CREDOS : Radha and Krishna

Krishna and his female partner, Radha, are associated with ideas of intense romantic love about which many stories, and poems such as the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva, were written. The reasons for this are obscure as the object of Krishna’s emotional fervour involved an apparent disregard for Indian social conventions since she was already married. Although marriages at this time were a matter of arrangement, fidelity was implicit and whereas in the older texts infidelity (including incest) between the gods was commonplace but remote like the gods themselves, the stories of Radha and Krishna were set in everyday circumstances. Moreover, many of the stories about them seemed to place emphasis on female beauty and refer unmistakably to the pleasures of physical love. The religious content of the Krishna movement is therefore ambiguous; Krishna is a god, but his relationship with Radha both offends and transcends conventional morality. Stories about them have a religious and a secular content, and the levels of symbolism that can be attributed to the details are therefore considerably increased, from the superficial to the complex.

The sense in which they can be appreciated is also equally varied depending upon whether they convey strong spiritual insight, or are tales of romantic love or thinly disguised eroticism. Running through all, it is probably their theme of unfulfilled aspiration that accounts for their popularity. — Hindu Gods and Goddesses