“To perform devotional service means to follow in the footsteps of Radharani, and devotees in Vrindavana put themselves under the care of Radharani in order to achieve perfection in their devotional service. In other words, devotional service is not an activity of the material world; it is directly under the control of Radharani. In Bhagavad-gita it is confirmed that the mahatmas, or great souls, are under the protection of daivi prakriti, the internal energy – Radharani. So, being directly under the control of the internal potency of Krishna, devotional service attracts even Krishna Himself.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 1)
Friend1: I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the Vedic tradition don’t observe the occasion of Radhashtami.
Friend2: Give a brief overview of what that is.
Friend1: Take it from the name. The ashtami, or eighth day of the moon cycle, in relation to Radha, who is Shrimati Radharani.
Friend2: And why is a particular day in the annual calendar associated with her? What is the significance?
Friend1: The eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The internal energy. The pleasure potency. Essentially the female side of the Divine.
Friend2: Who is the male?
Friend1: Shri Krishna. The all-attractive one. Also known as Vishnu and His other avataras like Rama, Narasimha and Matsya.
Friend2: What is the purpose of Radhashtami?
Friend1: I don’t know about a purpose, exactly, but it is a birthday. It marks the appearance of Radharani in this world. She is the queen of Gokula, appearing as the daughter of Vrishabhanu.
Friend2: What were the circumstances of her birth?
Friend1: I think it was similar to how King Janaka found Sita Devi. Radharani came to the family in an unusual way, with the father finding her. It wasn’t your typical cycle involving a pregnancy.
Friend2: Why is the occasion celebrated?
Friend1: Because she is the topmost devotee of the Supreme Lord.
Friend2: Can there be different grades? I thought God would have to love everyone equally.
Friend1: He does. Proof is there in the presence of the Supersoul. This is the expansion of the Divine, considered unseen or unmanifest, residing within the heart next to the individual soul, jivatma.
Friend2: How can you say someone is the topmost devotee, then?
Friend1: God loves everyone equally, but the reciprocation is not the same. In the material world there is forgetfulness caused by maya, which is the illusory energy sent from the Divine.
Friend2: Is devotion to God different?
Friend1: Yes, because it is above maya. It is connecting directly with Krishna, bypassing the material elements altogether. Radharani is the topmost devotee because of the way she lives. Her consciousness is always pure. She is always thinking of the Supreme Lord and how to please Him.
Friend2: What would be a lower-grade devotee?
Friend1: Someone whose desires are mixed. They understand the need to serve, to escape maya, but they fall down every now and then. They may want material prosperity or the elimination of distresses. They may be connected in yoga for a period of time and then accidentally break away.
Friend2: And this never happens with Radharani?
Friend1: Not possible. She is the eternal consort for a reason. Radha-Krishna, two becoming one, or two as one. That is why they are worshiped together.
Friend1: Back to my original point, why is the celebration not more widespread?
Friend2: In comparison to?
Friend2: I mean the answer is obvious. With Radharani you only worship for one thing: continued devotion. Her recommendation to Krishna is enough to guarantee success.
Friend1: Okay, but Janmashtami is celebrating Krishna directly.
Friend2: Yes, but people are known to approach God with certain desires. Their motivations may not be pure in the beginning. They know He has the capacity to fulfill the most difficult orders.
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
Friend1: Radharani is different?
Friend2: As Lakshmi Devi people approach her for material rewards, but in the original form she is known only for devotion. Not everyone desires that at present, though it is what will benefit them the most. That is why purification, samskaras, training under a spiritual guide, following rules and regulations and the like are necessary.
Friend1: Is there any harm in worshiping her if you still have material desires?
Friend2: The approach is always purifying. She is the internal energy, which the great souls, mahatmas, come under. They receive her shelter and thus get protection from falling back down into the ocean of birth and death. Without her favor success is not possible.
“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)
Friend1: Whereas the default condition is to be under the control of the non-divine prakriti.
Friend2: That is maya. There is no protection; everything can be lost within a second. Maya is the catalyst for change, for maintaining a fearful condition. Bhakti is fearlessness, knowing that Krishna will protect. He does so through the favor of His beloved Radharani, who should be remembered every single day, including on the auspicious occasion of her appearance day.
Her devotion to Lord most endearing,
Path to success for devotees clearing.
Radha like to others not the same,
Not for wisdom or wealth to attain.
For love of Shri Krishna known,
In Vraja pastimes shown.
Same spirit to others can give,
So that in eternal ananda to live.