Radha, the Indian Goddess of Love

Mission statement for a future spiritual society

Author: Ronald Engert
Category: Vedas/Yoga
Issue No: 94

In the Indian heaven of gods, there are many goddesses who hold important functions. One very important one is Radha, the consort of Krishna. The relationship between Radha and Krishna could be called the prototype of a love relationship at all. In meditating on their games, we empathize with their moods and raise our consciousness to the spiritual level.

“Because the nectar ocean of spiritual love moods is without bottom and without shore, it is very difficult to dive into it. While standing on its shore, I just touched it briefly. This book is a luminous sapphire written in the mysterious and unfathomable ocean of Vrindavan.”

  • Rupa Goswami
    There is probably no religious tradition of mankind that has a greater heaven of gods than the Vedic Indian culture. We find thousands and thousands of male and female deities there. Unlike in the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), the female deities are very present in the Indian pantheon of gods of Hinduism. Thus, there are various high deities who always appear as a pair. These include Shiva-Shakti, Sarasvati-Brahma, Lakshmi-Narayan, Sita-Ram and Radha-Krishna. In all cases, the goddesses form an important part and have authoritative functions.

Thus, Sarasvati is the goddess of learning, language, sciences, arts, poetry, literature, writing, wisdom, dance, song and music. She is considered the “Mother of the Vedas,” inventor of the Sanskrit alphabet and the Devanagari script. As the wife of the creator god Brahma, however, she does not stand with him in the first place in the hierarchy of the gods.

Therefore, in the present treatise it shall be mainly about Radha (Radharani, Srimati Radhika), the companion of Krishna, who is worshipped together with him as the eternally youthful divine couple (yugala kishora). She represents the highest form of divine love. In order to be able to classify the deep meaning of the goddess Radha, it requires some preceding explanations to the Vedic spirituality.



Radha and Krishna wrapped in a sari with motifs from the everyday life of cowherds



The Vedic pantheon of gods

The highest level of the Vedic pantheon of gods is formed by the triumvirate of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Brahma stands for creation, Vishnu for preservation and Shiva for destruction. Metaphysically, only Vishnu represents pure transcendence beyond space and time, since the principles of creation and destruction are spatiotemporal. In creation, something begins, and in destruction, something ends. So we are within time with these two qualities. Since with creation and destruction form begins and ends respectively, we are also within space.

Only the principle of preservation, represented by Vishnu, transcends space and time and leads us into eternity. Therefore, of these three deities, Vishnu is the highest from the point of view of the Vaishnavas. The divine qualities decide the theological function of each deity. Vishnu is considered the Supreme Personality of Godhead because he is not conditioned by creation or destruction. Vishnu is pure transcendence.

Even though Vishnu embodies transcendence, the differentiation continues on the level of transcendence. What would a Supreme Personality of Godhead be if it did not have many more aspects and forms? This absolute entity, which is not conditioned by space and time, appears in variants that contain an infinite variety. Vishnu is considered in this sense as the awe-inspiring aspect, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Narayan (see above) is considered to be the water-born and the son of man and is a form of Vishnu. His consort Lakshmi is the goddess of fortune. Ram is considered the seventh avatar of Vishnu and appeared in the Treta Yuga, the second of the four ages. Ram and his wife Sita are considered the embodiment of the principle of virtue within the Indian religion and are the ultimate role model for an ethical way of life.



Radha is sad because Krishna is hiding.



Krishna, the special form of God

Krishna is another variant of Vishnu and is considered the private and personal aspect of this deity. Special emphasis in the Vedic scriptures is placed on his personal relationships, in which he experiences the ecstatic and gratifying varieties of love for his companions and consorts.

Krishna is the only deity in India who is depicted without a weapon.

Instead, as an inseparable attribute, he carries a flute on which he plays beguiling songs that captivate not only humans but also animals, plants and demigods. His skin color is described as blue or black. Strictly speaking, it is the color of a dark monsoon cloud that glows blackish and bluish at the same time.

If Vishnu embodies the official, awe-inspiring aspect of God, he can be compared figuratively, for example, to the president of Germany in office. Krishna would then be analogously the federal president at home privately in the circle of his loved ones.

Most forms of worship of God in all religions refer to the official aspect. God is viewed from a perspective of reverence and respect, as a power figure, as the Supreme. However, this is not the highest form of relationship with God that fully satisfies the soul. As on the human level, so in the relationship with Goddess-God, a private, personal relationship, such as one has between friends or lovers, satisfies us the most. Incidentally, such a relationship also satisfies God Himself the most.

About the Author: Ronald Engert

Tattva Viveka Editor-in-Chief Ronald Engert
Ronald Engert, born 1961. 1982-88 studied German, Romance languages and literature and philosophy, 1994-96 Indology and Religious Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt/M. 1994 co-founded the journal Tattva Viveka, since 1996 publisher and editor-in-chief. 2015-22 Studied cultural studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin. 2022 Master’s thesis on “Mysticism of Language”. Author of “Gut, dass es mich gibt. Diary of a Recovery” and “The Absolute Place. Philosophy of the Subject”.

Blog: ronaldengert.com

This article has also been published on the German Website: Radha, die indische Göttin der Liebe



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