Radha (IAST: Rādhā), also called Radhika, Radharani, and Radhe, is a
Hindu goddess popular in the
Vaishnavism tradition. She is a milkmaid
(gopi), the lover of the
Krishna in the medieval era
texts. She is also a part of
Shaktism – the
tradition, and considered an avatar of Lakshmi.
Radha is worshipped in some regions of India, particularly by
Vaishnavas in West Bengal, Assam, Manipur and Odisha. Elsewhere, she
is revered in the
Nimbarka Sampradaya and movements linked to
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Chandidas.
Radha is considered a metaphor for soul, her longing for Krishna
theologically seen as a symbolism for the longing for spirituality and
the divine. She has inspired numerous literary works, and her
Rasa lila dance with
Krishna has inspired many types of performance
arts till this day.
Radha and Sita
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Sanskrit term Rādhā (Sanskrit: राधा) means
“prosperity, success”. It is a common word and name founded
in various contexts in the ancient and medieval texts of India. Of
these the most celebrated is the name of the
Gopi who was the beloved
of Krishna. Both
Krishna are the main characters of Gita
Govinda of Jayadeva.
Radha in this context is considered the avatar
of Lakshmi, just like
Krishna is considered an avatar of Vishnu.
The term is related to Rādha (Sanskrit: राध), which means
"kindness, any gift but particularly the gift of affection, success,
wealth". The word appears in the Vedic literature as well as the
Epics, but is elusive and not as a major deity. In some Vedic
contexts, states Sukumar Sen, it could mean "beloved, desired woman"
based on an Avestan cognate. However, Barbara Stoller and other
scholars disagree with the Avestan interpretation. They state that the
better interpretation of
Radha in these ancient texts is "someone or
something that fulfills a need". Starting with the
and particularly with Jayadeva's composition, her profile as a goddess
and constant companion of
Krishna became dominant in Krishna-related
Rādhikā refers to an endearing form of
Radha with Krishna, a 1915 painting.
Radha is an important goddess in the
Vaishnavism tradition of
Hinduism, as well as an aspect of the
Shaktism tradition. She is a
goddess whose traits, manifestations, descriptions, and roles vary
with region. Since the earliest times, she has been associated with
one of the most popular
Hindu gods, the cowherd Krishna. In the
early Indian literature, her mentions are illusive and not as common
as other major goddesses of Hinduism, but during the
era she became popular among
Krishna devotees whose strength is her
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
traditions. She also appears in
Hindu arts as ardhanari with
Krishna, that is an iconography where half of the image is
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. In these texts, this ardhanari is sometimes
referred to as Ardharadhavenudhara murti, and it symbolizes the
complete union and inseparability of
Radha and Krishna.
Radha's depictions vary from being an already married woman who
becomes an adulterous lover of
Krishna in a secondary role, to
being dual divinity equal to
Krishna in Jayadeva's Gita Govinda, to
being supreme object of devotional love for both
Krishna and devotees
in Rupa Gosvami's tradition.
Radha is conceptualized as a goddess who
breaks social norms by leaving her marriage, and entering into a
Krishna to pursue her love. According to Heidi
Pauwels, it is a "hotly debated issue" whether
Radha was already
married or had an affair with
Krishna while she remained married.
Hindu texts allude to these circumstances.
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 Krishna-
Radha love story is a
metaphor for 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.
Radha and Sita
Itihasas and other legendary literature of the Hindu
traditions present two major
Lakshmi avatars –
Radha and Sita, and
Vishnu avatars as their respective companions –
Rama in the Ramayana. The Radha-
Rama pairs represent two different personality sets, two
perspectives on dharma and lifestyles, both cherished in the way of
life called Hinduism.
Sita is traditionally wedded, dedicated, and
virtuous wife of Rama, an introspective temperate paragon of a
serious, virtuous man.
Radha is a lover of Krishna, a
Sita offer two competing 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 love their man and their lives, both face life
challenges, both are committed to their true love and both have been
influential, adored and beloved goddesses in the Hindu
Radha sculpture in copper from Bengal.
In some devotional (bhakti) traditions of
Vaishnavism that focus on
Radha represents "the feeling of love towards Krishna".
For some of the adherents of these traditions, her importance
approaches or even exceeds that of Krishna.
Radha is worshipped along
Krishna in Bengal, Assam and Odisha by
Elsewhere, such as with Visnusvamins, she is a revered deity. She
is considered to be his original shakti, the supreme goddess in both
Nimbarka Sampradaya and following the advent of Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu also within the Gaudiya
Radha Chalisa mentions that
Krishna accompanies one who chants "
Radha" with 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. Between Radha
Radha is superior. It is also said that when lord Krishna
brought all his consorts to meet Radha, they saw Radha's face and
declared her the most beautiful and sacred hearted woman in the whole
universe and that she would retain this position until the end of the
universe as no one will surpass her beauty and her nature.
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
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.
Nimbarka was the first well known
Vaishnava scholar whose theology
centered on goddess Radha.
Krishna Prem Mandir (Love Temple) in Vrindavan, Uttar
Pradesh; Right: Krishna-
Radha in Gokarneshwar temple, Nepal.
Krishna are the focus of temples in the Chaitanya
Chandidas and other sub-traditions of
Vaishnavism. She is typically shown standing immediately next to
Krishna, jeweled up like a bride, happy. Some important Radha
Vrindavan in Mathura District, Northern
India contain a
large number of temples dedicated to both
Radha and Krishna, including
the Radhavallabh Temple. Sri Sri
Radha Parthasarathi Mandir in
Delhi is also the
Radha krishna Temple.
The Shree Raseshwari
Radha Rani Temple at
Radha Madhav Dham
Radha Madhav Dham in Austin,
Texas, USA, established by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, is one
of the largest
Hindu Temple complexes in the Western Hemisphere,
and the largest in North America.
Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir – the tallest Radha-
Janmashtami 2018 in Nathdwara
^ a b Charles Russell Coulter (2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities.
Routledge. p. 276. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3. , Quote:
"Radha, an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi, (...)"
^ Constance Jones, James D. Ryan (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism.
Infobase Publishing. p. 341. ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9.
^ a b Jackie Menzies (2006). Goddess: divine energy. Art Gallery of
New South Wales. p. 54.
^ a b c John Stratton Hawley; Donna Marie Wulff (1982). The Divine
Consort: Rādhā and the Goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass.
pp. 1–12. ISBN 978-0-89581-102-8.
^ a b c Miller, Barbara Stoler (1975). "Rādhā: Consort of
Kṛṣṇa's Vernal Passion". Journal of the American Oriental
Society. American Oriental Society. 95 (4): 655–671.
^ a b c d e f Monier Monier-Williams, Rādhā, Sanskrit-English
Dictionary with Etymology, Oxford University Press, page 876
^ D. Mason (2009). Theatre and Religion on Krishna’s Stage:
Performing in Vrindavan. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 79.
^ a b c d John Stratton Hawley; Donna Marie Wulff (1982). The Divine
Consort: Rādhā and the Goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass.
pp. xiii–xviii. ISBN 978-0-89581-102-8.
^ a b c d Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide.
Penguin Books. pp. 321–322. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
^ a b c d e David Kinsley (1988).
Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the
Divine Feminine in the
Hindu Religious Tradition. University of
California Press. pp. 81–86, 89–90.
^ Guy L. Beck (2006). Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular
Variations on a
Hindu Deity. State University of New York Press.
pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-0-7914-6416-8.
^ a b Sukumar Sen (1943), "Etymology of the Name Radha- krishana,"
Indian Linguistics, Vol. 8, pp. 434-435
^ Jayadeva; Barbara S Miller (Translator) (January 1997). Love Song of
the Dark Lord: Jayadeva's Gitagovinda. Columbia University Press.
pp. 56 footnote 5. ISBN 978-0-231-11097-6.
^ a b Heidi R. M. Pauwels (1996), The Great Goddess and Fulfilment in
Love: Rādhā Seen Through a Sixteenth-Century Lens, Bulletin of the
School of Oriental and African Studies, Cambridge University Press,
Vol. 59, No. 1 (1996), pp. 29-43
^ Jaya Chemburkar (1976), ŚRĪRĀDHIKĀNĀMASAHASRAM, Annals of the
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 57, No. 1/4 (1976), pp.
^ a b Shrikant Pradhan (2008), A UNIQUE IMAGE OF
"ARDHARADHAVENUDHARAMURTI: OR "ARDHANARI KRISHNA", Bulletin of the
Deccan College Research Institute, Vol. 68/69 (2008-2009), pp. 207-213
^ Heidi R.M. Pauwels (2008). The Goddess as Role Model:
Sita and Radha
in Scripture and on Screen. Oxford University Press. pp. 13–14.
^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books.
p. 147. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
^ a b c d Heidi R.M. Pauwels (2008). The Goddess as Role Model: Sita
Radha in Scripture and on Screen. Oxford University Press.
pp. 12–15, 497–517. ISBN 978-0-19-970857-4.
^ a b Vālmīki; Robert P Goldman (Translator) (1990). The
Valmiki: Balakanda. Princeton University Press. p. 3.
^ Dimock Jr, E.C. (1963). "Doctrine and Practice among the Vaisnavas
of Bengal". History of Religions. 3 (1): 106–127.
doi:10.1086/462474. JSTOR 1062079.
^ Marijke J. Klokke (2000). Narrative Sculpture and Literary
Traditions in South and Southeast Asia. BRILL. pp. 51–57.
^ Jacqueline Suthren Hirst; Lynn Karen Thomas (2004). Playing for
Hindu Role Models, Religion, and Gender. Oxford University
Press. pp. 117–140. ISBN 978-0-19-566722-6.
^ Asoke Kumar Majumdar (1955), A Note on the Development of Radha
Cult, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 36,
No. 3/4 (July - October 1955), pp. 231-257
^ Singh, K.B. (2004). "Manipur Vaishnavism: A Sociological
Interpretat1on". Sociology of Religion in India.
ISBN 978-0-7619-9781-8. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
^ Kinsley, D. (2010). "Without Krsna There Is No Song". History of
Religions. 12 (2): 149. doi:10.1086/462672. Retrieved
Nimbarka seems to have been the first well-known
religious leader to regard
Radha as central to his cult (thirteenth
^ Radhavallabh Temple
^ "Asia and
India ISKCON temples". Radha.
^ Dandavats http://m.dandavats.com/?p=6770. Missing or empty
^ Vedic Foundation Inaugurated at
Barsana Dham, Austin Archived 18
August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved Dec 15th, 2011.
^ Ciment, J. 2001. Encyclopedia of American Immigration. Michigan:
^ Hylton, H. & Rosie, C. 2006. Insiders' Guide to Austin. Globe
^ Mugno, M. & Rafferty, R.R. 1998. Texas Monthly Guidebook to
Texas. Gulf Pub. Co.
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
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,
Krishna Dharabasi, a Nepali novel awarded with Madan
Puraskar, Most prestigious literary award.
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