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Book – Radha: The Secret Goddess – Demystified – Interview with Author Dr. Kannan Srinivasan

The book titled ‘Radha: The Secret Goddess – Demystified’, written by Dr. Kannan Srinivasan, (published in April 2018) is the journey into the world of Radha – the divine consort of Sri Krishna. To know more about the book, I did an interview with Author Dr. Kannan Srinivasan. You can learn more about the book through the interview.

1. Majority of Hindus today believe that Radha is a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi. She is worshipped as a Goddess especially in Vrndavan and Mathura. Hindus are not bothered about what scholars think about her. She represents divine love and she is the consort of Sri Krishna. It is always Radha- Krishna for them. So is she really a secret Goddess to devout Hindus?

Dr. Kannan Srinivasan : Radha is verily a secret Goddess in the sense that her manifold dimensions and exalted glories are not fully understood by a vast majority of people despite worshipping her for many centuries. Moreover, still a doubt lingers in their mind as to whether she is really a divine historic personality or a metaphor or is artificially created. This Book seeks to dispel all such doubts and misgivings about Radha whether in the minds of the ordinary or scholastic people, based on references from authentic scriptures. The reasons for her pangs of separation from Krishna, as well as her exalted state of unconditional love towards Krishna are not known to many. Radha represents many forms like Sri, Sita, Gopi, Rama, Gandharvi and so on. There are many secrets (rahasya) surrounding Radha which are revealed in this Book. Hence it is titled so.

2. There is no proper reference of Radha in the Mahabharata. The only mention we get is that of Radha being a friend of Yashoda. Have you come across any other authentic source from the Mahabharata period?

There are references in Mahabharata about Goloka which have been covered in the Book. Radha finds a place in authentic Puranas like Padma Purana, Brahmavaivarta Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Skanda Purana, Sri Devi Bhagavatam, Matsya Purana, Adi Purana, Linga Purana, Narada Purana, Varaha Purana and so on. Radha is referred to in Scriptures like Garga Samhita, Sanatkumara Samhita, Brahma Samhita, Varaha Samhita and so on.

3. Will it be true to say that Radha acquired her present status after Jaidev Gaud (Jayadeva) a poet of the royal court of King Laksmansen of Bengal (1179-1203 AD), made her his heroine in his Gita Govinda (Song of Govinda)?

This is exactly what the Book succeeds in disproving. Radha finds a place from first century onwards in Sanskrit classical literature besides a host of Vedic scriptures much before the period of Jayadeva. This Books presents a lot of such ancient references.

4. What role did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his Gaudiya Vaishnavism play in spreading the concept of Radha Krishna?

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is considered as the Avatara of Sri Krishna to redeem humanity in Kali Yuga. He propagated the glories of the Hare Krsna Mahamantra and made it available with ceaseless mercy for all irrespective of caste, creed or color. His intense Prema bhava in the mood of Radha is amazing. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Gaudiya Vaishnavism play a very crucial role in spreading the concept of Radhakrishna through Bhakti Marga by means of nama sankirtanam.

5. Divine love between Sri Krishna and Radha – how far has it influenced the concept of love among general Hindus.

The exalted love of Radha towards Krishna is unconditional, total and divine. This Prema Bhakti has even attracted many great ascetics who have sung the glories of Radhakrishna Lilas. It has demonstrated that only by pure love one can reach the Supreme. We need to understand that this world can be a place worthy of living only when there is selfless love in the society.

6. The love of Radha and Krishna is an inspiration for writers, musicians, artists, painters, performing arts. How far has it helped in spreading the teachings of Hinduism? On the other hand, do you think they have done more damage than good?

Radhakrishna love has greatly strengthened Hinduism by its all-inclusive approach by bringing together people from varied social background without any discrimination. Even foreigners who have no idea of the basic tenets of Hinduism are greatly attracted towards Radhakrishna. Thus this amazing unifying concept of Prema bhava is the basis of universal love which cuts across all barriers. It is important to understand this divine love from a proper perspective so that there is no misuse of this ecstatic concept.

7. During the writing of the book, what new did you discover about Radha that influenced your thoughts and led to changing of some of your earlier believes and ideas?

The vast extent to which Radha finds a place in many Puranas and Classical literature prior to Jayadeva was a great revealing fact as I delved deep into this research work.

8. Can you define what you mean by Radha Tattvam?

Radha tattvam represents the hladini sakti of Krishna in terms of the pleasure potency. Radha and Krishna are always intrinsically united in terms of prakrti and purusha, milk and whiteness, fire and heat, water and coolness, earth and fragrance. Radha has emanated from Krishna and both are construed as one and the same exalted divine principle.

9. What are the striking differences you find in Radha in secular literature and in scriptures like Puranas?

Puranas highlight the supremacy of Radha as an exalted deity while in secular literature we find prominently the romance and physical intimacy of Radha and Krishna. It is important to view the supreme love of Radha and Krishna with a vision engrossed in flawless madhurya bhava.

10. How is Radha treated in Tantrism? What is her status and is there any major difference in the generally perceived image of Radha?

Radha Tantra is a key treatise which accords a very high pedestal for Radha and her divinity. There is no major difference from the general perception in the sense that the divinity and greatness of Radha is clearly established in this work. Radha is also referred to in other Tantra literature like Brhad Gautamiya Tantra, Urdhvamnaya Tantra, Mrtyunjaya Tantra, Krshna Yamala Tantra, Rudrayamala Tantra and so on. Narada Pancaratra establishes beyond doubt that Radha manifests from Krishna and verily there is no difference between the two.

11. What are the important sources that you have used to learn about Radha?

My sources include the four Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Tantras, Classical Sanskrit literature, Works of Goswamis, Classical Tamil literature and Nalayira Divya Prabandham.

12. Is Radha the way to understanding Krishna – the Supreme Truth?

Though there are 16108 consorts of Krishna, he feels more blissful only if he is lovingly called as Radhakrishna or Radhapathi. Radha is the holistic personification of the unceasing and causeless mercy of Krishna which offers redemption for all. By first obtaining the grace of Radha, one can definitely get the sacred association of Krishna easily and definitely.

13. There are several beliefs regarding Radha among general public; like she was elder to Krishna; she was married; she did not have children. What is one important wrong belief that you would want to change with your book?

The Book is definitely bound to change the misconception that Radha is only an ordinary cowherdess and her glories have been blown out of proportion without the strong backing of the Vedic scriptures.

14. Radha is an elusive character for a serious student of Hinduism. How will your book help a student of Hinduism in understanding Radha? What has the book for a common Hindu devotee?

The Book highlights the key role of Radha in the proper perspective by removing all misconceptions about her in the realms of Bhakti marga. For an ordinary devotee it strengthens and consolidates the faith in the Supreme by following the path of Bhakti. For a student of Hinduism, this book highlights the common thread of worship of Sri Radha prescribed across various Puranas, and diverse sects of Hinduism, several of which have been underappreciated. For example, in the Sri Vaishnava tradition, the Azhvars glorify and worship Nappinnai, as the most beloved consort of Sri Krishna and it is established in this book that Nappinnai very closely resembles Sri Radha. Accordingly, Pinnaimanalan refers to only Radhavallabha.

15. You will be facing two set of readers – 1) Devotees – for them Bhakti is the most important thing. They want to see Radha as Goddess. 2) People with doubts regarding the origin, life and nature of Radha – among them some even believe Radha was a later creation not part of the original stories of Krishna. Does your book satisfy both kinds of readers?

This Book satisfies both types of people. In fact, it convincingly clarifies through multifarious references from authentic scriptures, the doubts in the minds of those about the authenticity, antiquity and role of Radha in the pursuit of madhurya bhava.

16. Some of your earlier works were more philosophical and on management like the Vedic Management. So how was it to dive into the world of Bhakti in which logic and management techniques have no value?

While management techniques have immense value in day-to-day life, in the realm of Bhakti sustained devotion and unconditional surrender to the Supreme matter the most. However, Bhakti verily has a deep philosophical foundation as expounded in the commentaries of our Acharyas, which also caters to the intellectual and logical fulfillment of the aspirant. It has been a very delightful experience and only due to the ceaseless grace of the Supreme Radhakrishna, the Book could see the light of the day.

Radha: The Secret Goddess – Demystified is available online on Amazon India and on Amazon US.