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Hindu goddess linked to Krishna

Top 10 Radha related articles

Goddess of Love, Mercy, Compassion and Devotion
19th century painting of Radha, Rajasthan.
Other namesRadhika, Madhavi, Keshavi, Shreeji, Kishori, Shyama, Radharani
Sanskrit transliterationRādhā
AffiliationRadha Krishna, Devi, hladini shakti of Krishna, avatar of Lakshmi
AbodeGoloka, Vrindavan, Barsana, Vaikuntha
SymbolGolden Lotus
TextsBrahma Vaivarta Purana, Padma Purana, Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Gita Govinda, Gopala Tapani Upanishad, Shiva Purana
FestivalsRadhastami, Holi, Kartik Purnima, Gopashtami, Sharad Purnima
Personal information
  • Vrishabhanu (father)
  • Kirti (mother)[1]

Radha (Sanskrit: राधा, IAST: Rādhā), also called Radhika, is a Hindu goddess and a consort of the god Krishna. She is worshipped as the goddess of love, tenderness, compassion and devotion. She is described as the chief of gopis (milkmaids). During Krishna's youth, she appears as his lover and companion, though he is not married to her.[2][3][4] In contrast, some traditions accord Radha the status of the primary consort and wife of Krishna.[4][5] Radha, as a supreme goddess in these traditions, is considered as the eternal female counterpart and the internal potency (hladini shakti) of Krishna, who resides with him in their abode Goloka.

In Radha-Vallabha Sampradaya, which is a Radha centric tradition, Radha is worshiped as the supreme deity.[6] Elsewhere, Radha is venerated particularly in the Krishnaite Nimbarka Sampradaya, Pushtimarg tradition, Swaminarayan Sampradaya, Vaishnava-Sahajiya, and Gaudiya Vaishnavism movements linked to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.[7][8][9] Radha is sometimes considered as an avatar of goddess Lakshmi as in the Nimbarka Sampradaya[4] and by some, as the feminine form of Krishna himself. Radha's birthday is celebrated annually as Radhashtami.

Radha is considered as a metaphor for the human spirit (atma), her love and longing for Krishna is theologically viewed as symbolic of the human quest for spiritual growth and union with the divine (brahman). She has inspired numerous literary works,[7] and her Rasa lila dance with Krishna has inspired many types of performance arts.[2][10]

Radha Intro articles: 11


14th-century fresco of Radha Krishna in Udaipur, Rajasthan

The Sanskrit term Rādhā (Sanskrit: राधा, राधा) means "prosperity, success".[11][12] It is a common word and name found in various contexts in the ancient and medieval texts of India. The word appears in the Vedic literature as well as the Hindu epics, but is elusive.[13] The name also appears for a character in the epic Mahabharata.[11]

Rādhikā refers to an endearing form of gopi Radha.[11]

Radha Etymology articles: 4

Literature and symbolism

Jayadeva recites the mantra to Radha Krishna by Manaku

Radha is an important goddess in the Vaishnavite traditions of Hinduism. Her traits, manifestations, descriptions, and roles vary by region. Radha is intrinsical with Krishna. In early Indian literature, mentions of her are elusive. The traditions that venerate her explain this is because she is the secret treasure hidden within the sacred scriptures. During the Bhakti movement era in the sixteenth century, she became more well known as her extraordinary love for Krishna was highlighted.[14][15]

Radha's first major appearance in the 12th-century Gita Govinda in Sanskrit by Jayadeva,[16][17][18] as well as Nimbarkacharya's philosophical works.[19] However, the source of Jayadeva's heroine in his poem remains a puzzle of the Sanskrit literature.[13] A possible explanation is Jayadeva's friendship with Nimbarkacharya,[20] the first acharya to establish the worship of Radha-Krishna.[19]

Possibly prior to these, Radha also appears in the late puranas namely the Padma Purana (as an avatar of Lakshmi), the Devi-Bhagavata Purana (as a form of Mahadevi) and the Brahma Vaivarta Purana (as Radha-Krishna supreme deity).[17] The 15th and 16th century Krishnaite Bhakti poet-saints Chandidas, Meera Bai, Surdas and Swami Haridas wrote about Radha's love.[21][22] Thus, Chandidas in his Bengali-language Shrikrishna Kirtana, a poem of Bhakti, depicts Radha and Krishna as divine, but in human love.[23][24] Though not named in the Bhagavata Purana, Visvanatha Chakravarti (c. 1626–1708) interprets an unnamed favourite gopi in the scripture as Radha.[25][26] She makes brief appearances in Gaha Sattasai (dated between 3rd-7th century CE), Venisamhara by Bhatta Narayana (c. 800 CE), Dhvanyaloka by Anandavardhana (c. 820–890 CE) and its commentary Dhvanyalokalocana by Abhinavagupta (c. 950 – 1016 CE), Dashavatara-charita (1066 CE) by Kshemendra and Siddhahemasabdanusana by Hemachandra (c. 1088–1172). In most of these, Radha is depicted as someone who is deeply in love with Krishna and is deeply saddened when Krishna leaves her.[27][28]

Radha with Krishna, a 1915 painting.

Charlotte Vaudeville theorizes that Radha may have inspired by the pairing of the goddess Ekanamsha (associated with Durga) with Jagannatha (who is identified with Krishna) of Puri in Eastern India. Though Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (15th century, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism) is not known to have worshipped the deity couple of Radha-Krishna, his disciples around the Vrindavan region, affirmed Radha as the hladini shakti ("energy of bliss") of Krishna, associating her with the Primordial Divine Mother. While the poetry of Jayadeva and Vidyapati from Bengal treat Radha as Krishna's "mistress", the Gaudiya poetry elevates her to a divine consort.[29] In Western India, Vallabhacharya's Krishna-centric sampradaya Pushtimarg was initially and preferred Swaminiji as the consort, who is identified variously with Radha or Krishna's first wife Rukmini. Modern Pushtimarg followers acknowledge Radha as a consort. Popular forms of Krishna in the temples of Dwarka and Pandharpur have Rukmini as the chief consort.[30]

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.[31] 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.[32] In these texts, this Ardha Nari is sometimes referred to as Ardharadhavenudhara murti, and it symbolizes the complete union and inseparability of Radha and Krishna.[32]

The birthplace of Radha is Raval which is near to Gokul but is often said to be Barsana. It is in Barsana that the Lathmar Holi is practiced depicting the episode of Krishna going to Barsana and then running away escaping the beating from the womenfolk of Barsana. Radha and Krishna share two kinds of relationships, Parakiya (Love without any social limitation) and Svakiya (married relationship). 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?”[33] Several Hindu texts allude to these circumstances.[34] The Brahmavaivarta Purana and the Garg Samhita mention that Krishna secretly married Radha in presence of Lord Brahma in the Bhandirvan forest, near Vrindavan. But to give importance to Parakiya relationship (love without any social foundation) over Svakiya's (married relationship), this marriage was never publicized and kept hidden.[35][36][37][38]

Radha's story has inspired many paintings. Above: Radha waiting for Krishna by Raja Ravi Varma.

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 a 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.[39][40]

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.[41] Sita is traditionally wedded: the dedicated and virtuous wife of Rama, an introspective temperate paragon of a serious, virtuous man.[42][43][44] Radha is a power potency of Krishna, who is a playful adventurer.[42][41]

Radha and Sita offer two 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 face life challenges and are committed to their true love. They are both influential, adored and beloved goddesses in the Hindu culture.[41]

An image of Radha has inspired numerous literary works.[7] For modern instance, the Shri Radhacharita Mahakavyam—the 1980s epic poem of Dr. Kalika Prasad Shukla that focuses on Radha's devotion to Krishna as the universal lover—"one of the rare, high-quality works in Sanskrit in the twentieth century."[45]

Radha Literature and symbolism articles: 48


Radha Krishna devotion
Worship of Radha Krishna at Bankey Bihari Temple, Vrindavan
A devotee reading inside didicated to Radha-Krishna Lalji Temple, Kalna, West Bengal

Friedhelm Hardy singles out such an offshoot of Krishnaism as Radha-centered stream Radhaism.[46] The main representative of which is the Radha-vallabha Sampradaya (lit. "consort of Radha"), where goddess Radha is worshiped as the supreme deity, and Krishna is in a subordinate position.[46][6][4]

In some devotional (bhakti) Krishnaite traditions of Vaishnavism that focus on Krishna, Radha represents "the feeling of love towards Krishna".[7] 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.[47] She is considered to be Krishna's original shakti, the supreme goddess in both the Nimbarka Sampradaya and following the advent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.[7][8] Nimbarka was the first well known Vaishnava scholar whose theology centered on goddess Radha.[19][48][49] In Bengal and Assam there is also Tantric Vaishnava-Sahajiya tradition inspired by a poet Chandidas, where Krishna is the inner divine aspect of man and Radha is the aspect of woman.[9]

Radha Chalisa mentions that Krishna accompanies one who chants "Radha" with a 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.

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.[50]


Radha-Krishna Prem Mandir (Love Temple) in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Radha and Krishna are the focus of temples in the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya, Chandidas, and other traditions of Vaishnavism.[8] Radha is typically shown standing immediately next to Krishna.[8] Some important Radha Krishna temples are:

Radha Worship articles: 50



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  2. ^ a b "Radha". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  3. ^ Kinsley 1988, p. 81.
  4. ^ a b c d Lochtefeld 2002, p. 542.
  5. ^ Jones & Ryan 2007, p. 341, Radha.
  6. ^ a b Beck 2005, pp. 65–90.
  7. ^ a b c d e Hawley & Wulff 1982, pp. xiii–xviii.
  8. ^ a b c d Dalal 2010, pp. 321–322.
  9. ^ a b Hayes 2005, pp. 19–32.
  10. ^ Pintchman 2005, pp. 46–47.
  11. ^ a b c Monier Monier-Williams, Rādhā, Sanskrit-English Dictionary with Etymology, Oxford University Press, page 876
  12. ^ Sukumar Sen (1943), "Etymology of the name Radha-Krishana," Indian Linguistics, Vol. 8, pp. 434–435
  13. ^ a b Miller 1975, pp. 655–671.
  14. ^ Pauwels 1996, pp. 29–43.
  15. ^ Vaudeville, Charlotte in Hawley & Wulff 1982, p. 2
  16. ^ Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva's Gītagovinda 1977.
  17. ^ a b Kinsley 1988, p. 82.
  18. ^ Miller, Barbara Stoler in Hawley & Wulff 1982, p. 13
  19. ^ a b c Ramnarace 2014.
  20. ^ Vemsani 2016, p. 197.
  21. ^ Hawley 2005.
  22. ^ Rosenstein 1997.
  23. ^ Stewart 1986, pp. 152–154.
  24. ^ Dalal 2010, p. 385, Shrikrishna Kirtana.
  25. ^ https://vedabase.io/en/ https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/10/30/28/. Retrieved 24 February 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help); External link in |website= (help)
  26. ^ das, Bhadra Balaram (9 September 2016). "The Biggest Mystery of Srimad Bhagavatam - Srimati Radha". Mayapur Voice. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  27. ^ Kinsley 1988, pp. 82-3.
  28. ^ Miller, Barbara Stoler in Hawley & Wulff 1982, p. 14
  29. ^ Vaudeville, Charlotte in Hawley & Wulff 1982, pp. 9-12
  30. ^ Vaudeville, Charlotte in Hawley & Wulff 1982, pp. 11-2
  31. ^ Chemburkar 2008, pp. 107–116.
  32. ^ a b Pradhan 2008, pp. 207–213.
  33. ^ Pauwels 2008, pp. 13–14.
  34. ^ Kinsley 1988, pp. 84-92.
  35. ^ Beck 2005, pp. 71, 77–78.
  36. ^ Pintchman 2005, pp. 57–59.
  37. ^ Varma 1993.
  38. ^ Pauwels 2008, p. 207.
  39. ^ Kinsley 1988, p. 89.
  40. ^ Dalal 2010, p. 147.
  41. ^ a b c Pauwels 2008, pp. 12–15, 497–517.
  42. ^ a b Vālmīki (1990). The Ramayana of Valmiki: Balakanda. Translated by Robert P Goldman. Princeton University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4008-8455-1.
  43. ^ Dimock 1963, pp. 106–127.
  44. ^ Marijke J. Klokke (2000). Narrative Sculpture and Literary Traditions in South and Southeast Asia. BRILL. pp. 51–57. ISBN 90-04-11865-9.
  45. ^ Dalal 2010, p. 384, Shri Radhacharita Mahakavyam.
  46. ^ a b Hardy 1987, pp. 387–392.
  47. ^ Majumdar 1955, pp. 231–257.
  48. ^ Singh 2004, p. 125.
  49. ^ Kinsley, D. (2010). "Without Krsna There Is No Song". History of Religions. 12 (2): 149. doi:10.1086/462672. S2CID 161297914. Retrieved 3 May 2008. "Nimbarka seems to have been the first well-known religious leader to regard Radha as central to his worship (thirteenth century)"
  50. ^ Beck 2005, p. 79.
  51. ^ Vision, Kavita. "Radha Krishna Spiritual Portal". www.radhavallabh.com.
  52. ^ "Asia and India ISKCON temples". Radha.
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