Goddess Radha Rani
According to the Hindu tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, Lord Krishna is deeply venerated as the chief manifestation of the Divine – the unconditional spiritual root from which everything originates. It would be inadequate to just say he is God and leave it that way. As per the Vedas, a thorough conception of the Divine comprises both masculine as well as feminine features. Lord Krishna, viewed as the uppermost manifestation of reality is thereby believed to be incomplete without his female equivalent, Goddess Radha.
Who was Lord Radha Rani?
In Hindu Dharma, Radha is believed to be a goddess and the main consort of Lord Krishna. She is venerated as the Goddess of empathy, affection, tenderness and devotion. She is portrayed as the chief of gopis (milkmaids). Also referred to as Radharani, she is a supreme goddess who is thought to be the female counterpart and the internal potency of Krishna, who lives in Goloka, the celestial residence of Radha Krishna. She is believed to be with Krishna in all his manifestations.
Radha is also meant to be viewed as a metaphor for the human spirit (Atma), her love and yearning for Krishna is theologically observed as symbolic of the human quest for spiritual development and union with the divine (Brahman). She is believed to have encouraged several literary works and her Rasa Lila dance with Lord Krishna has been the inspiration for numerous kinds of performance arts.
Radha is considered to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Even though she has been conferred the status of a Goddess, it is Rukmini who was predominantly regarded as the wife of Lord Krishna. The awe-inspiring love and affection Radha has for Sri Krishna is the chief reason for being raised to the status of a Goddess and she is venerated in Indian temples along with Lord Krishna.
Origins of Goddess Radha in Hindu Scriptures
When it comes to the Vedas, there has been no mention of Radha or Krishna. Even though a cowherd is talked about in Vedas, which are more than 3,000 years old, Krishna shows up a lot in the Mahabharata which is believed to have its earliest textual records as being a little more than 2,000 years old, but in this Mahabharata as well as its appendix Harivamsa, there has been no citation of Radha.
Radha also starts showing up in late Prakrit literature which is approximately 1000 years old but achieves its complete form in the Sanskrit work of Jaideva known as Geet Govind, penned around 800 years ago. In the early Puranas, such as the Vishnu Purana, which are more than 1,500 years old, there is no reference to Radha. However, in the later Puranas, namely the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, which is less than 600 years old, Radha and Krishna are considered to be the male and female principles. Thereby, we can observe that Radha does appear in the later portion of Hindu history.
Origins of the Name
The name ‘Radha’ is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root ‘radh’, which suggests praying, and the word rani, which implies queen. In literal translation, Radharani means ‘the queen of worship’. In a couple of texts, she is viewed as the supreme goddess who is venerated by everyone. She is considered to be the protector of everybody and is believed to be the mother of the whole universe.
Radha: Symbol of Love
The legendary love story of Radha-Krishna is one of the most prominent and famous legends in Hindu mythology. The tale is said to have occurred in the Dwapar Yuga when both of them were born in this universe. Radha was a cowherdess, who captured the heart of Lord Krishna through her beauty and charm. Lord Krishna is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, whose birth was preordained.
During this lifetime, Krishna encountered Radha and they madly fell in love with each other. But Krishna was busy with several issues such as slaying Kansa. Her deep affection and steadfast dedication and commitment aided Krishna in combating his problems.
Reason why Radha is worshipped with Krishna
Radha stands for a true worshipper, both in the form of male as well as female. Lord Krishna signifies the divine. Lord Krishna’s deep love for Radha epitomizes every devotee’s fierce craving for the ultimate unification with the Lord. With her utmost sincerity towards Lord Krishna, she became the supreme worshipper of the deity. Today, people think about Radha-Krishna as a single unit. Even though she was not his wife, their deep love tied them together forever. Radha is an unavoidable part of Krishna.
Radha: The Goddess
Radha had achieved the status of Goddess in the Hindu Dharma. Radha’s deep love and devotion to Lord Krishna enabled her to get this deserving position. Today, Goddess Radha is revered like any other devi in temples all over India.
Popular Tales surrounding Goddess Radha
The stories showcasing the eternal love of Radha-Krishna have become legendary. There are numerous tales of Radha and Krishna that demonstrate their deep love for each other. Radha’s commitment and devotion towards Lord Krishna are sincere. Here are a couple of the tales showcasing their love for each other:
Legend of Hot Milk
Radha was not Lord Krishna’s wife. But the infinite and unquantifiable love that they had for each other made Krishna’s wives deeply envious of Radha. Once, they put their heads together and hatched a plan to make Radha suffer. They poured hot burning milk into a bowl. They offered the bowl to Radha and mentioned that Lord Krishna had sent it for her. Radha willingly drank the entire scorching hot bowl of milk. When the wives returned home to Krishna, they discovered him with painful ulcers. This demonstrates the fact that Lord Krishna lives in every pore of Radha. This is the reason why the scalding hot milk did not affect Radha but rather it impacted Krishna. He ended up taking all her pain and sufferings upon himself.
Legend of Charanamrit
This is another heartwarming tale that portrays the immense love between Radha and Krishna. Once, Lord Krishna fell gravely ill. Krishna enquired if he would get better if he could receive the Charanamrit of a true worshipper. All the Gopis were requested but none of them were offered. They were terrified of committing a huge offense, by presenting the water with which they cleansed their feet, to Lord Krishna.
When Radha became aware of the situation, she offered the Charanamrit with utmost sincerity and devotion even if it meant she had to go to hell for it. All she wanted was for her Lord to be free of his pain and illness. It is due to this fact; it is thought that Radha would not wed Lord Krishna. Radha loved Krishna so unconditionally from the bottom of her heart. But even then, she still presented Charanamrit to Krishna to save him from his ailment. Radha and Krishna were considered to be celestial beings and their love was believed to be eternal and immeasurable. Whether they were married or not, their immense love for each other united them forever.
Characteristic Attributes of Goddess Radha
Radharani is depicted as modest, generous, empathetic, charming and pleasing. Her steadfast devotion, commitment and loyalty towards Lord Krishna were unmatched. Her immense love for Krishna was impulsive and natural and encompassed an esoteric nature that was devoid of any sexual desire. She appears to share an exceptional, awe-inspiring and completely unconditional connection and relationship with Lord Krishna.
Interesting Facts about Goddess Radha
Controller of Krishna
In certain aspects, it may appear that Krishna is an egotistical deity who created other beings for the sole reason of venerating him as he reigns supreme. But it’s explained in detail in Gaudiya Vaishnava texts that those who fall in love with Lord Krishna tend to reign supreme over him.
As a mark of devotional service in the maximum degree, Radha completely controls Krishna with her love, which is believed to be chiefly unique and strong, particularly due to her mood of devotion. As per the Bhagavata Purana, Lord Krishna showcased his Vrindavan pastimes on earth approximately 5000 years ago. After he grew up and had to depart for the city where he assumed the tasks of a king, the villagers suffered from separation anxiety. Their yearning to meet Krishna again caused them immense pain, but it was because of these anguishes that they could undergo utmost sincere love and devotion that would not have happened otherwise.
Radha’s desire to be with Krishna was so deep, that it puzzled even Krishna, who felt he was not capable of complementing the depths of her love. He believed himself to be fully and deeply in her debt lifelong. Since the fundamental emphasis of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is to create love, dedication, disciples, in a way, think Radha as the tradition’s most significant figure, for the love she has for the Lord exceeds even that of Krishna’s.
What Happened to Goddess Radha?
There is a certain belief that when Lord Krishna was departing earth for Golok, he beckoned a divine aircraft that carried all the brijwasi and Radha to his lok-Golok. Another story is that Lord Krishna played his flute in such a deep melodious tune that Radha showed up in front of him and then joined with his body forever – from where she had initially come as many mythologies point out that she emerged out of Shri Krishna’s body’s left part.
Radha and Krishna’s Playful Childhood Marriage
They married as children playfully. There is specific evidence in ancient texts that talks about Radha’s association with Lord Krishna. It is believed that the two did marry each other in play as children. But it was never an authentic wedding and the relationship was not consummated.
Festivals Dedicated to Goddess Radha
The auspicious festival of ‘Radha Ashtami’ is devoted to Goddess Radha (manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi). It is believed to be the day Radha was born. Also referred to as ‘Radhika’ or ‘Radharani’, she was the childhood lover and friend of Lord Krishna. The worshippers pay their homage to Radharani on this day in numerous shrines, particularly at her birthplace. It is believed that if a devotee manages to make Radha happy, you will also receive Lord Krishna’s blessings because he lives within Radha.
Significance of Radha Ashtami
While Radha is believed to be an individual soul, Lord Krishna is considered to be the universal soul. Radha and Krishna are typically referred to as ‘Radhakrishna’ as they are thought to be a singular unit. A devotee who observes Radha Ashtami Vrata will be bestowed with a prosperous and successful life. The worshipper will conquer all hurdles, achieve their desires and attain salvation. It is said that by keeping the Radha Ashtami Fast you can get rid of your sins. Minds will be free from negative thoughts and they will realize spiritual bliss.
How to Celebrate Radha Ashtami?
Radha Ashtami is celebrated with grand pomp and fanfare in several northern states of India, particularly in and around Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. Devotees wake up prior to sunrise to venerate Radharani. They also have to keep a fast and prepare delicacies that are believed to be loved and relished by Radha. Several women submerge Radha idols in Panchamrit that come with milk, yogurt, jaggery, ghee and honey. Items that are intended for Shringar or beautification are also presented to the Goddess along with Dhoop and Prasad. Her idol is also draped in new attires and adorned with fresh flowers. The prasad that is given as Bhog is also later served to the family so everyone can invoke the blessings of the Goddess.
How to worship, please Radha Rani & what are its benefits?
Many devotees venerate Goddess Radha to be able to access Lord Krishna to bless them and to experience the power of pure love and selfless sacrifice which Radha has always shown towards Krishna. On Radha Ashtami day, devotees tend to fast all day and assemble at temples dedicated to her to receive her blessings. Worshipping Radha is believed to help you get through marital troubles and enjoy a flourishing life full of joy and harmony.