Hindu Chaplain, Columbia University and New York University
Posted: 9/4/11 08:00 AM ET
Millions will gather today, in India and around the world, to offer prayers, worship, and devotional songs glorifying the appearance of the Divine mother, Radha (Radharani). Radha descended from the spiritual realmshortly after Krishna, approximately 5,000 years ago. She took birth in the small village known as Barsana, which is about 28 miles from Mathura, the birth place of Krishna.
The word Radha comes from the Sanskrit verbal rootradh, which means to worship, and the word rani, which means queen. Radharani can be literally translated to mean “the queen of worship.” In some texts, she is described as “the supreme goddess who is worshipable by everyone. She is the protector of all, and she is the mother of the entire universe.”
The answer to the question that has been on everyone’s mind for millennia is, YES and NO. The question is: Is God a Man? God is not just male, and according to some Vedic scriptures, God has both masculine and feminine expansions. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna provides a sneak preview into these feminine traits.
“Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.”
However, in some of the more esoteric texts such as the Puranas and the Chaitanya-Caritamrita, it explains that the complete manifestation of God includes his feminine counterpart, Radha. They are inconceivably one and different, as Krishna expanded himself into two for the purpose of exchanging love. There’s a beautiful description in the Chaitanya-Caritamrita which gives us a window into the connection between Radha and Krishna.
“Radha is the full power, and Lord Kṛṣṇa is the possessor of full power. The two are not different, as evidenced by the revealed scriptures. They are indeed the same, just as musk and its scent are inseparable, or as fire and its heat are non-different. Thus Rādhā and Kṛiṣhṇa are one, yet they have taken two forms to enjoy the mellows of pastimes.”
This concept is not an easy one to grasp. If God is full and complete, why does he need to expand himself to exchange love? The next question we can ask is why does God need to do anything? God has a personality which indicates that he has preferences. Perhaps this need to expand for the purpose of exchanging love speaks of the importance love plays in the lives of all individuals.
Our desire to love and be loved comes from God. For the most part, no one wants to be alone, at least not permanently. The thing everyone is chasing after is love. We all want to know that there are people out there that love us. Simultaneously, we hanker to be able to give our love to others.
There is another passage in the Caitanya-Caritamrita that describes Radha’s qualities and love for Krishna.
“Radharani’s body, mind, and words are steeped in love for Krishna … The body of Radharani is a veritable transformation of love of Godhead. Even Krishna can’t understand the strength of Radha’s love which overwhelms Him. Her transcendental body is complete with unparalleled spiritual qualities. Even Lord Kṛiṣhṇa Himself cannot reach the limit of the transcendental qualities of Radharani.”
These are some of Radha’s prominent qualities:
1. Radha is adolescent and always freshly youthful.
2. Radharani is very sweet and most charming to look at.
3. Radha’s face is smiling and ever blissful.
4. Radharani is the most exceptional singer and veena player.
5. Radha’s words are charming and pleasing.
6. Radha is exceptionally humble.
7. Radha is the embodiment of mercy and compassion.
8. Radha possesses Mahabhava, the highest sentiment of love.
9. Radha always keeps Krishna under Her control. Krishna submissively obeys Radha’s command
These topics of divine and spiritual love between Radha and Krishna will always remain a mystery as long as we remain on the material platform. Love on the spiritual platform is devoid of selfishness. The needs and interests on the other take precedence over one’s own needs. The kind of love that comes closest to spiritual love is the love exhibited by a mother towards her child. It’s full of sacrifice and is completely selfless; it is without expectation.
The feeling of love is derived from the service itself. The child is limited in its capacity to reciprocate the mother’s love. Even if it increases its demands, the mother keeps on giving. Most of us can only imagine a relationship where the reciprocation of love and service is completely selfless and without expectation. It’s the kind of love our hearts hanker for.
The path of bhakti or devotional service prepares one’s heart and consciousness — by eradicating selfishness and incorporating selflessness — to understand and experience that divine love which exists between Radha and Krishna.
This is a wonderful day to meditate and reflect on the beautiful selfless qualities of Radharani and pray that we can to some degree follow in her footsteps.
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