Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Ashtasakhis: Champakalata & Chitra

Champakalata Sakhi

On the southern petal of Madana-sukhada Kunja lies Kamalata Kunja, the color of molten gold, home of Sri Krishna's beloved Sri Champakalata. Ardently loving Krishna, she personifies the stage of a nayika known as vasaka-sajja. Her nature is vama-madhya, and her seva is to offer bejeweled necklaces and to fan with a camara. Her age is 14 years, 2 months and 13 1/2 days. Her father's name is Arama, mother is Batika and her husband is Candaksha. She is said to be from the village of Sunthera. In Gaura-lila she appears as Sri Sivananda.

Champakalata is the third of the ashtasakhis or the eight primary gopis. Her complexion is the color of a yellow campaka blossom and she wears garments the color of a blue-jay's feather. She is a day younger than Srimati Radharani.

Her qualities are very much like Vishaka's. Champakalata veils her activities in great secrecy. Endowed with expertise at the art of logical persuasion, she is the perfect diplomat, skilled in warding off Srimati Radharani's rivals.

Champakalata is adept at gathering fruits, flowers, and roots from the forest. An artistic potter, by merely using the skill of her hands she can artistically fashion objects from clay.

Famed by the name Mistahasta (sweet hands), Champakalata is a seasoned cook well versed with the art of making various sweet dishes. Of all the gopis chosen as protectors of the trees, creepers, and bushes of Vrindavana, the leader is Champakalata-devi.

Asth Sakhi Kunj:

The grove is in Varsana. Champakalata Sakhi nurtures the foliage of Braj. Unsurpassed in beauty, embellished with fragrant lotuses, the dalliance of Lord Krishna and Radha abounds in these bowers. Mesmerized by the dense foliage are Shri Lalitananda and Vishakhaji's Madan-Sukhada Kunjs. Bejeweled pillars, enchanting stairs, chirping birds and blossoming flowers adorn these sites. The six seasons bloom in all their glory wherever Lord Krishna ventures.

The Lord dallies on this heaven called earth, sometimes during the Jhoolna Utsav and at times engrossed in the twinkling anklets during Raas (rapturuous dance). Enraptured, Shri Radha is focused on Lord Krishna as she clings to him with endearing gestures. Chitrananda, Puranendu, Hem, Manohar, Arun and Hari Kunjs dot the ambience. At Hem Kunj there is a kitchenette where Champakalataji cooks for Shri Radha-Krishna.

The chief gopis in Champakalata's yutha are Kurangaksi, Suracita, Mandali, Manimandana, Candika, Candralatika, Kandukaksi and Sumandira.

Chitra Sakhi

She is 26 days older than Radharani. Red-complexioned like kumkum or saffron, she wears crystal colored garments. Chitra can easily unveil an author's hidden intentions. She has a very mild disposition. A trained cook, Chitra sakhi can make varied nectar drinks. She is learned in astronomy and astrology, and a skilled gardener who weaves garlands. Her father's name is Catura, Mother Carvika and husband is Pithara. She is said to be from the village of Chaksauli, 1 km southwest of Varsana.


The gopikas expert at doing shringara, beautifully adorned Shri Radha for a dalliance with the Lord and brought her here. It is the village of Chitra Sakhi, adjacent to Sankri Khor which lies between Brahma and Vishnu Mounts in Varsana.

Once Shri Krishna along with his sakhas came to a field to thieve hare chane (green gram).When he plucked the chanas, the woman on guard came to know and ran to catch hold of him. The Lord fled with the loot hidden beneath his arm pit and stopped only at Gahar Van. His other gopas squatting there, roasted the booty and relished it. The cowherdess finally caught up but on sighting the loving tenderness of the Lord she was overwhelmed with maternal affection and ended up feeding him the shelled chane instead. Shri Nagridasji Maharaj has perfectly expressed this interesting incidence.

A trained cook, Chitra sakhi can make varied nectar drinks.

Sakhi Koop:

Close to the mount in Varsana is Sakhi Koop. On assurance from Shri Krishna, the group of sakhis waited anxiously for their swamini, Shri Radha. Soon after Kishoriji arrived; the leela began in full swing. After feasting, the sakhis and Chitraji inaugurated the well and made all present sip its water as they did so themselves.?

The dancing of peacocks is very dear to Chitraji.

Mayur Sarovar:

Situated in the region below Mount Brahma in Varsana is Mayur Sarovar. Showing the path to the three worlds the site blesses us with moksha or salvation. The dancing of peacocks is very dear to Sri Chitraji who ventures here daily. Flocks of peacocks inevitably swarm the place surrounding her as she frolics with them at times. Flirtatiously loitering around, occasionally Shri-Radha Krishna arrive and are welcomed by the peacocks' delighted cries.

Forever dancing in ecstasy the birds go to Shri Radha and at times hover around Shri Krishna. Sri Chitraji is also joyous as she observes their madhurya or sweet love. The site has carefully treasured the mysterious dalliances for its devotees.

A skilled gardener, Chitra sakhi weaves beautiful garlands.

Chameli Van:

At a distance one can sight the tall dense foliage with the fragrant kadamba trees enhancing nature by its green environs. It seems as if in anticipation of Shri Radha-Krishna's arrival, the Chameli Van's joy and abundance has created a tender bedstead for them. Once enchanted by the rustling breeze Shri Krishna came to this forest and Shri Radha along with Lalitaji and Vishakaji headed for this site. To express the divine couple's intimacy and union the sakhis gathered flowers with which the Lord adorned Shri Radha, an outward expression of their love-play. He decked the tresses of her hair with tiny scented flowers, darkened her eyes with collyrium, put loose bracelets of flowers around her hands, a garland to embrace her neck, thrilled at his good fortune.

Chitra Sakhi had already made some floral ornaments with which Shri Radha adorned the Lord, a diadem of flowers, kundals in his ears, vanamala around his neck and bracelets on his wrists. Making them resplendent on a bed of tender grass the sakhis absorbed the madhurya of Shri Radha-Krishna. The secluded Chameli Van a little before the forest is ethereal during the rainy season in Varsana.

No comments: