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Vraja Vilasa :: Radha’s dasis, the Manjaris

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I take shelter of Sri Radhika’s maidservants, headed by Rupa Manjari, that always engage in serving betel leaves, massaging the feet, serving water, and arranging for the Divine Couple’s secret trysts. These maidservants are even more dear to the great Queen of Vṛndāraṇya (Sri Radhika) than the prāṇa preṣṭha sakhīs (the girlfriends that are dearer to her than life), and she is therefore not at all shy before them!

VERSE 38:

tāmbūlārpaṇa-pāda-mardana-payo-dānābhisārādibhir
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
keli-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjari-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Das Goswami praises the manjaris, the maidservants of Sri Radha that have a greater love for Radha and that are led by Rūpa Manjari. Of the aforementioned five kinds of sakhīs (See Verse 33) they are the prāṇa sakhīs and the nitya sakhīs.

yāḥ pūrvaṁ prāṇa-sakhyaś ca nitya sakhyaś ca kīrtitāḥ
sakhī-snehādhikā jñeyās tā evātra manīṣibhiḥ

The sakhīs that I previously glorified as
prāṇa-sakhīs
and
nitya-sakhīs
are considered to be more affectionate towards the heroine. (
Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi
8.134)

tadīyatābhimāninyo yāḥ snehaṁ sarvadāśritāḥ
sakhyām alpādhikaṁ kṛṣṇāt sakhī-snehādhikās tu tāḥ

Any sakhī who thinks “we are yours”, who thus always shows affection for Sri Radha, and who has a little more affection for Sri Krishna’s beloved Sri Radha than for Sri Krishna himself, is called
sakhī-snehādhikā
. (
Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi
8.131)

Srila Rupa Goswamipada has given this example:

viramatu tava vṛnde dūtya-cāturya-caryā
sahacari vinivṛtya brūhi goṣṭhendra-sūnum
viṣama-viṣadhareyaṁ śarvarī-prāvṛṣeṇyā
katham iha giri-kuñje bhīrur eṣā praheyā

One of Sri Radha’s hard-line
prāṇa-sakhīs
forbade Vrinda from sending her on her love-journey to meet Krishna, saying: “O friend Vrinda! You are a very convincing go-between, but you can give it a rest! Go back to Goṣṭhendra-nandana and tell him that this is a monsoon night and there are poisonous snakes slithering around! How can we send our frightened friend Sri Radha to that mountain cave? Krishna is able to defeat snakes like Kaliya, so let him come this way himself in secret!” (
Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi
8.132)

These prāṇa-sakhīs and nitya-sakhīs, who have a greater love for Radha, are known as manjaris. Although they belong to the five classes of sakhīs they are maidservants who are always engaged in the service of Sri Sri Radha Madhava. Hence it is said: tāmbūlārpaṇa pāda-mardana payodānābhisārādibhir vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ: “By offering her betel leaves, massaging her feet, giving her water and escorting her on her love-journeys they always satisfy the great queen of Vrindavan!”

Srila Thakur Mahashay has written:

caudike sakhīra mājhe, rādhikāra iṅgite,
ciruṇī loiyā kore dhari
kuṭila kuntala sab, vithāriyā āṅcarabo
bonāibo vicitra kavarī

Surrounded by the sakhis I will take a comb in my hand, and, on their signal, start to comb all of Radhika’s curly hair with a comb, binding it into a beautiful braid.

mṛgamada malayaja, sab aṅge lepabo,
porāibo manohara hāra
candana kuṅkume, tilaka bonāibo,
herabo mukha sudhākara

I will anoint her whole body with musk and sandalwood pulp and adorn her with an enchanting necklace. I will paint her tilak with sandalwood and vermilion and then gaze upon her moon-like face.

nīla paṭṭāmbara, yatane porāibo,
pāye dibo ratana mañjīre
bhṛṅgārera jale, rāṅgā caraṇa dhoyāibo,
muchāibo āpana cikure

I will diligently dress her in her blue silken sari and place jewelled ankle-bells on her feet. I will wash her reddish feet with water from a jug and dry them off with my own hair.

kusuma komala dale, śeja vichāibo,
śayana korābo doṅhākāre
dhavala cāmara āni, mṛdu mṛdu vījabo,
charamita duhuka śarīre

I will make a bed of soft flower petals for the Divine Couple and then make them lie down. Then I will start softly fanning their exhausted bodies a white whisk-fan.

kanaka sampuṭa kori, karpūra tāmbūla bhori,
yogāibo doṅhāra vadane
adhara sudhārase, tāmbūla suvāse,
bhokhabo adhika yatane

I will fill a golden box with camphor and betel leaves and place these delicacies in their mouth, and afterwards I will enjoy eating their betel leaf remnants after their lip-nectar has scented them. (
Prārthanā
)

The manjaris consist of nothing but the divine rasa of devotional service. Their hearts are dedicated to loving service, and they not know other than loving service. Because of their steadiness and fixation in this rasa we can see that they are even more trusted by the Yugala in their coming and going to their private places of kuñja-vilāsa than the sama-snehā parama preṣṭha-sakhīs like Sri Lalita: prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocita-bhūmikāḥ keli-bhūmiṣu.

The purport of this is that all the five kinds of sakhīs that we have discussed in the past are happy to arrange for Sri Radharani’s meeting with Sri Krishna and none of them either desire or endeavour to have independent meetings with him. Nevertheless Sri Radha sometimes desires to arrange for Sri Krishna to have loving relations with Lalita and the sakhīs:

yadyapi sakhīra kṛṣṇa saṅgame nāhi mana
tathāpi rādhikā yatne korāya saṅgama
nānā chale kṛṣṇe preri saṅgama korāya
ātmā-kṛṣṇa-saṅga hoite koṭi sukha pāya

Although the sakhīs have no interest in directly embracing Krishna, still Radhika carefully arranges for their meetings with him. With different pretexts she urges Krishna to make love to them for that gives her millions of times more happiness than when she personally unites with him. (
Caitanya-caritämåta
Madhya Chapter 8)

But although the manjaris are in the class of the sakhīs, they never have a direct loving relation with Krishna, due to their fixity in the pure service attitude. Even if Sri Krishna makes a pass at them or even if their own Yutheshwaris are eager for them to do this, they never desire to personally make love to Sri Krishna.

ananya-śrī-rādhā-padakamala-dāsyaika-rasadhī
hareḥ saṅge raṅgam svapana-samaye nā’pi dadhati
balāt kṛṣṇa-kūrpāsaka-bhidi kim apy ācarati kāpy
udāśrur meveti pralapati mamātma ca hasati

A maidservant who was exclusively devoted to the service of Sri Radha’s lotus feet, which are like an ocean of nectar, would not enjoy with Sri Hari even in her dreams. Even so, when Krishna tugged at her blouse and she cried out: “No, no!” Radhika stood by, watched and laughed. (
Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta
16.94)

By laughing Sri Radha shows that she approves of Sri Krishna’s actions.

In his Ānanda-candrikā-ṭīkā to Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, 2.15 [where Krishna’s companions are described], Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda has written –

Although the sakhīs are happy when they can arrange for the meetings of their Yutheshwaris with Sri Krishna and do not desire the bliss of personal union with him, still we can generally distinguish two groups among these. The first are those who have bodies that are very attractive for Sri Krishna because they have more love, beauty and cleverness, and the second is those whose bodies are not so attractive to him because they have less love, beauty, etc. Of these, the first group includes Lalita and the other
parama-preṣṭha-sakhīs
, who desire bodily intercourse with Sri Krishna because of the great eagerness of their Yutheshwaris, and the second group are never eager to meet with Krishna, even if he requests it and their Yutheshwaris are eager for it to happen. These are the
nitya-sakhīs
or manjaris like Kasturī.

The purport of this is that according to the kind and the amount of the devotees’ love the Lord is greedy to taste the flavours of her love. The love of the sama-snehā-sakhīs can allow their Yutheshwari Radha to agree to make love with Sri Krishna, and the desire to unite with them may also awaken in the heart of Sri Krishna. But the love of the manjaris, who are exclusively fixed in a service attitude, will not make them desire to unite with Sri Krishna even in dreams, what to speak of in a wakeful state! Therefore Sri Krishna will also never desire to unite with them. If he requests them to unite with him that this is only external, or done as a joke, never real. Sri Radha’s efforts to make them unite with Krishna should similarly be seen as external, or as a mere joke.

Because of the complete purity of their attitude Sri Radha has accepted the manjaris as her own Self, so that they automatically gain free access to all the places where the Sri Yugala meets and performs pastimes. The Sri Yugala considers them to be like the embodiments of their absorption in their erotic pastimes. Because of this exclusive privilege the manjaris are situated in the highest position of the kingdom of prema. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas perform their bhajan in allegiance to them. This is the unprecedented merciful gift of Sriman Mahaprabhu.

śrī rūpa manjari sāra, śrī rati manjari āra,
labaṅga manjari mañjulālī
śrī rasa manjari saṅge, kasturikā ādi raṅge,
prema sevā kore kutūhole

I will eagerly render loving service with Sri Rūpa Manjari, Sri Rati Manjari, Labaṅga Manjari, Mañjulālī Manjari, Sri Rasa Manjari, Kasturikā and others.

e sab anugā hoiyā, prema sevā nibo cāiyā,
iṅgite bujhibo sab kāje.
rūpa guṇe ḍagamagi, sadā hobo anurāgī,
vasati koribo sakhī mājha

Following all of them I will beg for devotional service, understanding what to do simply by receiving their hints. I will always float in the forms and attributes of the Divine Pair and live among the sakhīs.

vṛndāvane dui jana, catur dike sakhīgaṇa
samaya bujhiyā rasa sukhe
sakhīra iṅgita hobe, cāmara ḍhulābo kobe,
tāmbūla yogābo cāṅda mukhe

The Divine Pair of Vrindavan is surrounded by their girlfriends. Understanding the time has come I will, when the indication of the sakhis comes, fan them with a whisk-fan or place betel leaves in their moon-like mouths in rasika bliss.

yugala caraṇa sevi, nirantara ei bhāvi,
anurāgī thākibo sadāy
sādhane bhāvibo yāhā, siddha dehe pābo tāhā,
rāga pathera ei se upāya

I will always think of the lotus feet of the Yugala Kiśora and remain passionately devoted to them. Whatever I think of during my practice, that I will get in my siddha deha. These are the ways of rāgānuga bhakti.

Raghunath Das Goswami says: “I take shelter of these maidservants of Sri Radha, headed by Rūpa Manjari!”

In many ways and many places in this Stavāvalī one can see Das Goswami thus speaking of the yugala sevā and rūpānugatya bhajan. That we will come to know at the proper places.

tāmbūla dāna, pāda mardana, jala dānādite;
nitya abhisāre rādhāya kore paritṛpte
prāṇa preṣṭha yoto sakhī lalitā pradhānā;
tāṅhādera ho’te yārā sevāte pravīṇā
niḥsaṅkoca citte tāi rahaḥ keli sthāne
sevā kārye kore yārā gamanāgamane
śrī rūpa manjari ādi rādhā dāsīgaṇe;
āśraya loiyā bhaji ei mora mane

In my mind I worship Sri Radha’s maidservants, headed by Sri Rupa Manjari, who satisfy her by serving her betelleaves and water, massaging her feet and escorting her on her love-journeys. They are even more expert in devotional service than Sri Radhika’s heart’s friends, headed by Lalita, and they can freely come and go in and out of the places where the Divine Pair perform their intimate pastimes to render their services there.

The post Vraja Vilasa :: Radha’s dasis, the Manjaris appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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