My neighbors are off to their monthly pilgrimage to Vrindavan, the birthplace of cowherd Lord Krishna. They also visit Barsana, a small village near Mathura which is the birthplace of Radha, the favorite gopi, and the consort of Lord Krishna.
Radha temple in Barsana. (Image Credit: Uttar Pradesh tourism http://uptourism.gov.in/post/barsana)
Vrindavaneshvari Vrishabhanu-Sute Devi
(I pay my respect to Shri Radha Rani, who has the complexion like molten gold. You are the queen of Vrindavan and daughter of Vrishnabhanu. You are very dear to Lord Krishna)
Though they were not married, they are considered as one and both complete each other. Radha was married to another man, and Krishna married other women. Still, the path to Lord Krishna goes through the heart of Radha. Radha has no independent existence of her own, but she is a very integral part of Krishna. If not more, Radha has equal status in the eyes of millions of devotees. They say ‘Radhe Krishna’ and not ‘Krishna Radha.’ Afterall, God himself for the beauty and charm of the young village girl.
Radha Rani with Lord Krishna (Image Credit: Iskon Temple, Juhu)
In spite of rigid Indian social structures regarding adultery and illicit affair, her love affair has gained not just social sanction but also made her a revered deity. Her devotion towards Krishna is worth emulating.
Radha brings out the playful and joyful side of Krishna. She was the main gopi who danced with Krishna during Raas Leela (a divine dance of passion between Krishna and milkmaids on the banks of river Yamuna. She was the focus of envy of all gopis (village milkmaids) who wanted to be close and spend time with Krishna.
(Radha resides in Goloka (Vrindavan) and is a milkmaid girl. She is the most beautiful of all gopis and the mother to all cowherd boys. She is joyful and experiences the eternal bliss. She incites love in the heart of the son of Nanda, Lord Krishna.)
Geet Govinda written by Jayadeva, in the 14th Century describes the pain and agony of the unfulfilled love of Radha that she has for unfaithful and ever-changing Lord Krishna. Radha symbolically refers to the internal strength of devotion in the hearts of millions of devotees. It also indicates the relationship between the divine and human beings where humans long to meet the Supreme God through intense devotion and passion.
Many texts written by later poets point towards the rebellious nature of Radha who in spite of being married makes no pretensions of keeping her love for Krishna secret.
The below verse from the poem of Chandidas, a 14th century Bengali poet clearly shows the bold and rebellious nature of Radha Rani who is not scared to incur the wrath of the society for her affair with Krishna. The verse is from the book, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition, David R. Kinsle (2005).
Radha Rani is revered and worshipped across India for highest and selfless form of love where she puts everything at stake for the Lord. She makes Lord Krishna complete and is closest to Krishna.