(Vintage photo of Srimati Radharani, Vancouver)
"After giving a summary description of Kṛṣṇa’s beauty, Rāmānanda Rāya began to speak of His spiritual energies, headed by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa has immense energetic expansions, of which three are predominant: the internal energy, the external energy and the marginal energy, comprising the living entities. This threefold division of energies is confirmed in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.7.61), where it is said that Viṣṇu has one spiritual energy, which is manifested in three ways. When the spiritual energy is overwhelmed by ignorance, it is called the marginal energy. As far as the spiritual energy itself is concerned, it is exhibited in three forms because Kṛṣṇa is a combination of eternity, bliss and knowledge. As far as His bliss and peacefulness are concerned, His spiritual energy is manifested as the pleasure-giving potency. His eternity is a manifesting energy, and His knowledge is manifested as spiritual perfection. As confirmed in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.12.69): 'The pleasure potency of Kṛṣṇa gives Kṛṣṇa transcendental pleasure and bliss.' Thus when Kṛṣṇa wants to enjoy pleasure, He exhibits His own spiritual potency known as āhlādinī.
In His spiritual form, Kṛṣṇa enjoys His spiritual energy, and that is the sum and substance of the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa pastimes. These pastimes can be understood only by elevated devotees. One should not try to understand the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa potencies and pastimes from the mundane platform. Generally people misunderstand these as being material.
When the pleasure potency is further condensed, it is called mahābhāva. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the eternal consort of Kṛṣṇa, is the personification of that mahābhāva. In this regard, in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (4.3) Rūpa Gosvāmī states that there are two competitors in loving Kṛṣṇa—Rādhārāṇī and Candrāvalī. When they are compared, it appears that Rādhārāṇī is superior, for She is mahābhāva-svarūpa. The term mahābhāva-svarūpa, 'the personification of mahābhāva,' is applicable to Rādhārāṇī only, and no one else. Mahābhāva is full of the pleasure potency, and it is an exhibition of the highest love for Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī is therefore known throughout the world as the most beloved of Kṛṣṇa, and Her name is always associated with Kṛṣṇa as Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
The Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37) also confirms that Kṛṣṇa expands Himself by His pleasure potency in the spiritual world and that these potencies are all nondifferent from Him, the Absolute Truth. Although Kṛṣṇa is always enjoying the company of His pleasure-potency expansions, He is all-pervading. Therefore Brahmā offers his respectful obeisances to Govinda, the cause of all causes.
As Kṛṣṇa is the highest emblem of spiritual perfection, so Rādhārāṇī is the highest emblem of the spiritual pleasure potency meant for satisfying Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is unlimited, and Rādhārāṇī is also unlimited in Her ability to satisfy Him. Kṛṣṇa is satisfied just by seeing Rādhārāṇī, but Rādhārāṇī expands Herself in such a way that Kṛṣṇa desires to enjoy Her more. Because Kṛṣṇa was unable to estimate the pleasure potency of Rādhārāṇī, He decided to accept the role of Rādhārāṇī, and that combination of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Rāmānanda Rāya then began to explain how Rādhārāṇī is the supreme emblem of Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure potency. Rādhārāṇī expands Herself in different forms, known as Lalitā, Viśākhā and Her other confidential associates. In his Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Rūpa Gosvāmī explains that one of the characteristics of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is that Her body is an evolution of transcendental pleasure. That body is decorated with flowers and fragrant aromas and is complete with transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, that body is the personification of His pleasure potency. Rādhārāṇī bathes Her transcendental body three times: first in the water of mercy, second in the water of youthful beauty, and third in the water of youthful luster. After She bathes three times in that way, Her body is covered with shining garments and decorated with Her personal beauty, which is compared to cosmetics. Thus Her beauty constitutes the highest artistry. Her body is also decorated with the ornaments of spiritual ecstasy—trembling, shedding of tears, perspiring, choking of the voice, cessation of all bodily functions due to transcendental pleasure, standing up of the bodily hairs, changing of bodily color, and madness.
The decorative transcendental pleasure potency manifests nine symptoms. Five of these are manifested by the expansion of Rādhārāṇī’s personal beauty, which is adorned with garlands of flowers. Her patient calmness is compared to a covering of cloths which have been cleansed by camphor. Her confidential agony for Kṛṣṇa is the knot in Her hair, and the mark of tilaka on Her forehead is Her good fortune. Rādhārāṇī’s sense of hearing is eternally fixed on Kṛṣṇa’s name and fame. Chewing betel nuts makes one’s lips reddish. Similarly, Rādhārāṇī’s complete attachment to Kṛṣṇa has blackened the borders of Her eyes. This darkness might be compared to ointment produced by Rādhā’s joking with Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī’s smile is just like the taste of camphor. The garland of separation moves on Her body when She lies down on the bed of pride within the room of aroma. Her breasts are covered by the blouse of anger born of Her ecstatic affection for Kṛṣṇa. Her reputation as the best of all Kṛṣṇa’s girlfriends is the stringed instrument She plays. When Kṛṣṇa stands in His youthful posture, She puts Her hand on His shoulder. Although She possesses so many transcendental qualities, She is still always engaged in the service of Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is decorated with sūddīpta-sāttvika emotions, which sometimes include jubilation and sometimes pacification. All the transcendental ecstasies are manifested in the body of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Sūddīpta-sāttvika emotions are manifest when a lover is overwhelmed with certain feelings which he or she cannot check. Rādhārāṇī has another emotion called kila-kiñcita, which is manifest in twenty different ways. These emotions are manifested partly due to one’s body, partly due to one’s mind, and partly due to habit. As far as the bodily emotions are concerned, they are manifested in posture and movement. As far as the emotions of the mind are concerned, they are manifested as beauty, luster, complexion, sweetness, talking, magnanimity and patience. As far as habitual emotions are concerned, they are manifested as pastimes, enjoyment, preparing for separation, and forgetfulness.
The tilaka of good fortune is on the forehead of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and She also has a locket of prema-vaicittya. Prema-vaicittya is manifest when a lover and beloved meet and fear separation.
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is fifteen days younger than Kṛṣṇa. She always keeps Her hand on the shoulder of one of Her friends, and She always talks and thinks of pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. She always offers Kṛṣṇa a kind of intoxicant by Her sweet talks, and She is always prepared to fulfill all His desires. In other words, She supplies everything needed to meet all the demands of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and She possesses unique and uncommon qualities for Kṛṣṇa’s satisfaction.
In the Govinda-līlāmṛta a nice verse states: 'Who is the breeding ground of affection for Kṛṣṇa? The answer is that it is only Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Who is Kṛṣṇa’s dearmost lovable object? The answer is that it is only Śrīmatī Rādhikā and no one else. Sheen in the hair, moisture in the eyes, firmness in the breasts—all these qualities are present in Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Therefore only Śrīmatī Rādhikā is able to fulfill all the desires of Kṛṣṇa. No one else can do so.'
Satyabhāmā is a competitor of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s, but she always desires to come to the standard of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Rādhārāṇī is so expert in all affairs that all the damsels of Vraja come to learn arts from Her. She is so extraordinarily beautiful that even the goddess of fortune and Pārvatī, the wife of Lord Śiva, desire elevation to Her standard of beauty. Arundhatī, who is known as the most chaste lady in the universe, desires to learn the standard of chastity from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Since even Lord Kṛṣṇa cannot estimate Rādhārāṇī’s highly transcendental qualities, it is not possible for an ordinary man to estimate them."
(Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 31)