Radhe is among the most well-known of Krishna’s devotees. Continuing last month’s story on Krishna’s butter-thieving, Sadhguru tells us the story of how Krishna and Radhe met, and about the intensity of Radhe’s devotion.
Sadhguru: When Krishna returned home from the river, by then the news of his prank had reached Yashodha. When he found out that someone had come and told his mother, he couldn’t believe it. “Why are these women so talkative? Even when it is going to bring shame to them they still can’t keep their mouths closed. They have to go and talk. And how ungrateful they are. If it were not for me, today they would have had to walk naked through the town in broad daylight. I gave them their clothes. How ungrateful they are!” But he was not resentful about it because he thought it was just a temporary phase his mother was going through. But Yashodha was really angry. “Enough is enough. Come with me.” She held him by his ears, dragged him out, and taking a cane, gave him a little bit of “design” on the backside. Krishna couldn’t believe that his mother was so angry. He couldn’t understand it because normally, she got angry about many things but if he just smiled at her or bats his eyelids, she would be okay. But today she did not relent.
Later, while Yashodha was inside the house churning butter, Krishna thought her anger was over, so he tried to go and pull her sari to make peace with her. “After all, why are you so angry? I have been so kind to them today. Otherwise they would have had to walk naked in broad daylight. I gave them back their clothes. Why so much anger?” But Yashodha just looked at him as if she was going to eat him.
Krishna was confused, “What’s happening? Women have some funny ways about their clothes!” So, he tried to approach her again but she just glared and growled at him. Then Krishna thought she was going too far. “What did I do? I was good to these women and they complained out of their ungratefulness. Why is she doing this,” he thought. When Yashodha got up to attend to some other errand in the kitchen, Krishna went straight to the butter pot and not only picked and ate the butter, he broke the pot and taking all the butter in his hands, he went out and called the monkeys. He sat on a large pounding wood that was there and gave them butter. They happily ate all of it while spilling a lot on the floor. When Yashodha came and saw the butter pot broken, she was so angry and now she knew what he has been doing around the village. She got a rope, caught hold of Krishna and tied him up to the pounding wood he had been sitting on. “This will teach you a lesson. You are going too far. When will you change?” she said and left.
Initially, Krishna cried and tried to get her attention but Yashodha did not relent. Then he got angry. Using all his strength he just dragged the heavy pounding wood, which would normally not have been possible for a child of seven, and went on. It was the middle of the afternoon and all the village folk were busy with their work so there was no one who could help him. He just dragged it on and went towards the forest because all the cowherds, his friends and the elders, would be there in the forest. Above all, he wanted to teach his mother a lesson for being unreasonably angry.
As he was going towards the river in the forest, he passed between two big trees and the pounding wood got stuck. He pulled it with such strength that these two trees just got uprooted and crashed! But after this he was bruised by the rope and was very tired so he just stopped and rested there. Suddenly, he heard two female voices coming towards him. Two girls came that way and they noticed Krishna. The younger girl Lalitha was his playmate. The older girl was about 12 years of age. He did not know who she was but he was just drawn to her. She was Radhe.
The moment Radhe set her eyes on 7-year-old Krishna, he never went out of her eyes. From that moment, Krishna just lived in her eyes her whole life, whether he was physically there or not there. To put it in her own words, “I live in him. He lives in me. And that’s all. It doesn’t matter where he is or who he is with, he is only with me. He cannot be anywhere else.”
The two girls came up to him and asked, “What happened to you? Who tied you up like this so cruelly?”
Radhe tried to untie him from the mortar wood but Krishna said, “Don’t do that. I want my mother to untie it. If you untie it she may still remain angry. If she has to come in search of me and untie me, then it will help her to go beyond her anger.”
The girls asked Krishna, “Is there anything else we can do for you?”
Krishna wanted Lalitha out of the way, so he told her, “Go get me some water.” And 12-year-old Radhe and 7-year-old Krishna sat together, and these two beings in many ways merged into one in that single meeting. Nobody could put them apart after that, so much so that even after thousands of years, we still cannot think of them as two separate people.
Radhe was the daughter of Vrishnabanu and was born in the village of Barsana in a simple cowherd family. She lost her mother when she was just 6 years old and was brought up by her maternal grandmother. When her mother was alive, she had made a visit to a Mahadeva temple in Gokula, where Shiva was worshipped by all the gopas and gopis. She had taken a vow that she would visit the temple, and after her visit, she promised that she would come again. But she was unable to fulfill her vow before she died, and it was as a part of fulfilling this vow that Radhe had come with her maternal grandmother to Gokula.
For a few days Krishna and Radhe played together and then it was time for her to leave. She was travelling in a bullock cart along with her family, when they saw Krishna running behind the cart. Being such a lovable boy, they took him in the cart so that he could ride with them till the outskirts of the village. At the outskirts of the village, Krishna got down. He came to know that the whole of Barsana village had decided to migrate to Vrindavan, a place which was not yet inhabited, on the banks of the river Yamuna.
Krishna told Radhe, “I will come to Vrindavan.” Radhe just took this simple statement of Krishna as a promise and she waited for months. Almost 13 months later, because of certain problems in Gokula, especially because wild animals were attacking their cattle, the people of Gokula decided to migrate to Vrindavan which was a virgin forest with abundant grasslands next to the river. The whole village – men, women, children, all the livestock they had, the bullock carts and their things – everything was packed up and they moved to Vrindavan.
A group of young and enthusiastic boys were leading the caravan to Vrindavan and Krishna was the leader of this group. Radhe heard that Gokul is coming to Vrindavan and she took it as, “He is fulfilling his promise to me. He said he will come and he is coming.” Once a person rises beyond certain limitations of his consciousness, every thought of his becomes the will of God itself. The very destiny and course of the world could be decided just by his will, simply by thought. The whole of Gokula went to Vrindavan and a whole new life started there.
This childhood meeting of Radhe and Krishna was the beginning of a whole new spiritual path. There are Radhe Panthis and Vishnu Panthis who don’t worship Krishna, they worship only Radhe. They are very huge groups with a large following. If you travel in North India, you will see stickers and posters with just Radhe, no Krishna. Because in her love and her sense of inclusion, she just included him as a part of herself. They say, “There is no Krishna without Radhe.” It’s not the other way around. It is not that there is no Radhe without Krishna. There is no Krishna without Radhe. The word “Radhe” means, Ra means Ras, which means love or juice of life. Dhe means “the giver.”
If you want to taste Krishna, you must become feminine. This is not about being physically male or female. The feminine can be as alive in a man as it is in a woman because the feminine is a certain quality. If you want to know Krishna, you must be willing to become absolutely feminine. This is a path to the ultimate but it is a path of intimacy and tremendous passion. It is a path which does not exclude anything but the very nature of the path is such that once a person steps into it, everything else just disappears. For Radhe, the world does not exist. Only Krishna exists. She is not a good social being but she is an absolutely colorful eternal being.
Editor’s Note: Watch the Leela series, where Sadhguru explores the life and path of Krishna. Available as a free webstream – one part every week.