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!
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
keli-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjari-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye
sakhī-snehādhikā jñeyās tā evātra manīṣibhiḥ
sakhyām alpādhikaṁ kṛṣṇāt sakhī-snehādhikās tu tāḥ
Srila Rupa Goswamipada has given this example:
sahacari vinivṛtya brūhi goṣṭhendra-sūnum
katham iha giri-kuñje bhīrur eṣā praheyā
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:
ciruṇī loiyā kore dhari
kuṭila kuntala sab, vithāriyā āṅcarabo
bonāibo vicitra kavarī
porāibo manohara hāra
candana kuṅkume, tilaka bonāibo,
herabo mukha sudhākara
pāye dibo ratana mañjīre
bhṛṅgārera jale, rāṅgā caraṇa dhoyāibo,
muchāibo āpana cikure
śayana korābo doṅhākāre
dhavala cāmara āni, mṛdu mṛdu vījabo,
charamita duhuka śarīre
yogāibo doṅhāra vadane
adhara sudhārase, tāmbūla suvāse,
bhokhabo adhika yatane
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:
tathāpi rādhikā yatne korāya saṅgama
nānā chale kṛṣṇe preri saṅgama korāya
ātmā-kṛṣṇa-saṅga hoite koṭi sukha pāya
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.
hareḥ saṅge raṅgam svapana-samaye nā’pi dadhati
balāt kṛṣṇa-kūrpāsaka-bhidi kim apy ācarati kāpy
udāśrur meveti pralapati mamātma ca hasati
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 –
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.
labaṅga manjari mañjulālī
śrī rasa manjari saṅge, kasturikā ādi raṅge,
prema sevā kore kutūhole
iṅgite bujhibo sab kāje.
rūpa guṇe ḍagamagi, sadā hobo anurāgī,
vasati koribo sakhī mājha
samaya bujhiyā rasa sukhe
sakhīra iṅgita hobe, cāmara ḍhulābo kobe,
tāmbūla yogābo cāṅda mukhe
anurāgī thākibo sadāy
sādhane bhāvibo yāhā, siddha dehe pābo tāhā,
rāga pathera ei se upāya
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.
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