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Radha's story

2010-05-03

We Remember Krishna
Krishna, the Eternal Lover
Narrated by Radha the Gopi

They say that it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and I can tell you from my experience that it is true.

My name is Radha, incarnation of Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, the most beautiful of the Gopi girls, and lover of Lord Krishna.
I've often wondered at what point I fell in love with Krishna, and yet it occurs to me that there was not such point. It's not as though I woke up one day and realized I was in love with him. In fact, the transition from childhood friend to lover was so gradual and subtle that, looking back, I find I cannot remember a time when I did not love him.

Krishna and I grew up together, and, as his mother Yasoda will tell you, we got into more than our fair share of trouble. He used to provoke me and I would tease him right back. We were a good match because of how we challenged and complemented each other at the same time.

But how can I describe to you our happiness in those days? The smallest things filled out lives with joy...the delights of holding hands as we walked in the fields, the stolen kisses in the arbor, playing and dancing together in the garden.

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Together with the other gopis, that is, the cowherders, we danced the raas leela; Krishna played his flute, sang, and instructed us. We all became more pure and closer to His divine goodness by enjoying his company.

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If our love seems perfect, that's because it is. You see, the connection between Krishna and me is more than just the bond between close friends and true lovers. Krishna and I are not really two separate people, but rather one and the same person.  It is a difficult thing to comprehend, so don't worry if you don't understand it completely, but it goes something like this: Lord Krishna is, of course, all beauty, truth and goodness, and I am a female manifestation of those same qualities. I am not inferior to Him, but His equal in all things, because I am simply another aspect of His divinity. This makes sense if you understand that Krishna is so perfect that only He could love Himself as He deserves to be loved.


Unfortunately, true love does not necessarily lead to a happy ending. Of course being together forever was never our fate, since Krishna's karma led hm to a destiny as a king and conqueror, not a humble life of happiness with a simple gopi girl. We knew this, and so we had to keep our love secret, but it never stopped us. Even when I followed my parents' wishes and married another man, Krishna and I did not end our relationship. We had secret rendezvous in the forests, like the one you see below, where we were aided by my gopi friends.

 

 

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                                                                                                                                                                          I have been criticized for continuing my relationship with Krishna. Some have said I violated my marriage promises, calling me an adulteress, or even worse. I appeal to you; my defense is simple. How can anyone be blamed for loving Krishna, the Divine Lover? Loving Him is a way of life, not an affair but a pursuit and love of truth, goodnes, and perfection. If you had known Him as I did, you would understand and not blame me.

In the end, it was not my marriage but his karma that kept us apart. He left our village, found success as a warrior and power as a king, and another woman as a worthy consort.

But I have my memories of him, and that is enough for me, as it would be for any woman. I told my story because I want you to remember Him as I knew Him, Krishna the Divine Lover. I trust that I will always be remembered as His first and true love, in his heart and, I hope, in your memories.

Author's note: My purpose in telling this story was to describe Radha's and Krishna's relationship and give some more details about who each of them is. So rather than retelling one particular story, I chose to summarize their relationship, highlighting the main events, bringing in a little theology, and of course mentioning details like their incarnations and the Raas Leela.

There are many different stories about Radha and Krishna, and many different versions of those stories. Some say that she never married, some that she was married to Krishna in secret, and some that she was married to another man but remained Krishna's lover. I chose to follow the last version because it fit the theme of tragic love story that I wanted to tell.

The raas leela, or rasa lila, dance is a complicated idea that I didn't go into much here. It's tricky because all of the gopis loved Krishna, and many of them would leave their husbands and families to spend time with them. This is acceptable because their devotion to Krishna, who is God, is love and not lust. Krishna and the gopis take pleasure in each other's company, but their mutual love is good and pure.

The concept of Krishna's and Radha's oneness is of course a very complicated theological idea that I cannot begin to understand completely, much less properly explain to others. I hope I managed to convey the general gist of the idea, albeit in a simplified form.

For a wonderful source on details of Radha's personality, including details like "She is expert in making jokes" and "she the personification of the highest ecstacy of divine love", as well as a great explanation of how she and Krishna are one person, I recommend the Srimati Radharani source listed below in the bibliography.

 

 

 
 

 

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