Gaudiya Vaishnavas accept that Vedanta Sutra 2.2.42ff is saying that Shakti is not independent in creating the world. On the analogy of the sexual relationship found in Gita 14.3, both male and female elements are needed for creation. The Vedanta does not deny the existence of prakriti or shakti, it only denies its primacy.
In this section, the sutras are specifically discussing whether or not shakti is independent in the act of creation. The position of Vedanta is that shakti is not independently responsible for the world. She depends upon Brahman.
Vs. 2.2.43 tells us that Brahman has no material senses through which he connects with shakti. However in the next sutra it is stated that there is no contradiction (apratisedhah) if it said that Brahman has senses (a body) made of knowledge and so on (vijnana adi). This indeed is what we say and thus while we refute the Shakta theory itself, we do not reject it altogether. We qualify it and include it in Vedanta. The Vedas say parAsya zaktir vividhaiva zrUyate svAbhAvikI
jJAna-bala-kriyA ca (zvetU.6.8). So we understand this to mean that Brahman has Shakti, energy or power by which he accomplishes things.
na tasya kAryaM karaNaM ca vidyate
na tat-samaz cAbhyadhikaz ca dRzyate
parAsya zaktir vividhaiva zrUyate
svAbhAvikI jJAna-bala-kriyA ca
When the one without a second takes on attributes for the sake of lila (to put it one way) then the implications of this action are manifold. One of these implications is that everywhere opposites are created, because variegatedness implies opposites. If the Supreme Lord manifests as male, the implication is that an equal and opposite female pole exists in company with that supreme male, or Purushottama. The existence of a supreme male without a female is nonsense. Like saying an electron can exist without a proton.
These opposites are manifest in primarily three ways -- unconscious matter (as Krishna is supreme consciousness), infinitesimal consciousness or jiva (as Krishna is infinite consciousness), and sexually differentiated supreme consciousness or Shakti, as Krishna is supreme malehood. This is also called svarUpa-zakti.
The Gaudiya Vaishnavas primarily refer to the Vishnu Purana, where all three of these are referred to as Shaktis of different sorts.
jyotsnA vistAriNI yathA |
parasya brahmaNaH zaktis
tathedam akhilaM jagad || [ViP 1.22.56]
viSNu-zaktiH parA proktA
kSetra-jJAkhyA tathAparA |
tRtIyA zaktir iSyate || [ViP 6.7.61]
tayA tirohitatvAc ca
zaktiH kSetra-jJa-saMjJitA |
tAratamyena vartate ||[ViP 6.7.63]
The idea of bhagavAn without Shakti is, as I have said, a complete contradiction in terms. According to Jiva Goswami, the word bhaga itself refers to Shakti.
The ViP thus refers to Lakshmi as anapAyinI, and this same word is found in the Bhagavatam in reference to Sri or Lakshmi –
anapAyinI bhagavatI zrIH
sAkSAd Atmano hareH || [BhP 12.11.20]
TIkA ca - anapAyinI hareH zaktiH | tatra hetuH sAkSAd AtmanaH sva-svarUpasya cid-rUpatvAt tasyAs tad-abhedAd ity arthaH | ity eSA |
So as you see, the idea of the eternal unity of the Shakti and the Shaktiman is something that is accepted in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana. This is also the meaning of the Satapatha Brahmana passage that was quoted above.
To call Radha, Lakshmi or any of Vishnu's shaktis jivas is a complete misunderstanding of the personal godhead.
The Gaudiyas NEVER say that the Shakti and Shaktiman are to be worshiped separately. Jiva Goswami finishes the Krishna-sandarbha with the words –
tad evaM sandarbha-catuSTayena sambandho vyAkhyAtaH | tasminn api sambandhe zrI-rAdhA-mAdhava-rUpeNaiva prAdurbhAvas tasya sambandhinaH paramaH prakarSaH | tad uktaM zrutyA rAdhayA mAdhavo deva iti | etad artham eva vyatAniSimimAH sarvA api paripATir iti pUrNaH sambandhaH |
Briefly, the object of worship is not Krishna, but the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna.
vinA kRSNaM rAdhA vyathayati samantAn mama mano
vinA rAdhAM kRSNo 'py ahaha sakhi mAM viklavayati |
janiH sA me mA bhUt kSaNam api na yatra kSaNa-duhau
yugenAkSNor lihyAM yugapad anayor vaktra-zazinau ||
One day, when Srimati Radharani and Krishna were separated as a result of some misdeed of his, Shyama's friend Bakulamali came and revealed her mind to Champakalata, "Dear friend, when Radha is separated from Krishna, then to see her gives me a pain in the heart. And when I see Krishna without Radha, I also truly feel great suffering. What misery! Oh beautiful one, I therefore pray that I shall never take any birth in which I shall not be able to drink with my eyes the beauty of Radha and Krishna's moon-like faces, creating a joyful festival together." (UN 8.128)
sa vai naiva reme | tasmAd ekAkI na ramate | sa dvitIyam aicchat | sa haitAvAn Asa yathA strI-pumAMsau sampariSvaktau | sa imam evAtmAnaM dvidhApatayat | tataH patiz ca patnI cAbhavatAm | tasmAd idaM bRgalam iva sva iti ha smAha yAjJavalkyas tasmAd ayam AkAza striyA pUryata eva tAM samabhavat tato manuSyA ajAyanta |
“He did not enjoy. Therefore one does not enjoy when alone. He desired a second. So He transformed Himself, becoming as a man and woman locked in embrace. He divided the one atma into two parts, becoming husband and wife. From that pair comes all this universe, so says Yajnavalkya. That sky is fulfilled by woman, and by going to her, mankind was born.” (zatapatha-brAhmaNa 126.96.36.199)
The Satapatha Brahmana is full of all kinds of creation myths. This is just one of them. But most of them seem to involve the splitting of the non-dual Brahman into equal male and female parts necessary for the function of creation.
But we cannot select some myths and reduce them to some kind of metaphorical meaning while accepting others as having concrete value. Taken objectively, the lila of Hari whether with jivas or with Shaktis is no different.
Either they are all myths and therefore nothing more than analogy or they all have substantive value. As far as Radharani is concerned, no doubt this was felt to be problematic for the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. But they also had a battle in proving that Krishna is the supreme form of the Godhead, despite the help given them by BhP 1.3.28.
Radharani's name first appears in Prakrit poetry coming from Maharashtra, in the Gatha Sattasai of Hala. There are other mentions in other Prakrit collections, so Radharani definitely comes out of the vernacular tradition, not the Puranic or the Vedantic. As the Vaishnavas say, this is not a dUSaNam but bhUSaNam. Our Devi comes from the people!
Hala's verse (1.89) is given for your pleasure --
muha-mArueNa taM kahna goraaM rAhiAeM abaNento |
etANaM balabINaM aNNANaM bi goraaM harasi ||
O Krishna! With the wind from your mouth,
you are blowing the cowdust away from Radharani.
So doing, you crush the pride of all these other gopis.
This is recognizably our Radha. Hala's Sattasai is dated quite early -- 3-4th centuries.
In South Indian sources, there is a supreme gopi whose name is given as Nappinnai, who is usually identified by rasika Vaishnavas as being none other than Radha. This goes back to the Silappattikaram, which is often dated to the second century AD.
The liberated living entity does not create his own world. The Supreme Lord creates a world in accordance with the liberated soul’s wishes. But I think that we have to understand this concept a little more clearly.
The world we live in is similarly created out of a combination of our desires and our karma. To say that we created it is a euphemism for what has taken place.
When you say the liberated soul creates a place like Goloka, you are deliberately underplaying the significance of the concept.
Asse zrutekSita-patho nanu nAtha puMsAm
yad yad-dhiyA ta urugAya vibhAvayanti
tat tad vapuH praNayase sad-anugrahAya
O Lord! You take your seat in the lotus of a heart that has been conquered by bhakti-yoga. The way for people to reach you is seen through the Sruti. Even so, out of your kindness toward your devotees you take different forms according to the way your devotees think of you. (3.9.11)