Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Shaping the Gods

Today it is a common sight to see the Vigraha or idol of Radha standing close together with Lord Krishna, in countless Vaishnava temples around India. Actually it was only around the 18th Century that Radha Krishna as a pair of young lovers came to be installed in temples.
For a long time in the Vaishnavite temples, Lord Krishna was worshipped as Bal Gopal or a baby Krishna crawling on all fours one plump baby fist holding up a Laddoo . As a mature man , Krishna was commonly worshipped only as Vishnu, whose Avatar he was deemed to be .
According to Bhakti Ratnakar of the Vaishnava saint poet Prem Vilas, an idol of Shri Radha, Krishna's divine beloved, was first created in Bengal at the behest of one, Janhavi Devi, the second wife of the Vaishnavite Shri Nityanand Prabhu . She it is believed, had seen Radha Rani standing with Lord Krishna in a dream and got her idol created by the famous sculptor Nayan Bhaskar.
Lore has it that Radha was a married woman older than Krishna and traditionally only the deemed wife was paired with her Lord as in the case of Shiva and Parvati and Vishnu and Laxmi.
But Radha was special .
How can one picture the merry flute player with a peacock feather in his hair, without his great love? How indeed ? after the great love had been so widely and unforgettably celebrated in hundreds of poems and songs by all the major poets ? So the idol was sent to the holy city of Vrindavan in the west where Radha and Krishna had performed many Leelas, and permission was sought for its installation next to Krishna.
After considering the great love between the sublime lovers, Radha and Krishna, the Chief Priest Jiva Goswami permitted the Radha idol to be installed next to Krishna. Thereafter gradually it became mandatory to worship Krishna either as an infant (Bal Gopal) or Vishnu or he is standing with Radha .


At 24 December 2014 at 07:05 , Blogger Suresh Pant said...

Good piece indeed. You are right to mention that Vaishnavs used to worship Balgopal, also called Laddo Gopal and Vishnu icons as far as sakar bhakts are concerned, but would like to remind you that Uttarakhandi Brahmans of older times used to worship black Shaligrama Shila, an un-iconic nirakar form of Vishnu. I wonder how this fossil of some sea animal found place in our sacred puja grihas. Any idea?


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