“In Vrindavana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Shrimati Radharani, the pleasure potency of Lord Krishna. Shrimati Radharani is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Radharani is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Krishna, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.23 Purport)
The feminine nature is such that there is more mercy offered in situations where it is otherwise unwarranted. For instance, once a fighter named Ashvatthama committed the heinous act of killing members of an opposing army while they were sleeping. A fighter is supposed to enter combat nobly, wherein the opposing side is ready to take up arms. Killing someone in their sleep is the height of cowardice, and such a culprit is certainly worthy of punishment. Yet Draupadi, the wife of the leading fighters for the opposing side, was merciful on Ashvatthama after he was later captured. Such tenderheartedness was misplaced and it led to the culprit firing a devastating weapon after he was let free.
“Ashvatthama was condemned by the Lord Himself, and he was treated by Arjuna just like a culprit, not like the son of a brahmana or teacher. But when he was brought before Shrimati Draupadi, she, although begrieved for the murder of her sons, and although the murderer was present before her, could not withdraw the due respect generally offered to a brahmana or to the son of a brahmana. This is due to her mild nature as a woman.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.7.42 Purport)
The feminine nature nevertheless comes from the supreme whole, who is more commonly known as God. The perfection of that nature is Shrimati Radharani, and her consort is the supreme whole, Lord Krishna. The spirit soul is inherently tied to Krishna, and so devotion to Him is the pinnacle of service, which every person is carrying out to some degree or another. One person serves the material energy through acquisition and enjoyment, another serves the mind, another the process of mysticism, and so on. Service is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic, so no person can live without it.
Service to the complete whole benefits all of the different parts. It’s sort of like giving food to the stomach so that the rest of the body can eat. The method of transport for nutrients within the body begins at the stomach. Individually feeding the hands, legs, ears, etc. won’t do anything. You can exercise your hands, decorate them nicely, take care of them on a daily basis, but unless you feed the stomach they will be completely useless.
In a similar manner, to feel the height of ananda, or bliss, to reach the true potential an existence has to offer, one must offer service to God. The generic term of “God” leaves room for misinterpretation and malfeasance, wherein certain parties claim that their supported project, which is for their own benefit, is the way to serve God. The worst of the cheaters insist on receiving money in exchange for granting a better place in the afterlife. As a song once said, “Send me money, send me green, heaven you will meet, make a contribution and you’ll get the better seat,” such cheating doesn’t pass the “smell test”, and who is to say who should receive money and who shouldn’t?
Rather, the genuineness of service is tested in the immediate benefit, as well as the long term. The qualities of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness come from following bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. In this discipline the primary desire is to be able to continue service, to be able to think of God. Who among us hasn’t prayed to God for something? Perhaps a family member was sick or we really needed to succeed in a specific venture, so we made the appeal to the man upstairs. At the same time, we might have also prayed to continue our faith. “Let not my faith in you be damaged by the outcome.”
Bhakti-yoga is the full extension of the latter sentiment. Devotional service asks God every day to allow us to continue to have faith in Him. And that faith serves a purpose: to believe firmly that connection to Him in consciousness is the highest engagement for man. In the modern age that connection takes place through recitation of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
This mantra descends from the Vedic tradition, which is often misidentified as Hinduism, but this doesn’t mean that the words within it have a narrow applicability. Rather, the Sanskrit words are just a way to address God and His energy. It is said that God is the energetic and that His expansions represent His energy. We are part of that energy, so in the ideal state we serve the energetic. The word “Krishna” says that the supreme whole is all-attractive, and “Rama” says that He is the giver of transcendental pleasure, happiness which transcends the bounds of time, space, body, mind, etc.
“Hare” addresses the aforementioned Shrimati Radharani, who represents the ideal state of the feminine nature. This trait in her gives the highest pleasure to Krishna, which means that every expansion of His energy is meant to act in this subservient, yet inspired way. To be subordinate means to follow the dictates of the superior, but at the same time it doesn’t mean that you should give in to everything and remain immobile. Shrimati Radharani loves Krishna so much that there is nothing He can do to stop her service. He can try to dissuade her with lessons on mundane morality and virtue, but she doesn’t listen to Him. Instead, she only looks for ways to associate with Him and please Him through her feminine ways.
The tenderhearted Shrimati Radharani is so kind that she recommends devotees to Krishna as well; she is not selfish. She knows that every other person will be happy associating with her beloved. It is for this reason that in Vrindavana, Krishna’s holy land, devotees offer more praise to Radha than to Krishna. She is the emblem of devotional service, and because of her qualities she is deserving of honor on a daily basis. As an added bonus, she is easily pleased with this devotion and passes on the news to her beloved.
And with that recommendation, Krishna’s favor is earned. He loves Radha so much, so if someone loves her without motive, He is surely won over. And to gain the favor of the Supreme Lord means having the best person looking out for you. And who wouldn’t want to have that? It is a dangerous world out there. Death may approach at any turn. When our time is up, we don’t know for sure where we will end up next. But if we regularly offer our praise to Krishna’s beloved, and if we follow the same tenderheartedness in our devotional service and in our spreading of the glories of the holy name, there is no doubt that the supreme whole will carefully guide us back to His spiritual kingdom.
Worship Radharani let me start,
She of beauty and tender heart.
To please Shri Krishna she lives,
Highest pleasure to God she gives.
Your obeisances to her immediately send,
Devotees to her beloved she recommends.
From Hare Krishna always chanting,
Her husband fruit of yoga granting.