The eternal and sublime bond of Radha and Krishna has been an exemplary instance when it comes to love relation. Radha’s devotion to Lord Krishna has led the Vaishnava followers to commemorate her birth anniversary as Radhashtami. For them, the celebration of Janmashtami is incomplete without the commemoration of Radhashtami. This sincerity substantiates Radha’s importance in the Vaishnava faith.
The idea of Radha and Krishna as lovers has been popular only after the Bhakti movement emerged. Then the eventual separation of Radha and Krishna, as the mythology reveals, often raises some questions about their relationship and the place of Radha in Vaishnavism.
For the Ek sharana naam dharma (refuge to one Supreme Reality, i.e. Krishna), which is a part of the pan-Indian Bhakti movement, propagated by the 15th century Vaishnava Guru of Assam Srimanta Sankardev, Radha is simply one among the tens of thousands of devotees of Sri Krishna.
Thus in this tradition, Radha is adored as a devotee, not worshipped as Goddess. That is why perhaps the day Radhashtami, which is celebrated 15 days after Janmashtami, has not got popularity as it uses to have in other Vaishnava traditions. For the rests, Radha is the personification of material, psychological, and spiritual aspects of Sri Krishna.
In his talk on Radhashtami, AC Bhaktideva Swami Prabhupada, an Indian spiritual leader and the founder preceptor of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), says, Radha or Radharani is Krishna’s pleasure potency (Radha-Krishna-pranaya-vikritir hladini-saktih).
Radha is the personification of the materiality of Krishna, the Supreme Reality. Krishna is energetic, while Radha is energy. Without the energy derived from Radha, Krishna cannot act. She is the potency that helps her Lord to experience the material world. Thus Radha represents matter and Krishna the consciousness. Both forces are necessary to form the world.
Yin-Yang dualism of ancient Chinese philosophy comes closer to the Hindu symbolism of Radha-Krishna. It describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may be interconnected, interdependent, and complementary to each other in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they connect.
In Chinese cosmology, the cosmos creates itself out of a primary commotion of material energy, organised into cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into matters and lives.
The enchanting love relationship between Radha and Krishna has got various interpretations. From the devotional point of view, Radha is the greatest devotee of Krishna. Her only duty is to serve him unconditionally.
She thus is like a selfless servant to him. So, it is said, she did not like her master to marry a servant, who is a cowgirl. Moreover, her love for Krishna was so unconditional that she did not want any return from it, save the divine joy she got from her selfless service.
The monistic interpretation is far deeper than what the common people can understand. It compares the Radha-Krishna bond with that of Paramatma (Absolute Self) and Jivatma (individual self).
All the individuals are different manifestations of the one Supreme Reality. Ekam sad vipra vahudha vadanti, meaning, that which exists is one; sages call it by different names. Krishna is the Absolute Self of which we all are parts.
Radha represents those millions of parts. Quintessentially, Radha and Krishna are inseparable. So are we from the Supreme God head. Thus in the absence of two separate elements (which are necessary for a marriage to take place), the wedding between the part and the whole does not hold any meaning.
If we approach the love story of Radha-Krishna from physical parlance, we cannot find a solid answer to the question of why the sweet bond did not have a happy union. Perhaps we’ll end up wondering if Krishna cheated Radha in their love-relationship.
Then, the spiritual view that Radha and Krishna are complementary to each other or that Radha is the symbolic representation of the Paramatma-aspirant Jivatmas will surely put one on solid ground when there is still doubt in Radha’s existence ever in cosmos.
For some think that the idea of Radha was first generated by the 12th-century poet Jayadev in his work Gita Govinda as there is no mention of the name Radha in the main Hindu scriptures like Bhagavadgita, Vishnu Puran, Mahabharat, etc.