Radha on the right with Krishna her consort. They are usually worshipped together. This is in the Mayapur Chandradoya Mandir
Radha also known as Radhika Devi (Devanagari: राधा, IAST: Rādhā), also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is almost always depicted alongside Krishna and features prominently within the theology of today's Vallabha and Gaudiya Vaishnava sects, which regards Radha as the original Goddess or Shakti. Radha is also the principal god of worship in the Nimbarka Sampradaya, as Nimbarka, the founder of the tradition, declared that Radha and Krishna together constitute the absolute truth. Radha's relationship with Krishna is given in further detail within texts such as the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Garga Samhita and Brihad Gautamiya tantra. Radha is the most important gopi in Raas(Special kind of dance) with Lord Krishna. Radha is often referred to as Rādhārānī or "Radhika" in speech, prefixed with the respectful term 'Srimati' by devout followers. Radha is regarded as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. 
Radha the Gopi
In the story of Krishna, as told in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana, he spends much of his childhood in the company of young cow-herd girls, called Gopis in the village of Madhuvan. Krishna left his native place at the age of twelve for study at gurukul .The Mahabharata does not describe Krishna's earlier life in Vrindavan in much detail, and focuses more on the later battle of Kurukshetra but within the Bhagavata Purana the child-hood pastimes of Krishna are described very vividly. Within the Bhagavata Purana, Radha is not mentioned by name but is alluded to within the tenth chapter of the text as one of the gopis whom Krishna plays with during his upbringing as a young boy. Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura at the age of 10 years and 7 months according to Bhagavata Purana. So Radha is assumed to be also 10 years old or less when Krishna left Vrindavan. It is in later texts such as the Gita Govinda where we find the story of Radha given in more detail.
In the Vaishnava devotional or bhakti traditions of Hinduism that focus on Krishna, Radha is Krishna's friend and advisor. For some of the adherents of these traditions, her importance approaches or even exceeds that of Krishna. She is considered to be his original shakti, the supreme goddess in both the Nimbarka Sampradaya and following the advent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. Other gopis are usually considered to be her maidservants, with Radha having the prominent position of Krishna's favour "Among the eternal associates of the Lord the gopis are the most exhalted, and among the gopis Srimati Radharani is the best. It has been mentioned in the narration of the Skanda Purana that out of many thousands of gopis, 16,000 are prominent. Out of these, 108 are important, and out of 108, eight are principal. Out of eight gopis, Radharani and Chandravali are chief, and out of these two Srimati Radharani is superior."
Her connection to Krishna is of two types: svakiya-rasa (married relationship) and parakiya-rasa (a relationship signified with eternal mental "love"). The Gaudiya tradition focuses upon parakiya-rasa as the highest form of love, wherein Radha and Krishna share thoughts even through separation. The love the gopis feel for Krishna is also described in this esoteric manner as the highest platform of spontaneous love of God, and not of a sexual nature.
Proponents of the Gaudiya and Nimbarka schools of Vaishnavism give the highly esoteric nature of Radha's relationship to Krishna as the reason why her story is not mentioned in detail in the other Puranic texts.
Radha was the daughter of Vrishbhanu Gurjar who was king Suchandra in his previous life. Suchandra and his wife had acquired a boon from Brahmaji that in the Dwapar age Shri Laxmi will be born as a daughter to them in the form of Radha. King Suchendra and Queen Kalavati only were reborn as Vrishbhanu and Kirtikumari and Laxmiji was incarnated as Radha.
It is said that at Radha’s birth, Devarshi Narad himself went and met Vrishbhanu and informed him, “This girl’s beauty and nature is divine. All the houses, wherever her footprints are, Lord Narayan with all other deities will reside. Nurture this girl thinking her to be a Goddess.” According to Naradji’s advice, Vrishbhanu nurtured Radha with great love and care. Nandbaba who lived in the nearby village was friends with Vrishbanu. Once during the festival of Holi; Vrishbanu went to Gokul to meet Nandrai. At Nandrai and Yashoda’s house Krishna (who was growing up as their son) met Radha. Their union was divine, phenomenal and incessant. This meeting was Radha and Krishna’s first meeting which became eternal.
Radha’s love towards Krishna in the terrestrial or customary meaning is not just the relation between a man and woman. The feeling of this love is divine and phenomenal which gives this love a pious form. The philosophical side of this reduces the distance of the support and supportive, also the difference between the worshipper and worshipful is not there. Krishna is the life of Vraj; Radha is the soul of Krishna. That is why, it is said, “Atma Tu Radhika Tasya” (Radha, you are His soul). One form of Radha is, she is a devotee, worshipper of Krishna and in the second form she is the worshipful, devoted by Krishna. ‘Aradhyate Asau itii Radha.’ Radha – Krishna’s love is the symbol of the feeling of being united. When two souls are united, the difference of the other or the second vanishes.Her father Vrsabhanu was the king of cowherds Gop. Vrsabhanu was a partial incarnation of Lord Narayana while her mother Kalavati was a partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Her worship is especially prominent in Vrindavan, the place where Krishna is said to have lived. Wherein Her importance surpasses even the importance of Krishna. Radha's love for Krishna is held within Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the most perfect primarily because of its endless and unconditional nature. Thus she is the most important friend of Krishna, 'His heart and soul', and His 'hladini-shakti' (mental companion potency).
In the Brihad-Gautamiya Tantra, Radharani is described as follows: "The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord."
The Bengali saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) is believed by many (see especially the modern-day ISKCON movement) to be an incarnation of both Radha and Krishna, simultaneously in one form. Throughout his life, Chaitanya lived as a devotee of Vaishnava tradition, not openly claiming to be any form of Avatar, but in his biographies it is claimed that he revealed his divine form to some of his closer associates.
Names and worship
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Radha has many epithets describing her qualities and characteristics.
- Radhika - This is the most common epithet, meaning she whose worship of the Krishna is all powerful. She who embodies supreme focus and mental clarity. The incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi. Beauty, intelligence, and good fortuned one.
- Gandharvi - Expert singer
- Govinda-nandini - She who gives happiness to Govinda (Krishna)
- Govinda-mohini - She who mystifies Govinda
- Govinda-sarvasva - One to whom Govinda is the all-in-all, or everything.
- Sarva-kanta Shiromani - The crown jewel of all Krishna's consorts
- Krishnamayi - The one who sees Krishna both within and without
- Madan-Mohan-Mohini - Within Gaudiya tradition Krishna (as the Supreme Person) is believed to be the enchanter of all living beings, including even Kamadeva (Madan) - The god of attraction. Because Radha has the unique position of being able to enchant even Krishna she is therefore known as Madan-Mohan-Mohini: the enchanter of the enchanter of Cupid.
- Aradhana - The root name of Radharani, meaning one who excels in worshiping Krishna
- Sarva-lakshmi - The original source of all the goddesses of fortune
- Vrshabhanu-nandini - Daughter of Vrishabanu
- Vrshabhanu-suta - Daughter of Vrishabanu
- Vrshabhanu-Dulari - loving daughter of Vrishabanu
- Vrndavaneshvari - Queen of Vrindavana
- Lalita-Sakhi - Friend of the gopi Lalita
- Gokula-Taruni - She whom all young girls of Gokul worship
- Damodara Rati - She who dresses herself to please Damodara (Krishna)
- Radharani – Radha the queen
- RadhaKrishna - Krishna Himself in the form of Radha (Worship of Krishna with Radha)
- Vrajrani - Queen of Vraj ( Krishna being the king)
- Swaminiji- The companion of Krishna
- Karika_Mix form of Krishna and Radha; Verse; Reborn
- Ramika_Reborn; New Face; Modern
- Sakalepsitdaatri- She fulfills all desires of her devotees.
- Raaseshwari - The goddess of raas (folk-dance).
- Sarveshwari - The one who is goddess of all.
- Raj- Rajeshwari - The goddess of god.
- Ladali - The beloved.
- Barsaane Wali - The one who lives at Barsaana.
- Krishna-Priya - beloved of lord Krishna.
- Haridaas-Dulari - beloved of swami Haridas
One of her names, Hara (mentioned in Narada-pancaratra 5.5.59), in vocative Hare, forms a part of the Hare Krishna 'Maha-Mantra', one of the most popular Vedic mantras, especially among certain sects of Gaudiya Vaishnavas (some other sects among Gaudiya Vaishnavas explain that the word "Hare" in the mantra is the vocative form of "Hari", which is also a name of God). Radharani's names hold a place of prime importance within Gaudiya Vaishnava religious practices.
View Complete Namavali with essence of each name of Radharani -100 auspicious names in IPA Sanskrit.
Temples dedicated to Radha
- Barsana and Vrindavan in Mathura District, Northern India contain a large number of temples dedicated to both Radha and Krishna, including the Radhavallabh Temple.
- The Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani Temple at Radha Madhav Dham in Austin, Texas, USA, established by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, is one of the largest Hindu Temple complexes in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest in North America.
Temple Deities in India and abroad are generally named in order of Radharani first and then Krishna. Krishna is approachable through the mercy of Srimati Radharani and no one else. So for example, if one were to enter the Govindaji temple in Vrindavan the Deities are named Radha Govinda and devotees of Krishna would pray to Radha and Govinda not just Krishna. This is because Krishna is controlled by Radharani's love.
Quotations about Radha
- "Although the effulgence of the moon is brilliant initially at night, in the daytime it fades away. Similarly, although the lotus is beautiful during the daytime, at night it closes. But, O My friend, the face of My most dear Srimati Radharani is always bright and beautiful, both day and night. Therefore, to what can Her face be compared?" (Vidagdha-madhava 5.20)
- "When Srimati Radharani smiles, waves of joy overtake Her cheeks, and Her arched eyebrows dance like the bow of Cupid. Her glance is so enchanting that it is like a dancing bumblebee, moving unsteadily due to intoxication. That bee has bitten the whorl of My heart." (Vidagdha-madhava 2.51)
- "Just as Srimati Radharani is most dear to Krishna, Her bathing pond is similarly dear. Of all the gopis, She is the most beloved of the Lord." (Padma Purana)
- "The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord." (Brihad-gautamiya-tantra)
- "Among all persons, it is Sri Radha in whose company Lord Madhava is especially glorious, as She is especially glorious in His." (Rig-parisishta)
- "Radharani is the source of spiritual inspiration" (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
- Neela Devi (Nappinnai)
- Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
- Gaudiya Vaishnavism
- Hare Krishna (mantra)
- Nimbarka Sampradaya
- Shri Hith Harivansh Mahaprabhu
- Krsna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead (ISBN 0-89213-354-6) by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
- Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
- Hawley J.S. & D.M. Wulff (ed.) (1986) The Divine Consort: Radha and the Goddesses of India, Beacon Press, Boston, ISBN 0-8070-1303-X.
- Radha by Krishna Dharabasi, a Nepali novel awarded with Madan Puraskar, Most prestigious literary award.
- H.Wilson, 'English Translation', Motilal Banarsidas Publishers, 1990 reprint.
- Encyclopaedia of Hindu gods and goddesses By Suresh Chandra http://books.google.co.in/books?id=mfTE6kpz6XEC&pg=PA198&dq=goddess+lakshmi
- "Radha - Goddess Radha, Sri Radharani, Radha-Krishna, Radhika". Festivalsinindia.net. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Radha in Hinduism, the favourite mistress of Krishna. In devotional religion she represents the longing of the human soul for God: The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 2006, by ELIZABETH KNOWLES
- "Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 10 Chapter 45 Verse 3". Vedabase.net. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Swami B.G. Narasingha. "Sri Gayatri Mantrartha Dipika - Illuminations on the Essential Meaning of Gayatri | Sri Narasingha Chaitanya Ashram". Gosai.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Swami Tripurari, "Sri Radha: Indirectly the Absolute", Sanga, 1999.
- Singh, K.B. (2004). "Manipur Vaishnavism: A Sociological Interpretat1on". Sociology of Religion in India. ISBN 978-0-7619-9781-8. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
- Kinsley, D. (2010). "Without Krsna There Is No Song". History of Religions 12 (2): 149. doi:10.1086/462672. Retrieved 2008-05-03."Nimbarka seems to have been the first well-known religious leader to regard Radha as central to his cult (thirteenth century)"
- Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 8.282
- Gopala Tapani Upanishad 2.12,28,118
- Radhavallabh Temple
- Vedic Foundation Inaugurated at Barsana Dham, Austin. Retrieved Dec 15th, 2011.
- Ciment, J. 2001. Encyclopedia of American Immigration. Michigan: M.E. Sharpe
- Hylton, H. & Rosie, C. 2006. Insiders' Guide to Austin. Globe Pequot Press.
- Mugno, M. & Rafferty, R.R. 1998. Texas Monthly Guidebook to Texas. Gulf Pub. Co.
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