By Damodara Pandita Dasa
In the realm of the Absolute Truth there is the energetic and there is energy, just like the sun and sunshine. Taking the analogy further, there is the concept of male and female, sometimes termed as predominater and predominated. Truth is One, but for the purpose of transcendental pleasure, the One expands to unlimited parts and parcels as jivatma while continuing to maintain its original identity without any change or diminution.
Absolute Truth, recognised as a person in the Vaishnava tradition, also manifests its pleasure potency as Devi, the female form. Shaktas worship this female form and bhaktas invoke either the male form alone, or both male and female forms, simultaneously.
This Hladini Shakti, pleasure potency, the female manifestation of the Supreme, is a transcendental being whose only desire is to serve Ishvara with pure and unalloyed devotion. Hence the name Radha, which comprises the two syllables ‘ra’ signifying ‘rasa’, pleasure and ‘dha’ which means running to one’s beloved to offer service.
Once, when Maharaja Vrishabhanu was standing in the river Yamuna and meditating, a thousand-petalled lotus touched his body. Opening his eyes, he was completely enchanted by a beautiful female child who was lying in that lotus.
Vrishabhanu returned to his palace in great ecstasy with this extraordinary child to his wife Kirtida Sundari. But their joy turned to grief when they noticed that the baby girl would not open her eyes – she seemed to be blind, deaf and mute.
Once, Nanda and Yashoda came to visit Vrishabhanu and Kirtida. They had brought their toddler Krishna with them, too. When the couples were engaged in conversation, Krishna entered the room where Radha was lying asleep in her cradle. He leaned over and gently touched her eyes and she immediately opened them and began to cry with joy upon seeing her eternal Lord and companion right in front of her.
Over the ages, a lot of aspersions have been cast upon the character of Radha, but this touching incident will put to rest all of those misconceptions.
Once, Krishna became delirious with a burning fever. Mother Yashoda tried every single home remedy while Nanda desperately searched high and low for a good doctor. Mysteriously, a vaidyaraja appeared. He carefully examined Nandalal and immediately began to make a special medicine that required anupana, a specific liquid that would dissolve the ayurvedic powder.
The anupana required was Yamuna jal water; but it had to be collected by a perfectly chaste woman in an earthen pot that had a thousand holes and brought back to Nanda’s palace without spilling a single drop.
Vrindavan’s chaste women were summoned to help out but none of them could prevent the water from leaking out of the pot. Finally, Radha was brought to the palace of Nanda as per the instructions of vaidyaraja. In great humility she took the blessings of her elders and hastened to the Yamuna. Then, climbing a very narrow bridge made of human hair, she bent down to fill the one thousand-holed pot with the water of the Yamuna. To everyone’s amazement, she was able to perform this extraordinary feat.
The medicine was made with Radha’s three palmfuls of anupana and Krishna was miraculously cured. Since that day, Radha has been revered as the most chaste woman in the universe. The author is a member of Iskcon. Today is Radhashtami.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.