Radha and Krishna
by Tara Knowland

Whereas in the past when we have read about consort goddesses, I have been somewhat unwilling to see them solely as consorts, in the reading about Radha and Krishna, I felt totally different. In fact, I was somewhat frustrated by the idea that Radha is viable in some ways on her own and that she should be worshipped in her own right. While I think this could possibly be true, I felt like those who were seeking to prove that to me did a very poor job of it. I felt that rather, while Krishna seems separable from Radha, she is inseparable from him (or at least the idea of him). This was somewhat disconcerting to me because it is the first time I have felt like we really encountered a goddess who is very limited by her relationships. Again, though this may not be the case, I am not at all convinced otherwise.

What seems most curious to me about Radha is her exact personage. I feel that Radha was not quite a person. I feel that she was the embodiment of the power of Krishna and it was almost, at least to me, like he was in love with power (and thus perhaps himself) rather than being in love with an actual woman. Or perhaps that the fact that this woman was his sakti, his power, that she was objectified in that way to him, and that his love for her was based on that. In the same vein, I felt that her love for him was spurred on by the fact that she was the embodiment of sakti, rather than really being a form independent of him. Her identity, as his sakti (and I felt like as his sakti and nothing else), is very limited, defined by their relationship, or rather his relationship to a quality, rather than a Being.

It is somewhat difficult to express this in words because I feel like it is a very esoteric differentiation. I do not feel like Radha has any other purpose than to exist for the benefit of Krishna, and perhaps that is what most differentiates her from other consort goddesses, like Paravati and Sri/Laksmi, at least in my perception. Is this a valid perception? That she had a very little place, if any, in the scheme of the great cycle of life and death and gods and humans. I do not feel, either, that I got a real sense of how important her existence is to Krishna. The only diety-likequalities that I see in her are those of power embodied, and these are diety-likebecause I do not think that a human could ever be power embodied.

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to email me at taknowland@vassar.edu