Lalita Saptami, an Introduction
Lalita is the close friend of Radha, the most devoted lover of Krishna. She was a Gopi, the cowherd, who lived in the Braj Bhoomi, the land where Krishna and Radha spent their childhood and where their eternal love blossomed. Lalita Saptami is the day when this dear friend of Radha was born. Saptami is the 7th thithi or day and Lalita Saptami denotes the 7th day of Shukla Paksha, the waxing phase of the Moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapadha, which corresponds to August–September. This day falls just a day before Radhashtami, the day of advent of her dear friend Radha.
Importance of Lalita
Lalita or Lalita Devi is not only a bosom friend of Radha, but also a most beloved devotee of the divine lovers Radha–Krishna. She was one among the eight Gopis, who were considered the closest to Radha and Krishna, the others being Visakha, Chitralekha, Champakalata, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Rangadevi, and Sudevi. These eight Varishta Gopis, very senior cowherds, are hailed by the traditional Gaudiya Vaishnava worship system as Ashtasakhis, the eight dearest companions of Radha–Krishna. The selfless love that these eight Gopis held towards the divine lovers Radha and Krishna was matchless and transcending the physical plane, it rose to great spiritual heights too. Of these eight too, Lalita’s love and devotion is said to be most sublime and she remained the most devoted, loyal and constant companion of Radha. Lalita was elder to Radha and is also regarded as the oldest of the Gopi companions of Krishna. Pale yellow in appearance and dressed in attires that were as beautiful as peacock feathers, Lalita is said to be the personification of Khandita Bhava.
Legend of Lalita Devi
As per legendary accounts, Lalita Devi was born in the sacred Braj region, in the village of Karehla. Her father is said to have taken her later to Uccagaon, where the imprints of her lotus feet are still found on a rock. These are said to shine brilliantly in the bright sunlight. The utensils that Lalita and her friends used for cooking food for Radha and Krishna are also said to be available there, even today. Lalita was considered the chief of the eight principal sakhis, the companions of Radha Krishna and the others were functioning under her guidance in serving the divine couple. Lalita’s passion and commitment towards her most beloved Radha and Krishna were incomparable and it is said that even if a drop of sweat comes out of their feet, Lalita will assume innumerable forms and wipe that out in no time.
Lalita Saptami Celebrations
Lalita occupies a place of pride in the Radha–Krishna cult. In many of the temples dedicated to these eternal divine lovers, Lalita and Visakha can be seen flanking Krishna and Radharani. This aspect can be seen especially in the temples of Brij Bhoomi, like those in places like Brindavan. Lalita always remains on Radha’s side, as service to Radha–Krishna remains as her only motto in life. Praying to Radha–Krishna and also their loyal companion–devotee Lalita Devi on the Lalita Saptami day is considered extremely auspicious. Lalita Kund, the sacred tank located in the holy town of Brindavan remains as a manifestation of Lalita Devi’s pure and intense love for Radha and Krishna. It is believed that a sacred dip in it on Lalita Saptami day can remove impediments to the path of devotion and can grant Lord Krishna’s blessings and even the ultimate liberation.