Once, Lord Krishna asked Radha, “Tell me Where I do not exist”? Radha smiled and replied, “In my Destiny”. Then Radha asked Krishna, “Why our marriage cannot happen?” To then Krishna smiled and replied, “For marriage, two persons are required, we are already one”. The epitome of true love and devotion is Radha. This auspicious festival of ‘Radha Ashtami’ is dedicated to Radha (incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi) and marks the birth anniversary of Radha. It is observed on the ‘Shukla Ashtami’ of the Bhadrapada month. She was also known as ‘Radhika’ or ‘Radharani’, the childhood lover and friend of Lord Krishna. Krishna devotees offer their respect to Radha on this day in various temples especially at her birthplace, the holy city of ‘Barsana’. It is said that if one manages to please Radha, Lord Krishna’s blessings are also sought because Lord Krishna resides in Radha. According to the ‘Skanda Puran’, there were about 16,000 ‘gopis’, out of which 108 were the most prominent ones, Radha was considered as the most important of them all.
What is the history behind celebrating ‘Radha Ashtami’?
According to the folklore, When Lord Vishnu took ‘avatar’ as Krishna, Goddess Laxmi appeared as ‘Radharani’. This day marks the birth anniversary of Radharani. The legend says that Vrishbhanu was going by a riverside in ‘Barsana’ where he heard the crying of a baby. To his astonishment, a baby girl was floating in a lotus flower on the river. Since he and his wife Kamlavati did not have any child of their own, they adopted her happily and started taking care of her. Radha appeared on the earth exactly two weeks after Lord Krishna’s earth and did not open her majestic eyes till the time Krishna did not appear before him. Sage ‘Narada’ told Vrishbhanu and his wife that Radha is the incarnation of Goddess Laxmi and they have been blessed. The love of Radha and Krishna till date is considered as the most pious and soulful love that has ever occurred between lovers. They are considered as one and thus Krishna amalgamates in Radha. Those who worship Radha are said to be blessed with Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi’s blessings.
What is the mantra that has to be chanted on the eve of ‘Radha Ashtami’?
“Aum Vrashbahnujaye Vidmahe, Krishnapriyaye Dheemahi Tanno Radha Prachodyat”
What are the rituals one has to follow on the eve of ‘Radha Ashtami’?
- Place the idols of Lord Krishna and Radharani in the praying area together.
- Clean the idols with Panchamrit (mixture of curd, milk, honey, buttermilk and holy Ganga water)
- Decorate the idols with fresh clothes and flowers.
- Devotee then offers, ‘Dhoop’, incense sticks, ‘Kukmkum’, ‘roli’, ‘Akshat’, flowers and ‘Shringaar’ items to the idols.
- Devotees then along with their whole families sing Radharani’s ‘Aarti’ and distribute ‘Prasad’ or sweets to everyone.
- Devotees chant “ Jai Jai Shree Radhe” the whole day to seek the blessings from Lord Krishna.
- Radha is considered as the consort of Lord Krishna. She is a perfect example of true boundless love. Special ‘Pooja’ rituals are performed on this day. Women observe fast to seek blessings of Radha for their love.