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Lalitā Saptami

[September 22, 2023 is the Lalitā Saptami in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is the bhāva anuvāda translation of the kathā on the appearance day of Śrī Lalitā-sakhī, given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on September 01, 2014. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]


Today is a special tithi, it is Lalitā Saptamī. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī expanded Herself as Lalitā-sakhī to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This is called kāya-vyūha, in other words, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s expansion of Her own transcendental form. First, She expanded Herself in eight forms – Lalitā, Viśākhā, Citrā, Indulekhā, Campakalatā, Tuṅgavidyā, Raṅgadevī, and Sudevī. However, upon contemplating that despite these eight forms She was unable to adequately serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī expanded Herself further as all the mañjarīs – Śrī Rūpa-mañjarī, Śrī Lavaṅga-mañjarī, Śrī Vilāsa-mañjarī and so on. Such is Her endeavor for Kṛṣṇa-sevā.


In Goloka Vṛndāvana, the age neither increases nor decreases, it remains [eternally] the same, this is the specialty. Lalitā-sakhī is 7-8 days older than Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī [in the spiritual world] [Other sources say she is 27 days older than Rādhārāṇī]. When she manifested the pastime of appearing in this world, she appeared in the village of Karehlā and later came to Ūñcāgaon. Generally, people infer that to escape the atrocities of the demons, locations of residences were changed. However, this reasoning is not accepted by the antaraṅga-bhaktas (intimate devotees), who are of the opinion that Lalitā-sakhī settles wherever it is favorable to render service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. When King Vṛṣabhānu went from Rādhen to Varṣāṇā, Kṛṣṇa also went with Nanda Bābā to Nandagaon.

From the external consideration, Lalitā-sakhī’s mother is Śāradī and father was Viśoba. She also enacted the pastime of getting married to Bhairoṅ-gopa. Bhairoṅ is her [so-called] husband and the meaning of the word ‘Bhairoṅ’ is also ‘husband’.

It is said, due to being covered by ignorance the people of this material world cannot understand the matters of the eternal world. These eternal associates descend to this world under some pretext [to perform their pastimes]. Their [Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa] rendezvous point is Saṅket, which is in between Varṣāṇā and Nandagaon. So, these [eternal associates like Lalitā] come under some pretext to reside nearby in order to nourish Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes.


The gopīs never ever endeavor to satisfy their own senses. That is why it is said in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta [Madhya 8.216]:

premaiva gopa-rāmāṇāṁ kāma ity agamat prathām ity uddhavādayo ’py etaṁ vāñchanti bhagavat-priyāḥ

[“ ‘Although the dealings of the gopīs with Kṛṣṇa are on the platform of pure love of Godhead, such dealings are sometimes considered to be lusty. But because they are completely spiritual, Uddhava and all the other dear-most devotees of the Lord desire to participate in them.’]

The lust of the gopīs in itself is prema.

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā — tāre bali ‘kāma’ kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare ‘prema’ nāma

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 4.165)

[The desire to gratify one’s own senses is kāma [lust], but the desire to please the senses of Lord Kṛṣṇa is prema [love].]

ataeva kāma-preme bahuta antara

kāma--andha-tamaḥ, prema--nirmala bhāskara

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 4.171)

[Therefore lust and love are quite different. Lust is like dense darkness, but love is like the bright sun.]

There is a gulf of difference between kāma and prema. Kāma is andhatama, which implies not only darkness, but dense darkness. Whereas prema is nirmala bhāskara – like the rays of the sun shining through the clear sky, unobstructed by fog, clouds or dust.

So the lust of the gopīs is prema, because they have no desire of their own, other than the desire for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa's senses. Although apparently it was observed that they had husbands, they engaged all their senses to nourish the service of Kṛṣṇa. Hence it is difficult to comprehend this from the mundane perspective.


Today is Lalitā Saptamī and tomorrow is Rādhāṣṭamī. So who is the elder of the two? Lalitā is elder by one day [as per this calculation], but in reality, she is 7-8 days older than Rādhārāṇī [in the spiritual world]. This is difficult to reconcile [for bhaktas]. They descend to perform pastimes; they do not take birth here. This has been convincingly answered in one Bhagavad-gītā verse [4.9]

janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna

[One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.]

In other words, those who know their transcendental nature in tattva, are praised in the Gītā.

Gītā is considered a śiśu-śāstra, a scripture for beginners, but there are some words and phrases which are [applicable] for both, beginners as well as post-graduates. So it is very difficult to comprehend. One will understand this when one's senses become service-inclined.

Their age neither increases nor decreases, then how does their birth take place? Hence it is mentioned that it is transcendental, divya. We cannot comprehend things about this world, then what to speak of the spiritual world?

ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi

na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ

sevonmukhe hi jihvādau

svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 17.136)

["No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him."]


In other words, the transcendental names, qualities, pastimes, abodes, associates and their attributes are not within the grasp of the [materially contaminated] senses. In that case, by what means can one grasp that which is transcendental? The same senses when transformed can get the ability to see [to hear, to touch and so on]. sevonmukhe hi jihvādau - Why has jivhādau been mentioned first? Because there are three types of hindrances connected with the tongue – jihvā-vega, udara-vega and upasta-vega – urge of the tongue, belly and genitals. When these senses become service-inclined and engage in the service of Bhagavān then, svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ, it becomes self-manifest. You will not attempt to see them [the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord]; they will manifest spontaneously before your eyes.

In Jagannātha-aṣṭakam it is said, 'Jagannātha swāmi nayana patha gāmi bhavatu me' – You please appear before my eyes, in other words, please grant me the eligibility to take Your darśana.

At what stage can one pray like this?

na vai yāce rājyaḿ na ca kanaka-māṇikya-vibhavaḿ na yāce ‘haḿ ramyāḿ sakala jana-kāmyāḿ vara-vadhūm sadā kāle kāle pramatha-patinā gīta-carito jagannāthaḥ svāmī nayana-patha-gāmī bhavatu me

Śrī Jagannātha-aṣṭakam (7)

[I do not pray for a kingdom nor do I pray for gold, rubies, or wealth. I do not ask for a beautiful wife as desired by all men. I simply pray that Jagannātha Svāmī, whose glories Lord Śiva always sings, may be the constant object of my vision.]

When one does not desire any of these things, always wanting only Bhagavān, only then will Bhagavān manifest, not otherwise. What to speak of Bhagavān and Rādhārāṇī, even Her expansions - Lalitā, Viśākha, Citrā, Indulekhā, Campakalatā, Tuṅgavidyā, Raṅgadevī, and Sudevī - cannot be understood despite knowledge of the details of their dress, age and other aspects from the scriptures.


Among all the sakhīs of Rādhārāṇī, Lalitā-sakhī is the chief, the foremost. Due to grief in separation from Kṛṣṇa, when Rādhārāṇī became unsteady, emaciated and Her golden complexion turned lusterless, Lalitā would convince Her by saying, “O Sakhī! Kṛṣṇa forgot You. Now You also give up His remembrance. Otherwise Your body will turn emaciated and it seems as if You will die.” Then Rādhārāṇī responded, “It is not possible for Me to forget Him.”

What is the reason?

tuṇḍe tāṇḍavinī ratiṁ vitanute tuṇḍāvalī-labdhaye karṇa-kroḍa-kaḍambinī ghaṭayate karṇārbudebhyaḥ spṛhām cetaḥ-prāṅgaṇa-saṅginī vijayate sarvendriyāṇāṁ kṛtiṁ no jāne janitā kiyadbhir amṛtaiḥ kṛṣṇeti varṇa-dvayī

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Antya 1.99)

[“I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Kṛṣ-ṇa’ have produced. When the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert.”]

“O Sakhī! How can I give it up? When I utter His name, My tongue dances madly and incessantly chanting Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! And when I hear Kṛṣṇa’s name, I desire to possess millions of ears. Just two ears are not sufficient to do justice to hearing Kṛṣṇa-nāma. And when I remember within My heart, it conquers all my senses such that My ears do not hear, My eyes do not see, My skin does not feel the sense of touch. This is My condition. Therefore, I do not understand and consequently I cannot express how much power (nectar) is contained in the name of Kṛṣṇa.”


What to speak of Rādhārāṇī, even Kṛṣṇa develops the greed to taste His own name when it is uttered by His unalloyed pure devotees (premikā-bhaktas); not ordinary devotees, not even bhāva-bhaktas, only premī-bhaktas. So Kṛṣṇa becomes attracted and comes. Kṛṣṇa-prema has so much power that it attracts Kṛṣṇa.


It is not an ordinary thing to understand the glories of the sakhīs. Even by penance one cannot understand these things. What to speak of others, even Lakṣmī-devī performed penance to get Kṛṣṇa’s association, but could she attain it? It is said,

gopī-ānugatya vinā aiśvarya-jñāne

bhajileha nāhi pāya vrajendra-nandane

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 8.230)

[Unless one follows in the footsteps of the gopīs, he cannot attain the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda Mahārāja. If one is overcome by knowledge of the Lord's opulence, he cannot attain the Lord's lotus feet, even though he is engaged in devotional service.]

Without following the gopīs, one will not attain Kṛṣṇa simply by performing bhajana. That is not possible.


Tomorrow is Rādhāṣṭamī. Lalitā-sakhī is the foremost sakhī of Rādhārāṇī who guides Her. Lalitā-sakhī is non-different from Rādhārāṇī, she is Rādhārāṇī only who expanded Herself to serve Kṛṣṇa [in another form], to acquire patience or to do whatever is required in the service of Kṛṣṇa. So Rādhārāṇī teaches by expanding Her form (kāya-vyūha) as sakhīs.

hlādinī karāya kṛṣṇe ānandāsvādana

hlādinīra dvārā kare bhaktera poṣaṇa

(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 4.60)

[That hlādinī energy gives Kṛṣṇa pleasure and nourishes His devotees.]

As 'hlādinī' She bestows bliss. She is the cause of both – bliss to the devotees as well as Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa cannot experience bliss without hlādinī-śakti.

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