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By:Mahanidhi Swami

You might be surprised to know that according to the only available authentic scriptural reference today (sravana sukla ek) is the actual day of Lalita-sakhi’s avirbhava tithi or appearance day. Now let’s discuss why today is Lalita-sakhi’s actual appearance day.

In Radha-Krishna Ganoddesa Dipika (v. 79 or 80 sapta vimshati-vaasarih) Srila Rupa Goswamipada says Lalita sakhi’s appearance day is 27 days before Radhastami, which means EVERY YEAR the app. day of Lalita is today Sravana sukla ekadasi. And this date has been acknowledged by most all Gaudiya Vaisnavas for the last 500 years. There are no other sastric references mentioning any other day. Some say it’s on saptami before Radhastami and Vrajavasis say it’s on sashti, the 6th.

Either way, Lalita’s app. day is not really celebrated much by any Vaiṣṇava group with fasting, feasting, a specific lecture about Lalita, or even a mentioning of Lalita-sakhi during a lecture. During my 12 years in U.S. Iskcon, before moving to Vrindavana, we never observed this day.

Srila Prabhupada did not give one lecture on Lalita-sakhi, nor did His Divine Grace give any instructions on observing her birthday. Hence the contradiction of dates is not so important. Of course in Vraja I think it is observed in Unchagoan (Lalita’s temple) and maybe Iskcon Vrindavana.

The conclusion is that in principle, based on the authority of Srila Rupa Goswamipada, one could according to their personal wish celebrate Lalita’s avirbhava today, sravana sukla ekadasi, which is the actual day. But how to properly celebrate it since there are no sastric descriptions or historical examples to guide its observance?

As a suggestion, today you could pray to Lalita-sakhi for her for mercy, and chant Srila Rupa Goswamipada’s beautiful Lalita-ashtakam. Certainly this will bring gain and no loss.

Srimati Lalita Sakhi ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Çré Lalitäñöakam

Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé

(sing like Brahma-samhita)

rädhä-mukunda-pada-sambhava-gharma-bindu

nirmaïchanopakaraëé-kåta-deha-lakñäm

uttuìga-sauhåda-viçeña-vaçät pragalbhäà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (1)

I offer praëäma unto the haughty Çré Lalitä-devé who is charmingly endowed with

many beautiful, sweet qualities (sulalitä). She has natural expertise in all arts (lalitä),

thus her sevä self-manifests. She wipes away the glittering drops of perspiration which appear upon the lotus feet of Çré Rädhä and Mädhava when They meet; and she is perpetually immersed in the most elevated mellow of sauhåda-rasa, or undivided absorption in fulfilling the heart’s desire of her intimate friend Çrématé Rädhikä.

räkä-sudhä-kiraëa-maëòala-känti-daëòi

vaktra-çriyaà cakita-cäru-camüru-neträm

rädhä-prasädhana-vidhäna-kalä-prasiddhäà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (2)

I offer praëäma unto Çré Lalitä-devé whose beautiful face mocks the brilliance of the full moon, whose eyes are ever-restless like those of a startled doe, who is famous for her extraordinary expertise in the art of dressing Çrématé Rädhikä, and who is the treasure-house of unlimited feminine qualities.

läsyollasad-bhujaga-çatru-patatra-citra

paööäàçukäbharaëa-kaïculikäïcitäìgém

gorocanä-ruci-vigarhaëa-gaurimäëaà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (3)

I offer praëäma unto Çré Lalitä-devé whose body is adorned with a splendid säré as brilliant as the multi-coloured tail-feathers of an ecstatically dancing peacock, whose breast is covered with an exceedingly attractive blouse (kaïculi), whose hair part is decorated with shimmering red vermilion, and who wears various necklaces and other jeweled ornaments. Her golden complexion defeats that of even gorocanä bright golden pigment that comes when rain-water from svati-nakçatra hits the head of a qualified cow and she possesses innumerable good qualities.

dhürte vrajendra-tanaye tanu suñöhu-vämyaà

mä dakñiëä bhava kalaìkini läghaväya

rädhe giraà çåëu hitäm iti çikñayantéà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (4)

I offer praëäma unto Çré Lalitä-devé, the charming treasure-house of all good qualities, who instructs Çrématé Rädhikä in this way: “O Kalaìkini (unchaste one)! Rädhe! Listen to my good instructions which are favorable for you! Vrajendra-nandana is very crafty (dhürta). Don’t display Your mood of gentle submission (dakñiëä bhäva) to Him; instead, in all circumstances be contrary.”

rädhäm abhi vraja-pateù kåtam ätmajena

küöaà manäg api vilokya vilohitäkñém

väg-bhaìgibhis tam acireëa vilajjayantéà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (5)

I offer praëäma unto the abode of all good qualities, the supremely charming Çré Lalitä-devé, who, upon hearing Çré Kåñëa speak even a few sly words to Çrématé Rädhikä, immediately becomes furious and shames Kåñëa with her biting, sarcastic remarks, “You are so truthful and simple-hearted, and such a chaste lover!”

vätsalya-vånda-vasatià paçupäla-räjïyäù

sakhyänuçikñaëa-kaläsu guruà sakhénäm

rädhä-balävaraja-jévita-nirviçeñäà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (6)

I offer praëäma unto the supremely charming Çré Lalitä-devé, who possesses all divine qualities; who is also the recipient of Yaçodä-devé’s parental affection; the guru of all the sakhés, instructing them in the art of friendship; and the very life of both Çrématé Rädhikä and the younger brother of Baladeva.

à käm api vraja-kule våñabhänu-jäyäù

prekñya sva-pakña-padavém anurudhyamänäm

sadyas tad-iñöa-ghaöanena kåtärthayantéà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (7)

I offer praëäma unto the supremely charming Çré Lalitä-devé, the treasure-house of all good qualities. Upon seeing any young maiden anywhere in Vraja and discerning that she is inclined towards her priya-sakhé Çrématé Rädhikä, Lalitä immediately tells Rädhä that She must accept this person in Her own party (sva-pakña). Rädhä obeys Lalitä, who thus fulfills that maiden’s desires.

rädhä-vrajendra-suta-saìgama-raìga-caryäà

varyäà viniçcitavatém akhilotsavebhyaù

à gokula-priya-sakhé-nikuramba-mukhyäà

devéà guëaiù sulalitäà lalitäà namämi (8)

I offer praëäma unto Çré Lalitä-devé, the embodiment of all divine virtues and the foremost of all the favorite sakhés of Gokula. Her primary task is providing pleasure for Çré Rädhä-Govinda by arranging Their meetings – this delightful sevä surpasses the enjoyment of all the best festivals combined together.

nandann amüni lalitä-guëa-lälitäni

padyäni yaù paöhati nirmala-dåñöir añöau

prétyä vikarñati janaà nija-vånda-madhye

taà kértidä-pati-kulojjvala-kalpa-vallé (9)

If a person with a cheerful and pure heart recites this añöaka in praise of Lalitä-devé, he will be affectionately brought into Çrématé Rädhikä’s own group of sakhés. Lalitädevé is superbly ornamented with beauty, grace and charm, and, along with Çrématé Rädhikä, is the effulgent wish-fulfilling creeper (kalpa-vallé) of Våñabhänu Mahäräja’s family that winds around the kalpa-våkña of Kåñëa.