Goddess of Love, Beauty and Devotion
Krishna and Radha at Mayapur temple
|Affiliation||Lakshmi, madhavpriya, vrindavaneshwari, Vaishnavism, Raseshwari form of krishna's love and bhakti|
|Abode||Goloka, Barsana, Vrindavan, Braj Dham, Vaikuntha|
|Texts||Brahmavaivarta Purāṇa, Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Padma Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Narada Panchratra, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Shree Krishna Karnamrutam,Jagannath Vallabha Natakam, Tartam Sagar, Gita Govinda and many others|
Radha (Sanskrit: राधा, IAST: Rādhā), also called Radhika, Radharani, Radhe, Shyama, and Priya, is a Hindu goddess popular in Hinduism, especially in the Vaishnavism tradition. She is said to be the head of the milkmaids as Pradhan Gopika (chief amongst all gopis) (also called the gopis or Braj Gopikas) who resided in Braj Dham. She is the power potency of the supreme personality of Godhead Para Brahman, who is Shri Krishna according to Vaishnavite, and some specific translations of Bhagawatam and Padma Purana. She is Shri Krishna’s first chief consort. She is the personification of pure devotional service unto Sri Krishna (bhakti devi). She is thought of as the supreme Goddess in her own right and celebrated on the festive day of Radhastami.
She is also called Vrindavaneshwari (Queen of the Sri Vrindavan Dham). She appeared as queen of milkmaids and queen of Vrindavan-Barsana. She taught selfless love and surrender to the Godhead Shri Krishna. She is considered the supreme goddess in Vaishnavism. Rasik sants have mentioned her as a descension of the Supreme Goddess, Source of the Infinite Lakshmi and the original form of Yogmaya and Allhadini Shakti (Power of Divine Love) which is main Power of the Godhead Shree Krishna. She and her consort Krishna are collectively known as Radha Krishna, the combined form of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God. Lord Krishna often underwent various kinds of "leelas" with Her.
Radha is worshipped in some regions of India, particularly by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Vaishnavas in West Bengal, Bangladesh Manipur, and Odisha. Elsewhere, she is revered in the Nimbarka Sampradaya and movements linked to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Shreemati Radharani ji is considered a metaphor for the human spirit (aatma), her love and longing for Prabhu Shree Krishna ji is theologically viewed as symbolic of the human quest for spiritual growth and union with the divine. She has inspired numerous literary works, and her Rasa lila dance with Krishna has inspired many types of performance arts till this day. She is said to be incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and Krishna is her husband Lord Vishnu's incarnation as per some texts.
The Sanskrit term Rādhā (Sanskrit: राधा) means "prosperity, success". It is a common word and name founded in various contexts in the ancient and medieval texts of India. Of these the most celebrated is the name of the gopi who was the beloved of Krishna. Both Radha and Krishna are the main characters of Gita Govinda of Jayadeva. Radha in this context is considered the avatar of Lakshmi, just like Krishna is considered an avatar of Vishnu.
Similarly, In His Harivansh and Swami Haridas Literature, Radha is considered as the main form of deity. Here, Radha is not an avatar of Laxmi but another form of supreme god Shri Krishn Himself. In Devi Bhagvat and Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Radha is mentioned as the source of infinite Laxmi, Gopis, and mother of infinite souls. Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj (the 5th original Jagadguru) elaborately described the virtue of Radha and has given a brief description of Shri Radha in his lectures and Kirtans. He has said, "She is the Supreme Goddess and is worshipped by everyone including Godhead Shri Krishna himself and that's why she is called Radha; means one who is the form of worship."
The term is related to Rādha (Sanskrit: राध), which means "kindness, any gift but particularly the gift of affection, success, wealth". The word appears in the Vedic literature as well as the Epics, but is elusive and not as a major deity.
Rādhikā refers to an endearing form of Gopi Radha.
Radha is an important goddess in the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism. She is a goddess whose traits, manifestations, descriptions, and roles vary with region. Since the earliest times, she has been associated with one of the most popular Hindu gods, the cowherd Krishna. In the early Indian literature, her mentions are illusive and not as common as other major goddesses of Hinduism, but during the Bhakti movement era she became popular among Krishna devotees whose strength is her love.
According to Jaya Chemburkar, there are at least two significant and different aspects of Radha in the literature associated with her, such as Sriradhika namasahasram. One aspect is she is a milkmaid (Gopi), another as a female deity similar to those found in the Hindu goddess traditions. She also appears in Hindu arts as ardhanari with Krishna, that is an iconography where half of the image is Radha and the other half is Krishna. This is found in sculpture such as those discovered in Maharashtra, and in texts such as Shiva Purana and Brahmavaivarta Purana. In these texts, this ardhanari is sometimes referred to as Ardharadhavenudhara murti, and it symbolizes the complete union and inseparability of Radha and Krishna.
Radha's depictions vary from being an already married woman who becomes a devotee of Krishna in a secondary role, to being dual divinity equal to Krishna in Jayadeva's Gita Govinda, to being supreme object of devotional love for both Krishna and devotees in Rupa Gosvami's tradition.
In some Hindu sub-traditions, Radha is conceptualized as a goddess who breaks social norms by leaving her marriage, and entering into a relationship with Krishna to pursue her love. According to Heidi Pauwels, it is a "hotly debated issue" whether Radha was already married or had remembered Krishna while she remained married. Radha asked Krishna why he can't marry her, the reply came “Marriage is a union of two souls. You and I are one soul, how can I marry myself?”  Several Hindu texts allude to these circumstances.
According to David Kinsley, a professor of Religious Studies known for his studies on Hindu goddesses, the Radha-Krishna love story is a metaphor for divine-human relationship, where Radha is the human devotee or soul who is frustrated with the past, obligations to social expectations and the ideas she inherited, who then longs for real meaning, the true love, the divine (Krishna). This metaphoric Radha (soul) finds new liberation in learning more about Krishna, bonding in devotion and with passion.
Shrimati Radharani is the source of all Lakshmis in Vaikuntha. Just like Krishna changes his appearance by holding a bow and arrow rather than flute and become Shri Ramchandra similarly Shrimati Radharani assumes the form of Shrimati Sita devi in the Ramayana past Time. The popular Itihasas and other legendary literature of the Hindu traditions present two major Lakshmi avatars – Radha and Sita, and two major Vishnu avatars as their respective companions – Krishna in the Mahabharata and Rama in the Ramayana. The Radha-Krishna and Sita-Rama pairs represent two different personality sets, two perspectives on dharma and lifestyles, both cherished in the way of life called Hinduism. Sita is traditionally wedded, dedicated, and virtuous wife of Rama, an introspective temperate paragon of a serious, virtuous man. Radha is a power potency of Krishna, a playful adventurer.
Radha and Sita offer two competing templates within the Hindu tradition. If "Sita is a queen, aware of her social responsibilities", states Pauwels, then "Radha is exclusively focused on her romantic relationship with her lover", giving two contrasting role models from two ends of the moral universe. Yet they share common elements as well. Both love their man and their lives, both face life challenges, both are committed to their true love and both have been influential, adored and beloved goddesses in the Hindu culture. As there are many interpretations and translations which are not referred to BORI CE or KMG versions these can be some other versions of Mahabharatha as Radha is not mentioned in either versions. Neither is Radha mentioned in Ramayana CE version or popular vernacular like Kamba Ramayana or Adhyatma Ramayana.
Therefore, in their deepest meaning, when they are referred to each other; like Krishna and Rama, they will continue their "past life" and "achieve their dharma" in this way. This is especially interesting in the spheres of astrology.
In some devotional (bhakti) traditions of Vaishnavism that focus on Krishna, Radha represents "the feeling of love towards Krishna". For some of the adherents of these traditions, her importance approaches or even exceeds that of Krishna. Radha is worshipped along with Krishna in Bengal, Assam and Odisha by Vaishnava Hindus. Elsewhere, such as with Visnusvamins, she is a revered deity. She is considered to be his original shakti, the supreme goddess in both the Nimbarka Sampradaya and following the advent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.
Radha Chalisa mentions that Krishna accompanies one who chants " Radha" with pure heart. Other gopis are usually considered to be self willing maidservants (Sevika) of Radha. Radharani's superiority is seen in Krishna's flute, which repeats the name Radha. Between Radha and Rukmini, Radha is superior.
Radha's connection to Krishna is of two types: svakiya-rasa (married relationship) and parakiya-rasa (a relationship signified with eternal mental "love"). The Gaudiya tradition focuses upon parakiya-rasa as the highest form of love, wherein Radha and Krishna share thoughts even through separation. The love the gopis feel for Krishna is also described in this esoteric manner as the highest platform of spontaneous love of God, and not of a sexual nature.
Radha and Krishna are the focus of temples in the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya, Chandidas and other sub-traditions of Vaishnavism. She is typically shown standing immediately next to Krishna, jeweled up like a bride, happy. Some important Radha temples are:
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