Radha, also called Radhika, Radharani, and Radhe is a Hindu goddess popular in the Vaishnavism tradition.

She is a milkmaid (gopi), the lover of the Hindu god Krishna in the medieval era texts. She is also a part of Shaktism – the Hindu goddess tradition. She is an avatar of Lakshmi.

Radha is one of the main goddesses in Hindu Sanatan religion. She is also called JagadJanani, mother of the whole universe.

She has appeared as queen of milkmaids and queen of Vrindavan-Barsana. She taught selfless love and surrender to the Godhead Shri Krishna and blessed them with divine love during her condescension.

Radha is worshipped in some regions of India, particularly by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Vaishnavas in West Bengal, Assam, Manipur, and Odisha. Elsewhere, she is revered in the Nimbarka Sampradaya and movements linked to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

She is considered a metaphor for the soul, her longing for Krishna theologically seen as a symbolism for the longing for spirituality and the divine.

She has inspired numerous literary works, and her Rasa Lila dance with Krishna has inspired many types of performance arts to this day.

Radha and Sita

The popular Itihasas and other legendary literature of the Hindu traditions present two major Lakshmi avatars – Radha and Sita, and two major Vishnu avatars as their respective companions – Krishna in the Mahabharata and Rama in the Ramayana.

The Radha-Krishna and Sita-Rama pairs represent two different personality sets, two perspectives on dharma and lifestyles, both cherished in the way of life called Hinduism.

Sita is traditionally wedded, dedicated, and virtuous wife of Rama, an introspective temperate paragon of a serious, virtuous man. Radha is a lover of Krishna, a playful adventurer.

Radha and Sita offer two competing templates within the Hindu tradition. If “Sita is a queen, aware of her social responsibilities“, states Pauwels, then “Radha is exclusively focused on her romantic relationship with her lover“, giving two contrasting role models from two ends of the moral universe.

Yet they share common elements as well. Both love their man and their lives, both face life challenges, both are committed to their true love and both have been influential, adored and beloved goddesses in the Hindu culture.

Influence

In some devotional (bhakti) traditions of Vaishnavism that focus on Krishna, she represents “the feeling of love towards Krishna“.

For some of the adherents of these traditions, her importance approaches or even exceeds that of Krishna. She is worshipped along with Krishna in Bengal, Assam, and Odisha by Vaishnava Hindus. Elsewhere, such as with Visnusvamins, she is a revered deity.

She is considered to be his original Shakti, the supreme goddess in both the Nimbarka Sampradaya and following the advent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.

Radha Chalisa mentions that Krishna accompanies one who chants ” Radha” with a pure heart. Other gopis are usually considered to be self-willing maidservants (Sevika) of Radha. Radharani’s superiority is seen in Krishna’s flute, which repeats the name Radha.

Between Radha and Rukmini, She is superior. It is also said that when Lord Krishna brought all his consorts to meet her, they saw her face and declared her the most beautiful and sacred hearted woman in the whole universe and that she would retain this position until the end of the universe as no one will surpass her beauty and her nature.

Radha’s connection to Krishna is of two types: svakiya-rasa (married relationship) and parakiya-rasa (a relationship signified with eternal mental “love”).

The Gaudiya tradition focuses upon parakiya-rasa as the highest form of love, wherein Radha and Krishna share thoughts even through separation.

The love the gopis feel for Krishna is also described in this esoteric manner as the highest platform of spontaneous love of God, and not of a sexual nature.

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*This article was originally published at en.wikipedia.org.