beautiful broad hips and slender waists,
splendid necklaces decorating
the flower buds of their beautiful breasts,
various splendid ornaments and garments,
glistening golden complexions the color of saffron,
and youthful beauty that is as sweet as nectar.
Remember Sri Radha’s maidservants
like this in Vrindavan.
saṁvīta-śrī-stana-mukulayor ullasad-dhāra-yaṣṭīḥ |
vṛndāṭavyāṁ smara rasamayī rādhikā-kiṅkarīs tāḥ ||
After following the illumination coming from the very central point of all existence, Prabodhananda finds Radha and becomes absorbed in her, and then the effulgence emanating from Radha starts to take shape and becomes the world of Vrindavan, which includes the sakhis and dasis. To belong to this world, one must become that light, which is both friendship and service to her, i.e., to be united with her in love for Krishna.
The Vaishnava sādhaka in Rādhā-dāsya is instructed to think of him or herself as having a form like the one described here. This self-meditation is found in all the instruction manuals of such practice, such as Sādhanāmṛita-candrikā of Govardhan’s Siddha Krishna Das Babaji.
Taking refuge in devotion, one should constantly meditate
on one’s own form as a manjari,
whose body is drenched with the mercy of the spiritual master,
a cowherd girl decorated with many and various ornaments,
with elevated and fully-developed breasts,
expert in the sixty-four arts and crafts,
wearing a red skirt and white shawl,
wearing a blouse covered in pearls
and bordered with red and gold ribbon,
anointed with unguents of musk and sandalwood,
who is always sweetly smiling,
who is always eager for service
and expert in finding out new ways of serving,
who is endowed with all good qualities like humility,
who always prays for Radha’s mercy,
whose every action is only for the pleasure of Radha and Krishna,
who is like a beautiful lotus flower herself,
who has a deep and secret feeling of love for Krishna,
whose beauty bewilders even Cupid with joy,
who is expert in making conversation
that increases the pleasures of the conjugal affairs,
who is transcendentally, beautifully formed,
who is always jubilant due to absorption
in songs that are pleasing to the Holy Couple,
whose bodily lustre is of molten gold,
who is free from even the slightest hint of self-centred desire,
who is overwhelmed day and night
by feelings of love for the Divine Couple.
Such meditation is summarized in one verse by Prabodhananda Saraswati in the Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi—
prasādaṁ svāminyāḥ sva-kara-tala-dattaṁ praṇayataḥ
sthitāṁ nityaṁ pārśve vividha-paricaryaika-caturāṁ
kiśorīm ātmānaṁ kim iha sukumārīṁ nu kalaye
When will I see myself as a girl on the cusp of adolescence, expert in all varieties of personal service, always standing beside my Swamini Radharani, wearing a dress and blouse previously worn by her and affectionately given to me by her personally. (RRSN 53)
How sweet it is to think, “I am Radha’s maidservant!” How tender and delicious is the remembrance of one’s siddha-svarūpa!
Srimad Jīva Goswami says in Bhakti Sandarbha (304), “Even if one does not perform any other spiritual practice, one can attain perfection simply by having the attitude that ‘I am a servant of the Lord’ (dāso’ham).”
The practising devotee takes the forms, qualities and activities of the eternally perfect maidervants (nitya-siddha-mañjarī-gaṇa) as his example to nourish his self-identification that “I am an adolescent maidservant with such-and-such qualities, service and form. I am not this body, I am not this mind, and I am not these senses, but I am a transcendental female individual, eternally endowed with adolescent beauty!” This is how the aspirant shrugs off his bodily and mental consciousness.
The Upaniṣads state: “The soul is not female, not male and not neuter. It is only upon attaining a particular body that one is identified with a particular gender.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 5.10)
Prabodhananda Saraswati not only thinks of himself as an adolescent maidservant, but he also says, “I am wearing a dress and blouse previously worn by my own mistress Radharani and affectionately given me by her personally.” Why affectionately? Because she was satisfied with my service.
According to Srila Raghunath Das Goswami, all of Srimati Radharani’s clothes and ornaments are made out of transcendental emotions. Even a dried-up heart will be filled with rasa on remembering Srimati’s leftover blouses and dresses. Uddhava says,
ucchiṣṭa-bhojino dāsās tava māyāṁ jayemahi
We, your eternal servants, will easily conquer your material energy for we eat only the remnants of your food and dress ourselves in the garlands, unguents, clothes and ornaments you yourself have worn. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.6.46)
Uddhava’s statement falls within the realm of aiśvarya bhāva or the reverential conception, therefore the conquest of Maya is mentioned as the benediction, but in the realm of sweetness, the benediction is rasa. The meditation on Radhika’s sweet pastimes is interpenetrated by memories of the blouse and dress that she mercifully gave her kinkari with her own hand. These prasadi clothes are permeated by Radha and Krishna’s bodily fragrance, which makes the kinkari feel specially blessed when she smells them.