Manjaris in Rasa Lila
Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Tonight is the Sharad Purnima Maha Rasa-lila. Sri Radha is gorgeously dressed in a moonlight white sari, and adorned with pearl and moonstone necklaces, flower malas of juhi, mogra and chameli, and anointed with camphor and white chandan. Ah, such a beautiful night with soothing, romantic moonshine and cooling sand caressing passionately dancing lotus feet. The perfect night for a rasa dance!
Were Radha’s loyal maidservants, Her kinkaris and manjaris, present in the Rasa-lila? The Srimad -Bhagavatam does not clearly mention the presence of manjaris in the Rasa-lila. Before the advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu no one had written about any distinction between the sakhis and manjaris.
Sri Rupa Goswamipada, however, lists the names of eighteen manjaris in Radha-Krishna Ganoddesha Dipika. Thus the secret existence of Radha’s manjaris, and the practice of manjari bhava sadhana is the merciful gift of Sri Chaitanyadeva, and the Six Goswamis, who are themselves eternal manjaris in Vraja.
By their life styles and writings, the Six Goswamis personally taught the way of serving Srimati Radharani in manjari bhava.
From the following verse, Sri Rupa Goswamipada, who is Sri Rupa Manjari in Krishna-lila, proves that Radha’s manjaris were present during the Rasa dance:
“O Radha! When will my heart fill with pride as I see from afar (dure- drshtva) how Keshava leaves all the lotus-eyed girls of Vraja at the start of the Rasa dance, and takes You to a lonely place where He decorates You with flowers under Your command?” (Utkalika Vallari v.42)
Sri Sri Yugal Kishor enjoyed wonderfully intimate pastimes when They left all the gopis during the Rasa-lila. Sri Rupa Manjari was personally there seeing and relishing everything from a short distance.
Radharani’s manjaris are so supremely fortunate that they can enjoy pastimes of Radha and Krishna that even the sakhis cannot. The manjaris accompanied Sri Radha when Krishna abruptly disappeared from the Rasa lila. This is because Radha’s manjaris are one with Sri Radha’s heart, completely equal to Srimati but with separate bodies.
During Krishna’s intimate pastimes, Swamini is not at all shy before Her manjaris, who render special services at that time. The manjaris are always close to Srimati’s lotus feet.
Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada describes the phenomenal closeness of the manjaris, “During Radha-Madhava’s most intimate kunja-lilas, Radharani sometimes sits the manjaris on Her play-bed and covers them with the sheets, paryanka-adhishthapitam-va- vastrair- vacchaditam-kvacit!” (Vrndavana Mahimamrita 8.23)
Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada says the manjaris were very much present during the Rasa-lila, and they offered many tasteful personal sevas to please Radha Govinda Yugala at that time.
He explains, “When the silvery liquid nectar of moonlight splashes on Yamuna’s camphor white, sandy banks, and You, Radha, euphorically dance the Rasa with Sri Hari, I will expertly play the vina which You personally taught me.”
“After the rasa dance You, Krishna and Your sakhis will rest in a malati nikunja, and I will affectionately give You many sweet grapes, mangoes, bananas and pomegranates.”
“Radha when Your amorous nikunja lilas are over I will sweetly put You and Your beloved Priyatama to rest on a bed of lotus petals. Then I will give You and Shyam betel-nuts to chew.”
‘I will massage Your lotus feet, anoint them with kunkuma powder, smell the wonderful ocean of their fragrance, and gaze on their delicate beauty with my eyes.” (Sankalpa Kalpa Druma v. 16-19)
Just see the incredible fortune and bliss the manjaris experience in Sri Radha’s personal seva! (shastra courtesy Sri Advaita Dasji)
Manjaris in Rasa-lila ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!