“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.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 1)
To the person following bhakti-yoga, Radhashtami day is not much different than any other day, except for the added emphasis on remembrance. One of the nine processes of devotional service is vishno-smaranam, or to remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. Radharani is the goddess of fortune, and so remembering her is also remembering God.
There is the well-known depiction of Radha and Krishna together. Their relationship is not exactly in marriage. It is not the typical union, but since it is spiritual in nature, there is no separation. Radha is eternally with Krishna, and He is eternally bound in loving sentiments.
This is the mystery, that God can be found. He cannot be caught by the mind. He cannot be forced to stay in one place, despite the plans of Duryodhana. He cannot be killed while in the manifestation of an infant, as learned by the cruel King Kamsa.
“Ordinarily, if a king leaves the battlefield without fighting he is called a coward, but when Krishna enacts this pastime, leaving the battlefield without fighting, He is worshiped by the devotee. A demon always tries to measure the opulence of Krishna, whereas the devotee never tries to measure His strength and opulence, but always surrenders unto Him and worships Him. By following the footsteps of pure devotees we can know that Krishna, the Ranchorji, did not leave the battlefield because He was afraid, but because He had some other purpose.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 51)
Even when He is being chased, it is impossible to catch up, as learned by Jarasandha. He is never in need of gold or wealth, as seen in the city of Dvaraka. Yogis try to meditate on Him, but mother Yashoda is able to finally catch up with Him and find enough rope to temporarily bind Him to a mortar, which earns Him the name Damodara.
Radharani holds a special place because Krishna is always thinking of her. Whether during the day or at night. Whether in the winter season or under the brightest moon of Sharada Purnima. Whether she is an adult or an infant who has yet to open her eyes.
“Since Krishna had departed from Vrindavana to Mathura, the inhabitants of Vrindavana, especially mother Yashoda, Nanda Maharaja, Shrimati Radharani, the gopis and the cowherd boys, were simply thinking of Krishna at every step.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 45)
There is full reciprocation in the relationship. Because of her level of devotion, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has declared her example to be the standard. Radharani is the way towards perfection in devotional life. She is exemplary amongst the gopis of Vrindavana.
A person may wonder why the relationship gets studied at all. She is Krishna’s eternal consort, after all. Why should we have to hear about their dealings? Why not leave them alone? Why spend time immersed in the mysteries of their constant back and forth?
As Nectar of Devotion explains, devotional service in madhurya-rasa is following in the footsteps of Radharani. Devotees don’t imitate, but they honor the relationship. They always hope for the two to be together. Let the male and female sides of the Divine be in union, especially during the time of worship. This is one of the reasons the Vishnu forms are never alone on the altars in temples.
“Radha-Krishna is one. Radha-Krishna is Krishna and Krishna’s pleasure potency combined. When Krishna exhibits His pleasure potency, He appears to be two – Radha and Krishna. Otherwise, Radha and Krishna are one.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 8.282 Purport)
Besides her outstanding and incomprehensible level of devotion, Radharani is not miserly. She allows others to love Krishna. In fact, she is known to recommend devotees into the eternal occupation, which is the constitutional one.
Due to her qualities, she is worthy of worship. She is to be remembered every day, but especially on the anniversary of her appearance in this world, when she gave so much pleasure to the jewel of Vrindavana.
Immense pleasure giving,
While in Vrindavana living.
To that special place came,
Daughter with Radha the name.
Uniting with Krishna as one,
On that sacred day begun.
But going on eternally so,
No end her glories to know.