THEOLOGY OF SRI RADHA
Srimati Radharani is the Supreme Goddess. She is most always seen with Lord Krishna. It is described that She is the Chief Associate and devotee of Lord Krishna, and topmost of all Goddesses. Her name means the She is the most excellent worshiper of Lord Krishna. However, She is also an expansion of the Lord’s energy. Since She is also an extension of Krishna, She is the feminine aspect of God. Thus, in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, God is both male and female. They are One, but Krishna expands into two, Himself and Radharani, for the sake of divine loving pastimes. If They remained as One, then there is no relationship, there are no pastimes, and there can be no dynamic exchange of love. (Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila, 4.55-56) Actually, if we all remained merged or amalgamated into one single force or light, then there is no further need of anything else. There certainly would be no need for the material manifestation to provide the innumerable conditioned souls with the means to seek out the way to satisfy their senses, minds, emotions, desires for self-expression, intellectual pursuits, and on and on.
So, similarly, the spiritual world is the manifestation wherein all souls have the opportunity to engage in a multitude of pastimes in loving relationships in full spiritual variety, without the many hindrances we find in this material world. The only difference is that the spiritual world is centered around the Supreme Being. And that Supreme Personality has expanded Himself into Radharani for exhibiting the supreme loving relationship, in which so many others assist Them.
In the Brihad-Gautamiya Tantra, Radharani is described as follows: “The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord.”
To explain further, Srimati Radharani is also the source of the other goddesses, who are expansions of Her. Just as Lord Krishna is the source of all other expansions and incarnations of God, Radharani is the source of all other expansions of the energies of God, the shaktis, or other goddesses. Thus, Vishnu, Rama, even Shiva are all expansions of the one Supreme Being, and similarly Lakshmi, Sita, and even Durga are all expansions of this Supreme Feminine form of God, Radharani.
It is explained that the beloved consorts of Lord Krishna are of three kinds, namely the goddesses of fortune or Lakshmis, His queens, and the milkmaids of Vraja called the gopis. All of them proceed from Radharani. The Lakshmis are partial manifestations, or plenary portions, of Srimati Radharani, while the queens in Vaikuntha and in Dvaraka are reflections of Her image. In Dvaraka, Sri Radha assumes thousands of kayavyuha forms, all with similar moods and qualities, to serve Lord Krisna as his queens and as mothers of his children.
The Vraja-devis or gopis are Her expansions who assist in the increase of intimacy and variety in divine loving pastimes. Among them there are many groups that have various sentiments and moods, which help Lord Krishna taste the sweetness of the rasa dance and other pastimes. (Cc.Adi-lila. 4. 75-81) These gopis, all have different appearances, qualities and moods (dhira and adhira bhavas). Each gopi is a personification of a particular bhava (mood or emotion) of Radharani, just as flowers, fruits and creepers, although one with the tree, also have separate identities.
Among the gopis of Vrindavana, Srimati Radharani and Sri Candravali are considered chief. Radha then expands Herself into different forms, known as Lalita, Visakha, and Her other confidential associates that increase the mood of divine love. However, when we compare the gopis, it appears that Srimati Radharani is most important because Her real feature expresses the highest ecstasy of love.
Radharani has many names according to Her qualities and characteristics. Some of the names that Radharani is known by include Govinda-anandini–She who gives pleasure to Govinda [Krishna]; Govinda-mohini–She who mystifies Govinda; Govinda-sarvasa–the all-in-all of Lord Govinda; Shiromani Sarva-kanta–the crown jewel of all the Lord’s consorts; and Krishnamayi–the one who sees Krishna both within and without. She is also called Radhika in the Puranasbecause Her worship [aradhana] of the Lord consists of fulfilling His desires. Aradhana is the root of the name Radharani, which indicates one who excels in worshiping the Lord. She is also called Sarva-lakshmi, the original source of all the goddesses of fortune. This also means that She is the supreme energy of Lord Krishna, and represents His six opulences, which include fame, fortune, strength, wealth, knowledge, and detachment. She is also known as Sarva-kanti, which indicates that all beauty and luster rest in Her body, and all the Lakshmis derive their beauty from Her. It also means that all the desires of Lord Krishna rest in Srimati Radharani. As Lord Krishna enchants the world with His beauty and charm, Sri Radha enchants Him. Therefore She is the Supreme Goddess. Sri Radha is the full power, and Lord Krishna is the possessor of full power. (Cc.Adi-lila, 4.82, 84, 87-96) Thus, the two are non-different, as the sunshine is nondifferent from the sun, or as the energy is non-different from the energetic or source of energy.
In this way, without Radha there is no meaning to Krishna and without Krishna there is no meaning to Radha. Because of this, in the Vaishnava tradition we always pay respects first to the Lord’s internal energy in the form of Radha, and then to the Lord. Thus They are referred to as Radha-Krishna, or in other names as Sita-Rama, Lakshmi-Narayana, and so on. In this way, Radha and Krishna are one, but when Lord Krishna wants to enjoy, He manifests Himself as Radharani. Otherwise, there is no energy in which Krishna can attain pleasure outside Himself.
It is also described that the potency of love of God is called hladini, the Lord’s pleasure potency. Whenever the Lord wants to enjoy pleasure, He exhibits His own spiritual potency known as hladini. And the essence of that love is in the emotion called bhava. The ultimate development of that emotion is mahabhava, or great bhava. Mahabhava is full of the pleasure potency, and it is an exhibition of the highest love for Lord Krishna. Sri Radharani is the embodiment of that transcendental consciousness found in mahabhava. Her mind, senses and body are steeped in that highest sort of love for Krishna. She is as spiritual as the Lord Himself. In fact, being the personification of the hladini-shakti, the pleasure giving energy of the Lord, She is the only source of enjoyment for the Lord. This pleasure potency manifests spiritually as Radharani in a way that attracts even Lord Krishna. He takes no pleasure in anything material. The Lord could never enjoy anything that is less spiritual than Himself. Therefore Radha and Krishna are identical.
Being the Lord’s hladini feature, She is also the ultimate source of all happiness for all the living beings. In other words, everything that gives pleasure and happiness within the spiritual or the material worlds is because of Her and the energy that emanates from Her. (Cc.Adi-lila.4.68-72)
That same pleasure potency expands and spreads throughout the spiritual worlds, and then descends into the material creation into the many forms of happiness that is experienced by the conditioned soul, though it may be called by different names and perceived in assorted ways. Since we are all parts and parcels of the Lord, we also have that pleasure potency within us to a minute degree. But we are trying to enjoy it in the material world. Therefore we are like sparks that are dying out because we have left our place which is in the blazing fire of Lord Krishna’s association.
DESCRIPTION OF SRI RADHA
Among all the beautiful gopis Srimati Radharani is the best. Radharani is the queen of Vrndavana. She has many famous friends, headed by Lalita and Visakha.
Sri Krsna, the cowherd prince whose charming sweetness has no equal or superior, is very dear to Srimati Radharani. She considers Him millions and millions of times more dear than Her own life’s breath.
Now the beauty of Srimati Radharani’s trancendental form will be described. Srimati Radharani is expert in all the fine arts and Her transcendental form is like an ocean of nectar. Her splendid bodily luster is like the yellow pigment gorocana, molten gold, or stationary lightning. She wears wonderfully beautiful blue garments and She is decorated with various pearls and flowers.
She is very beautiful and She has long nicely braided hair. She is decorated with a garland of flowers and a beautiful pearl necklace. Her splendid forehead is decorated with the red pigment sindura and with beautiful locks of curling hair.
Decorated with blue bangles, Her arms have defeated Cupid’s staff with their beauty. Decorated with black mascara and reaching back almost to Her ears, Srimati Radharani’s lotus eyes are the most beautiful in all the three planetary systems. Her nose is as beautiful as a sesame flower and it is nicely decorated with a pearl. She is anointed with various perfumes. She is splendidly beautiful.
Her ears are decorated with wonderful earrings and Her nectarean lips defeat the red lotus flowers. Her teeth are like a row of pearls and Her tongue is very beautiful. Decorated with a nectarean smile of pure love for Krsna, Her beautiful face is a splendid as millions of moons.
The beauty of Her chin has defeated and bewildered the demigod Cupid. Decorated with a drop of musk, Her chin appears like a golden lotus flower with a bumblebee. Bearing all the marks of wonderful beauty, Her neck is decorated with a string of pearls. Her neck, back and sides are enchantingly beautiful.
Her beautiful breasts are like two splendid waterpots covered with a bodice and decorated with a necklace of pearls. Her beautiful enchanting arms are decorated with jeweled armlets. Her arms are also decorated with jeweled bracelets and other kinds of jeweled ornaments. Her hands are like two red lotus flowers illuminated by the series of moons that are Her fingernails
Srimati Radharani’s hands are decorated with many auspicious markings such as the signs of the bumblebee, lotus, crescent moon, earring, parasol, sacrificial post, conchshell, tree, flower, camara and svastika. These auspicious marks are manifest in various ways on Srimati Radharani’s lotus hands. Her splendidly beautiful fingers are also decorated with jeweled rings.
Charming, full of sweet nectar and decorated with a deep navel, Srimati Radharani’s beautiful waist enchants the three worlds. Her sloping hips lead to Her charmingly beautiful slender waist, which is bound by a creeper of three beautiful folds of skin and decorated with a sash of tinkling bells.
As beautiful as two exquisite plantain trees, Her thighs enchant the mind of Cupid. Her beautiful knees are like two reservoirs filled with the nectar of various transcendental pastimes. Her beautiful lotus feet are decorated with jeweled ankle-bells and Her toes with toe rings as beautiful as the treasure of Varuna. The auspicious markings on Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet include the signs of the conchshell, moon, elephant, barleycorn, rod for controlling elephants, chariot flag, small drum, svastika and fish.
Srimati Radharani is fifteen years old and full of the luster of youth.
Yasoda-devi, the queen of the cowherds, is more affectionate to Radharani than millions of mothers can be. Radharani’s father is King Vrsabhanu, who is as splendid as the sun.
Srimati Radharani’s mother is Kirtida-devi, who is also known in this world as Ratnagarbha-devi. Radharani’s paternal grandfather is Mahibhanu and Her maternal grandfather is Indu.
Her maternal grandmother is Mukhara-devi and Her paternal grandmother is Sukhada-devi. Her father’s brothers (Her uncles) are Ratnabhanu, Subhanu and Bhanu.
Bhadrakirti, Mahakirti and Kirticandra are Radharani’s materal uncles. Menaka-devi, Sasthi-devi, Gauri-devi, Dhatri-devi and Dhataki-devi are Radharani’s materal aunts.
Radharani’s mother’s sister is Kirtimati-devi, whose husband is Kasa. Radharani’s father’s sister isBhanumudra-devi, whose husband is Kusa.
Radharani’s elder brother is Sridama and Her younger sister is Ananga-manjari. Radharani’s father-in-law isVrkagopa and Her brother-in-law is Durmada.
Jatila-devi is Radharani’s mother-in-law and Abhimanyu is Radharani’s so-called husband. Kutila-devi, who is always eager to find fault, is Radharani’s sister-in-law.
Lalita, Visakha, Sucitra, Campakalata, Ranga-devi, Sudevi, Tungavidya and Indulekha are the eight dearest friends of Srimati Radharani. These gopis are considered the leaders of all the others.
Kurangaksi, Mandali, Mankiundala, Matali, Candralalita, Madhavi, Madanalasa, Manjumedha, Sasikala, Sumadhya, Madhureksana, Kamala, Kamalatika, Gunacuda, Varangada, Madhuri, Candrika, Prema-manjari, Tanumadhyama, Kandarpa-sundari and Manjukesi are among the millions of dear friends (priya-sakhi) of Srimati Radharani.
Lasika, Kelikandali, Kadambari, Sasimukhi, Candrarekha, Priyamvada, Madonmada, Madhumati, Vasanti, Kalabhasini, Ratnavali, Manimati and Karpuralatika are among those friends (jivita-sakhi) for whom Srimati Radharani is as dear as life.
Kasturi, Manojna, Manimanjari, Sindura, Candanavati, Kaumudi and Madira are among Sriamti Radharani’s eternal friends (nitya-sakhi).
Ananga-manjari, Rupa-manjari, Rati-manjari, Lavanga-manjari, Raga-manjari, Rasa-manjari, Vilasa-manjari, Prema-manjari, Mani-manjari, Suvarna-manjari, Kama-manjari, Ratna-manjari, Kasturi-manjari, Gandha-manjari, Netra-manjari, Sripadma-manjari, Lila-manjari and Hema-manjari are among Srimati Radharani’s manjari friends. Prema-manjari and Rati-manjari are both also known by the name Bhanumati-devi.
Srimati Radharani’s worshipable deity is the sun-god, who enlivens the lotus flowers and acts as an eye for the entire world. Srimati Radharani’s maha-mantra is the name of Lord Krsna. Srimati Radharani’s benefactor, who brings Her all good fortune, is Bhagavati Paurnamasi.
In Radharani’s garden is a vine of golden jasmine flowers that She has named Tadidvalli (“the vine of lightning”). Her private lake bears Her own name (Radha-kunda) and on the shore of that lake is a kadamba tree that is the site of very confidential talks between Her and Lord Krsna.
Her favorite ragas are mallara and dhanasri and Her favorite dances are chalikya and rudravallaki.
Srimati Radharani’s glorious birth occured on the eighth day of the bright moon in the month of Bhadra. Although generally not full on that day, the moon appeared full to celebrate Radharani’s appearance in this world. (SSRKGD)
In Brhad-gautamiyatantra it is said: Sri Radha is known as Devi, Krsnamayi, Supreme Goddess in whom all Laksmis reside; Her beauty and charm defeat that of all others.
In a supplement to the Rg-veda it is said: Among all people, Radhika and Madhava together are the most beautiful. In the Matsya-purana: In Varanasi, She is known as Sri Visalaksi, and in Purusottama-ksetra, She is called Sri Vimala. In Dvaraka, She is Sri Rukmini, and as the queen of the Vrndavana forest, She is called Sri Radha.
In the Ujjvala-nilamani, a statement taken from the Padma-purana says: Just as Sri Radha is the most beloved of Sri Krsna, similarly Sri Radha-kunda is also very dear. Among all the gopis, Sri Radha is the dearest lover of Sri Krsna.
In the Radha-prakarana of Ujjvala-nilamani it is said: Sri Radhika’s body is composed of maha-bhava. The greatest of all saktis is the hladini-sakti. Therefore it is called maha-sakti. Of that, the essence is madana, which is the zenith of maha-bhava. Sri Radha is the embodiment of that highest maha-bhava. This conclusion is well established.
In the Gopalottara-tapani, She is glorified as Gandharva. This daughter of Vrsabhanu has a very beautiful form and wears 16 items of beautification (srngara) and 12 types of ornaments (abharana).
An example concerning Her beautiful form is given in Ujjvala-nîlamani, wherein Sri Krsna says, “O Radhe! The locks of Your hair curl beautifully, and You have a lotus-like face with elongated restless eyes. Your chest is adorned with lovely large and firm breasts. Your waist is attractively slender, Your head is bowed slightly in modesty, and Your fingernails are like rows of jewels. Your beautiful form is a festival of elegance and sweetness that crushes the vanity of the three worlds.”
Concerning Her sixteen items of beautification, Subala says to Sri Krsna, “After bathing, Sri Radhika decorates the tip of Her nose with an effulgent jewel. She dresses in blue clothing, with a sash (nivibandhana) around Her waist. Her hair is plaited and She wears ornaments on Her ears. Her limbs are smeared with camphor, musk and sandal paste. She wears flowers in Her hair and a garland around Her neck. In Her hand She playfully carries a lotus flower. In Her mouth She has tambula, and on Her chin a dot of musk. She wears kajjala around Her eyes and on Her cheeks are muskpaintings of dolphins, etc. The bottoms of Her lotus feet are painted red and She wears tilaka on Her forehead.”
Concerning Her twelve ornaments, Subala says, “Sri Radhika wears a diamond on Her head, golden earrings on Her ears, and tiny golden bells around Her hips. A golden locket hangs around Her neck. She wears a cakri-salaka (an elaborate ornament that encircles the entire ear and fastens at the top) over Her ears, bangles on Her hands, and a necklace around Her throat. There are rings on Her fingers and a group of star-like necklaces on Her bosom. She is adorned with jewelled armlets, jewelled ankle bells and radiant toe rings. She is very beautiful wearing these twelve ornaments.”
Sri Radha’s age is in the middle of the kaisora period. Just as previously, Krsna’s age was increased by half again, so Radha’s age is increased to 14 years, 2 months and 15 days. She has a strong feeling that Krsna belongs to Her (madiyata-bhava), as well as madhu-sneha (a very sweet affectionate mood). Her love for Krsna is pure, powerful and lasting, and She has various kunjas for Her pastimes with Him. Her home is in Yavatagrama, Her mother’s name is Kirtida, and Her father’s Vrsabhanu. Her husband’s name is Abhimanyu, Durmukha is Her brother-in-law, Jatila is Her mother-inlaw, and Kutila is Her sister-in-law. Just as Sri Krsna always exists as the nayaka (heroic lover), Sri Radhika is forever the principal nayika (heroine).
Sri Radha’s sakhis are of five types: sakhi, nitya-sakhi, prana-sakhi, priya-sakhi, and parama-prestha-sakhi. Kusumika, Vindhya, Dhanistha and others are known as sakhis. Kasturika, Mani Manjari, etc., are known as nitya-sakhis. Sasimukhi, Vasanti, Lasika, etc., are known as prana-sakhis. These gopis usually have forms (or natures) similar to Sri Radha. Kurangaksi, Sumadhya, Madanalasa, Kamala, Madhuri, Manjukesi, Kandarpasundari, Madhavi, Malati, Kamalata and Sasikala, etc., are priya-sakhis. Lalita, Visakha, Citra, Campakalata, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Rangadevi and Sudevi are the parama-prestha-sakhis. These eight gopis are chief amongst them all. They are worthy of being yuthesvaris (group leaders) themselves, but because they love Radha so much, they would rather be Her sakhis. (SGGSP)
Video below: one of Sri Radha’s favourite night ragas, Dhanashri, performed by Aishwarya Majmudar.
Copyright © 2016 Steve M. Doyle (Soolaba)