Radha in the Hindu religion is the chief consort of Lord Krishna .She is an epitome of devotion, love ,tenderness and compassion. According to some traditions ,she is the eternal consort of Krishna and resides with him in their celestial abode accompanying him in all of his incarnations as his female companion.
However ,some sects consider her as the incarnation of Lakshmi while some consider her as the feminine form of Krishna himself.
Although what someone consider her does not define who she actually is . What matters is our devotion for her and our faith in her existence.
Let us know more about who she was and what was so special about her :
Radh was born to Vrishbhanu, a Yadav ruler and Kirti Devi at Raval ,which is a small town near Gokul in Uttar Pradesh . It is believed that Vrishbhanu found Radha floating on a lotus in the Yamuna river.She did not open her eyes until Krishna appeared before him as a child.
Radhastami is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Radha Rani, in the month of Bhadra,15 days after Krishna Janmashtami. Radha had eight Sakhis out of which Lalitha and Vishakha are frequently mentioned. These eight friends of Radha accompanied her from Golok to earth.
The word Radha means prosperity ,success and perfection.
Life at Barsana
Barsana is the place where Radha was brought up. People of Barsana call her Laadli ji(someone who is adored so much). It is one of the most visited places in the land of Braj. Since Radha lived here for most of the time ,Barsana has become a synonym for Radha.
It is said that every year, Lord Krishna would travel from his village Nandgaon to Goddess Radha’s village Barsana, where Radha and the gopis would playfully beat him with sticks.
Once Radha had come to Gokul to visit a temple of Mahadev with her grandmother. Radha and Krishna met when Krishna was tied to the pounding wood by Yashoda. He just dragged it on and went towards the forest. As he was moving in the forest he got stuck between two big trees . At this place he saw Radha for the first time . When they met ,their eyes were sat on each other and till now there name are taken together.
At this time Radha was 12 year old and Krishna was 7 .They played together for a few days and then Radha returned back to Barsana. Krishna came to know that Barsana was migrating to Vrindavan .Krishna told Radha “I will come to Vrindavan “. After sometime the people of Gokul also moved to Vrindavan for safety , and thus coincidently Krishna fulfilled his promise.
Radha Krishna Raaslila
Rasa Lila is divine sport (Kreeda) with the devotees for bringing about their union with the Lord through Prema or pure divine love. Rasa is the sweetest juice of Prema. It is the manifestation of divine love or higher emotion which takes the devotee to the magnanimous height of holy communion with the Lord.
Krishna was ten years old when he performed the Rasa Lila. During the dance, the Gopis saw Krishna only, within, without, around and everywhere. They forgot all about their homes, husbands, children and parents. Their hearts melted in Lord Krishna, the Supreme Soul. The fire of devotion brought about a fusion of hearts. The glue of Prema cemented their hearts with Krishna. The Gopis were not ordinary women. They were exalted personages.
Sharad Purnima is a festival which refers to the full moon of the autumn season On this day, devotees celebrate Krishna performing a beautiful dance called Rasa Lila with Radha and the gopis – the cowherd of Vrindavan.On this day, Radha Krishna in temples are dressed in white outfits and are adorned with flower garlands and glittering ornaments.
Radha After Krishna Left Vrindavan
After all his divine acts in Gokul and Vrindavan ,Krishna was called to Mathura by Kamsa.Krishna returns to Mathura along with Balarama.
Very little information is found about what happened to Radha after this .But it is believed that Radha lived with her husband named Rayan( disputed) ,but still loved only Krishna till her last breath.
She belived that Krishna would return to Vrindavan to meet her , but when Uddhav delivered her the message that Krishna would not return ,her love became more selfless and unconditional .She loved Krishna till the last breath of her life.
Reference from Scriptures
Whether Radha was actually a living character who lived in Barsana has been a matter of debate since a long time. People say that Radha is not mentioned in any of the early religious texts of Hinduism and became popular only after Jaydeva mentioned her in his book ( Gita Govinda).
This is actually a myth because Radha as an eteranal consort of Krishna is mentioned in many of the religious texts:
Rudra Samhita- Shiv Puran (section 2.3)
“The youngest Kalāvatī shall be the wife of the Vaiśya—Vṛṣabhāna. At the end of Dvāpara, Rādhā shall be her daughter. The Yoginī Menā shall attain the great region Kailasa along with her body and in the company of her husband due to the boon of Pārvatī.”
(Source : Patalkhanda, chapter 73, padma puran)
“Know my Mathurā to be eternal, so also Vṛndāvana; so also (know to be eternal) Yamunā, the cowherdesses and the cowherds. This incarnation of mine is eternal. Do not have any doubt about it. Rādhā is always dear to me. I am omniscient, greater than the great.”
(Source : Skanda puran, section 4, chapter 3)
“In the month of Kārttika, Radha and Dāmodara should be particularly worshipped. The idols of Rādhā and Dāmodara may be of gold, silver (or if it is not possible, of) copper or clay. They may be even pictures or figurettes made on the ground with flour pastes etc. and painted with colours.”
Apart from these literary sources Radha is also mentioned in Brahmanda Puran, Devi Bhagvatam .
Radha is mentioned by Adi Shankaracharya in many of his writings like – Achyutastakam, Jagannathastakam.
"rasanando radha-sarasa-vapur-alingana-sukho" ---- Jagannath Ashtakam(Adi Shankara)
During the Bhakti movement she became well known for her unmatched love for Krishna and was worshipped as an epitome of compassion.
Radha is prominently mentioned in twelfth century Gita Govinda by Jayadeva and in the philosophical works of Nimbarkacharya .
Radha in her human form is revered as the milkmaid of Vrindavan who became the beloved of Krishna. One of the basic traits of Radha is her unconditional love for Krishna and her sufferings that forms the basis for Radha’s exaltation as a model of devotion.
Radha serves as an exemplary model of love for all persons an active, non-substantial, shared and strong self that rationally embrace their religious passions.
RADHE RADHE !