When it comes to love and romance, Radha, is the most celebrated character in Hindu mythology. Innumerable songs have been writing about her in Indian films and theater. Today, being Holi, the festival where love is expressed through Colour (as revived by Krishna to show his love for Radha), I present to you Moods of Radha as jewelry.
I have created jewelry in the past inspired by Radha as seen in Purva Raga and Iskcon Inspiration. Thus for Sammoh too, I wanted to derive inspiration from Radha. However to do that, I needed to set aside the raging theological debate whether Radha actually lived or she was a fictional character created by Jayadeva in Gita Govinda. Or was she Nal Pinnai or Nappinnai described by other scholars before him? Real or fictional hers is a persona so vivid and so unique that there is just nobody else like her.
Radha & Gita Govinda
Radhe, Radha, Radharani or Radhika, is considered as the consort and lover of Lord Krishna. Radha is a milkmaid – a gopika who lived in Vridavan. She is described as a gorgeous and curvy woman who is playful and tempestuous. She longs to hear Krishna play his flute – his Bansuri and sulks when he does not notice her.
The Gita Govinda was composed by Jayadeva for a ritualistic performance to worship the Jagantha deity at Puri, Orissa, (India). Though this song of Govinda exalts the Characteristics of Krishna, it explores the many shades of the relationship between Radha and Krishna.
With clouds the sky is thickened, and the woodlands
darken with Tamála trees. Tonight
comes someone leading home a doubting Rádhá
near the Yamuná, by Nanda sent:
from each path wandering, from wood to bower,
to win her Mádhava in honeyed sport. – From a summary of Gita Govinda at Ocaso Press.
There is also a third character – a sakhi – a messenger who goes between Radha and Krishna carrying messages through their togetherness and separation. Gita Govinda not just describes the sweetness of their love but also explores sex and romance as a form of devotion and liberation.
Due to the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, sensuality became a thing to be conquered for enlightenment. Jayadeva, changed that with Gita Govinda bringing about a dialogue of Prema or love. This was later carried forward by poets like Vidyapati and Chandidasa who portrayed Radha – Krishna’s love as one that transcended law and custom. Unlike Many other religions, Hinduism (pre vedic & vedic) does no refrain from discussing these topics though they became taboo in the later centuries. Changes in the Hindu morality laws because of Islamic rule and later the British influence in India could have been the reason for it.
Moods of Radha as jewelry
Radha and Krishna much like the human body and the soul in life, were inseparable. They were in love. However, they never lived together, they were well apart in age (she was much older than him), and she was married to someone else as well. She falls in love with Krishna before she meets him and stays in love long after being separated from him. This in my opinion is the truest form of love.
Radha & Krishna
Krishna is the eternal male – the Purusha (man) who is needs without wanting to commit. Everybody wants to be with him. Everything needs him to function. Radha is the ultimate female – Prakriti (nature) submits to him, but feels abandoned when he obliges other women or returns to his duties. Jayadeva shows Krishna repenting, longing for Radha by praising her and cajoling her. He combs her hair and plaits its with flowers. He also wears her clothes and struts around in her jewelry to make fun of her. Here you can witness Krishna embracing his femininity to the fullest. Radha sulks and despairs, wastes away, flies into tempers, rails at Krishna, consents and finds joy and contentment with him. This is as beautifully described by C John Holcombe, who translated Gita Govinda in English for Ocaso Press.
The milkmaids of Brindavan abandon their homes, their mundane lives, their possessions and run to Krishna when they hear him play the flute – his bansuri. They are morose when he disappears to get away from their possessive attitude to wards him. They are elated when he reappears to dance with each one of them simultaneously. These milkmaids are said to have been saints in their previous birth longing for the ultimate union with God. Without doubt, it is not the physicality of lust that is at play here but the emotional longing of the soul with devotion. While some artists have depicted Radha in the center of Raasleela paintings, many leave her out.
Radha does not follow the adult Krishna to Mathura. She does not ask to be married to him as did Andal. She does not object when he marries his wives. Radha does not go to Dwaraka to seek him out in the later stages of her life. She lives where she always was, in Vrindavan, fulfilling her duties. Was Radha a feminist in doing so? Or was she in completely touched by pure love that required no validation, not even a reciprocation of the emotion from her lover. Or was she just a symbol – a metaphor of those who are married to their responsibilities (as defined by society) and yet seeking liberation?
Gita Govinda in my opinion is esoteric. It’s meaning is to be felt and experienced by those who can elevate themselves to that position of ultimate devotion. True love is not meant to read, rationalised and understood. Its abstraction must be relished through emotional experience just like good poetry or beautiful jewelry. I hope you enjoyed reading Moods of Radha as jewelry. I am no theologian and do not believe to have understood Gita Govinda. But I do love Radha and the feeling that is created in my mind by evoking her name while listening to happy flute music. (Krishna track from Mahabharata – Courtesy Star TV)
The moods of love what pictures paint they,
Sensuous, Luscious, Rapturous, Ecstatic, Exquisite moods
The moods of love what pictures paint they…. Preface of the book – The songs of Radha
This post is the second in the Sammoh series. Find the part one of this series on Sammoh Jewelry here.
PS: Those looking to see available pieces in Patinam and Sammoh please check out the Shop at Sayuri page. There is not cart as of now but you can email me to buy.
I hope you find it interesting