By Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj
In many bhajans and keertans we hear the name of Radha being chanted before the name of Krishna. And yet most people are unfamiliar with Radha. As this is the most auspicious and important day of Radhashtami (Shree Radha’s appearance day), many questions enter the mind. Who is the entity called Radha? Where does She stand in relation to Krishna? Why does Her name always come before Krishna’s? Why should we celebrate Her Birthday?
Radha, the Supreme Goddess, incarnated some 5,000 years ago in the village of Barsana. She is often called “Barsane Vari,” (the one from Barsana), “Bhanudulari” (Daughter of King Vrishabhanu), and Keertikumari (Daughter of Mother Keerti). She is a Friend to the gopis, the milkmaids of Vrindavan. However, She is not to be mistaken as one of them. She is indeed worshipped by the gopis.
Radhopanishad states that the personality, whom Shree Krishna worships, is known as Radha. And the personality, whom Radha worships, is known as Krishna. Both worship one another.The Radhaopanishad states:
ye yaṁ rādhā yaśhcha kṛiṣhṇo rasābdhirdeheśhchaikaḥ
krīḍanārthaṁ dvidhā bhoo
“Radha and Krishna are one, but have assumed two forms for the purpose of performing loving pastimes.”
Again, the Radhopanishad states:
rādhā kṛiṣhṇayora ekāsanaṁ ekā buddhiḥ ekam manaḥ ekam jñānaṁ ekam padam eka ātmā ekā ākṛitiḥ
“Radha and Krishna have one intellect, one mind, one soul, and even one face. They have one knowledge. This is why there is no difference between these two. If someone thinks there to be a difference, it is an offence.” It is altogether a different matter that someone may it from the point of view of the experience of the Bliss of devotion. But to actually think that Radha is greater, or Krishna is greater, leads one to a hell named “Kalasutra,” for as long as the sun and the moon are in existence, in other words, till the dissolution of the universe. Differentiating between Radha and Krishna is such a serious offence. So, both are the same.
Narad Pancharatra, an ancient scripture says:
devī kṛiṣhṇamayī proktā rādhikā paradevatā
“She is the Supreme Personality, beyond whom there is no other.”
vṛiṣhabhānu sutā devī moola prakṛiti rīśhvarī
Vrishbhanu’s daughter, Radha, is the primordial nature, from whom everything came into being.
yato vā imāni bhootāni jāyante yena jātāni jīvantiyatprayantyabhisam viśhanti tad brahmeti uttarajane rā śhabdo dhārane poṣhaṇe cha dhā
‘Ra’ and ‘Dha’ means, one who creates, one who preserves, and one in whom creation merges.
Narad Pancharatra again states:
harerardha tanu rādhā tādhikārdhatanu hariḥ
Shree Krishna’s half part is Radha, and Radha’s half part is Krishna. Shree Krishna says, “I have assumed the form of Radha.” Radha ji says, “I have assumed the form of Krishna.”
mamaiva pauruṣhaṁ roopam gopikā jana mohanṁ
Radha says, “The form of Krishna is none other than Myself. When I assumed the male form, people started calling me Shree Krishna.” So, again, Narad Pancharatra says that just as milk and its whiteness are the same, likewise Radha and Krishna are the same. The whiteness of milk cannot and should not be separated from milk itself. In the same way, no one can separate the moon from its moonshine. Both are the same.
Again, Narad Pancharatra says that Mahalakshmi, the consort of Mahavishnu, the creator of countless universes, was manifested from Radha’s left side. Durga, Jayanti, Kali, Bhadrakali, Kapalini, Durga, Kshama, Shivadhatri, Svaha, Tvadha, and Vaishnavi are all born from fractions of Radharani. Countless Vishnus are born from the toenails of Radharani, not just one.
Ved Vyas Ji explained the meaning of the name ‘Radha’:
rādhnoti sakalān kāmān tasmāt rādheti kīrtitaḥ
The one who fulfills desires of any individual who sheds a few tears is known as Radha. This is in the Brahma Vaivarta Puran.
The Vedas say that God is one. For the sake of convenience we refer to God as ‘He,’ but in fact God assumes both male and female forms. The Vedas glorify God, “Sometimes You appear in the female form, sometimes in the male form. At times, You come as a young boy, at times as a young girl.” Radha is one of God’s female forms. In Brahmavaivarta Puran, Radha Rani says, “The one who is known as the Beloved of the gopis is My male form.” The Vedas say that Radha and Krishna are one, but have assumed two forms for the purpose of performing loving pastimes. They who are known as Sita and Ram in the Age of Treta, are known as Radha and Krishna in the Age of Dvapar.
Some people ask: If Radha and Krishna are one and the same, then why is Radha always mentioned before Krishna? Why do we always hear Radha-Krishna, never Krishna-Radha? Why is She so dear to Him that He says, “I see Radha everywhere: at home, in the forest when I go to graze cows, in the food I eat. I see Her at night, I see Her in the daytime. Radha pervades every pore of My being.” He says in Brahmanda Puran, “I am devoted to Radha.” Why should He who is worshipped and adored by all, worship Radha?
Devi Bhagavat Puran says:
ādau rādhām samuchārya paśhchāta kṛiṣhṇamparātparaṁ seva panḍito yogī golokam yāti līlayā
First utter the name of Radha; then Krishna. One who does keertan in this manner, attains Golok. Radha’s name is uttered first. No one says KRISHNA RADHA. Everyone says RADHA KRISHNA or SHYAMA SHYAM.
The Vedas explain that Radha is the soul of Krishna. We are also a combination of body and soul, and the soul is always being served and adored by the body. All the parts of the body are constantly engaged in rendering service to the soul. The eyes see for the sake of pleasing the soul; the ears hear for the same reason. The tongue tastes only for the purpose of making the soul happy. All are servants of the soul. Radha is the soul of Krishna, so say the Vedas. Shree Krishna is the soul of all souls, and He also has a soul, which is Radha. Our body is constantly trying to serve the soul. The soul is ever occupied in serving the Supreme Soul, and the Supreme Soul is always busy trying to please His soul, Radha.
But does this mean that Shree Radha is superior to Shree Krishna? It would seem so, for the soul is greater than the body. However, this is not so. Although for ordinary material people it is true that the soul is superior to the body, yet in God there is no difference between body and soul. Since God’s body and soul are one and the same, there is no difference between Radha and Krishna.
So, the word Radha is described in many places. Rasik saints have spoken so much on Radha that there is no end to what they have said. In our Braj there came great Jagadgurus, great Acharyas, like Vallabhacharaya and Nimbarkacharya, Gaurang Mahaprabhu, Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya. Madhvacharya and Raanujacharya, these two Jagadgurus, were devotees of Lakshmi-Narayan. The remaining saints and acharyas of Braj were all devoted to Radha-Krishna. Madhvacharya was a devotee of Lakshmi-Narayan. His disciple Madhavendra Puri was a devotee of Radha Krishna. His disciple Ishvar Puri was a devotee of Radha-Krishna, and his disciple Gaurang Mahaprabhu was also a devotee of Radha-Krishna.
Only Vallabhacharya said that Radha is not equal to God, and that She is God Herself. She is Brahm Herself. And Nimbarkacharya says that Radha is the energy, and Krishna is the energetic one. According to him, energy and the energetic are non-different but also different from one another. This is why both are one and also two. Gaurang Mahaprabhu says that Radha and Krishna are eternally two, and eternally one and the same. This illustrates that all Acharyas are accepting Radha and Krishna to be one and the same. Even Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya, who are devotees of Lakshmi-Narayan, also write in their respective philosophies that Mahalakshmi is worshipped as Radha also.
Hence, we must not think Radha and Krishna to be two separate entities.
Jai Jai Shri Radhey!