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Rādhā

Rādhā, Rādhikā. A consort of the Hindu god Kṛṣṇa, one of the gopīs. It is only in secular poetic sources, not religious ones, that Rādhikā (later mostly Rādhā) was first described as Kṛṣṇa's favourite gopī and mistress. Apart from conventional episodes dealing with infatuation, love-making, jealousy, and quarrels of the lovers, nothing further is said about Rādhā till 12th cent. CE. The purāṇas ignore her till an even later date, and a variety of Kṛṣṇaite traditions knows of a different favourite or female associate of Kṛṣṇa. Yet from the 14th or 15th cent., the figure of Rādhā begins to dominate Kṛṣṇaite literature and religion, perhaps as a result of Jayadeva's Gītagovinda, a highly erotic poem written in Bengal c.1185 CE. Although it deals with Kṛṣṇa's and Rādhā's love-making in terms of the secular poetic conventions, later mystics and religious movements have treated it as a religious, mystical work.

A second factor in the evolution of Rādhā as central religious figure was evidently the teaching of the theologian Nimbārka (14th/15th cent.?). By him Kṛṣṇa is regarded as identical with Brahman, and Rādhā as co-natural with him. Similar ideas are expressed by many subsequent theologies.

The poetry about Kṛṣṇa's love for Rādhā cannot avoid describing Kṛṣṇa as totally devoted and subservient to Rādhā, due to his love and passion for her. At least in the case of the Rādhāvallabhīs, this is not just seen as denoting an ultimate unity of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā as Brahman, but has been developed into a form of ‘Rādhāism’: theologically speaking, Kṛṣṇa is dependent on Rādhā as the Absolute.

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Radha

Radha in Hinduism, the favourite mistress of the god Krishna, and an incarnation of Lakshmi. In devotional religion she represents the longing of the human soul for God.

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