Radha - Epitome of selfless love and devotion
True Love stories never seem to have a happy ending. There are a lot of love stories from across the world that shows us that the path towards true and selfless love goes through endless suffering and pain. In Hindu culture, the love story of Radha and Krishna is the epitome of the truest form of love and devotion. Their love for each other was such that Radha and Krishna were considered to be one soul split into 2 bodies. Their story covers every human emotion. Our ancient sages have narrated different aspects of relationships and emotions through different tales. For instance, the relationship between Ram and Sita portrays the perfect relation served between a husband and wife. The relation displays a perfect blend of love , respect, and responsibilities. On the other hand, the relationship between Krishna and Radha touches the core emotion of pure love and devotion and breaks every societal rule. The word Radha comes from the word Aradhana which means devotion towards God. A lot of scriptures suggest that through the story of Radha and Krishna our sages are talking about the relation between a soul and the Supreme soul. Both reside inside us and only through the act of selfless love and devotion for the Supreme self we can attain God. Radha has not been mentioned in the Vedas and even the great epic Mahabharata which speaks of Lord Krishna in length has not mentioned her. Radha was 1st introduced in the medieval scriptures like Geet Govinda by Jayadeva. Soon she acquired the status of a central deity and became so important that she is worshipped along with Sri Krishna and both of them are considered inseparable. Let us understand her story in detail.
Radha was born into a family of cowherds. Her father Vrishabhanu was the chief cowherd of Vrindavan. Her mother was Krita Devi. Some scriptures state that when Radha was born everyone thought that she was blind as she did not open her eyes for several months. It is said that the 1st time she opened her eyes was when she saw baby Krishna. Radha and Krishna grew up in the city of Nandangaon or Vrindavan. Some stories suggest that she was elder to Krishna. She was among the various Gopikas who was extremely fond of Krishna. However, Lord Krishna adored her the most and hence she was known as the chief Gopika. Lord Krishna would play his divine flute for her and Radha would merrily dance to his music. Their act of love is popularly known as Rasleela which painted the entire city of Vrindavan with the color of love.
Everything was perfect until Krishna decided to leave for the city of Mathura. Krishna was destined to kill Kansa who was the king of Mathura and to fulfil his duty he had to leave Vrindavan for good. He could not take Radha along because he was going for a war. However, in some stories, he promised Radha that he will return after the war and take her along as his Queen. Some scriptures suggest that he returned and married her in the presence of Lord Brahma. However, most of the scriptures suggest that Radha and Krishna never married and parted ways after he left for Mathura. Now there are several stories behind this separation. Some scriptures suggest that since Radha was a commoner and Krishna was a royal they could never marry each other due to the differences in their societal status. Some scriptures mention that Radha got married to someone else while Krishna was in Mathura. Some suggest that since Radha was elder to Krishna they could not unite. in another version when Radha asked Krishna why doesn't he marry her, Krishna replied that how can he marry himself. This suggests that Radha was a part of his soul and hence marriage could never happen. Krishna is known to be the avatar of Lord Vishnu however Radha is not considered to the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. In some versions, it is mentioned that Radha, before being born on Earth, was cursed by Krishna's dear friend Sudama. Once on the planet of Goloka which is the eternal residence of Krishna when Sudama went to meet Krishna, he was stopped by Radha. This is when Sudama cursed her and said that she will have to bear the pain of separation from Krishna when she was born on Earth.
After Krishna killed Kansa in Mathura he took up his responsibilities as a king. He then went onto marry and had 8 chief queens like Rukmini, Satyabhama, Lakshmana, etc. Radha, on the other hand, had almost become a lifeless body after Krishna left. She stopped taking care of herself and would be lost in his thoughts. People of Vrindavan could not feel her agony and thought she had lost her mind. After years of separation one day, she decided to go and see Krishna. When she saw Krishna along with his wives she didn't utter a word but her eyes expressed everything to Krishna. She told him that she was happy for him. She also said that Krishna's love was divided among his various queens however his pain of separation from Radha remained exclusive and was only hers. it is said that during her last days on Earth she asked Krishna to play his flute once again for her and when Krishna played his flute for the last time she merged with Krishna's body spiritually and left Earth for good. In some other versions, it is said that when Krishna was leaving Earth and heading back to Goloka planet he carried Radha along.
Although Krishna married other queens his love for Radha was such that even today Krishna is always mentioned with Radha's name. Their love for each other was beyond the rules and regulations of this worldly society. There are several temples across India dedicated to Radha and Krishna and their love is still celebrated with great joy all across the country.
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