the Eight Gopikas
'Gopi' means one who drinks the beauty of Sri Krishn with the senses.
"aparanimishad-drigbhyam jushana tan-mukhambujam apitam api natripyat santas tac-caranam yatha" (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.32.7)Translation: Another gopi looked with unblinking eyes upon His lotus face, but even after deeply relishing its sweetness She did not feel satiated, just as mystic saints are never satiated when meditating upon the Lord's feet."tam kacin netra-randhrena hridi kritva nimilya ca pulakangy upaguhyaste yogivananda-sampluta" (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.32.8)Translation: One gopi took the Lord through the aperture of her eyes and placed Him within her heart. Then, with her eyes closed and her bodily hairs standing on end, she continuously embraced Him within. Thus immersed in transcendental ecstasy, she resembled a yogi meditating upon the Lord.
Srimad Bhagavatam doesn't mention the name of Radharani or the Gopis. There are elaborate description of them in Brahma Vivarta Puran, Skanda Puran, Garga Samhita, and other Vaishav texts.
There were eight main (Varistha) Gopis. Why eight main Gopis and wives? Because 8 is the number for Maya - creation. Maya is the Shakti. Gita Ch 7 Ashtadha Prakriti is eight fold, 5 elements, mind, intellect and ego. Krishn is married to Maya. Ocean is wedded to all the waves. How many manifestations? Countless, 16000 is still less.
Sri Satya Sai Baba also explained the 8 main Gopis and wives as the 8 manifestations of Divine Love:
"The hridaya chakra* has eight petals. Narayan is the Lord of the eight-petaled hridaya chakra. These eight petals are regarded as eight consorts of the Lord.
What do the eight petals of the heart represent?
They are: love (Prem)
, truth (Sathyam), forbearance (Sahanam), sacrifice (Thyaga), compassion (Daya), beauty (Sundaram), bliss (Anand) and peace (Shanti).
To realize the bliss of the Divine, all the other qualities have to be fostered. God is the embodiment of all these eight attributes.
The sahasraara chakra has a thousand petals. Each petal carries sixteen phases (kalas). Thus the sahasraara chakra is said to represent 16,000 cowherd maidens (gopikas)."
(*The Hridaya Chakra is a minor chakra just below the Anahat Chakra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anahata)
These divine devis of Maya (Adi Shakti) descended on earth along with Krishn when He took avatar. Consciousness descended in a full form, 100%, that's why Krishn is the Porn Avatar, though Krishn was human he was also the fully blossomed consciousness. All the forms and categories of creation, perhaps 16000, also descendented, and though they were human, they were like sparkles of divinity (devis) in human bodies. This was the greatest time in the planet of the celebration and play between creation and consciousness!
Here are the Varistha Gopis:
1. Lalita Sakhi: Of the varistha gopis, Lalita is the most important, being the leader and controller. The beauty of all the other gopis appears to be conserved in the form of Lalita-devi. She is contrary and hot-tempered by nature. In an argument, her mouth becomes bent with ferocious anger and she expertly speaks the most outrageous and arrogant replies. When the arrogant gopis pick a quarrel with Krsna, she is at the forefront of the conflict. When Radha and Krsna meet, she audaciously remains standing a little away from them. Lalita was Radhika's best friend.
2. Vishakha Sakhi: Her attributes, activities and resolve are all much like those of her friend Lalita. She is an expert at all aspects of amorous diplomacy, and is the perfect counsellor.
3. Campakalata Sakhi: She is expert at the art of logical persuasion, she is a skilled
diplomat, and she is a gourmet cook!
4. Citra Sakhi: Citra-devi is very talented. She is an expert in playing music on pots filled with varying degrees of water. She is learned in the literature, gardening, cooking, preparing nectarean beverages, and many other things.
5. Tungavidya Sakhi: She is a learned one. She is very devoted to her seva of dancing and singing, and is an expert at playing the veena. She is learned in rasa-sastra (transcendental mellows), is learned in the eighteen branches of knowledge, in niti-sastra (morality), dancing, drama, literature and all other arts and sciences. Being hot-tempered and expert at dissimulation, Tungavidya is one of the leaders of the gopis.
6. Indulekha Sakhi: She is contrary and hot-tempered by nature. She is learned in the science and mantras of the Naga-sastra, which describes various methods of charming snakes. She is also learned in the Samudraka-sastra, which describes the science of palmistry. She is expert at stringing various kinds of wonderful necklaces, decorating the teeth with red substances, gemology and weaving various kinds of cloth.
7. Rangadevi Sakhi: Her personal qualities are much like those of Campakalata. She is always like a great ocean of coquettish words and gestures. She is very fond of joking with her friend Srimati Radharani in the presence of Lord Krishna. Among the six activities of diplomacy she is especially expert in the fourth: patiently waiting for the enemy to make the next move. She is an expert logician and because of previous austerities she has attained a mantra by which she can attract Lord Krsna.
8. Sudevi Sakhi: She is the eighth of the varistha gopis. She is sweet and charming by nature. She is the sister of Rangadevi. Her form and other qualities are so similar to those of her sister Rangadevi that they are often mistaken for one another. She is expert in training male and female parrots and she is also expert in the pastimes of roosters. She is an expert sailor and she is fully aware of the auspicious and inauspicious omens described in the Sakuna-sastra. She is expert at massaging thebody with scented oils, she knows how to start fires and keep them burning and she knows which flowers blossom with the rising of the moon.
Which Sakhi were you? :)