The Puranas 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.
Chitra sakhi-one of the prominent varishta ashtasakhis appeared on Bhadrapad maas shukla Dasami thithi- 2nd day from Radhashtami to Catura and CArvika(parents). She stayed at Chaksauli which is about 2 kms from Barsana RAdharani temple.
She was an expert cook and used to make delicious drinks for the pleasure of little Krishna and Radharani. She was expert in gardening . She used to pluck choicest flowers and make garland and hand it over to RAdharani for garlanding little Krishna. She was fond of peacocks and the peacocks used to move freely in her presence.
In the temple, we find RAdha-Krishna in the centre, on the right is Chitra sakhi and on the left side, we find Champakalatha sakhi.
The temple priest who belongs to Nimbarka sampradaya informed us that all the sakhis perform all types of sevas to please the Lordships .
There is a slight variation of the sevas in different sampradayas like Gaudiya,Nimbarka, Vallabh sampradaya. He said that as per Nimbark sampradaya , Chitrasakhi does jal-paan seva (Serving drinks) and Champakalatha who is seen on the left side of Radha Krishna does bhojan(food)seva.
Beautiful arrangements for the forthcoming appearance day on Dasami thithi was BEING done by the priest.
WE had the opportunity to offer sweets offered to Radharani at Barsana on Dasami day as part of Chappan Bhog to Chitra sakhi. OUr god brother ,Sri.Rajagopalan had arranged all articles for abhishekam (milk,curd,honey, ghee, flowers, dress etc.)
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pics : Google images
Video : chinavilly