“When the spiritual body, mind and senses are completely purified, one can render service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His consort. In Vaikuntha the consort is Lakshmi, and in Goloka Vrindavana the consort is Shrimati Radharani.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 8.229 Purport)
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that a woman makes the home. This is common knowledge to those who have visited the typical “bachelor pad.” A refrigerator filled with beer and soda, a living room with scant furniture, dirty dishes piled up in the sink – males usually aren’t suited for homemaking. A woman makes the home in the big house up in the spiritual sky as well. On the occasion of Radhashtami we celebrate her unique position.
Is God a He? Why can’t the Supreme be a She? The Vedas provide the most clarity on the subject. The truths they present make up a science. This means that Vedic knowledge is not meant to be accepted blindly. Sure, you need humble submission at the beginning. The first grade student isn’t going to learn how to read and write if they don’t listen to the teacher. In the same way, to become truly enlightened about spiritual matters requires patience and respect to ingest necessary pieces of information.
Yet after everything has been taken in, there should be deliberation. Any lingering doubts should be squashed; no genuine question should be dismissed by the teacher. For instance, if the student asks why God can’t be a female, an answer should be forthcoming.
The female aspect of the Divine is well represented in Vedic teachings. In bhakti philosophy, which goes beyond Vedanta, the feminine aspect of the Supreme Lord is known as Radha. She is a distinct personality, though in interest she is merged with the male aspect, who is known as Krishna. Here we review some important details about Radha.
1. She is the feminine aspect of God.
Male and female together. In Sanskrit the corresponding terms are purusha and prakriti. Purusha is the enjoyer and prakriti is that which is enjoyed. In the higher scheme, there is only one purusha. He enjoys everything. No one can take that away from Him. Since He is the only enjoyer, it is natural for Him to be known as God.
Prakriti is that which He enjoys. The souls that go wayward, thinking themselves to be purusha, descend to a land that is like a shadow of the original realm. It must be this way, since the pursuit to enjoy separately of Krishna is itself illusion.
Radha is the prakriti that never mistakenly thinks she is purusha. She is always ready to give service to her beloved Krishna, to allow Him to enjoy her. This is what makes her happiest. Indeed, the same sentiment lies deep within all of us.
2. She is the pleasure potency.
The living entities that fall into the material realm are known as jivas. This energy that comes from God is known as the jiva-shakti. Radha is the hladini-shakti, or the pleasure potency. She pleases Krishna more than anyone else can. It is for this reason that she is always depicted with Krishna in paintings. She sports with the jewel of Vrindavana under the moonlit night.
3. She is Krishna’s eternal consort.
The term “wife” doesn’t suffice for Radha. As she is the queen of Vrindavana, she is also known as Radharani. Marriage is an institution in dharma, which is like religiosity or virtue. Dharma exists to help the jivas return to the spiritual realm. As Radha doesn’t require such salvation, her relationship to Krishna is not bound by any code of ethics or rules of morality. She is forever with Krishna in an amorous relationship, more specifically known as madhurya-rasa.
4. She opens her eyes for the first time to see Krishna.
Radha and Krishna enjoy eternally in the spiritual realm and they sometimes appear in our world for our benefit. When Radha appears, the occasion becomes known as Radhashtami. She arrives at the same land of Vrindavana, around two weeks after the date of Krishna’s appearance. She gives a slight problem to her beloved parents, though. She fails to open her eyes in the beginning, causing them concern. The problem is solved when baby Krishna gets invited over. While the elders are off talking and taking care of other matters, Krishna comes over to Radha. She then opens her eyes for the first time, proving that she has eyes only for the Supreme Lord.
5. She recommends other devotees for service.
Being a pure devotee, Shrimati Radharani is extremely humble. She does not consider herself to be as elevated as she actually is. Because of this natural humility, she readily recommends others to Krishna. Those who are sincere in their desire to serve the Supreme Lord, to always be conscious of Him, to make both Him and His servants happy, seek the blessings of Radha. If she is pleased, then success in devotional service is assured. She has Krishna’s ear, and she will put in a good word for those who approach her.
Radha has every good quality imaginable, and her service proves that Krishna is pleased by both male and female. He is not particular. He does not restrict anyone from the highest religion that is bhakti-yoga. Devotion to God is already all-inclusive; no separate endeavor to equalize all religions is necessary. Radha and Krishna are the female and male aspects of God together, the ideal pair to worship for lifetime after lifetime.
As Krishna God is a He,
And Radha female aspect is She.
The Lord her service happily accepts,
Sincere devotee never He rejects.
Through Radha to Lord become dear,
Since in closeness she having His ear.
Eternal consort, more than a wife,
Ideal to worship in life after life.