We all have seen Radha along with shree Krishna in so many temples and know that they are the embodiment of love and the purest form of love. We know that they are divine lovers but many of us do not know who Radha was and what happened to her after Krishna left Nandgaon. Did Krishna meet him after he left Nandgaon? How did she leave the earth? All these questions are very ambiguous and are not very clear to everyone. So who was Radha and how did she come on this earth and why? Actually the reason of this doubt is that there is very less or no information we have in our mythological texts or Puranas about Radha. Yes it is true. Radha has not been mentioned in any of the major religious texts such as Mahabharata or Padma Purana or Shrimad Bhagvatam, or Harivansha. All these books cover the life of shree Krishna and every aspect of his never ending charming personality. But there is no mention of Radha in any of these books. Now this is a shocking fact that we get no evidence as to who Radha was or was there any village girl named Radha who ever existed or not?
The first time when Radha is mentioned in the texts is when Jayadev wrote about her in Geet govind and also when Nimbaark sect (founded by Nimbaarkacharya) started preaching people about her. Before this era Radha was not worshipped with Krishna in any temple. Now the question arises here is that why such an injustice with the prime consort of the lord. The village cow girl Radha who lived only for Krishna, whose life and soul everything was dedicated to Krishna has not been mentioned in these prime texts. Radha is though mentioned in Brahma Vaivart Purana but very scarcely and it is not mentioned what happened to her after Krishna left for Mathura. So why Radha was not mentioned before Jayadev or Nimbaarkacharya? Or why she has no detailed description in Brahma Vaivart Purana? Answer is unknown and we probably won’t get to know these answers but let’s talk about what happened actually to Radha and who was she actually?
According to Brahma Vaivart Purana, once in the Golok (The world or lok of Krishna where it is said he lives with all his Gopa Gopis and Radha and all his lovers), Sudama, friend of Krishna went to meet Krishna but Radha stooped him and barred him from meeting Krishna. Furious Sudama cursed shri Radha that she would be forced to take birth in the mortal form on earth and she will have to bear the pain of separation from shri Krishna because she has caused him pain by separating him from his beloved lord and friend. Knowing all this, lord Krishna ordered Radha to take birth on earth. On his orders, Radha took birth on this earth. The story of Radha’s birth is equally interesting. It was the month of Bhado (months of august and September), ashtami of Shukla Paksha (eighth day of the waxing moon), Anuradha Nakshatra and time was 12 noon when Radha appeared in this world. Radha was born to the chieftain of the village of Barsana, Vrishbhanu and his wife Kirti. Some say that her mother’s name was Kamlavati. Again it is doubtful because of lack of information regarding Radharani.
Radha’s birthplace is Rawal, a small village around 10 kilometers away from Mathura city. It is said that one day Vrishbhanu was bathing in a river when he saw a lotus which had thousands of petals and it looked like golden lotus in the light of sun and when it came closer, he saw a small baby girl inside that flower. He wanted a baby girl so took her and brought her up as his own daughter. Some also say that Radha in the form of wind entered the womb of wife of Vrishbhanu and took birth in their home as an extremely beautiful daughter. The place where she took birth is now the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple in Rawal. Radha is believed to be eleven months elder to shri Krishna and being the divine lover of shri Krishna, she didn’t open her eyes till she beheld the beautiful face of lord Krishna. Vrishbhanu and his wife were very upset and were under the impression that the girl was blind. After eleven months, when Vrishbhanu with his family went to Gokul to see Nandbaba then Radha opened her eyes for the first time to look at the magnificently beautiful and charming face of her lord her life and soul, bal(baby) krishna. She wanted to see his face on opening her eyes for the first time and that was the reason she never opened it till she saw his face. Radha and Krishna loved each other more than anyone else. Places and people near vrindavan and Mathura still recite the grand saga of their love.
Barsana, a place where Vrishbhanu lived with his family after Radha’s birth is one of the most visited places on the land of braj. Barsana has become a synonym for Radharani. It is the place where she was brought up. This is the place where the goddess of love, the prime and divine consort of the lord of all the worlds lived. Here she is called Laadli ji (which means excessively adored and loved). Few kilometers away is Gahvar van where she would meet Krishna and they would spend hours together in the mood of love. Krishna would also adorn and decorate her hair with flowers here in Gahvar van. Their love bloomed on the land of vrindavan which is believed to be the heart of Radharani and the most blessed land in the braj. They performed many leelas here not to forget the Maha-raas leela on the banks of Yamuna. But then came the time when the curse of Sudama started taking the shape. Krishna was about to leave for Mathura to kill Kamsa. Before leaving, Krishna made her give him her word that she would not cry once he is away from her. Radha, heartbroken and completely devastated, made the promise that she would not cry and won’t shed the tears. Krishna told her that her love is unconditional and he will be indebted to her till the end of time and the land of braj will always be known as her place and everyone would chant her name instead of Krishna and we can see today that people in vrindavan or braj say radhe radhe while talking or greeting others. Even rickshaw-wallahs here say radhe radhe to people while riding on the way asking to give the way for rickshaw. Every house or tree in vrindavan has radha’s name written on its wall or trunk. Such was radha’s devotion and pain that Krishna granted her a boon that her name would be taken before that of his.
The doomed day arrived and Krishna left for Mathura. Now it is not mentioned anywhere in the texts what happened to her after this incident. It is believed that Radha had now become just like a lifeless body. Her face which once looked like a beautiful lotus had now become like a faded flower. Her complexion which resembled molten gold was now black like that of Yamuna. She would now wander in vrindavan and other places where she had spend time with Krishna living in memories. She would ask everyone where her Krishna is and when is he coming back. There is also a famous incident of her asking the bumblebee if she had brought a message from Krishna.People considered her mentally unsound because of her actions but they could not see the immense pain of separation that she was going through.
Her pain was known only to other Gopis who felt that same pain. They revered Radha like they revered Krishna. Radha would not do any shringaar (make-up) now. She wouldn’t comb her hair, won’t wear jewelry, and won’t have flowers in her hair. Her face which once looked like full moon now looked as that of a waned one. However there is no story of Krishna returning to vrindavan.
There is a story that once all the Gopa and Gopis went to Kurukshetra for holy bath on an ocassion of solar eclipse and shri Krishna was also there with his wives and his whole clan. There, Krishna and Radha were face to face with each other but didn’t say a word to each other. Radha witnessed how happy Krishna’s wives and his people were and didn’t want to disturb their peace so kept silence. Her eyes could not hold her emotions and shed tears profusely. Krishna was also in pain more than ever to see Radha like this when he couldn’t express his emotions for the girl he had loved the most in his life, probably more than his wives. Radha satisfied herself that no matter how much happiness Krishna’s wives had from him, but his pain of separation was only for her. His smile was for his wives but his tears were for her only.
There is another interesting story which tells that Radha went to Krishna’s palace and Krishna’s wives after knowing her love and devotion for Krishna tried to test it out of some feeling of jealousy. They served her with the hottest food and asked her to eat. Radha without any hesitation and problem ate the food. Everyone was shocked and when Krishna’s wives went to see Krishna, they witnessed that his feet were all burnt severely. Reason was quite clear. Radha always had Krishna’s lotus feet in her mind and while thinking about his feet, she could not feel the hotness of food but Krishna’s feet got burnt. But these stories are not mentioned in major mythological texts. But people and folklore says that she bore separation from Krishna for 125 years.
Now there are many beliefs as to what happened to her at the end. One belief says that when Krishna was leaving the earth for Golok, then before leaving himself, he summoned a divine aircraft which took all the brijwasis and Radha to his lok-Golok. Another belief is that he played his flute with his most melodious tune he had ever played for Radha and Radha came in front of him immediately and then merged in his body forever- from where she had originally come as many stories say that she came out of Krishna’s body’s left part. May be there are many other beliefs also in many parts of the world that we don’t know. Radha once asked krishna in Golok whom does he love the most, and krishna told her philosophically that he is free from all the emotions and loves everyone yet doesn’t love anyone. To this she asked about herself, to which Krishna smiled and said that you and I are same and inseparable so how can I love myself. In the same way when she asked him why didn’t he marry her? He said how could he marry her because love and marriage needs two people but they are one.
On the contrary, there is a story of Radha Krishna marriage. It is said that Radhaand Krishna married secretly at a place called Bhandirvan few kilometers from vrindavan. Lord Brahma acted as the priest in this marriage and also did Kanyadaan of Shri Radha ji.
These are some other stories also about Radha and how she lived on this earth. We do not know why she never got mentioned in Mahabharata or Shrimad Bhagvatam or any other religious book but what she did for her love is something we can never forget till the end of time. Her sacrifice made her bigger than even lord Krishna. She is the Hladni Shakti (pleasure potency) of lord Krishna. She is inseparable from Krishna and we all are indebted to her. All the humanity is indebted to her because if she hadn’t allowed Krishna to leave vrindavan, Krishna out of the bond of love could never leave for Mathura and could never complete the tasks which he had to complete on this earth. He could not make this earth evil and corruption free and could not establish a righteous society with Pandavas. It is true that Krishna is incomplete without her and can never create the infinite universes without Radha. Radha’s pain is matchless; no one can worship or regard Krishna without Radha. She got lost in the pages of history and mythology may be because she was an ordinary, simple, village cowherd girl unlike goddess Rukmini who is an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi; may be because among those grand characters of Mahabharata, she was too simple and ordinary to be mentioned. But love and sacrifice of Radha is too big to be ignored or lost in history. The love and sacrifice of this simple village girl is bigger than anyone. No matter how much we debate about her existence, Shrimati Radharani is the base of love and devotion, she is an epitome of devotion, sacrifice and unconditional love and no doubt that’s why we love her so much with lord Krishna and can’t stop chanting her name and worshipping her with our beloved Lord Shri Krishna.
By- Shekhar Srivastava