‘Barsana ki Holi’ is observed to celebrate Radha’s divine love for Lord Krishna – an important reason for celebration of Holi. It is believed that Lord Krishna was sad over his dark complexion and wondered why Radha was so fair. Oneday, mother Yashoda playfully suggested that Krishna can smear colour on Radha’s face and change her complexion to any colour, he wanted. Fascinated by the idea, Lord Krishna proceeded to do so and thus, introduced the festival of colours. Lord Krishna is believed to have popularised the festival by playing pranks on the ‘gopis’. The Holi of Braj, Barasana, Mathura and Vrindavana is famous all over the world for its intimate connection with the divine deities and their love.
The childhood meeting of Radha and Krishna is much debated but the story goes something like this – when Yashoda ties Krishna to a pounding wood for his mischief, any other child would have wept for the mother to come and untie him but divine Krishna uproots the pounding stone with his strength and dragged it along with him as he went out. Two girls came that way and they noticed Lord Krishna. The younger girl Lalita was his playmate. The older girl was about 12 years of age. He did not know who she was but he was just drawn to her. That girl was Radha.
The love story of Radha and Krishna is an exemplary for teens where marriage is considered to be materialistic. “It is believed that Lord Krishna enchants the entire world but only Radha enchants even Lord Krishna, binding him with her love” – this statement sums up one of the most eternal love stories in Hindu Mythology, one that has inspired countless writers, scholars and artisans to create epic masterpieces on the tale of divine love and bonding under the picturesque sky of Gokul. Furthermore, Radha was in love with Krishna so much that she believed Krishna was God. She used to love him as a devotee. She was lost in ‘Bhakti’ love which people started considering as physical love, by mistake. According to Vedic scriptures, Lord Krishna fell in love with Radha when he was just eight years old. It was Lord Krishna’s flute-skills which attracted Radha’s love on Krishna. This is why Lord Krishna used to keep the flute always with him. But, the couple never managed to be with each other. It is well-known fact that the love story of Radha and Krishna is counted amongst one of the famous love stories during the times of Gods and Goddesses. It was Lord Krishna’s energy, that pleases Radha and brought unconditional love between the two. The idea of Radha and Krishna as lovers became popular only after the Bhakti movement during the Late Medieval Age. The poets and romantics have given this spiritual relation a physical form and distorted the picture of average viewers.
Lord Krishna in most of his depiction is seen hand in hand with his flute and his beloved Radha. Radha’s undying love for Lord Krishna is often interpreted as the ultimate quest of a mortal to unite with the divine. During Lord Krishna’s stay at Vrindavan, Radha (Daughter of Vrishabhanu) becomes Lord Krishna’s beloved friend, advisor and consort. When Lord Krishna had to return to his rightful throne and worldly affairs, so, he left Radha at Vrindavan and did not return there anymore. Radha waited as Lord Krishna defeated his enemies and became king. In course of time, Lord Krishna married Satyabharma and Rukmini and then raised a family but Radha kept waiting. The kind of devotion that Radha had for Lord Krishna is considered as the highest form of worship where she surrenders herself to Lord Krishna without any inhibitions. Thus, Radha’s undying devotion is often described as a romantic one, rather than spiritual one. Lord Krishna assured Radha by promise that everyone would take her name before the name of Lord Krishna, whenever being worshipped. So, when we talk about Radha and Krishna, we always put Radha first and then Krishna. We always say “Radhe Krishna”, because Radha is the ‘Shakti’ of Lord Krishna. In Vaishnava devotional and Bhakti traditions of Hinduism, Radha is referred as the female force and the personification of divine feminine creator. Thus, Radha is considered as the one, who gives power to Lord Krishna. Thus, their actual form is manifested as ‘Bhakti’, which is pure devotion.
karmana manasa gira
yuvam eva gatir mama”
Sharanam vam prapanno ‘smi
Prasadam kuru dasyam bho
Mayi dushte ‘paradhini”
- “O Lord of Shrimati Radharani, I am yours; my actions, mind and words. O lover of Shri Krishna, Shrimate Radharani, i belong to you alone. You both are my only shelter. O Radha and Krishna, ocean of mercy, I am taking shelter of You. Please be pleased upon me and make me your servant, although I am such a fallen offender”.
In Vaishnavism, Radha is considered as a supreme goddess. The word ‘radhe’ means love-giver [Ra is derived from ‘Ras’, which means love or juice of life and ‘Dhe’ means the giver]. Radha is actually a devotee of Lord Krishna who was given an exalted status of Krishna’s consort, but it is also believed that Radha is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. In other schools of thought, it is believed that all 16000 gopis are reincarnations of goddess Lakshmi of which Radha or Radharani is given a higher importance. Radha has been also perceived differently by people down the ages. She is also sometimes the adulterous and amorous lover of Lord Krishna and at others his divine consort. This perhaps makes Radha the most confusing character in Indian Mythology. In the Eastern religious tradition, Radha is however accepted as a beloved of Lord Krishna but the wife of another – sometimes mentioned by name as Aiyyan. In the spiritual world, the highest topmost form of love is the ‘pure love’ which is the love by friendship only, not by marriage. This form of love is pure, where there is no inebriety. This is the kind of relationship that Radha had with Lord Krishna. Some faiths believe that Radha and Krishna are same, one and unique. Scientific facts explain that Radha is the energy that runs Krishna. This makes him happy and pleased, hence, Radha and Krishna did not have to marry as they are inseparable, even though they might be miles apart. The relationship of Radha and Krishna, thus forms the basis of not only a great love story, but also a great mystery and a topic of debate as many differing views have been raised about Radha and the exact nature of her relationship with Lord Krishna.
Radha and Krishna are considered to be most elusive, when it comes to the concept of Indian Literature. Jayadeva Goswami’s ‘Gita Govinda’ made mentions of some obscure passages and songs. Jayadeva Goswami’s ‘Gita Govinda’ brought the theme of the love story of Radha and Krishna int o larger consciousness and made this story celebrated throughout India. Radha is considered to be the most important Gopi in ‘Raasleela’ and her importance over other Gopis is highlighted by placing her on the same pedestal as Lord Krishna, and being worshipped with the same fervor and devotion. The love between Radha and Krishna was seen as pure, bounded by a deeper and spiritual connection as well as the sense of devotion that makes their love-story inspirational for the generations of artisans, who have created wonderful tributes in sculpture, song, prose, paintings and many other creative expressions.
Artistic depictions of Radha and Krishna traditionally have had them accompanied by the gopis. This artistic device served to remind the audience of not only the love that each gopi felt for Lord Krishna, but also to establish Radha’s superiority by placing her above them. Lord Krishna is traditionally depicted as being as enamored of Radha as the milkmaids are of him. The love between Radha and Krishna is the tale of timeless, eternal and beautiful love.
“Prem – Jo upeksha jhel le veh krodh aur pratikkar jaise bhavon se mukt ho jata hai” : For Non-Hindi speakers, in English, ‘Love’ which suffers neglect, gets rid of emotions like anger and retaliation. Radha-Krishna quote is all about being patient when you truly love someone.
“Prem Ki shakti dand ki shakti se hazaar guna prabhabshali aur sthayi hai” : The power of love is a thousand times stronger and lasting than the power of punishment. A beautiful quotation by almighty Krishna, it goes on elaborating the power of love over punishment.
“Prem ka arth vivah karna nahi hota apeetu poori nishtha ke sath samarpan karna hota hai” : Why have an agreement of love? Marriage is an agreement but when two people love, they love each other. Love is a selfless emotion, shared by two lovers. According to the Vedas, Lord Krishna believed that love does not require marriage. In this quotation, Krishna says “Love does not mean marriage, but dedication with full devotion”.
“Prem ka arth kisiko paana nahi kintu usme kho jaana hota hai” : Love is not meant to gain anyone but get lost in it. When you are deeply and madly in love, you tend to forget yourself and embrace the other person with an open heart. One of the greatest sayings of Radha and Krishna of all the time.
“Yadi hriday mein sachcha prem ho to prateeksha ka har shan anand deta hai” : Krishna’s love for Radha is something not many of us can comprehend even today. In the above love quote, he says, “If there is true love in the heart, every moment of waiting for your beloved gives joy. Indeed patience is the key to everyone’s happiness, love, success and joy”.
This is my tribute to Sree Radharani and Lord Krishna on the eve of festivals Doljatra and Holi on 28th and 29th March respectively.