Of all the Gopis, Krishna used to play with, Radha was His favourite and Krishna was everything to Radha as well.
The name Radha has diverse meanings and understanding.
Radha and Krishna
There are three primary dictionaries in Samskrit literature. A search for the usage and meaning of the word Radha yields the following.
Amarakosa is the dictionary in which the term Radha has been described as:-
- Full moon of Vaisakha Poornima. Poornima means Full Moon and Vaisakha is a month, typically April – May.
- Daughter of Vrashbhanugopa
- the beloved of Krishna
The very word Radha thus has got the love, affinity and the beauty of a full moon.
Radha would have been one among the many Gopi playing with Krishna and enjoying His pranks.
The poets of the Bhakti movement used the word Radha, which means love, affinity, full moon and seemed to have developed on it in the form of the person Radha, to express and bring forth their Bhakti, universal love for Krishna.
Vishakha, Zubenelgenubi is a double star system along with its companion Zubeneschamali. This double star system can be seen with the naked eyes. They form the extended claws of the Scorpio constellation.
This definition of Radha brings out the celestial nature in the name Radha.
By associating Radha with the Vishakha double star system, it again brings out the Radha – Krishna duality. It is interesting to note that Radha’s birth star, Janma Nakshatra was Anuradha, a star that is adjacent to this double star, Vishakha epitomizing the Radha – Krishna pair.
Anuradha is also diagonally opposite to Rohini, the star of Krishna’s birth. They thus took the legend into the sky to express it through astronomy.
Nirukta by Yaska
Nirukta is a work on etymology compiled by Rishi Yaska. It is one of the authoritative works on the meaning of the words in Samskrt language. Nirukta is used to understand the range of meanings of the words mentioned in the Veda.
In the Nirukta, the word Radha means “wealth”, that which one can give and yet one has to leave behind.
The one wealth that is indiminishable in this world and grows with giving is love.
Yaska writing Nirukta
This again fits in well with the concept of love, which Radha has been portrayed as through the Bhakti movement poetry.
Love for the divine and the appreciation of the divine.
Radha – Relish, Relate, Appreciate
From the exhaustive analysis of the word, Radha and the root Ra also meaning “that which is pleasing”, “that which is to be relished”, what comes out clear is that every time we utter the word Radha, it is to relish, relate and appreciate the divinity within the self as well as in others and the Supreme consciousness. It is to recognize and surrender to the unbounded love that binds us all together.
Radha – Understanding Her in 3 ways
Radha can be understood at different levels – one at the historical level, the second at the etymological level and third at the subtle level.
We have already seen the first two.
Taking on from the etymological level, at the subtle level, the relationship, the interplay between Radha and Krishna can be seen as complementary, supplementary and contradictory.
As man and woman, they complement each other, not as equals in the modern sense of the word “equals”. Genders cannot be equated as “equals”. Each is unique and has intrinsic strengths and purposes.
Instead of equating the two, when we work towards capitalizing on the innate strengths of each other and filling in for the gaps in each other, it makes the genders complementary to each other.
That is why the relationship between husband and wife, in Indian thought, is expressed not as Sama or same, equal but as Saha, which means complementary, together. The wife is therefore called a Saha Dharmi, one who complements. Husband and wife play complementary roles in society as they perform their Dharma, duties together.
When we focus on the gaps in oneself and see the extras in the other, we see a supplementary aspect in the relationship.
When we focus on the differences between the two, we see the contradictions in the relationship.
Complementary is when the two recognize their differences, allow each to play to their strengths and support each other in times of need. It brings in a balance to their relationship and in the society overall.
It is all about “give and take”.
Man and Woman as complementary to one another
It is a Nature created jigsaw and Nature has provided the solution in the differences in the innate nature of all beings in Nature. An understanding of this aspect in Nature and acting accordingly, will bring about a sense of balance in Nature. An equilibrium that sets in with the need for one another, the dependence on one another.
The need for one another exists between man and woman, between male and female genders of all species including plant, insects, birds and animals.
This need exists between all species on earth.
It exists between the species and earth itself.
It exists between earth, the moon and other planets.
It exists between the planets and the sun.
It exists between the sun and the galaxy.
It exists between the various galaxies in the cosmos.
It finally exists between the consciousness in individual bodies and the cosmic consciousness itself.
This need for one another, creates an eternal bond, an universal bond.
Radha and Krishna symbolize this eternal bond in the universe that arises out of the need for one another – the need that arises between each and every entity that has come out of Creation.
Radha needs Krishna and His soulful music to feel happy and Krishna cannot produce the soulful music without Radha. They are both incomplete without each other.
The concept of this interplay between Radha and Krishna is not to be limitedly understood as a sexual chemistry between a man and a woman. It is a symbolic expression of the physics, chemistry and biology in the cosmos. It is the interplay of the subtle forces of Nature, expressed in a human form for the commoner to understand and relish in terms that one can easily relate to at a personal self.
The Beauty of Radha
The idea of Radha presents a profound message, being given a physical shape through Radha, the Gopi and being paired with Krishna so much so that, over time it became Radha, who is now world over celebrated as the most beloved consort of Krishna. It is the beautiful idol of Radha that stands beside Krishna in many of the temples world over today.
The profound idea that Radha symbolizes, seems to have been left behind in the passage of time.
Radha is now just an object of beauty, whose claim to fame seems to be her association with Krishna.
This is the beauty to be seen in the history of civilizations – how time and the power of evolution can change memories, thoughts, values and lifestyle.
But the beauty of the inner self, the beauty in Nature around and the beauty in the all-pervading Divine consciousness, does not change. It continues to stay as beautiful, waiting to be discovered and relished by each generation. All it takes is to dare to surrender oneself wholly to this beauty.
That is the beauty in Radha and the beauty in Radha – Krishna.
Radha yearning for Krishna