(101 India) My introduction to spirituality came at a very young age.
“RADHE RADHE!” came the loud chanting of the Brajwasis (locals of Vrindavan) who had just entered Bankey Bihari temple – one of the most famous Krishna temples in India, as it opened its doors for darshan.
The sound stopped me short, as I was about to put a bite of halwa puri in my mouth. “Radhe Radhe!” the men and women dressed in traditional attire continued, as they clapped their hands together rhythmically.
I stared at them a little bewildered. Scanning their faces, I turned to my mother who was sitting on the temple floor beside me, receiving prasad and talking to the pandits.
“Why are they calling me, Mummy?” I asked with confusion. I turned to the crowd and yelled, “Yes, I am here! Why are you calling me?”
My mum looked down at her 5-year-old daughter and laughed hysterically. With Radha as my name and Radhe as my nickname, I naturally assumed the call was for me. I once read about a princess from Rajasthan who came to this temple and had such a strong connection, that Krishna followed her and was found missing at his temple home. That day, I think he followed me too.
Bearing a name permanently conjoined with one of Hinduisms most loved Gods often made me wonder what role Krishna as a character played in my own life. I have always been besotted with Krishna, and I know it’s not only because my name is Radha, though this has undeniably contributed to the realisation of an incomparable bond.
I admit there have been times where I didn’t feel thrilled about my name. For example, when it was constantly butchered growing up around foreigners, being called ‘Radical’. Or when random guys in an attempt to flirt will say, “Your name is Radha? Then I am Krishna!” Seriously how could they believe I have never heard that one before?
Maybe because of my (borderline) obsession, I’m often asked if I would like to end up with a man with the personality type of Krishna. Honestly, which girl doesn’t dig the attractive/flirt/bad boy/prankster? But in truth, my love for Krishna is much deeper than romantic love.
Familiar with the ritual of prayer from a young age, a realisation came to me in my teen years. After school one day I was sitting with my best friend, Krishna Lila Sims, an American girl whose family are Hare Krishna devotees. (It’s not surprising that Radha was drawn to Krishna yet again). She was discussing a quote from The Mahabharata that she loved, spoken by one of its characters, Queen Kunti.
Kunti prayed to lord Krishna and stated that people only seem to remember God during times of suffering. So if that is what it took for her to remember him more often, to please give her more suffering. This really boggled my mind. I had always been taught to pray for the things I wanted most, and in prayer to ask God to ease my suffering. So why would someone desire suffering in order to pray?
She explained, “See that’s what Krishna is all about, That’s how His worship differs. He is the love Deity. You pray to him, just for the love of Him. No reason, no request, just simply for the love of Him.”