Theirs is the quintessential love story that has withstood the test of time. In fact, it is eternal.
Such is their love that we cannot use one of their names without the other. Their names intertwine to make one word. Their love story serves as the muse to billions of artists, musicians, writers and poets through millennia. It fascinated scholars, philosophers, scriptwriters and film directors for eons. In the telling and listening of their story one is left with the maelstrom of awe at its mesmerising quality, disbelief at its depth, wonder at the sheer beauty of the protagonists and hope that we may achieve even an atomic fraction of its magical intensity.
The plot is simple and poignant. A young, impossibly handsome boy prince Krishna, disguised as a cowherd falls in love with Radha, a cowherd girl (gopi). Radha’s beauty eclipses even that of Krishna and it makes the fulsome words of renowned poets wither with hopelessness and impotence at their inability to describe her qualities in material terms. But that’s where the simplicity ends.
Radha and Krishna’s love transcends the ephemerality of the physical world and depicts a love so great that it becomes spiritual. They are soul mates. Radha is Krishna’s eternal consort and their days are spent in the idyllic bucolic setting of Vrindavan. In fact, Krishna (whose name literally means ‘all attractive’) is sought after by millions of girls. He is also loved by the childhood friends with whom he engages in mischievous pranks like stealing butter which he shares with them, and the monkeys. He is noted for being the flute player whose sweet, evocative music has the ability to enchant even the animals and trees.
However, the love between Radha and Krishna is defined in great part by the depth of Radha’s devotion to Krishna. Her every moment is spent thinking about him and is filled with the heady anticipation of their next meeting. She is aided and abetted by the gopi, Lalita. Radha’s love for Krishna is marked by selflessness. Look again at the image below, where the artist’s brush captures her adoration for him. Even when she looks at her reflection, she sees only Krishna!
The test of their love arises when Krishna leaves Radha and Vrindavan to take up his duties in the city and royal court. Radha is grief stricken. But her love for Krishna never wanes. And Krishna’s love for her is reciprocated in full. They never meet again except when she accompanies the residents of Vrindavan to Kuruksetra and observes Krishna on the battlefield.
If we examined the anatomy of this relationship, even on a superficial level, we see some truths that emerge:
- It is marked by sheer, unadulterated devotion to each other
- There is an investment of time
- It transcends the paltry bounds of geographical and physical separation,
- It is free of transactional connotation (Krishna has not called, messaged or emailed in two months so I won’t either!)
- There is a support system in place for Radha and Krishna
- They were never separated in a sense as they were constantly thinking of each other – a depiction of love in separation
In February, we tend to reflect more on our relationships. And we all hanker after a relationship where we can experience even an iota of the divine bliss of RadhaKrishna. There is a way… Krishna tells us that we can enjoy five types of relationships with him. Three of which are:
- Krishna as your beloved,
- Krishna as your trusted friend
- Krishna as your child.
And here’s the bonus, he tells us that for every one step you take towards him he will match it with ten steps…
I was grateful that I could take my daughters Radha and Lalita for their very first visit to Vrindavan in December 2015. Like millions before them, it captured their hearts and imagination.
Sudhana Singh is the Founder at Imbue, a coaching and training company aimed at managers and leaders. She is a former Headteacher and lecturer, an Executive Coach and a Systems Relationship Coach. Follow her on twitter @SudhanaSingh