also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is the childhood friend and
lover of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Vaisnava
traditions of Hinduism.
Radha is almost always depicted alongside Krishna and features prominently
within the theology of today's Gaudiya Vaishnava religion, which regards Radha
as the original Goddess or Shakti.
Radha is also the principal object of worship in the Nimbarka Sampradaya, as
Nimbarka, the founder of the tradition, declared that Radha and Krishna together
constitute the absolute truth.
Radha's relationship with Krishna is given in further detail within texts such
as the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Garga Samhita and Brihad Gautamiya tantra.
Radha is often referred to as Rādhārānī or "Radhika"
in speech, prefixed with the respectful term 'Srimati' by devout followers.
Radha is one of the most important incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi.
Radha is the principle consort of Lord Krishna. She appeared originally as a
result of the prayers of the Vindyachala Hills (personified), who after seeing
Parvati (Shiva's consort), the daughter of the Himalayan Mountains, desired to
have a daughter who is more beautiful and whose consort could defeat Lord Shiva.
"It is described in Bhagavata Purana how after
Durga (the daughter born of Yasoda and switched by Vasudev with Krishna at
birth) was offered to King Kamsa in place of Krishna, she cursed Kamsa and then
flew away to take residence in Vindyachala Hills (the present day temple of
Vindyachala Devi remains to this day in Mirzapur, UP). That was because 15 days
later, Radharani (Adi-Laksmi) was to appear there.
Kamsa dispatched Putana to Vindhyachala to capture any
newly born children in the event that Krishna might appear there, as Krishna was
prophesized to kill His uncle, Kamsa. Radharani appeared with her sister
Chandravali and other gopis, and Putana snatched them and on her way back to
Mathura as she was flying Radharani became excessively heavy as they passed over
Rawal. At that time Radhrani's mother Kirtida was praying for a daughter, and
just then Radharani dropped from the sky into a large lotus flower. Kirtida
retrieved her and accepted her as her daughter.
When Krishna killed the Putana demon as a 15 day old
baby, the other gopis were retrieved from Putana's dead body by Purnamasi devi
who placed them in various foster homes. Radharani was given to Brishabanu
Maharaja and her sister Chandravali got separated and her identity as her sister
became hidden. Chandravali became Radharani's chief rival for Krishna's
affection. (Narrated in Lalita-Madhava by Srila Rupa Gosvami, the chief of Lord
Radharani's father, Brishabanu Maharaja, had his palace in Barshana and that is
where she grew up, but there is no indication that this was her birthplace.
There are a number of accounts of her parentage. Her father was the king of
cowherds called Vrsabhanu. Vrsabhanu was a partial incarnation of Lord Narayana
while her mother Kalavati was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Her worship is especially prominent in Vrindavan, the
place where Krishna is said to have lived. Wherein Her importance surpasses even
the importance of Krishna. Radha's love for Krishna is held within Gaudiya
Vaishnavism as the most perfect primarily because of its endless and
unconditional nature. Thus she is the most important friend of Krishna, 'His
heart and soul', and His 'hladini-shakti' (mental companion potency).
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."
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