The Skanda Purana states that out of many thousands of gopis, sixteen thousand are predominant and among them 108 gopis are very close , eight are still more prominent . Radharani and Candravalli are very prominent and Srimathi Radharani is the most prominent. Because Radharani possesses all the charm and sweetness to attract Lord Krishna .
Introduction about the Ashta sakhis is appended in the below linked post
The Eight Gopis who are the foremost, dearest and most beloved friends of Shri Shri Radharani are glorified as Asta-sakhis Gopis . Their names areLalita, Visakha, Chitralekha, Champakalata, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Rangadevi and Sudevi.
The Astha-sakhis display the zenith of spiritual love for Radha and Krishna. No one can equal or exceed the love they bear for the Divine Couple. To increase the transcendental ecstasy of Radha and Krishna, the Parama-preshta Gopis show partiality; sometimes they favour Krishna, sometimes Radha. These Eight Gopis are the leaders of all the other gopis. Although these Varishtha Gopis are the leaders of millions of other gopis, because they are very greedy to earn Radha’s love , they always prefer to serve under the command of Radha and try to please her in every way possible. These gopi friends decorate their own dear friend Srimati Radharani and they take Radharani’s side whenever she has a lover’s quarrel with Lord Hari. They please the Divine Couple by expertly singing, dancing and playing instrumental music. At the appropriate time they beg to be engaged in various appropriate services. They serve palatable meals to the Divine Couple and afterward relish tasting the remnants left by Them. Their minds are pure and they are very expert and intelligent, so they serve Radha and Krsna very appropriately. Lalita-devi is the leader and controller of all these exalted and worshipable young gopis.
To understand the deep devotion of the brajwasees one has to really go and see this place for oneself .Radharani was always surrounded and served by her thousands of gopi-friends out of which eight of them are very prominent and are collectively known as Ashta sakhis. They are Lalitha , Vishaka, Tungadevi, Rangadevi, Indulekha, Chitralekha, Sudevi and Champakalatha. These sakhis appeared in different villages around Barsana.
How to reach:-
Barsana—–Anjanak(5 kms)——Kamai(3 kms)——Karela (4kms)
Karela village which is the appearance place of Champakalatha sakhi is about 12 kms from Barsana(Varsana)
Champakalatha sakhi is the third among the varishta ashta sakhis. She is one day elder to RAdharani and her appearance day falls on Sapthami thithi in Bhadrapad maas (one day before Radhashtami). Her parents were Arama and Batika who were at Karela , a tiny village which is about 12 kms from Barsana and 3 kms from Kamai Vishakha sakhi’s temple.
Champakalatha was an expert cook . She used to offer sweet delicacies for little Krishna and Radharani. Her service included offering jewels and garlands , beautiful clay dolls to please the Lordships .
As per the version of Brajvasis the divine sport Rasakreeda started at this place-Karela.
The priest pointed towards a photograph and shared an interesting incident .
Lord conceded to the request of Jamanda deva who was meditating on the transcendental pastime of Rasa kreeda-the divine dance performed by chinni Krishna with the gopikas at Vrindavan on Sharath Poornima. The Lord appeared in his dream and said that his wish would be fulfilled. The Lord instructed him to assemble the few children of Braj and enact the Rasakreeda and assured that HE and Radharani would manifest in the children and presented two crowns to him to be adorned to the children depicting as Radha and Krishna.
As announced , Lord out of abundant mercy appeared in the villager’s dream and instructed them to send their children along with the sadhu. Next day, Jamand dev approached the brahmins to send their children and they obliged to his request immediately . Jamand dev brought the children to this temple and decorated them as Krishna, Radha and gopikas. As per Lord’s instructions, he adorned the children acting as Radha and Krishna with the crown.
The moment they were crowned , the children disappeared.The sage was perplexed and worried . He started contemplating on the Lord and prayed to him fervently. Lord appeared and showed him the children who were already performing the Rasa kreeda grandly. The Sadhu was pleased and offered obesiances to LORD for the mercy . The Lord commanded the brahmins of the village to spread HIS pastimes in other places too .
The brahmins started executing the Lord’s orders. In due course, they reached a place in Madhya Pradesh wherein the king of that territory asked them to perform Kalinga Narthanam on a real snake else they would be punished severely.
The perplexed brahmins shared the king’s orders with the children. The boy who was playing the role of Krishna advised the brahmins to accept the request without any hesitation . The entire episode of Kalinga Narthanam which took place during Krishnavataram was re-enacted before the arrogant King.
Lord Krishna HIMSELF took on the boy’s role and started dancing on the hoods of the snake and suddenly disappeared into the waters and there was no trace of the boy for nearly three hours .
The brahmins and the king who believed that it was a divine will were worried about the boy’s welfare. The king with fear submitted to LORD .He was worried that he had committed brahma hathi dosha(sin by killing a brahmin boy) and sought forgiveness at the lotus feet of Krishna. Krishna appeared on the banks of the river and everyone was glad to see the boy alive.
The king, who by now was repenting for his foolishness presented a 5 kg makut (crown) to be adorned to Krishna. This crown is kept in Mathura in safe custody. It is brought once in a year to this temple with paraphernalia and Lord Krishna adorns it on Bhadrapad Pournami day. A big festival takes place and all the devotees ,especially sadhus are fed sumptously reminding this divine leela .
As a part of our Piligrimage yatra recently , when we went to the temple, as part of the forthcoming celebrations, Srimad Bhagavata saptaham was being recited .
Jai Sri Radhey Shyaam
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan