Radha, the Embodiment of Total Love
[…] As Krishna’s intimate consort, Radha’s only concern is to bring happiness to Krishna, as a lover cares for a beloved. In turn, Krishna’s only concern is to please and bring happiness to Radha as his beloved.
Jake: This is starting to sound romantic.
KRKS (smiling): Absolutely! Radha and Krishna are having the original, primordial love affair, and it is going on in wonderful, ever-fresh ways even as we speak. And unlike the romances of this material world, which are bound to lose their sweetness sooner or later—or else end in tragedy, as with Romeo and Juliet—the devotional feelings of Radha and Krishna for each other go on endlessly unfolding in wonderful ways.
Jake: I once watched a Bollywood film (with English subtitles) that seemed like an attempt to portray a modern parallel to the Radha and Krishna story. It was sort of obviously meant to be a parallel, what with the protagonist being a flute-player in a country scene.
KRKS: Vaishnavas would say that everyone in this world is trying—and miserably failing—to imitate either Krishna or Radha. And an unfortunate result is that people misunderstand Radha and Krishna’s relationship to be a mundane affair. This is why Vaishnavas always emphasize that our position as living beings is to serve Radha and Krishna, not to imitate them.
Rabindra: If, as you said before, we are marginal energy, meaning that we are “marginalized,” or separated from Krishna’s—or Radha’s and Krishna’s—world, doesn’t that mean that we are prevented from serving them?
KRKS: Good question! As you say, and as we discussed earlier, we living beings are constituted of the in-between energy, between Krishna’s external and internal energies. Our being in this world (with these perishable and vulnerable bodies) indicates that we are caught up in the external energy, so much so that we identify with it quite thoroughly. In this condition, it’s as you say, practically impossible to enter into Krishna’s internal energy, and only within this internal energy is it possible to serve Krishna and Radha.
Angela: This is starting to sound not so much romantic as hopeless!
KRKS: It would be hopeless if it weren’t for Krishna being all-merciful—and for Radharani being even more merciful than He! Fortunately for us, they both wish—far more than we could ever wish ourselves—for us to come to them and participate in their exchanges of love. This is why they give us so many ways and opportunities to approach and connect with them, despite our present state of disconnection.
Jake: “Participate in their exchanges of love”? Usually romantic love is an exclusive, private affair. Romeo and Juliet are not exactly inviting their families along on their trysts!
KRKS: True, and this confirms my point that Radha and Krishna are not to be gauged by our mundane ways of seeing. Which brings us back to our starting point. Jake—remember about “seeing with understanding”?
KRKS: Exactly. When we see the deities of Radha and Krishna in a temple, as you were seeing Radha-Londonishvara in central London, it is significant that they are not facing each other; they are facing outward toward us who are viewing them. Krishna holds his flute, indicating that with the entrancing sound of his expert playing he invites us to approach them. And this particular deity of Radha holds her right hand out, palm toward us, in a gesture of blessing.
Angela: Okay, let me guess: You are about to say, “And just by seeing their images, we connect with them, and that is what is meant by bhakti-yoga.”
KRKS: Once again, Angela, you get the grand prize for mind-reading—or rather, I should say, for good understanding of bhakti-yoga! Yes, we connect with them the moment we have even a slight sense of attraction to Krishna or his associates (like Shrimati Radharani), or his devotees (like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or his many followers up to the present day). And we can consciously increase our attraction by the whole process of bhakti-yoga, beginning with the twin activities of shravanam and kirtanam—hearing about Krishna and chanting his glories.
Angela: And what about hearing and chanting about Radha? Is she included in hearing and chanting about Krishna?
KRKS: Yes, she certainly is. When we refer to Krishna, all are included: his name, form, qualities, pastimes, and associates. And remember, half of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra consists of Radha’s name as Hara, in the form hare, which is the form of direct address.
ーFrom the book Krishna’s Wonderful Form: a Guide fort he Perplexed by Krishna Kshetra Swami, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust