Radha Ashtami is also known as Radha Jayanti is a Hindu festival celebrated as the birth anniversary of Goddess Radha. It falls on the Ashtami (8th day) of the Shukla Paksha, during the month of Bhadrapada (August-September). Radha Ashtami is celebrated 15 days after the celebration of Janmashtami (which is a festival celebrated as the birth of Lord Krishna). The festival is celebrated all across the country and especially in the north, with full devotion and joy.
Krishna’s birth is marked with solemnity while Radha’s birth celebrations are marked with joy and abandon. The center of festivities remains Barsana, the land of Radha, especially her temple on top of the Brahma hill. It is believed that Shri Krishna can be pleased by venerating Radha because Krishna always resides in the heart of Radha. It is believed that the worship of Shri Krishna remains incomplete without Radha Rani. Therefore, whenever the name of Lord Shri Krishna is taken, then the name of Radha Rani is taken together.
In 2021 Radha Ashtami festival will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 14.
Legends of the festival
Sri Radha descended in Barsana, a suburb of Mathura as the daughter of Vrashabhanu and Kirti, a village of India some 5000 years ago. The most revered occasion of the year for the people of Barsana, the joyous celebration begins with chanting of the leelas or divine play of Sri Radha with thousands of padas being sung in her honor.
The ‘Brahmavaivarta Purana’ describes Radha as a consort of Krishna’s in the heavenly sphere called golok who due to a curse was destined to come to earth reborn as a milkmaid and be re-united with Krishna.
Other interpretations reveal, just as Vishnu appeared in the incarnation of the human hero Krishna to save the earth, his consort Laxmi also came with him in the incarnation of Radha. In the sensuous lyrics of ‘Gita Govinda’ by Jayadeva, she is exalted as Krishna’s hladini shakti or blissful energy. In this position, it is Radha who is the principal idol of devotion and the symbol of divine love.
Vedic Literature explains that Radha is Krishna’s Spiritual Energy. Whenever the Lord incarnates, His Spiritual Energy also takes up a Female Form. Hence Hindus always worship Laxmi with Narayan, Seeta with Ram, and Radha with Krishna. It is redundant to state that one may attain Krishna only through the Grace of Radha.
Radha Chalisa mentions that Radha is arguably the most important Gopi in Raas (sacred dance) with Lord Krishna. Radha is often referred to as Radhika, Radharani, and Radhe in speech.
This day devotees worship Goddess Radha with utmost devotion and the day also honors the pure bond of love between Krishna and Radha, they are inseparable and one. Radha Ashtami is celebrated around 15 days after Janmashtami – the day when she was found for the first time on a lotus flower from which she emerged. Goddess Radha is older than Lord Krishna and it is believed that she didn’t open her eyes until Sri Krishna was born. It is also believed that Radha and Krishna are one energy itself in two different bodies. Their sacred relationship and dedication towards each other have great spiritual energy.
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.
On the day of Radhashtami, devotees acquire special sanctions which are not allowed generally. Special puja or prayer is conducted in Shri Krishna’s temples all across India to celebrate the occasion of Radha Ashtami. Some devotees also observe a fast for this occasion to show their devotion to Goddess Radha. Radharani’s name is not chanted overly due to the possibility of committing errors towards her. Neither are people allowed to enter Radha Kunda which is considered sacred. On the festival of Radhashtami, people ardently wait for midnight to bathe here.
People chant her names on the ”appearance day” or birthday of Sri Radha. Radharani is believed to ”appear”, being an eternal companion of Krishna, she does not take birth or die. During the festival of Radha Ashtami, devotees worship Radha along with Lord Sri Krishna.
The celebrations are galore in the holy town of Mathura, Vrindavan, and Barsana. Shri Radhika was born in Barsana and is also known as Barsane waali Radha.
Radha Ashtami significance
It is said that fasting on Radha Ashtami destroys all sins. Married women keep Radha Rani’s fast on the day of Radha Ashtami for unbroken good fortune, happiness, prosperity, and children. It is believed that by observing Radha Ashtami fast there is never any shortage of money in the house and good luck comes in the house. According to religious texts, those who please Radha ji, their Shri Krishna automatically becomes pleased.
Mantra to chant
The following Mantra must be recited on the day of Radha Ashtami to envoke the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi:
|| Aum Vrashbahnujaye Vidmahe, Krishnapriyaye Dheemahi Tanno Radha Prachodyat ||