This exchange of feelings between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī is very difficult to understand unless one is elevated to the platform of pure goodness. Such transcendental reciprocation is not even possible to understand from the platform of material goodness. One has to actually transcend material goodness in order to understand. This is because the exchange of feelings between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is not a subject matter of this material world. Even the greatest mental speculator cannot understand this, directly or indirectly. Material activities are manifested either for the gross body or the subtle mind, but this exchange of feelings between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is beyond such manifestations and beyond intellectual mental speculation. It can only be understood by purified senses freed from all the designations of the material world. Those who have purified senses can understand these transcendental features and exchanges, but those who are impersonalists and who have no knowledge of spiritual senses can only discriminate within the scope of the material senses and thus cannot understand spiritual exchanges or spiritual-sensual activities. Those who are elevated by virtue of experimental knowledge can only satisfy their blunt material senses either by gross bodily activities or by mental speculation. Everything generated from the body or the mind is always imperfect and perishable, but transcendental spiritual activities are always bright and wonderful. Pure love on the transcendental platform is the paragon of purity devoid of material affection and completely spiritual. Affection for matter is perishable, as indicated by the inebriety of sex in the material world, but there is no such inebriety in the spiritual world. Hindrances on the path of sense satisfaction cause material distress, but one cannot compare that with spiritual separation. In spiritual separation there is neither inebriety nor ineffectiveness, as one finds with material separation.
Lord Caitanya admitted that this is the highest position of transcendental loving reciprocation, and He told Rāmānanda Rāya, "By your grace only have I been able to understand such a high transcendental position. Such a position cannot be attained without the performance of transcendental activities. So will you kindly explain to Me how I can raise Myself to this platform?"
"It is similarly difficult for me to make You understand," Rāmānanda replied. "As far as I am concerned, I can only speak what You wish me to. No one can escape Your supreme will. Indeed, there is no one in the world who can surpass Your supreme will, and although I appear to be speaking, I am actually not the speaker. You are speaking. Therefore You are both the speaker and the audience. Thus let me speak only as You will me to speak about the performance required to attain this highest transcendental position."
Rāmānanda Rāya then began to relate the confidential and transcendental activities of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. These activities cannot be understood in the emotional relationship with the Supreme Lord as master and servant, friend and friend or parent and son. This confidential subject matter can be understood only in the association of the damsels of Vraja, for the confidential activities have arisen from the feelings and emotions of those damsels. Without the association of the damsels of Vraja, one cannot nourish or cherish such transcendental understanding. In other words, these confidential pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa have expanded through the mercy of the damsels. Without their mercy, they cannot be understood. One has to follow in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja in order to understand.
When one is actually situated in that understanding, he becomes eligible to enter into the confidential pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. There is no alternative to understand Their confidential pastimes. This is confirmed in Govinda-līlāmṛta (10.17): "Although manifest, happy, expanded and unlimited, the emotional exchanges between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa can only be understood by the damsels of Vraja or by their followers." Just as no one can understand the expansion of the spiritual energy of the Supreme Lord without His causeless mercy, no one can understand the transcendental sex life between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa without following in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja. The personal associates of Rādhārāṇī are called sakhīs, and Her near assistants are called mañjarīs. It is very difficult to express their dealings with Kṛṣṇa because they have no desire to mix with Kṛṣṇa or to enjoy Him personally. Rather, they are always ready to help Rādhārāṇī associate with Kṛṣṇa. Their affection for Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī is so pure that they are simply satisfied when Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are together. Indeed, their transcendental pleasure is in seeing Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa united. The actual form of Rādhārāṇī is just like a creeper embracing the tree of Kṛṣṇa, and the damsels of Vraja, the associates of Rādhārāṇī, are just like the leaves and flowers of that creeper. When a creeper embraces a tree, the leaves and flowers as well as the creeper automatically embrace it. Govinda-līlāmṛta (10.16) confirms that Rādhārāṇī is the expansion of the pleasure potency of Kṛṣṇa and is compared with a creeper, and Her associates, the damsels of Vraja, are compared to the flowers and leaves of that creeper. When Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa enjoy Themselves, the damsels of Vraja relish the pleasure more than Rādhārāṇī Herself.
Although the associates of Rādhārāṇī do not expect any personal attention from Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī is so pleased with them that She arranges individual meetings between Kṛṣṇa and the damsels of Vraja. Indeed, Rādhārāṇī tries to combine or unite Her associates with Kṛṣṇa by many transcendental maneuvers, and She takes more pleasure in these meetings than in Her own meetings with Him. When Kṛṣṇa sees that both Rādhārāṇī and Her associates are pleased by His association, He becomes more satisfied. Such association and loving reciprocation have nothing to do with material lust, although it resembles the material union between man and woman. It is only because that similarity is there that such reciprocation is sometimes called, in transcendental language, transcendental lust. As explained in Gautamīya-tantra (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.285): "Lust means attachment to one's personal sense gratification. But as far as Rādhārāṇī and Her associates are concerned, they did not desire personal sense gratification. They only wanted to satisfy Kṛṣṇa." This is further confirmed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.31.19) in one of the speeches of the gopīs:
- yat te sujāta-caraṇāmburuhaṁ staneṣu
- bhītāḥ śanaiḥ priya dadhīmahi karkaśeṣu
- tenātavīm aṭasi tad vyathate na kiṁ svit
- kūrpādibhir bhramati dhīr bhavad-āyuṣāṁ naḥ
"My dear friend Kṛṣṇa, You are now roaming in the forest with Your bare feet, which You sometimes keep on our breasts. When Your feet are on our breasts, we think that our breasts are too hard for Your soft feet. Now You are wandering in the forest and walking over stones, and we do not know how You are feeling. Since You are our life and soul, the displeasure You undergo in traveling over rough stones is giving us great distress." Such feelings expressed by the damsels of Vraja constitute the highest Kṛṣṇa conscious emotions.