QUESTION There is no one like Shri Radha, and there will never be anyone like her. No one makes Krishna happy the way she can. From this, it follows that somehow or other, one should help unite Radha and Krishna.
Up to here what you are saying makes perfect sense to me.
Therefore one would think “I would like to please Krishna by serving Shri Radha rather than directly desiring to please him (by uniting/kissing/embracing)”.
This makes sense, but is still better if we phrase it like this: “Rādhārāṇī pleases Krishna the most. Since I love Krishna, I should help her please him rather than try to please him without her.”
We should stop putting “I” as the subject of our sentences, for that is the dominant grammatical position. Let us frame “I” as the object. Do not think “I will kiss Krishna.” Think “Krishna will kiss me.” Don’t think “How will I please Krishna?” but “How will Krishna want to get pleasure from me?” Don’t think “how will I serve Rādhā?” think, “What service will Rādhā entrust to me?”
Is this why Radha’s Manjaris are all about trying to serve Shri Radhe but never desiring to directly please Krishna?
Yes, but this is subject is arcane and sophisticated, and statements about it (such as the one you just made) are always easy to misunderstand.
The better and more intimately one understands Krishna, the more emphasis and importance one will naturally feel for Śrī Rādhā – the original divine lover of Krishna. The Gopīs understand Krishna more intimately than anyone, and that is why they value Śrī Rādhā above anyone – in a sense even above him!
So the gopīs never desire to please Krishna without Śrī Rādhā.
The Gopis have romantic feelings for Krishna. Reading and even slightly understanding them may generate strong desires to be like them. That may in turn generate romantic feelings for Krishna. Are these feelings wrong?
This implies there are Gopīs who interact with Krishna without Rādhā as the central focal point. There is no such thing. Such a gopī does not and can not exist. All the gopīs, even Candrāvalī (who is ostensibly Śrī Rādhā’s rival) are absolutely absorbed in Rādhā-dasya (service of Rādhā).
Even outside Vraja, in Mathurā, Kubja’s maids must have interacted with Krishna amorously, but only with Kubja as their “commander”/ coordinator. In Dvārakā Krishna has thousands of wives, but Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā coordinate and command them all. In Vaikuṇṭha there are limitless Lakṣmī, but there is one original lakṣṁī at Viṣṇu’s feet, coordinating all the others, as their focal point for their service to Viṣṇu.
This is a little foreign to us, because we grew up in monogamist culture. We have little natural concept for how non-monogamous relationships actually work. Truthfully, that is probably the least of our worries. We have much deeper and more immediate problems in understanding how divine love works in an erotic romantic context with the Supreme Being.
Is it true that one should always serve Shri Radhe but not try to be like her?
No. You cannot serve someone without being like them. This is why fire is offered to the sun and water offered to the Ganga. Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī is described as being almost exactly like Śrī Rādhā.
But if you very slightly edit the statement, it is perfect, “One should serve Śrī Rādhā, and not try to be her.” (change “like her” to “her”, change “but” to “and”.)
Do the servants of Shri Rādhā have sexual-romantic feelings for pleasing Krishna?
There are so many misconceptions about sexual love, even in this world with normal people. Sex is potentially the most powerful force of conciliation and unification in our world, but in practice it turns out to often be one of the most powerful forces of vice and distress.
If even in this world sex is such a perplexing topic, it is easy to estimate how fathomlessly baffling it must be in relation to Param Brahman, the Supreme Transcendent Conscious Being. We cannot really expect to speak about the divine sexuality of the Supreme Being without having to wend through a maze of baffling misconceptions. This is probably why a lot of very wise people refuse to talk about these subjects, and the Vedas do not directly speak of it, and in the history of time only a single, exceedingly rare avatāra ever reveals it in much detail.
The biggest misconception is that essence of sexual love (mādhurya-rasa) is different from the essences of protective love (vātsalya), friendship (sakhya), servitude (dāsya), and selflessness (śānta-rati). Without understanding this, we will not really understand anything about gopīs, even if we organize and understand all the facts and figures about them correctly.
To directly answer your question – Radha’s maids are just like her. They have ardent passion for Krishna, just like she does. But they are Radha’s expansions, not Rādhā herself, so they express their ardent passion for Krishna in coordination and harmonious, beautiful submission to Śrī Radha’s. Their passion for Krishna follows her passion for Krishna like sents follow the breeze.
It is a great concert. Each individual musical instrument plays itself in coordination with its conductor. Each conductor is herself an instrument, making music in concert with her group under the coordination of a higher conductor, and so on infinitely, till we come to the Supreme Conductress of the entire symphony, Śrī Rādhā.
All the instruments are tuned to the same “sa” (key) and all play the same rāga (key signature) harmoniously, and the focal point of all the beautiful sound is the supreme divine mystery known as Śrī Rādhā.