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Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa: The Eternal Couple
- Seema KS

July 25, 2021

Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa have been a source of inspiration to innumerous poets and authors due to which numerous works are available describing the everlasting relationship of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and other themes revolving around them such as love, separation, sorrow, mischief, pastimes and so on in the form of poems, stories, dramas, operas and so on in Indian literature. Some of these literary works have been touched upon in this article.

1 Garga Samhita
The Garga Samhita, authored by Garga Muni deals with the life of Kṛṣṇa and is the most detailed source for Kṛṣṇa Līla. Rāsa dance, pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and the love between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are available in detail.

2 Brahmavaivarta Purāna
This Purāṇa states that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the universe and is the creator of the universe. The evolution and the nature of the universe are presented through the legend of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. The Brahmavaivarta Purāna emphasizes on the unity, interdependence and inseparability of the feminine and the masculine through Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, across its various chapters, and through the concept of Ardhanāri-Kṛṣṇa (also called Ardha-rādhā-veṇudhara-mūrti), a concept similar to Ardhanārīśvara in Ṣaivism.

3 Gīta Gōvindam
Jayadeva's Gīta Gōvindam is a very popular Samskṛta work composed in the twelfth century. The work delineates the love of Kṛṣṇa for Rādhā, the milkmaid, his faithlessness and subsequent return to her, and is taken as symbol of the human soul straying from its true allegiance but returning at length to the God who created it. The theme of Gīta Gōvindam is śṛṅgāram dramatizing the Rāsa līlā of Kṛṣṇa with Rādhā. The agony of separation from a lover is predominantly depicted in this work and 'sakhi' is given the status of a Guru.

4 Vidagdha Mādhava
The Vidagdha Mādhava of Rūpa Gosvāmī describes the dream of the Lord's pastimes in Vrndāvana. A spiritual drama in seven acts completed in the year 1532, describes the Lord's meeting with Rādhā and decorating her in dedicated acts.

5 Lalita Mādhava
The Lalita Mādhava of Rūpa Gosvāmī in 1537 narrates the Lord's pastimes in Dvāraka and Mathurā. A spiritual drama in ten acts, which was completed in the year, this work is a storehouse of descriptions of the ecstasies and emotions of devotional service.

6 Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeṣa Dīpikā
Śrī Rādhā- Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeṣa Dīpikā (A Lamp to see the Associates of Rādhā- Kṛṣṇa) authored in 1550 by Rūpa Gosvāmī lists the associates of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and describes their characteristics. In this work, Rūpa Gosvāmī has written a brief yet vital description of the names, forms, qualities and the different services of Rādhā's and Kṛṣṇa's cherished companions.

7 Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi
Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi (The Sapphire of Divine Love) of Rūpa Gosvāmī exclusively explains the conception of mādhurya rasa (divine conjugal love) between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. This work is a supplement to Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu. In Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu all the rasas, except the conjugal one are described. Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi describes the conjugal rasa in great detail, following the general pattern of analyzing vibhāva-s, anubhāva-s, vyabhicāri bhāvas, sāttvika bhāva-s and sthāyī bhāvā-s. Parakīya and svakīya forms of love are discussed.

8 Śrī Uddhava Sandeśa and Śrī Haṁsadūtam
Kṛṣṇa sends a message of love through his very dear and intimate devotee, Uddhava. Similarly, the gopis also send a message through a swan, a Haṁsa. Thus, Rūpa Gosvāmī has written two books which highlight the role of a messenger, Uddhava Sandeśa and Haṁsadūta. The intense separation felt by the gopis, especially Rādhārāṇi, is described in Haṁsadūta.

9 Caitanya Caritāmṛta
The Caitanya Caritāmṛta, composed by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja in 1557, is written in Bengali with a great number of Samskṛta verses in its devotional, poetic construction, including Śikṣāṣṭakam (a sixteenth century Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Hindu prayer of eight verses composed in Samskṛta). It is divided into three sections - Ādi līla, Madhya līla and Antya līla. Each section refers to a particular phase in Caitanya Mahāprabhu's life.

In the Ādi līla, Caitanya's unique theological identity (Kṛṣṇa in the mood of Rādharāṇi-a combined avatār), his lineage, his closest childhood companions and their lineage, and his devotional associates are dealt with.
The Madhya līla details Caitanya's sanyās and his instructions on the process of bhakti yoga to both Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī.
The Antya līla describes the devotional plays composed by Rūpa Gosvāmī, and Caitanya's increasing agony of separation from Kṛṣṇa (viraha or vipralambha bhāva). It concludes with Caitanya's Śikṣāṣṭakam.

10 Rādhikā Sāntvānam
Rādhikā Sāntvānam (Appeasing Rādhikā), an erotic narrative poem by the Telugu poet and dēvadāsi Muddupaḷani is a magnum opus with five hundred and eighty four verses. It revolves around the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and his maternal aunt Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa's wedding to Ilā and the eventual torment and appeasement of Rādhā. Unlike common depictions of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, it focuses on its women, their sexuality and sensibilities. It is said to offer insights into the women's perspectives - the coming of age, the first sexual experience, the trauma of longing, self doubt, asserting self respect and conflicting emotions of love and hate.

11 Gōkula Nirgamana
Dr. P T Narasimhacār's Kannada Opera, Gōkula Nirgamana composed in 1945, narrates the state of the people of Gōkula and Rādhā when Kṛṣṇa along with Balarāma leave Gōkula to proceed to Mathurā. Initially the text describes the celebrations in Gōkula on a full moon night with Rādhā and other gopis dancing in Vṛndāvana to Kṛṣṇa's mellifluous flute music. Then arrives Akrūra to inform Kṛṣṇa that they will have to travel to Mathurā. Rādhā is disheartened on knowing this and suffers from the feeling of separation from Kṛṣṇa.

Seema K.S is a Bengaluru based Bharatanatyam dancer. She holds a Masters Degree in Bharatanatyam from Tamil University, Thanjavur. Along with pursuing dance she is an IT professional in one of India's leading MNCs.

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