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Radha

A Rajastani style painting of Radha
Devanagari राधा
Abode Vrindavan
Mantra Aum Vrashbhanujaye Vidmahe/ Krishnapriyaye Dheemahi/Tanno Radha Prachodayat
Weapon None
Consort Krishna

Radha Radhika - Krishna (Devanagari: राधा, IAST: Rādhā) is the principal devotee of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Hindu religion.[1] Radha is almost always depicted alongside Krishna and features prominently within the theology of today's Gaudiya Vaishnava religion, which regards Radha as the original Goddess or Shakti. Radha's relationship with Krishna is given in further detail within texts such as the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Garga Samhita and Brihad Gautamiya tantra. Radha is also the principal object of worship in the Nimbarka Sampradaya, as Nimbarka, the founder of the tradition, declared that Radha and Krishna together constitute the absolute truth.[2]

Radha is often referred to as Rādhārānī or "Radhika" in speech, prefixed with the respectful term 'Srimati' by devout followers. Radha is one of the most important incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi.[3] [4] [5]

Contents

Radha the Gopi

In the story of Krishna, as told in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana, he spends much of his youth in the company of young cow-herd girls, called Gopis in the village of Vrindavan. The Mahabharata does not describe Krishna's earlier life in Vrindavan in much detail, and focuses more on the later battle of Kurukshetra but within the Bhagavata Purana the child-hood pastimes of Krishna are described very vividly. Within the Bhagavata Purana, Radha is not mentioned by name but is alluded to within the tenth chapter of the text as one of the gopis whom Krishna plays with during his upbringing as a young boy. Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura at the age of 10 years and 7 months according to Bhagavata Purana.[6] So Radha is assumed to be also 10 years old or less when Krishna left Vrindavan. It is in later texts such as the Gita Govinda where we find the story of Radha given in more detail.

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Within Vaishnavism

Radha with Krishna, as painted by Raja Ravi Varma

In the Vaishnava devotional or bhakti traditions of Hinduism that focus on Krishna, Radha is Krishna's friend and advisor. For some of the adherents of these traditions, her importance approaches or even exceeds that of Krishna. 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. Other gopis are usually considered to be her maidservants, with Radha having the prominent position of Krishna's favour.

Her connection to Krishna is of two types: svakiya-rasa (married relationship) and parakiya-rasa (a relationship signified with eternal mental "love").

In the Nimbarka Sampradaya, Radha's relationship with Krishna is characterised by the svakiya-rasa, based on texts in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana and the Garga Samhita describing the wedding of Radha and Krishna. 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 mundane sexual nature.

Proponents of the Gaudiya and Nimbarka schools of Vaishnavism give the highly esoteric nature of Radha's relationship to Krishna as the reason why her story is not mentioned in detail in the other Puranic texts.[7]

Birth

Vaishnava tradition states that Radha was born in either Barsana, or Rawal, a village about 8 kilometers from Vrindavan, near present day New Delhi in India.[8] There are a number of accounts of her parentage. Her father was the king of cowherds called Vrsabhanu. Vrsabhanu was a partial incarnation of Lord Narayana while her mother Kalavati was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.

Her worship is especially prominent in Vrindavan, the place where Krishna is said to have lived over 5000 years ago. Wherein Her importance surpasses even the importance of Krishna. Radha's love for Krishna is held within Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the most perfect primarily because of its endless and unconditional nature. Thus she is the most important friend of Krishna, 'His heart and soul', and His 'hladini-shakti' (mental companion potency).

In the Brihad-Gautamiya Tantra, Radharani is described as follows: "The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord."

Nimbarka

Nimbarka was the first Vaishnava acharya to disseminate teachings about Radha.[9][10]

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

The Bengali saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 - 1534) is believed by many (see especially the modern-day ISKCON movement) to be an incarnation of both Radha and Krishna, simultaneously in one form. Throughout his life, Chaitanya lived as a devotee of Vaishnava tradition, not openly claiming to be any form of avatar, but in his biographies it is claimed that he revealed his divine form to some of his closer associates.[11]

Festivals

Radha (right) with Krishna at Krishna-Balarama Temple in Vrindavan

Radha's birthday is celebrated as Radhastami.During this time devotees are allowed special sanctions not normally allowed. For example, Radha's name is normally not chanted due to the possibility of committing offenses towards her. Neither are all devotees qualified to enter into her kunda, or lake, which is considered holy. On the festival day of the appearance of Radha Kunda (Radharani's lake), devotees wait up until midnight in order to bathe there. And there is much recitation of her holy names on her "appearance day" or "birthday". She is said to "appear" because she does not take birth or die, being an eternal associate of Krishna, both of whom are liberated. She is the most chaste woman, "married" to Krishna.

Names & Worship

Temple in Varsana, dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna

Radha has many epithets describing her qualities and characteristics.

  • Radhika - This is the most common epithet, meaning she whose worship of the Krishna is all powerful. She who embodies supreme focus and mental clarity. The incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi. Beauty, intelligence, and good fortuned one.
  • Gandharvi - Expert singer[12]
  • Govinda-nandini - She who gives pleasure to Govinda (Krishna)
  • Govinda-mohini - She who mystifies Govinda
  • Govinda-sarvasva - One to whom Govinda is the all-in-all, or everything.
  • Sarva-kanta Shiromani - The crown jewel of all Krishna's consorts
  • Krishnamayi - The one who sees Krishna both within and without
  • Madan-Mohan-Mohini - Within Gaudiya tradition Krishna (as the Supreme Person) is believed to be the enchanter of all living beings, including even Kamadeva (Madan) - The god of attraction. Because Radha has the unique position of being able to enchant even Krishna she is therefore known as Madan-Mohan-Mohini: the enchanter of the enchanter of Cupid.
  • Aradhana - The root name of Radharani, meaning one who excels in worshiping Krishna
  • Sarva-lakshmi - The original source of all the goddesses of fortune
  • Vrshabhanu-nandini - Daughter of Vrishabanu
  • Vrndavaneshvari - Queen of Vrindavana
  • Lalita-Sakhi - Friend of the gopi Lalita
  • Gokula-Taruni - She whom all young girls of Gokul worship
  • Damodara Rati - She who dresses herself to please Damodara (Krishna)
  • Radharani – Radha the queen
  • RadhaKrishna - Krishna Himself in the form of Radha (Worship of Krishna with Radha)
  • Vrajrani - Queen of Vraj ( Krishna being the king)
  • Swaminiji- The companion of Krishna

One of her names, Hara (mentioned in Narada-pancaratra 5.5.59), in vocative Hare, forms a part of the Hare Krishna 'Maha-Mantra', one of the most popular Vedic mantras, especially amongst Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Radharani's names hold a place of prime importance within Gaudiya Vaishnava religious practices.

View Complete Namavali with essence of each name of Radharani -100 auspicious names in IPA Sanskrit.

Temples dedicated to Radha

Temple Deities in India and abroad are generally named in order of Radharani first and then Krishna. Krishna is approachable through the mercy of Srimati Radharani and no one else. So for example, if one were to enter the Govindaji temple in Vrindavan the Deities are named Radha Govinda and devotees of Krishna would pray to Radha and Govinda not just Krishna. This is because Krishna is controlled by Radharani's love.

Quotations about Radha

  • "Although the effulgence of the moon is brilliant initially at night, in the daytime it fades away. Similarly, although the lotus is beautiful during the daytime, at night it closes. But, O My friend, the face of My most dear Srimati Radharani is always bright and beautiful, both day and night. Therefore, to what can Her face be compared?" (Vidagdha-madhava 5.20)
  • "When Srimati Radharani smiles, waves of joy overtake Her cheeks, and Her arched eyebrows dance like the bow of Cupid. Her glance is so enchanting that it is like a dancing bumblebee, moving unsteadily due to intoxication. That bee has bitten the whorl of My heart." (Vidagdha-madhava 2.51)
  • "Just as Srimati Radharani is most dear to Krishna, Her bathing pond is similarly dear. Of all the gopis, She is the most beloved of the Lord." (Padma Purana)
  • "The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord." (Brihad-gautamiya-tantra)
  • "Among all persons, it is Sri Radha in whose company Lord Madhava is especially glorious, as She is especially glorious in His." (Rig-parisishta)

See also

Further reading

  • Krsna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead (ISBN 0-89213-354-6) by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
  • Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
  • Hawley J.S. & D.M. Wulff (ed.) (1986) The Divine Consort: Radha and the Goddesses of India, Beacon Press, Boston, ISBN 0-8070-1303-X.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Beck, Guy L. (2005). Alternative Krishnas: regional and vernacular variations on a Hindu deity. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. pp. p. 68. ISBN 0-7914-6415-6.  
  2. ^ H.Wilson, Brahmavaivarta Purana with English Translation]], Motilal Banarsidas Publishers, 1990 reprint.
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia of Hindu gods and goddesses By Suresh Chandra http://books.google.co.in/books?id=mfTE6kpz6XEC&pg=PA199&dq=goddess+lakshmi
  4. ^ http://www.festivalsinindia.net/goddesses/radha.html
  5. ^ Radha in Hinduism, the favourite mistress of the god Krishna, and an incarnation of Lakshmi. In devotional religion she represents the longing of the human soul for God: The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable | 2006 | ELIZABETH KNOWLES |
  6. ^ http://www.vedabase.net/sb/10/45/3/en
  7. ^ Swami Tripurari, "Sri Radha: Indirectly the Absolute", Sanga, 1999.
  8. ^ Bimanbehari Majumdar (1969). Kṛṣṇa in History and Legend. India: University of Calcutta. pp. 307.  pp.85-86
  9. ^ Singh, K.B. (2004). "Manipur Vaishnavism: A Sociological Interpretat1on". Sociology of Religion in India. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&id=2cIOqGcvHqoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA125&dq=Nimbarka+Radha+first&ots=-y8T8YWEQr&sig=DILJQAFDN4c9WGtNY-z0khzONYk. Retrieved 2008-05-03.  
  10. ^ Kinsley, D. (1972). "Without Krsna There Is No Song". History of Religions 12 (2): 149. doi:10.1086/462672. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&sa=G&oi=qs&q=nimbarka+radha+first+author:d-sarma. Retrieved 2008-05-03.  "Nimbarka seems to have been the first well-known religious leader to regard Radha as central to his cult (thirteenth century)"
  11. ^ Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 8.282
  12. ^ Gopala Tapani Upanishad 2.12,28,118
  13. ^ Radhavallabh Temple
  14. ^ University Newsletter

External links

General Information

Festivals

Names of Radha

Further resources


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Alternative spellings

  • Raadhaa

Etymology

From Sanskrit राधा.

Proper noun

Singular
Radha

Plural
-

Radha

  1. (Hinduism) The beloved of the Hindu avatar Krishna.
  2. A female given name used in India.

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