(Click to enlarge painting of Radharani talking to a bumblebee as Uddhava reads Krishna's message)
One of the gopīs, namely Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, was so much absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa by dint of Her personal touch with Him that She actually began to talk with a bumblebee which was flying there and trying to touch Her lotus feet. While the other gopīs were talking with Kṛṣṇa’s messenger Uddhava, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī took that bumblebee to be a messenger from Kṛṣṇa and began to talk with it as follows: "Bumblebee, you are accustomed to drinking honey from flower to flower, and therefore you have preferred to be a messenger of Kṛṣṇa, who is of the same nature as you. I can see on your mustaches the red powder of kuṅkuma which was smeared on the flower garland of Kṛṣṇa while it was pressed against the breasts of some other girl who is My competitor. You feel very proud because of having touched that garland, and your mustaches have become reddish. You have come here carrying a message for Me, anxious to touch My feet. But My dear bumblebee, let Me warn you—don’t touch Me! I don’t want any messages from your unreliable master. You are the unreliable servant of an unreliable master." It may be that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī purposely addressed the bumblebee sarcastically in order to indirectly criticize the messenger Uddhava. Like the other gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī saw that Uddhava’s bodily features resembled Kṛṣṇa’s, but She also saw Uddhava as being equal to Kṛṣṇa. Indirectly, therefore, She indicated that Uddhava was as unreliable as Kṛṣṇa Himself. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī wanted to give specific reasons why She was dissatisfied with Kṛṣṇa and His messenger.
She addressed the bumblebee, "Your master Kṛṣṇa is exactly of your quality. You sit down on a flower, and after tasting a little honey you immediately fly away and sit on another flower and taste. Similarly, only once did your master Kṛṣṇa give Me the chance to taste the touch of His lips, and then He left Me altogether. I know also that the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, who is always in the midst of the lotus flower, is constantly engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. But I do not know how she has become so captivated by Kṛṣṇa and why she is so much attached to Kṛṣṇa, although she knows His actual character. Maybe she is so much captivated by Kṛṣṇa’s sweet words that she cannot understand His real character. As far as We are concerned, We are more intelligent than the goddess of fortune. We are not going to be cheated anymore by Kṛṣṇa or His messengers."
According to expert opinion, Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, is a subordinate expansion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. As Kṛṣṇa has numerous expansions of viṣṇu-mūrtis, so His pleasure potency, Rādhārāṇī, also has innumerable expansions of goddesses of fortune. Therefore the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, is always eager to be elevated to the position of the gopīs.
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī continued: "You foolish bumblebee, you are trying to satisfy Me and get a reward by singing the glories of Kṛṣṇa, but it is a useless attempt. We gopīs are bereft of all our possessions. We are away from our homes and families. We know very well about Kṛṣṇa. We know even more than you. So whatever you make up about Him will be old stories to us. Kṛṣṇa is now in the city and is better known as the friend of Arjuna. He now has many new girlfriends, who are no doubt very happy in His association. Because the lusty, burning sensation of their breasts has been satisfied by Kṛṣṇa, they are now happy. If you go there and glorify Kṛṣṇa, they may be pleased to reward you. You are just trying to pacify Me by your behavior as a flatterer, and therefore you have put your head under My feet. But I know the trick you are trying to play. I know that you are a messenger coming from an even greater trickster, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, please leave Me.
"I can understand that you are expert in reuniting two opposing parties, but at the same time you must know that I cannot place My reliance upon you, nor upon your master, Kṛṣṇa. We left our husbands, children and relatives only for Kṛṣṇa, yet He did not feel any obligation in exchange. At last He left us forlorn. Do you think we can place our faith in Him again? We know that Kṛṣṇa cannot live for a moment without the association of young women. That is His nature. He is finding difficulty in Mathurā because He is no longer in the village among innocent cowherd girls. He is in aristocratic society and must be feeling difficulty in making friendships with other young girls. Perhaps you have come here to canvass again or to take us there. But why should Kṛṣṇa expect us to go there? He is greatly qualified to entice all other girls, not only in Vṛndāvana or Mathurā but all over the universe. His wonderfully enchanting smile is so attractive and the movements of His eyebrows are so beautiful that He can call for any woman from the heavenly, middle or plutonic planets. Even Mahā-Lakṣmī, the greatest of all goddesses of fortune, hankers to render Him some service. In comparison to all these women of the universe, what are we? We are very insignificant.
"Kṛṣṇa advertises Himself as magnanimous, and He is praised by great saints. His qualifications would be perfectly utilized if He would only show us some mercy, for we are so much downtrodden and neglected by Him. You poor messenger, you are only a less intelligent servant. You do not know much about Kṛṣṇa, how ungrateful and hardhearted He has been, not only in this life but in His previous lives also. We have all heard this from our grandmother Paurṇamāsī. She has informed us that Kṛṣṇa was born in a kṣatriya family previous to this birth and was known as Rāmacandra. In that birth, instead of killing Vāli, an enemy of His friend, in the manner of a kṣatriya, He killed him just like a hunter. A hunter takes a secure hiding place and then kills an animal without facing it. So Lord Rāmacandra, as a kṣatriya, should have fought with Vāli face to face, but, instigated by His friend, He killed him from behind a tree. Thus He deviated from the religious principles of a kṣatriya. Also, He was so attracted by the beauty of Sītā that He converted Śūrpaṇakhā, the sister of Rāvaṇa, into an ugly woman by cutting off her nose and ears. Śūrpaṇakhā proposed an intimate relationship with Him, and as a kṣatriya He should have satisfied her. But He was so henpecked that He could not forget Sītā-devī and converted Śūrpaṇakhā into an ugly woman. Before that birth as a kṣatriya, He took His birth as a brāhmaṇa boy known as Vāmanadeva and asked charity from Bali Mahārāja. Bali Mahārāja was so magnanimous that he gave Him whatever he had, yet Kṛṣṇa as Vāmanadeva ungratefully arrested him just like a crow and pushed him down to the Pātāla kingdom. We know all about Kṛṣṇa and how ungrateful He is. But here is the difficulty: in spite of His being so cruel and hardhearted, it is very difficult for us to give up talking about Him. And it is not only we who are unable to give up this talk, but great sages and saintly persons also engage in talking about Him. We gopīs of Vṛndāvana do not want to make any more friendships with this blackish boy, but we do not know how we shall be able to give up remembering and talking about His activities."
Since Kṛṣṇa is absolute, His so-called unkind activities are as relishable as His kind activities. Therefore saintly persons and great devotees like the gopīs cannot give up Kṛṣṇa in any circumstances. Lord Caitanya therefore prayed, "Kṛṣṇa, You are free and independent in all respects. You can either embrace Me or crush Me under Your feet—whatever You like. You may make Me brokenhearted by not letting Me see You throughout My whole life, but You are My only object of love."
"In My opinion," Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī continued, "no one should hear about Kṛṣṇa, because as soon as a drop of the nectar of His transcendental activities is poured into the ear, one immediately rises above the duality of attraction and rejection. Being completely freed from the contamination of material attachment, one gives up attachment for this material world, including family, home, wife, children and everything else materially dear to every person. Being deprived of all material acquisitions, one makes his relatives and himself unhappy. Then he wanders in search of Kṛṣṇa, either as a human being or in other species of life, even as a bird, and voluntarily accepts the profession of a mendicant. It is very difficult to actually understand Kṛṣṇa—His name, His qualities, His form, His pastimes, His paraphernalia and His entourage."
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī continued to speak to the black messenger of Kṛṣṇa: "Please do not talk anymore about Kṛṣṇa. It is better to talk about something else. We are already doomed, like the black-spotted she-deer in the forest who are enchanted by the sweet musical vibration of the hunter. In the same way, we have been enchanted by the sweet words of Kṛṣṇa, and by thinking of the rays of His toenails again and again, we are becoming more and more lusty for His association. Therefore, I request you not to talk of Kṛṣṇa anymore."
These talks of Rādhārāṇī with the bumblebee messenger, including Her accusing Kṛṣṇa in so many ways and at the same time expressing Her inability to give up talking about Him, are signs of the topmost transcendental ecstasy, called mahā-bhāva. The ecstatic mahā-bhāva manifestation is possible only in the persons of Rādhārāṇī and Her associates. Great ācāryas like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura have analyzed these mahā-bhāva speeches of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and described their different varieties, such as udghūrṇā, or bewilderment, and jalpa-pratijalpa, or talking in different ways. These are the signs of ujjvala-rasa, or the brightest jewel of love of God.
While Rādhārāṇī was talking with the bee and the bee was flying hither and thither, it all of a sudden disappeared from Her sight. She was in full mourning due to separation from Kṛṣṇa and felt ecstasy by talking with the bee. But as soon as the bee disappeared, She became almost mad, thinking that the messenger-bee might have returned to Kṛṣṇa to inform Him all about Her talking against Him. "Kṛṣṇa must be very sorry to hear it," She thought. In this way She was overwhelmed by another type of ecstasy.
In the meantime, the bee, flying hither and thither, appeared before Her again. She thought, "Kṛṣṇa is still kind to Me. In spite of the messenger’s carrying disruptive messages, He is so kind that He has again sent the bee to take Me to Him." Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī was very careful this time not to say anything against Kṛṣṇa. "My dear friend, I welcome you," She said. "Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has again sent you. Kṛṣṇa is so kind and affectionate to Me that He has fortunately sent you back, in spite of your carrying My message against Him. All good fortune to you, My dear friend. Now you may ask from Me whatever you want. I shall give you anything because you are so kind to Me. You have come to take Me to Kṛṣṇa because He is not able to come here, being surrounded by new girlfriends in Mathurā. But you are a tiny creature. How can you take Me there? How will you be able to help Me meet Kṛṣṇa while He is taking rest there with the goddess of fortune and embracing her to His chest? Never mind. Let us forget all these things about My going there or sending you. Please let Me know how Kṛṣṇa is faring in Mathurā. Tell Me if He still remembers His foster father, Nanda Mahārāja, His affectionate mother, Yaśodā, His cowherd friends and His poor friends like us, the gopīs. I am sure He must sometimes sing about us, who served Him just like maidservants, without any payment. Is there any possibility that Kṛṣṇa will come back and place His aguru-scented hand on our heads? Please put all these inquiries to Kṛṣṇa."
Uddhava was standing near, and he heard Rādhārāṇī talking in this way, as if She had become almost mad for Kṛṣṇa. He was exceedingly surprised at how the gopīs were accustomed to thinking of Kṛṣṇa constantly in that topmost ecstasy of mahā-bhāva love.
(Kṛṣṇa Book, Chapter 47)