Radhashtami: Appearance of Srimati Radharani

Srimati Radharani personifies Krishna's internal energy, or pleasure potency. She is described as the symbol of devotional service in the highest degree, and She is known throughout the world as the most beloved of Krishna. Her name is always associated with Krishna, for devotees speak of "Radha-Krishna." Radharani is always prepared to fulfill all the desires of Sri Krishna, She is the supply source of all the demands of Sri Krishna, and She is qualified with uncommon qualities for the satisfaction of Krishna. Radhashtami is a special opportunity to glorify Srimati Radharani, under whose care one can attain perfection in devotional service.


What Is The Pleasure Potency?

Everyone naturally wants to enjoy, yet nobody is really independent in doing so. We require the company of others in order to satiate our desires. We use the phrase "to enjoy oneself," yet we do so best with others. In fact, the majority of people would find extended seclusion to be nearly intolerable.

However, as Krishna is the source of everything and the Supreme Lord, he is totally independent. Since everything depends on Him like pearls on a thread, He is independent in His existence, His knowledge, and His joy.

Therefore, Krishna has no need of anyone. No one exists outside of Him since, in a certain way, He is everything. Krishna thereby increases the potency or energy within Himself "that gives Him enjoyment" when He wishes to enjoy. This power is a person. Srimati Radharani is her name.

Radharani is not a distinct individual from Krishna; rather, She is simultaneously a part of Him and separate from Him. How is it possible for two persons to be one and for one to be two? A simple example will show how this is the case. Neither the sun nor the sunshine could exist without the other. Even when the sun is ninety-three million miles distant, we remark, "The sun is in my room," because the sun appears in the form of its energy. Because of this, the energy (the sunshine) and the energetic (the sun) are both one and different. In a similar way, Radha and Krishna are both one and distinct. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krishna, the self-effulgent Lord, and Srimati Radharani is His supreme pleasure potency. Together They constitute the complete Absolute Truth.


Who Can Understand All This?

Mental speculation is useless for learning anything about Radha and Krishna. Krishna and His potencies are acintya, inconceivable, and ananta, unlimited. He is beyond the mind since He is the source of the mind. The unlimited Personality of Godhead is beyond the comprehension of the limited mind. This is very rationally explained in the Vedic literature: "Speculative reasoning are all mundane, but that which is transcending to material nature is inconceivable. One should not attempt to grasp transcendental subject matters by ordinary reasoning since they cannot touch such subject matters.”

Because of Krishna's unlimited nature, when mundane academics attempt to describe or analyze the identity or pastimes of Radha and Krishna, they misinterpret everything. As a result, they compare Radha and Krishna to an ordinary girl and boy from the material world. However, despite their frequent attempts to pass themselves off as knowledgeable experts, they are in fact ignorant. Therefore, if one wants to understand Radha and Krishna, one must listen submissively to a bonafide authority and strictly avoid the contused conceptions of such bumbling intellectuals.


The original authority on Krishna is Krishna Himself. Everyone is first an authority regarding his own self, and this is also true of Krishna.. Moreover, since Krishna is unlimited, no one can understand Him fully. Krishna's disciple Arjuna confirms this as follows in Bhagavad-gita (10.15):

svayam evatmanatmanam

vettha tvam purusottama

bhuta-bhavana bhutesa

deva-deva jagat-pate

"Indeed, You alone know Yourself by Your own potencies, O origin of all, Lord of all beings, God of gods, O Supreme Person, Lord of the universe!"

Those to whom Krishna reveals Himself can understand Him even if He is incomprehensible to mental reasoning. Brahma, the first living being created, was the first to receive such transcendental knowledge from Krishna. The author of the Bhagavad-gita, Vyasa, received this knowledge from Narada after Narada had received it from Brahma. In a chain of disciplic succession, the knowledge has been transmitted in this manner from master to disciple, right up to the present. A bonafide authority on Krishna is a spiritual master in this disciplic path. He is the appropriate source for transcendental knowledge.


What Gives Krishna Pleasure?

According to such spiritual authorities, Krishna is the reservoir of all pleasure, and therefore He is all-attractive. However, Krishna enjoys the service that His devotees perform for Him. Even He is attracted to such acts of devotional service.

Krishna Himself, while speaking to a friend, confirms this as follows in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.1): "My dear Uddhava, you may know from Me that the attraction I feel for devotional service rendered by My devotees is not to be equalled even if one performs mystic yoga, philosophical speculation or ritualistic sacrifices, studies Vedanta, practices severe austerities or gives up everything in charity. These are of course, very nice activities, but they are not as attractive to Me as the transcendental loving service rendered by My devotees."

Krishna is full in six opulences: beauty, wealth, fame, strength, knowledge and renunciation. No amount of material opulence, therefore, can attract Him. Just as one could not attract a millionaire by offering him a few dollars, one cannot attract Krishna merely by one's limited material opulence. Nevertheless, pure devotional service attracts even Krishna. This is the unique transcendental excellence of devotional service.

Srimati Radharani is the embodiment of pure devotional service. No one can be a greater devotee than She. The very name Radharani comes from the Sanskrit word aradhana, which means "worship." Her name is Radharani because She excels all in worshiping Krishna. Although Krishna is so beautiful that He can attract millions of Cupids and is therefore called Madana-mohana, "the attractor of Cupid," Radharani can attract even Krishna. She is therefore called Madana-mohana-mohani–"the attractor of the attractor of Cupid."

Srimati Radharani is irresistible to the same Krishna who is unaffected by any amount of material opulence. Krishna once tried to play a joke on the cowherd girls of Vrndavana by hiding under a bush, but they eventually caught sight of Him. Then, Krishna transformed into Narayana, who has four arms. When the gopis approached and found Narayana instead of Krishna, they were not very interested in Him; only Krishna's original two-armed form attracted them. They hoped that Lord Narayana would grant them the blessing of Krishna's eternal connection as a result of their respectful obeisances to Him. They continued looking for Krishna after that. When Srimati Radharani passed by, however, Krishna tried to maintain His disguise as Narayana but was unable to do so; He kept slipping back to His original two-armed form. This illustrates the great influence of Srimati Radharani's pure transcendental love.

Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita that as one surrenders unto Him, He reciprocates accordingly. Therefore the more Radharani tries to please Krishna, the more He desires to please Her, thus in turn increasing Her enthusiasm to increase His pleasure. Therefore although the Lord is unlimited, both He Himself and His potency for pleasure are always increasing. The all-blissful reciprocation between the Lord and His pleasure potency is expressed in the transcendental pastimes of Radha and Krishna.


Love or Lust–What's the Difference?

Spiritual love is exemplified by Radha and Krishna's mutual affection for one another. Krishna is the source of everything, and as such, He is also the source of love. In the material world, boy and girl are attracted to each other, which is a perverted reflection of Radha and Krishna's love in the spiritual realm. The bond between Radha and Krishna is incomprehensible to someone who believes that he can find happiness through sexual pleasure; on the other hand, when someone hears about Radha and Krishna from a bonafide spiritual master, their desire for sexual pleasure vanishes.

In the material world, although one may profess true love, inwardly one's real desire is to enjoy his own senses. We only love someone as long as they provide us pleasure, and when that pleasure wanes, so does our love. As a result, the relationship ends in divorce or separation. On the spiritual platform, however, there are pure devotees of Krishna who have no desire to appease themselves. They desire only to please Lord Krishna. This is true unalloyed love.

What we speak of as "love" in the material world is actually lust, or a desire to serve oneself. It has no permanent basis: today I love one girl, tomorrow another, according to my changing fancy. Indeed, although a boy and girl may change sexual partners as often as dogs and cats do, in our modern idiom we refer to their sexual intercourse as "lovemaking," as though the gross friction of two hot bodies could generate love. We speak of love so easily, but actually in this material world there is no love–it is all lust. The difference between love and lust is like the difference between gold and iron. Both gold and iron are metals, but otherwise they are not at all alike. Because they try to find happiness by satisfying their material body sensations, the conditioned souls in the material world are typically misguided and frustrated in love. They do not know that they are different from their bodies. The body is always changing–from childhood, to youth, to old age–but the same person is always present in each body. According to his body, he claims to be an American or an Englishman, a Jew or a Christian, a boy or a girl, but that body is not actually him. As a result, no matter how hard he tries to satisfy his physical needs in order to be happy, he is never successful.

One cannot satisfy himself by only attempting to satisfy his bodily demands, just as one cannot satisfy a bird by cleaning its cage but without feeding the bird. In addition, the senses become more demanding the more one tries to satisfy them. As gasoline cannot put out a fire, indulgence cannot satiate the senses. It will only cause an explosion to try to smother one's worries with sense satisfaction. Therefore, by trying to satisfy his material desires for sensual enjoyment the poor conditioned soul merely increases his desire, but not his satisfaction. He becomes a servant of the senses, exerting great effort to gratify desires that can never be fulfilled. To find real pleasure, one must find real love–and for this one must love Krishna. To be truly happy, one must engage in His devotional service.

Such devotional service is under the control of Srimati Radharani. She is the presiding Deity of devotional service. Because She is very merciful, devotees especially take advantage of Her merciful nature to attain the service of Krishna. Indeed, although engagement in pure devotional service is rarely achieved, one can achieve it very easily by the grace of Srimati Radharani.

Bhagavad-gita confirms that those who are truly mahatmas, great souls, take shelter of Krishna's daivi prakrti, or spiritual energy–Srimati Radharani. "Always chanting My glories," Lord Krishna declares, "endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion." (Bg. 9.14) This devotional service is not an activity of the material world; it is fully spiritual because it is directly under the control of Krishna's spiritual energy–Srimati Radharani.

In order to practice devotional service one should follow in the footsteps of Srimati Radharani and offer Krishna pure devotional service without thinking about material gain. However, it is not proper to worship Krishna alone. Like how the sun is incomplete without the sunshine, Krishna is incomplete without Radharani. Therefore, Radha and Krishna should be worshipped together for together They are the Absolute Truth.


Actually, worshiping Radharani is better than worshiping Krishna. More precisely, one can best worship Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, through Srimati Radharani, His supreme pleasure energy. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Bg. 9.26) But rather than offer a flower directly to Krishna, better to offer the flower to Srimati Radharani, requesting, "My dear Radharani, please recommend me to Your Krishna." Krishna is the supreme controller, yet He is controlled by the pure devotion of Srimati Radharani. Krishna is therefore also known as the "property of Radharani." if one can please Radharani', therefore, one can very easily please Lord Krishna.

The vision of Srimati Radharani is that of a maha-bhagavata, the most exalted devotee. As a result, She treats everyone equally, and if even the most fallen person approaches Her to serve Krishna, She immediately bestows Her mercy upon him by recommending to Krishna, "Oh, Krishna, here is a devotee. He is better than Me." Srimati Radharani is exceedingly beloved to Krishna since she is constantly preoccupied with thoughts of Him. So, if someone tries to approach Krishna in this manner through Radharani, he will undoubtedly be successful.


How Can We Learn To Serve Radha and Krishna?

To be able to serve Radha and Krishna, one must first approach a bona fide spiritual master. Krishna has two energies–material and spiritual. The spiritual energy is full of eternal bliss and knowledge, whereas the material energy causes ignorance, misery and death. Although we are all originally spiritual, unfortunately we are now engrossed in the material energy. Because of illusion, however, we do not remember our real position, nor do we know how to return to the spiritual world. Therefore Krishna personally descends to this material world to attract us by exhibiting His transcendental pastimes and by speaking the message of Bhagavad-gita for our enlightenment. But Krishna returned to His abode 5,000 years ago. Does this mean that we can no longer approach Him? No. In His absence, we may approach Him through His representative, the spiritual master.

The spiritual master is the mercy incarnation of God. Because Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, approaching Him is difficult. But He is also most compassionate, and out of His compassion He empowers His pure devotees to bring back home, back to Godhead, the fallen souls who have forgotten Him.

Srimati Radharani, the tenderhearted female counterpart of Lord Krishna, represents His compassionate nature. Therefore the spiritual master, who compassionately appears in the material world for the sake of the fallen souls, is considered a representative of Srimati Radharani. By the mercy of the spiritual master, one can obtain the mercy of Krishna. There is no alternative means for success. Without the mercy of the spiritual master, one cannot make any progress in devotional service. This is the opinion of all bona fide authorities on devotional life.

Spiritual masters instruct their followers in such a way that they can break free from the bonds of material consciousness, engage in devotional service, and therefore progressively come to develop pure love of Godhead. The spiritual master has the responsibility of scientifically engaging each disciple in a practical manner. One requires the direction of a bonafide spiritual master to determine which path to take among the numerous options for achieving spiritual realization in order to actually advance toward the ultimate objective.


In our modern age, the most recommended process for perfection is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra–Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Krishna and Rama are names of the Lord, and Hare addresses Hara, the pleasure potency of the Lord –Srimati Radharani. As living spiritual souls, we are originally spiritual energy, but somehow or other we have now fallen into this material world of birth and death. But when we come under the shelter of the supreme spiritual energy, Srimati Radharani, we come to our happy, normal position.

Radharani is the potency who gives transcendental pleasure to Krishna. When the mercy of that potency is bestowed upon a living entity, he develops love of Godhead and thus attains the highest pleasure–and he can also distribute that pleasure to others. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has introduced this process of chanting all over the world. "The chanting," he says, "is exactly like the cry of a child for its mother's presence. Mother Hara [Srimati Radharani] helps the devotee achieve the Lord Father's grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely."