The Highest Standard of Service

Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj illuminates the exalted character of Śrī Lalitā Devī.

yāṁ kām api vraja-kule vṛṣabhānujāyāḥ
prekṣya sva-pakṣa-padavīm anuruddhyamānām
sadyas tad iṣṭa-ghaṭanena kṛtārthayantīṁ
(Śrī Lalitāṣṭakam: 7)

Whoever she mets in Vraja Dhām, she requests them to join her party, and whenever anyone comes and says, “Yes, admit me”, she at once admits them to come and join the service of Rādhārāṇī, of Śrī Guru.

Her intense attention to look after the interest of Rādhārāṇī is never found anywhere else. Sometimes, she even boldly chastises Kṛṣṇa and asserts the side of Rādhārāṇī. She takes the risk of blaming Kṛṣṇa: “You do not know the dignity of my Mistress. You are undervaluing Her.” Lalitā Devī’s impact is such. Rādhārāṇī’s interest is the highest in her consciousness. These things are beyond even our dreams, but such a position is possible, so much so that Rādhārāṇī Herself feels ashamed: “What does she say about Me? So much?” She feels uneasiness, but Lalitā says, “No. You sit quiet. You don’t know Your interest. I am Your leader. I know what is Your interest, Your position, and I can’t tolerate that Your dignity should be minimised in any way, ever.” This is the spirit of Lalitā Devī.

Svarūp Dāmodar in Nabadwīp is Lalitā, and he is the constant companion of Śrīman Mahāprabhu in Purī. He is the highest class of scholar and also a good singer, but without consideration, He performs the simple services of a servant. When a paṇḍit comes, Svarūp Dāmodar is there, and when there is any lower service, Svarūp Dāmodar is also there; he is everywhere. When Mahāprabhu was lost, Svarūp Dāmodar searched for Him with a lantern all night, moving along the seashore. This is how Lalitā Devī serves Rādhārāṇī.

Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī has composed a song in praise of Lalitā Devī:

rādhā-mukunda pada-sambhava-gharma-bindu-
uttuṅga-sauhṛda-viśeṣa-vaśāt pragalbhāṁ
devīṁ guṇaiḥ sulalitāṁ lalitāṁ namāmi
(Śrī Lalitāṣṭakam: 1)

Here, he explains how Lalitā Devī is the first attendant of Rādhārāṇī. In the inauguration of the song, he says, “Lalitā Devī is a little aggressive in nature. She pushes and meddles in the affairs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. She thinks all the affairs to connect Them are her responsibility. So, she may go to interfere with anything in connection with them. She is forward, a little uddhata, aggressive in nature, intolerant. But Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī has justified her character. How? What is the standard of her love and sacrifice for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa? Rādhā-Mukunda-pada-sambhava-gharma-bindu: if she finds a drop of sweat on the foot of either Rādhārāṇī or Kṛṣṇa, then nirmañchanopakaraṇī-kṛta-deha-lakṣām, as if with millions of bodies, with so much eagerness, she jumps to remove that drop of sweat. So much affection she feels for both of Them. At the bottom of her aggression and interference in the affairs connecting Them is such great affection, deep affection. That justifies all her activities as the leader accepted by Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s entire group. She is the leader, and this is the standard of her love and affection. With that, she veers towards the Couple: she can’t tolerate a drop of sweat on the foot of the divine damsel, and as if with millions of bodies she wants to remove that drop of sweat. She cannot tolerate any trouble, even least trouble, coming to Them.

uttuṅga-sauhṛda-viśeṣa-vaśāt pragalbhāṁ
(Śrī Lalitāṣṭakam: 1)

She is very aggressive and talkative, and goes forward to do anything and everything as if she is mad with her leadership. But at the bottom of this is her great concern for Them. The justification is there.

Sometimes she chastises Rādhārāṇī Herself: “You do not know how to behave with Kṛṣṇa. I will teach You what to do. Sit here in this way and don’t make Yourself available to Kṛṣṇa so cheaply. You must be careful about Your own dignity.” In this way, she teaches Rādhārāṇī also as a guardian. Although she is a little younger in age, she is a caretaker of Rādhārāṇī. She always comes forward to look after the cause of Rādhārāṇī, to espouse the cause of Rādhārāṇī above that of the Lord. She always thinks herself responsible for all the affairs concerning Them, and sometimes she goes to chastise Kṛṣṇa also: “You don’t know the dignified position of my friend, the dignified love She has for You. You undermine that, but I can’t allow You to do that.”

From our mundane plane, it is not at all an understandable thing, We are creatures of the plane of lust. There is similarity but also a great and great difference between the two. One is the perverted reflection of the other, its opposite. One is prema, the highest sacrifice, and there other is lust, gross sense pleasure. The distance between them is like that of the north pole and south pole. They are exact opposites. We are mad with lustfulness, but such madness is an effect, a perversion, of an original that is higher and noble because sacrifice is at the bottom of it. Self-forgetful sacrifice, reckless sacrifice, for the satisfaction of the prime cause, the autocrat, whose extent and intensity can never by calculated, that is plain. It is the utmost sacrifice. Renunciation is a very pale thing compared to such service, such sacrifice. Renunciation, liberation, salvation, these mean only to come out of the negative aspect of life. Then there is the positive life, the life of sacrifice, and the acme of that is to be found here. Lalitā Devī’s position is such. She thinks herself a guardian of Rādhārāṇī: “I am Her guardian. I can’t allow anything to minimise Her great divine love and sacrifice.” She stands to guarantee this even to Kṛṣṇa, not to speak of other persons in the ordinary public market: “It is the most valuable and rare. Such is Rādhārāṇī’s sacrifice in love.” Such intensity and dignity are unthinkable, unknown, and unknowable. Only we are to conjecture the ideal. If we think that we have got that, then it is finished. We have only some māyā. It is adhokṣaja. It can never be caught by any force within our mind or intelligence. Avāṅ-mānasa-gochara: it exists transcending our mental speculation and also our consideration of judiciousness.

Lalitā Devī has unique importance in the līlā of Kṛṣṇa. She is the guardian of the līlā. There are other friends of Rādhārāṇī, some of neutral spirit towards Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī, and some a little partial towards Kṛṣṇa. But Lalitā Devī is cent per cent partial to Rādhārāṇī’s cause. This is Lalitā Devī.

Her birthday, the day of her appearance, was just before that of Rādhārāṇī.


27 August 1982