Concepts and Misconceptions on Radha
Of all the Gopis that Krishna used to play with, Radha was His favourite and Krishna was everything to Radha.
Some have explained Radha as a concept that denotes pure love and devotion. Various forms of art have depicted Krishna and Radha as a couple. Some stories tell us that Krishna married Radha.Some others describe Radha as a married woman, older to Krishna, who was enamoured by Krishna and sought Krishna’s company. Some have even gone to the extent of writing derogatorily that Radha was a concubine.
In modern times too, Radha has been described by a few, even in learned circles, as a Gopi who had a live-in relationship with Krishna.
Radha and Krishna
Radha and Krishna were together only in Vrindavan, before Krishna left for Mathura, never to return to Vrindavan ever again. Krishna then was less than twelve years old.
How could Krishna, a child who may not have attained puberty, not yet in his teens, have had a live-in relationship?
Such statements evidently show a deliberate suppression of real fact while blowing out of proportion an incorrect interpretation of the context and concept of Radha and Krishna relationship.
Such misconceptions could also have set in due to picturizations that show Krishna not as a 10 to 12 year old lad but instead as a young handsome man while in the company of Radha and the Gopi.
Comprehending the true essence of such picturizations, needs an indepth understanding of the meaning of “Radha”.
Meaning of Radha
Ra means to give, to yield. Dha means to leave, to let go, to wish to give, to wish to gain, to strive after, to fix mind upon. These two syllables when joined together as “Radha”, give a very interesting interpretation.
It is only when we “give in” and “let go of ourselves” with “our mind fixed upon” the truth, can “we gain” the realization of the true self within ourselves as well as the universal divinity. If we hold back, there is no gain.
The word Radha, aptly suggests that we give ourselves in, fully, to realize the divinity that encapsulates us and this whole universe, of which we are but a part.
Radha thus embodies the act of complete and unconditional surrender, which is also known as Sharanagathi, surrendering at the feet of the divine. Pure Bhakti, devotion, is when one unconditionally gives oneself unto the other.
Radha has been accorded historical status by various accounts. Legends state that Radha, the Gopi, was already a married woman when she met Krishna.
The husband of Radha was a senior trusted soldier in the army of Kamsa, the wily king of Mathura. Kamsa had deputed Radha’s husband to battle in the far ends of his kingdom. It is probably then that Radha spent her time with the local children, especially Krishna and participated in their playful deeds.
To misconstrue this association beyond this, from an immoral perspective, would be incorrect, given the facts of the story.
The birth place of Radha is Brahmasarin, which is now known by the name Barsana. This place is about 45 kilometers from Mathura. Radha’s husband’s name was Abhimanyu. Jatiladevi was her mother-in-law and Kutiladevi, her sister-in-law.
Radha’s father was Vrushabhanu and mother, Kirtida. These information are available in Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Padma Purana, Narada Purana and Garga Samhita.
Radha was born at noon on Sukla paksha ashtami of Bhadrapada month, i.e on the 8th day of the increasing phase of the moon in the month spanning across August – September, in present times.
This day falls 14 days after Krishna Janmashtami and is celebrated with much gaiety in the birthplace of Radha at Barsana and also all over Braj Bhumi as Radhashtami.
More on Radha in our upcoming book ‘Historical Krishna’ to be released shortly in three volumes.