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Krishna has always been my favorite god and there was always a veiled jealousy for Radha his consort. I call it love and the world can call me preposterous.
It is impossible to think of Krishna without thinking of Radha yet some of the biggest Krishna temples in India do not enshrine the image of Radha. Even the most sacred book of Krishna, the Bhagavat Puran, does not mention Radha. Just very recently, I started reading about the goddess I envied and what an immense devotee I have become of the milkmaid whose reflection I can see in every woman known and unknown.
They say when Radha Krishan met the once after Krishan left Vrindavan no words were said. No hands stretched to meet each other, no smile played upon lips and no eyes sparkled with delight. Only a million thoughts flashed through each mind and a deluge of tears flowed from each pair of eyes. Radha had promised not to get involved with Krishna’s later life and she intended to keep that promise. Krishna did not want to say or do something that would make things difficult for Radha. They stood staring stonily at each other till all the thoughts were exhausted and the eyes were dry. Though Krishna and Radha had been physically separated, they had been inseparable spiritually and would continue to be so until the end of the world. Radha had seen the splendor in which Krishna’s wives lived and the joy he lavished on them. But she knew that his tears were for her alone and that each drop was more valuable than all the riches of the world. Krishna knew that Vrindavan would be enshrined forever because of Radha’s sacrifice.
Who was Radha?
In Mahabharat, there was no mention of Radha or any particular milkmaid. The women were a collective folk with whom Krishna danced and sported. Radha was never the wife of Krishna.
In Prakrit literature which comprises of 12 chapters, extremely ornamented language is used to describe the intimate details of Radha’s passion.
The poets saw Radha as a married woman who broke all social norms to be with Krishna. Some folk narratives of this period suggested that she was Krishna’s aunt, married to his maternal uncle. Some said she was older, a mature woman while he was a boy. Even in the Gita Govinda, Radha’s union with Krishna always takes place in secret. There is constant reference to the threat of social disgrace. By making the relationship illicit and clandestine, the poets heightened the emotional quotient of the relationship. It was seen as true love that transcended custom and law. Devotees came to realize that Radha was the symbol of all those who were ‘married’ to social responsibilities, seeking liberation and union with their true love, God, who is Krishna.
Devotees found the se of these extra-marital and incestuous metaphors rather scandalous. They moved towards a different theology in which Radha and Krishna were two halves of the whole. She was the material world; he was the spiritual soul. She was the supreme woman, he was the supreme man. They were Goddess and God whose union gave birth to the universe. The world was seen as Radha, born of Krishna’s delight. She was Krishna’s shakti or power, one who could never be separated from him. This was the svakiya (belonging to Krishna) tradition which distinguished itself from the parakiya (belonging to another) tradition. These were expressed in scriptures such as the Brahma-vaivarta-Purana.
Despite this, across India, Radha is always Krishna’s beloved, never his wife. His wives are Rukmini and Satyabhama. Radha’s relationship is different in nature when compared to Sita’s relationship with Ram. While Ram is the model husband and Sita is the model wife, Krishna and Radha represent the great lovers who were destined never to unite. Perhaps that is why, except in religious orders of the Gangetic planes that follow the svakiya tradition, Radha is never enshrined in a temple.
In time, Radha became a Goddess in her own right. Without her, Krishna was incomplete. She was the medium through which Krishna could be realized. Metaphysically, Radha came to represent the truth of our soul, the unexpressed, unrequited longings of our heart, suppressed by social realities, which cries out to Krishna. Krishna acknowledges this truth of our being that society denies, each time he dances with Radha at night, outside the village, in secret.
Parakiya Raas
“Here is when men and women get confused. Between Radha and Krishna the friendship between man and women is without inebriety. Krishna has so many gopis while being with Radha. That’s the beauty. Love is lust and lust in highest state. This material world is the perverted reflection of the spiritual world; it is just like the reflection of a tree on the bank of a reservoir of water: the topmost part of the tree is seen as the lowest part. Similarly, parakiya-rasa, when perverted reflected in this material world, is abominable. When people, therefore, imitate the rasa dance of Krisna with the gopis, they simply enjoy the perverted, abominable reflection of the transcendental parakiya-rasa. There is no possibility of enjoying this transcendental parakiya-rasa within the material world.”
To be precise, Parakiya is love purely free of any social acceptance. It is the love all of us would love to gossip about! but honestly why even try to understand an emotion beyond your potential let love be love and not Mathematics.
But staying away from mythology, I would like to treat Radha’s story as fiction. I love the feminism and strength in her character.
heres the lesser known story of my lord and your lord..
Radha has been perceived differently by different people down the ages. She is sometimes the adulterous and amorous lover of Krishna and at others his divine consort. This perhaps makes her the most confusing character in Indian mythology.
Krishna went to his mother, Yashoda, and turned on the full force of his charm. “Mother,” he said, “I want you to send a message to Radha’s family, asking for her hand in marriage.” Yashoda thought this was another of Krishna’s pranks. But when Krishna persisted she replied firmly and clearly.
She said, “You cannot marry Radha for several reasons. She is engaged to Aiyyan. You are the son of a chief and her family is much lower in status. She is older than you. And she is a brazen girl, totally unfit to be a wife.”
Krishna then used his final weapon. He threatened that his mother would not only lose a lovely daughter-in-law if she refused, but also her son. Yashoda then asked him to settle the matter with his father. So Krishna went to Nand and repeated his request. Krishna said that he wanted to marry Radha and not a chieftain’s daughter. The arguments were repeated. Finally Nand said he was no match for Krishna in a debate. Their family priest, Sage Garg, was arriving the next day and Nand would refer the matter to him.
Krishna told Sage Garg that since he and Radha desired each other, they should get married. Garg replied that desire as a reason for mating is the way of animals. The matching of temperaments, family backgrounds and future plans should be considered while selecting a spouse. Krishna stated that even as per these considerations he could not find any fault with his choice. Radha’s temperament was perfectly matched to his, their family backgrounds were similar and both of them would be spending the rest of their lives in Vrindavan doing what the men and women of Vrindavan had always been doing.
Radha is a village girl. She will not be a suitable companion in this endeavor. That is why we are against this marriage.”
Krishna argues”You say that I am to deliver all humanity from suffering. I cannot begin this formidable task by thrusting the person who loves me the most into unbearable suffering.
Radha lives for me and in me and I live for her and in her. If you prevent this marriage, you will be depriving me of the right and power to carry out the great tasks you want me to. I beseech you with folded hands to grant your consent.”
Sage Garg was overcome by the rationality and intensity of this speech. He gave his consent. Radha’s joy knew no bound. And in the celebrations that followed and Aiyyan was forgotten.
The youth sensed that they were losing a staunch friend; the maidens sensed that they were losing a man of their dreams and Radha….
Before Radha could even begin to ponder upon the consequences, the melodious sound of a flute wafted throughout the village. Krishna was standing in his usual spot, his right leg crossed over his left, and playing his flute with gay abandon. Radha cuddled up to him and began to sway in the rhythm of his music.
The other maidens formed circles around them and began to dance. The men folk, the elders and children too had come there, but were watching from a distance, so as not to embarrass the dancers.
Every maiden wanted Krishna to dance only with her, every maiden imagined that Krishna was dancing only with her and the spectators could see a multitude of Krishnas, each dancing separately with one of the lasses.
You can call it the power of love; or the power of faith. This was the Maharasa or the “great dance”. When the dancing stopped Krishna and Radha were missing.
Radha and Krishna were heading for their favourite nook in the Madhuban, near the Yamuna river. Radha was in Krishna’s arms, her tousled head resting on his shoulder.
“Will you always be like this, Kahn?” asked Radha.
“Always,” he replied, “Till the sun and the moon endure.”
But Radha was not satisfied by this assurance. “Will you always remember me?” she asked.
“How can I forget you,” replied Krishna, “You are my Goddess of beauty and joy.”
They reached their destination and huddled close together on the mossy grass. They kissed tentatively at first, but the pent-up passions soon engulfed them and they united in body and soul. After a while Radha got up and began to tie her disheveled tresses into a knot. “Will we always be together after we are married,” she inquired uncertainly. Krishna replied that they were inseparable and that they had just got married according to the Gandharva tradition. According to the tradition, sexual intercourse among consenting couples was tantamount to the marriage rituals provided the male was of royal descent.
“You will always be my prince,” said Radha, “but you are not of royal blood. And I do not regret our love making so you do not have to justify it.” Then Krishna narrated the story of his birth, of his being the redeemer and his leaving for Mathura before dawn. Radha let the whole narration sink in and appeared to be forming some decisions of her own. “Is there anything that can make you stay?” she asked.
“Nothing can hold me from my destiny and my duty.” Replied Krishna firmly. “Why do you worry? Are you afraid that I will die at Kansa’s hands? It will be over soon and then I will call you to Mathura”
“No, I am sure that you will kill Kansa. And then you will become the king of the Yadavas. A lot of people will look up to you, will bow down before you, and will depend on you. You will become the savior of humanity,” said Radha.
“And you will be my queen, by my side always,” added Krishna.
“No,” replied Radha surely. “I am a poor cowherd girl. I will be lost in the palace intrigues. There will be many princesses wooing you and wanting you at any cost. I will be awkward and gawky compared to them. This village girl will be a handicap to you in your new avatar. For you will undeniably change. Your life will be filled with politics and manipulations. You will fight wars and participate in destruction. That will be a part of your destiny and I don’t pass judgment. But the Kahn I loved was a cowherd boy, whose calling in life was to graze cattle, who played the flute and danced in the woods and whose crown was a peacock feather and weapon was a bamboo staff. I will not be able to see you in any other form.” Radha was now sobbing convulsively and Krishna has to take her in his arms to calm her down.
After regaining her composure Radha continued. “Please listen to me Kahn! Let me stay here”
Here in Vrindavan I will see you in the waters of the Yamuna, the slopes of Govardhan and the trees of Madhuban and hence I will always be with the Kahn I knew.”
They sat silently for a while reflecting on the past, savoring the last moments of togetherness and coming to terms with the future. Krishna broke the silence.
“You are right Radha. In Mathura I will have to change and if you come with me then you will have to change as well. I will not be the Krishna you knew and you will not be the Radha I knew. We will not be able to replicate the magic we weaved here. And without either of us here, Vrindavan too will wither away. But if you stay back, then Vrindavan will become an enduring shrine to our love and you will be its deity.” Krishna then told Radha that preparations had been made for them to get married in the Vedic manner and since the auspicious moment was drawing near they should return. Radha requested that Krishna leave his flute behind as a gift to her and Krishna readily agreed.
It was time for the final parting. The villagers had turned out to personally meet Krishna. Radha stood beside her mother in law, dressed in bridal finery, her face covered modestly by her sari. From time to time she looked up at Krishna, each glance a pledge of eternal devotion. Krishna’s eyes met Radha’s each time and he smiled at her reassuringly. Any other communication in front of the elders would be out of place. So no words were said and no hands touched. Krishna touched his mother’s feet and mounted the bullock cart with Nand, Balaram and Akrura. Radha looked without blinking at the cart till it disappeared round the corner and then fainted. Krishna never set foot in Vrindavan again.
Scriptures say that worldly responsibilities force Krishna to leave the village of cowherds and go to Mathura and thence to Dwaraka and Kurukshetra. He has to sacrifice the land of pleasure, vilasa bhumi, for the land of duty, karma bhumi. He has to rescue a world which was descending into anarchy – where women such as Draupadi are being gambled away by their husbands. Radha has to be given up. After leaving her, Krishna never plays the flute for Radha was his inspiration. The later Krishna never danced or made music. He is no more the cowherd; he was the charioteer riding into battle.
‘Love so divine, cannot be defined.’

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