If somebody asks you, “Who is the topmost devotee of Krishna?” What shall be your response? If you say Nitai is the topmost then he may ask, “What about Radharani?” And if you say Radha is the topmost then he may ask, “What about Nitai?” Is it not confusing? Numerous times we have heard that there is no greater devotee of Krishna than Radha and the same we have heard about Nitai innumerable times. It indeed a very mysterious question. Let us understand the relationship between Nitai-Krishna and Radha-Krishna in greater detail to demystify the question at hand.
Nitai is the existential potency (sandhini) of Krishna and is also the first manifestation of the vaibhava feature of Krishna. Thus, He falls in the Vishnu Tattva category and assumes the role of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Krishna’s elder brother. On the other hand, Radha is the pleasure potency (hladini) of Krishna and assumes the role of the Lord’s dearmost consort.
When we consider Nitai-Krishna relationship, we address Nitai as Sevak Bhagwan (the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead) and Krishna as Sevya Bhagwan (the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is served by Nitai).
As far as Radha-Krishna relationship is concerned, Radharani is described as the topmost Ashraya Vigraha (topmost reservoir of devotion for Krishna) and Krishna as the Supreme Vishaya Vigraha (Radha’s supreme object of devotion).
Even though both Nitai and Radha are devotees, there is a categorical distinction between them. In short, it is a well understood fact that only like terms can be compared. So Nitai and Radha can never be compared as they belong to their own unique categories. Nitai is the topmost sevak and Radha is the topmost ashraya-vigraha. A ‘Sevak’ and an ‘ Ashraya-vigraha’, each can be addressed as a ‘devotee’. Thus, Nitai can also be called the topmost devotee and Radha can also be glorified as the topmost devotee. It is not at all contradictory.
The only point to remember is that simply by doing ‘seva’ of the ‘Sevak’ Bhagwan Nitai one gets ‘Ashraya’ of the ‘Ashraya Vigraha’ Radha. If you don’t agree then read how Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami got Radha’s ashraya just by defending Nitai’s supreme position in front of his brother. Service of Nitai is done by pleasing one’s spiritual master, serving the devotees of Nitai, spreading the glories of Nitai, taking shelter of Nitai’s name, form, pastimes, etc., and last but not least, moving one’s finger in the air to do Nitai Vayulekhan. 🙏😊
Worthless disciple of Shrila Nitaipreshthji,