Why I Write: To Explore The Enigma That Is Being Radha
Myth or Reality? The boundary between these two gets blurred in a world that believes in logic and evidence. It is only ‘faith’ that restores definition and clarity. While reality can never be tampered with, myth allows one the freedom of interpretation.
Mythology and romances always fascinated me and I grew up binging on both of these genres. Out of many, I found Radha -Krishna unique. Their story was neither the typical love story nor was it the kind you come across in mythology.
Female protagonists in Indian mythology are full of intrigue. Despite the different roles assigned to them such as power, knowledge and wealth they are ultimately presented as creators of the world, as mothers, a role in which they are worshipped.
But Radha was different. She presented a very different facet of womanhood. She was the ‘Balsakhi’, who played with God. She would sing and dance with God and adorn herself to look beautiful to him. She would get torn by jealousy, fight with him and then make up passionately. She would sneak discreetly from her home to meet him. She was the lover, never the wife or the mother. Radha-Krishna’s union was not socially acceptable yet they are worshipped in temples, even in older times.
This got me thinking. Did they have a different metaphysical meaning?
I started scanning the literature on Radha.
None of the major texts like Ramayan, Mahabharat, or Bhagvat-Gita speak of Radha. Though she is mentioned in many different smaller texts, the description of her and the events in her life are highly conflicting. We see her recognition in the twelfth Century text, ‘Gita Govinda’ by Jaydeva. She is described in glorious terms in the book which envisions Krishna as an eternal lover, madly and forever in love with Radha, who reciprocates his love in equal measure. It stormed the imagination of people in those times and Radha-Krishna became the much adored and revered divine couple.
Not much is known about what happens to Radha, after Krishna leaves for Mathura. There is again a wide discrepancy in the different narrations. In all probability, her role in his life was over as Krishna focused his energies in the other far more important events that occupy his life, thence.
But, through all the metaphors and variations, what strikes one is the story of a simple, village girl who steals the heart of god. And the more I read, the more I began to admire Radha.
Older and betrothed to someone else, she chose to defy societal norms and love another man, display her love openly yet later gave him up easily. Was she fighting stereotypes, even at that time?
Certain questions emerged- did she never miss him or want him to come back? How could she love someone with such intensity and then let go, so easily? Did they ever meet after that or did she continue waiting, eternally?
I wondered what was it like to be a God’s beloved; what was it like to be a woman accorded the status of divinity yet understood poorly?
I, a woman living in the 21 st century struggled to understand Radha and her predicament and took the liberty of choosing my own narration, telling the story of a woman who symbolizes love and longing, which is otherwise brushed over in spiritual texts.
The book explores the protagonist Radha, as she narrates her life story sharing with us her journey. At places she comes across as a philosopher, at places a poet; at places a woman deeply in love, pinning, craving his attention; at places she is his friend reprimanding him for his many adventures, and later as a woman holding on to his love even as he leaves for Mathura. The book also talks of her marriage to Ayan and the life she leads after Krishna’s departure from her life.
I chose to write in verses rather than prose because I believe storytelling in India has traditionally been in the form of verses. And it was the right medium to convey the love of Radha Krishna, do justice to the multitude of emotions, depth of meaning and the beauty that Being Radha is all about. They bring the music and the magic of Radha-Krishna alive.
The verses are at places metaphorical and at places subtle. But they allow the reader freedom of interpretation- you can read it as a love story of an eternal couple, or as the union of devotion with divinity.
A seemingly simple story, yet it displays Radha’s attempts to analyse, comprehend and come to terms with her reality. Many of the verses pose questions to Krishna as well.
Like when she broods
In the battlefield
As you teach them
The path of Dharma
Will you ever look back
At your own karma?
There are unanswered questions, gaps in our understanding. But Radha’s story is equally contemporary, fascinating and enthralling.
For me, a doctor, whose earlier books ‘House of Doctors’ and ‘Chronicles of a Gynaecologist’ were both in medical genre it has been a very revealing journey as I moved from medicine to mythology. But similar to my earlier books which have always been women-centric I focused on the woman ‘Radha’. Yet I never lost the insight that she was The Goddess.
The book is a sincere attempt to explore the enigma that is Being Radha, beyond Her Love and His Leela.
Tripti Sharan is the author of books ‘House of Doctors’ and ‘Chronicles of a Gynaecologist’. Her latest book is ‘Being Radha’. The views expressed are the author’s own.