The following is a compilation of tweets from my twitter a/c @onabrokenwing. The original tweets have been penned in a series of 140 characters; but here it has been edited into longer sentences to make for more comfortable reading.
Was Radha Married To Lord Krishna? – What Do Hindu Scriptures Say? Excerpts From Srimad Bhagavatam, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana, Upanishads, Jaidev’s Gita Govindam and Folklore
Was Radha married to Lord Krishna?
“Radha ki maang bhare, Kanha sindoor se… phir bhi kyun Shyam rahe, Radha se door re…”
That was a unique couplet I heard in my Kathak class today. It’s unusual because there are no songs depicting Radha as married to Krishna. Scanning for info on the net, I came across beautiful odes from Jaidev’s Gita-Govindam which subtly high-light Radha’s marriage to Krishna.
Radha is not married to Krishna, at least not officially for the world to see, but she wants to be; and the cunningness with which Krishna arranges it; in front of a thousand eyes, yet no one can see it or understand it, except Radha. She knows she’s married to Krishna, and she’s the only one who knows what He wants her to know; and that’s enough for her.
Radha and Krishna. Whenever you wish to depict Love in Indian music or dance. Radha and Krishna. Present a unique & everlasting facet of Love. The haughtiness of Radha that hides her total submission. Radha and Krishna. Present a unique & everlasting facet of Love. The playfulness of Krishna that hides His total commitment.
Nat khat nat khat krush na kan hai ya it ut it ut ra dha pya ri … ta thei thei ta … aa thei thei ta … thei … ta … thei …
My 1st toda in Kathak. Our teacher chooses one, dedicated to Lord Krishna & His consort Radha.
The above couplet on Radha, couplet on Krishna from my Kathak toda, and following ode on Radha and Krishna from Jaidev’s Geet-Govindam have triggered my immense curiosity into an aspect of Krishna Vaishnavism that I have never yet explored. Lord Vishnu rules today.
Ode from Jaidev’s Geet-Govindam:-
Govind mor-pankh dhaari…. Chupke’se rang gaiyo mohe chunari
Phagun mein aayo muraari…. Chupke’se bhari gaiyo maang sinduri
Yashoda ke natkhat dulaare…. Mose door raho shyaam saaware
Gopaal nandlaal pyaare…. Mohe laaj aave shyaam saaware
Raadha tu shyaam-baawari…. Kaise rahegi tu mose door?
Mohan ki hrida-vaasini…. Rehna paavegi tu mose door
Laaj teri shyaam rang me… Chhup jaavegi raadhike
Murali ke saat swar mein…. Raag tera hey raadhike
Nainan se maar gaiyo, nainan se bol gaiyo…. Kaise nahi aave mohe laaj saaware?
Praanon mein shyaam, mere saason mein shyaam…. Kaise rahoon door tose hey saaware?
Raadha ka mohan, mohan ki raadha…. Panghat pe bhor bhaye re
Raadha hai mohan, mohan hai raadha…. Anand mein bhor bhaye re
Panghat pe bhor bhaye re…. Anand mein bhor bhaye re
Most episodes, information and interpretation of life and times of Lord Krishna are usually drawn from Srimad Bhagvatam – which is deemed to be somewhat of a conclusive text on Lord Krishna. BUT – there are 2 variations and interpretations of Srimad Bhagavatam:- Vaishnav and non-Vaishnav versions.
In the non-Vaishnav interpretation of Srimad Bhagvatam, the following are claimed:-
1/there is no mention of Radha either as an entity or a consort of Krishna.
2/that Maharshi Veda Vyasa totally omitted any mention of Radha.
3/that Radha is described not as a person, but as a term highlighting a quality or a philosophy with which Krishna must be worshipped.
4/that prime focus of Krishna’s representative consort of Lakshmi, falls on his 1st wife Rukmini and sometimes Satyabhama.
5/that worship, tradition, customs, rituals and devotion of/to Lord Krishna are given more weightage over the concept of love.
In south-India especially, Brahmin sects of Sri Vaishnavs emerged as torch-bearers of strict, rigid Vaishnavism that strongly opposes all things non-Vaishnav. Sri Vaishnavs are pre-dominantly found in Tamil Nadu; are referred to as `Iyengars’ as opposed to non-Vaishnav `Iyers’.
In the Vaishnav interpretation of Srimad Bhagvatam, the following are claimed:-
1/that Krishna is predominantly referred to as Lord Vishnu.
2/that wherever there is a reference to Lord Krishna, Radha finds a mention in a place of pride.
3/ that there is a detailed description of “Radha Kalyanam”; i.e. solemnization of Radha’s marriage to Lord Krishna.
4/ that Radha-kalyanam is usually performed on Radha-ashtami, which falls exactly 15 days after Krishna Janma-ashtami.
5/that the importance of Radha-ashtami and Radha-kalyanam is down-played, so that the real message of Krishna-avataar can shine through.
6/that Radha-kalyanam is Krishna’s secret gift to Radha for participating in his Leela on earth.
7/that Radha-kalyanam is how Krishna acknowledged His Oneness with Radha before delivering His bigger message to the world.
A word about Maharshi Ved Vyasa:-
Maharshi Veda Vyasa penned 17 other Puranas and Upanishads, in addition to Srimad Bhagvatam. Excerpts from Vyasa’s writings w.r.t Radha:-
Unedited versions of Veda Vyasa’s Bhagavatam and Puranas, is mostly available from Vaishnav texts, as opposed to edited non-Vaishnav texts.
Maharshi Ved Vyasa’s original writings made numerous references to Radha; but they were played down to allow the real essence of Krishna-avatar to shine through.
Maharshi Ved Vyasa also penned numerous stotrams and shlokas (religious verses) dedicated to Radha – where it is detailed that Radha is shortcut route to reach Lord Krishna.
Non-vaishnav texts completely edited all mention of Radha in all of Ved Vyasa’s writings on Krishna.
Excerpts from the many texts penned by Maharshi Ved Vyasa:-
Text: “idaṁ hyanvojasāsutaṁ rādhānāṁ pate pivā tvasya girvaṇaḥ” (Ṛig Veda)
Meaning: “O Shree Krishna, husband of Radha! Just as the gopīs worship You; every syllable of Ved mantras also worship You.”
Text: “tvaṁ nṛichaksaṁ vṛiṣhabhānupoorvīḥ kṛiṣhṇāsvagne aruṣhovibhāhi” (Ṛig Veda)
Meaning: In this mantra, `Vrishabhanu’, father of Radha, is mentioned as having a conversation with Krishna.
Text: “yasyā radha-reṇuṁ pādayorviśhvabhartā dharate moordhnī” (Atharva Vediya Rādhikopaniṣhad)
Meaning: “Radha is that Entity, the dust of whose lotus feet, the Master of the Universe places on His head.”
Text: “yathā rādhā priyā viṣhṇoḥ” (Padma Purāṇa)
Meaning: “Radha is the dearest of Vishnu.”
Text: “rādhā vāmāṁśha saṁbhootā mahālakṣhmīrprakīrtitā” (Nārad Purāṇa)
Meaning: “Remembering Radha showers the blessings of Lakshmi.”
Text” “tatrāpi rādhikā śhaśhvat” (Ādi Purāṇa)
Meaning: “Radhika is the only one who is permanent.”
Text: “rukmiṇī dwāravatyāṁcha rādhā vṛindāvane vane” (Matsya Purāṇa)
Meaning: “Rukmini waits at the doorway (for Krishna), hoping to re-create Radha’s Vrindavan.”
Text: “rādhnoti sakalān kāmān tena rādhā prakīrtitaḥ” (Devī Bhāgavat Purāṇa)
Meaning: “Remembering Radha can fulfill all heart’s desires.”
Text: “ādau rādhāṁ samuchchārya paśhchātkṛiṣhṇaṁ parātparam” (Brahma Vaivartak Purāṇa)
Meaning: “Radha is the complete essence of Krishna.”
Text: “kāmayāmaha etasya śhrīmatpādarajaḥ śhriyaḥ, kuchakuṅkumagandhāḍhyaṁ moordhnā voḍhuṁ gadābhṛitaḥ” (Śhrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.83.42)
Meaning: “The Queens of Dwarka are desiring for the dust of Radha’s feet, because that dust has kumkum and sandal paste from Krishna’s forehead when he placed His head on her feet in declaration of His love.”
In Veda Vyasa’s Srimad Bhagavatam, there’s description of the birth of Radha to parents Vrishbhanu and Kirti. Vrishbhanu and Kirti were King Suchendra and Queen Kalavati who had done penance for a daughter worthy of Lord Vishnu. Their wish was granted by Brahma, but they would have to renounce their riches, ranks and take rebirth in vicinity of Vrindavan as cowherds. Brahma blesses them with memory of past lives, so they can understand the fructification of their boon in a coming life. Brahma also describes 19 sacred signs of Lakshmi, that will be found on the left sole of the daughter born to them in coming life. Brahma then proceeds to Vihnu-lokam, appraises Lord Vishnu of his boon; and requests His consent for Lakshmi to incarnate in Vrindavan.
The following are translated verses, couplets and references from Jaidev’s Gita-Govindam, and Sri Vaishnav Tantra:-
Gita Govindam is a book of devotional musical poetry that encapsulates the life & times Lord Krishna. There is a poetic dialogue from Gita-Govindam that ensues between Radha and Krishna. Radha accosts Krishna one day; she wants to know how she is different from other Gopis. Radha has hinted to Krishna that marriage can make that difference; can set her apart from other Gopis. Krishna is amused at Radha’s restlessness – and the dialogue ensues:-
Krishna: “When 2 souls are united, the difference of the other or 2nd vanishes; so if we are but 1 soul, then why do you wish for marriage?”
Radha: “Right now I see no difference between me and the others; everyone thinks you belong to them; so how does that set me apart?”
Krishna: “There are 100 Gopis who search for me every day; who wish to be with me; but you’re the only one I search for, and wish to be with; does that not set you apart?”
Radha: “No, it does not; because you seem eager to accept the Love of every Gopi, not just mine; I have no proof I’m apart from others.”
Krishna: “I am eager to accept the Love of not just every Gopi, but every Gwala, and every other creature that wants to shower me with love.”
Krishna: “Can’t you see Radha, that is the purpose why I am here; to fill every living soul with Love; to teach every creature to Love.”
Krishna: “I cannot reject any Love that is offered to me; Love requires both strength and courage. It requires courage to profess Love; Love that is professed and accepted gives strength.”
Krishna: “Courage and strength will help every living being to endure the highs and lows of life. By encouraging living beings to profess their love to me, I gift them courage; by accepting their love, I gift them strength.”
Krishna: “If every Radha has to find her Krishna, and every Krishna His Radha, they have to start somewhere, with someone.”
Krishna: “I am that Beginning; by learning to love me, and feeling that they are loved in return, I take every Gopi and Gwala as every other creature 1 step forward towards their own Krishnas and Radhas.”
Krishna: “If I were to reject their Love, then they would never have the courage to ever profess Love to anyone again, then how would they ever find and unite, with their own Krishnas and Radhas?”
Radha: “Even if I were to accept what you are saying Krishna, how does it prevent you from marrying me, if it is important to me? What is it that prevents you from marrying me?
Krishna: “Because, we are but 1 soul; marriage is to unite 2 souls; we are 1 soul split into 2; we are simply part of the other.”
Radha: “If we are but 1 soul split into 2, then Krishna, then you should not have a problem offering me marriage.”
Krishna: “Now you are speaking from Ego; Ego divides; you are seeing us as 2 separate entities; speak from Love and you’ll see we were 1.”
Months pass. Radha is still upset. Krishna is trying to have a conversation with her.
Krishna: “Why are you upset?” Radha: “You know why I’m upset.” Krishna: “Still? Even after we are married?” Radha: “Married? When did we get married?”
Krishna: “I told you before. Ego covers up the truth. Love unveils it. You couldn’t see because you were too busy being angry. But don’t be distraught. Ego is also a facet of Love. Eventually, we learn to move beyond that.”
Krishna explains concept of `reality’ to Radha; there is no `absolute reality’; but merely `relative reality’. Krishna explains reality can be physical (tangible), mental (in thoughts), emotional (in heart), spiritual (in spirit).
Krishna: “On Holi, I welcomed you with a garland; you didn’t notice; also I welcomed all other Gopis only with flower petals.”
Krishna: “You garlanded me back, but you didn’t realise that either; you were still angry with me.”
Krishna: “We started the day with Govardhan parikrama; I held your hand through-out; that is equal to 7 times around the Holy Fire.”
Krishna: “I smeared the faces & clothes of every Gopi n’ Gwala with Gulaal (pink color), but when you came, Radha, I was holding red vermilion color in my hand; I smeared you forehead and parting with red vermilion; but in the melee of colors, you never noticed.”
Krishna: “I dropped my flute on purpose; you bent down to pick it up; in doing so you touched my feet; I blessed you to be with me for eternity.”
Krishna: “Tell me, are we not married in the way you wanted us to be?”
In India, marriage rituals vary from place to place; but common factor remains “mutual acceptance” & “witness” to vows. “Mutual acceptance” can be something like garlanding each other; or filling hair-parting of bride with red vermilion. “Garlanding” is symbolic of pulling the other person nearer to you in a closed circuit. In India, we believe that our “destiny” is usually written on our forehead. By filling the hair-parting of the bride with red vermillion, the groom affirms that he has “written his name into the destiny of the bride.” Red is symbolic of love, passion, fire. “Witness” has to be something/someone eternal. So, usually it’s Fire (Fire God, Holy Fire).
“Witness” can be any of 5 eternal elements. 5 eternal elements – Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Sky. Here, Krishna has chosen Govardhan or “Earth” as His “witness”. “Govardhan” is name of a mountain in the region of Mathura, Vrindavan where Krishna lived His early life. One of many names of Krishna is “Bhoo-paal” (keeper/protector of Earth). Hence, Govardhan is a natural choice. “Marriage” described above makes references to customs prevalent in region where Radha & Krishna resided.
1/In India, religion is woven through stories, narratives, music, dance & song. They are symbolic of a bigger meaning.
2/In Hindu holy texts, there are many conversations happening between Gods & Gods; Gods & people; people & people.
3/These conversations, these dialogues are initiated & choreographed with a purpose to pass on teachings from Gods to people.
4/These dialogues are explanations to help us better understand our Body, Mind, Soul, Spirit & the quintessential Hindu karma.
5/These conversations & dialogues are designed to take us 1 step higher in our understanding & evolution of human soul.
In the above conversation, Krishna is gearing up to explain the concept of soul-mates to Radha. Krishna wants to explain the concept of `reality’; that there is no `absolute reality’; but merely `relative reality’. Krishna wants to explain that reality may be physical, mental (in the mind), emotional (in the heart), spiritual (in spirit). Actually, the dialogue is meant for us, not Radha. Radha knows. But she has to ask, so we can also know.
Radha is pleased but does not show it. She unconsciously runs her hand through her neck where Krishna had garlanded her, and runs her finger-tips over the parting of her hair where Krishna filled the same with red vermillion. Krishna smiles. He knows Radha has understood. But Radha does not give in so easily. There are more questions to be asked.
Radha: But some day you will leave Vrindavan? Krsna: Yes, I have to. I will have to move towards my real purpose of being born.
Radha: What is your real purpose of being born? Krisna: To establish `dharma’ so that right can triumph over wrong.
Radha: What was the purpose of your time spent in Vrindavan? Especially with me.
Krsna: To teach people the weapon with which they can triumph good over evil. Rdha: Which is?
Krishna: Love. Only Love can conquer everything. When you fight with Love, no one gets hurt; not even the ones you’re fighting with.
Radha: So will all your wars be fought with Love?
Krishna: I will try my best to do that. If it doesn’t work, then I may have to use other means so good can triumph over evil, but personally, I won’t lift any other weapon apart from Love & counseling; but I may encourage others to do so if all else fails.
In Mahabharata (India’s religious epic), Krishna participates in the Mahabharata war, only as Arjuna’s charioteer & counselor. One of Lord Krishna’s many names is Parthasarathi. Paartha (Arjuna) & Saarathi (charioteer).
In Mahabharata (India’s religious epic), Krishna urges Pandavas to use every other peaceful method of reconciliation with Kauravas before finally advising them to declare war. Krishna’s 1st choice was always Love over War.
Krishna is now waiting for the uncomfortable question that Radha wants to ask. Finally, Radha does.
Radha: So will there be other women in your life after you leave Vrindavan?
Krishna: If you want to know will there be another Radha, then my answer is No. There is, can be, will be only 1 Radha.
Radha: But you will marry again? Krishna: I may. Maybe several times over again.
Radha: Then what is the sanctity of what we share right now? Krishna: You know, you understand & yet you ask?
Krishna: In the course of my life on earth, many times over, I will need a partner, to demonstrate many things to people.
Krishna: Many times I will need to enact something for the world to see; for that, I will need to partner with many people.
Radha: So why can’t I be that partner? Why can’t I go with you, when you leave Vrindavan?
Krishna: Because your love is too perfect. My love for you is too perfect. Our love is too perfect. There can be no teachings in perfection.
Krishna: My sole purpose of partnerships will be to teach & preach love. Love can take many forms & it will start with imperfection.
Krishna: The final point of perfection in love will be `Radha’. I cannot teach you to be `imperfect’; neither can I teach you to be `you’.
Krishna: I will need partners who can exhibit all the imperfections of love, so that world understands what `Radha’ is all about.
Radha: What are the imperfections of love?
Krishna: Selfishness, Neediness, Arrogance, Anger, Jealousy, Possessiveness, Anxiety, Suspicion. They do not denote `love’ but `lack of love’. When you expect to receive love, but are unable to return it, these are the emotions that will surface. To my many partners & through them, I will teach forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, sharing & inclusiveness.
Krishna: How can I teach any of this to you Radha? You are the supreme teacher of love, and I am your most humble student.
Radha is silent & expressionless. Krishna tries to engage her in a conversation.
Krishna: Will you come to meet me after I leave Vrindavan?
Radha: Saying No to you is never an option, but how will you introduce me to your future wives?
Radha: I hope you understand, nothing but the truth will suffice.
Radha: If you try to cover up & make me look less than what I really am, you will be insulting me.
Radha: If you tell your wives the truth, their hearts will burn like a raging volcano.
Radha: Remember, you’re the essence of truth; if you misrepresent truth, you lose your right to preach or teach.
Radha: The `reality’ of your marriage to me, as explained by you, will be automatically negated if you say anything otherwise.
Here, Radha is referring to 2 things:-
1/Krishna’s cleverness & diplomacy with words, where Radha does not wish to be part of Krishna’s life unless duly acknowledged.
2/Hindu principle of “manasa, vaacha, karma” (thought, word, action) being in synchronicity with each other.
For purity of purpose; thought, word & action have to be aligned. Even if one is out-of-line, validity becomes questionable/doubtful.
Here, Radha is saying – if your thoughts and actions are with me, then how can your words go against me?
Meaning – if you have accepted me in thought & action, then you cannot utter any words to contrary even to superficially ease a situation.
Krishna is silent & expressionless. He knows he has been check-mated by Radha. Radha’s simplicity has triumphed over Krishna’s cleverness.
In both Srimad-Bhagvatam & Gita-Govindam, it is documented that:-
Post-Vrindavan, Krishna & Balram maintain a stoic silence about Radha. Krishna never speaks of Radha to any of wives. Krishna’s wives try every trick to get him to talk about Radha; his silence is killing them; they want either an affirmation or a negation. Krishna dodges every question about Radha, either with pensive silence, playful silence or with his characteristic cleverness. Simplistic as it may sound, Radha’s pain of staying away from Krishna is matched by Krishna’s pain of not being able to acknowledge Radha.
Krishna is silent & expressionless. Radha tries to engage him in a conversation.
Radha: So what will you give me if I agree to stay away from you?
Krishna: 50% of my spiritual wealth. You will receive my blessings in form of subtle gifts.
Krishna: Some gifts you may receive in awareness, some unconsciously, but receive you will.
Radha: (Radha is pleased) Then what about all those other women whom you will befriend & marry?
Krishna: I won’t “give” them anything because I would have already given myself to them. I will “take” from them.
Radha: (Radha is surprised) What will you “take” from them?
Krishna: In return for their partnerships, I will “take” from them, their most painful & difficult karma.
Radha: What kind of painful & difficult karma? Krsna: Pain, sadness, loneliness, grief, poverty… anything. And I’ll replace it with love.
Krishna: I will take brunt of their most difficult karma, so they can lead a good life. I will make their life easier.
Krishna is continuing his conversation with Radha. Krsna: I can read your mind, Radha.
Krishna: You want to know why I came together in this union of souls with you, if I can’t be with you the way I should be? Radha: Yes.
Krishna: I cannot come to my full potential without this union of souls; without my full potential, I cannot serve my purpose.
Krishna is saying here that: he needs the power/energies of his soul-twin Radha, so he can execute his purpose of incarnation. Krishna ensures empowerment by `marrying’ Radha in symbolism. He has married her on sly; but not apologetic; he’s confident; she’s his twin.
It is important for reader to keep in mind that Radha has answers to all questions she’s asking to Krishna. Krishna is playing along.
The Q&A is for our benefit; the benefit of mankind; they hold teachings of “love”.
Krishna: Every other woman will be mere illusion of you; I may be with them in body & action but my mind & spirit will be with you.
Krishna: Also, I will not solicit the heart, hand & marriage of any woman the way I have done with you.
Krishna: If a woman herself so expresses a desire to be with me, and partner me in my goals, I will merely accept her proposal.
It is documented in both Srimad Bhagavatam & various versions of Mahabharata that:-
None of Krishna’s marriages were ever initiated by himself. All of Krishna’s wives have initiated a proposal to him, directly or indirectly. Radha was the only woman whom Krishna fell for, actively pursued, wooed, proposed & married (in symbolism, in spirit).
There is total silence between Radha & Krishna. Silence not from awkwardness; but silence from knowingness.
Radha: (Pleased) 50% of your spiritual wealth is already mine to begin with. You can’t give me what is already mine. So try again. Krishna places his flute in Radha’s lap.
Krishna: When I leave, this will be yours. It will never play again from my lips; because the only tune I could ever play was `Radha’. Radha holds onto her gift tightly; Krishna holds onto her hand tightly.
It’s documented in detail, in longer versions of Srimad Bhagavatam that Krishna handed over his flute to Radha before leaving Vrindavan. All of Krishna’s imagery will depict a flute & a peacock feather; but Krishna never played the flute again after he left Vrindavan.
Thank-you to those hundreds of translated works of `Bhagavatam’ & `Gita-Govindam,’ published on Internet.
Thank-you especially to those perspectives from natives of foreign lands and whose primary religion is not Hinduism, but who were mesmerized by India, its scriptures, and the Krishna concept. The bold interpretation and references to soul-mates and twin-souls ahs come from there. My apologies for not being able to acknowledge each one individually.
Thank-you to everyone connected by world-wide-web for sharing your perspectives with the world; thank-you for all the information that allowed me to create a series of thoughts in 140 characters to be shared on Twitter. Humbled.