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I recently read an article on the internet claiming that Shri Radha might not be real but an imaginary character and the reason they gave was that although Shri Radha has been given much preference than Rukmini, Her reference is not found in any major Puranas of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna. Her reference is only found in Bramha Vaivarta Purana and texts written by Poet Jaidev. If She had been such an important part of Lord Krishna's life then She should have been mentioned in other major Vaishnav Puranas.

So, I wanted to check whether this is true and or not and if not, then which all Puranas or other important Hindu texts contains references about Her.

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    Possible duplicate of References of Radha in the Itihasas? – The Destroyer Jul 13 '16 at 8:35
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    @SwiftPushkar Actually the Padma, Skanda, Narada, Brahmanda, Brahmavaivarta, Matsya (only one reference), Devi Bhagavata and Shiva Puranas talk about Radharani. – Surya Jul 13 '16 at 13:01
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    Yeah, as Surya mentioned above there are many Puranas that talk about Radha. And some Pancaratra and Tantra scriptures talk about Radha as well, to name a few: Brihad Brahma Samhita, Narada Pancaratra, Sanatkumara-samhita, Garga Samhita, Brihad-gautamiya-tantra, Urdhvamnaya-tantra. Purusa-bodhini Upanishad also known as Radhopanishad also tells about Radha. – brahma jijnasa Jul 13 '16 at 18:24
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    @Aby The Padma Purana and Narada Purana are both Vaishnava Puranas. I do not know about Vishnu Purana but in the Bhagavatam there are many indirect references to her. Harivamsa talks of Nila Devi who may or may not be the same as Radharani. – Surya Jul 14 '16 at 8:45
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    Aby and @Surya As far as I know there is no mention of Radha in the Vishnu Purana. And Nila Devi definitely in not Sri Radha, but is a different person. @ Aby: You can read some of indirect references to Radha in the Bhagavatam chapter 10.30 at vedabase.com/en/sb/10/30 verses 24 and forward. I suggest you to read some of the purports to those verses where it is explained that those verses about unnamed gopi is referring to Radha, such as verse 10.30.28 vedabase.com/en/sb/10/30/28 and 10.30.35-36 etc. – brahma jijnasa Jul 18 '16 at 19:40
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Srimati Radharani is mentioned in many Puranas like the Padma, Skanda, Narada, Brahmanda, Brahmavaivarta, Matsya, Shiva Puranas as well as the Devi Bhagavatam.

In the Padma Purana, her worship is mentioned in the 7th as well as 20th Chapters of the Bhumikanda (Volume 5 of Translation), in The Radhashtami and Radhadamodara Vrata.

Further, the Patalakhanda (Volume 6), Chapter 71 is about the greatness of Radhakrishna, and the subsequent few chapters describe the various Leelas of the divine couple, including one Leela where the Pandava Arjuna Is transported to Vrindavana, where he becomes a Gopika called Arjuni and is blessed with the darshan of Radhakrishna.

In the Narada Purana, (Volume 3), the 89th chapter describes the Yugala Sahasranama or 1000 names of both Radha and Krishna, where the first 500 names are Krishna's and the second 500 are Radharani’s names. It also includes, in its Uttarabhaga, a chapter about Vrindavana Mahatmya (Volume 5, Chapter 80), where Sage Narada becomes a gopi in Vrindavana to take part in Srimati Radharani’s Leelas.

In the Skanda Purana, Vaishnava Khanda, Bhagavata Mahatmya talks about Srimati Radharani. The 1st chapter (Volume 6) contains the famous statement, “Atma Tu Radhika Tasya” – Radharani is Krishna's soul. The Vasudeva Mahatmya (Volume 7), Chapters 16 and 17 describe Goloka and the manifestation of Radhakrishna for Narada.

In the Brahmanda Purana, Upodghata Parva, the last few chapters tell the story of Parashurama. In these chapters, Parashurama receives the hymn called Krishna Prema-Amrta from Rishi Agastya. He goes to Kailasa to meet Lord Shiva, where he chops off Lord Ganesha’s tusk. When Parvati Devi is furious with Parashurama, Lord Krishna and Radharani arrive from Goloka to appease Parvati. Their arrival and subsequent stotra is described in the 42nd and 43rd chapters of the Upodghata Parva (Volume 2 of Brahmanda Purana). The Stotra ‘Grhe Radha Vane Radha’ is also said to be from this Purana.

The Matsya Purana, when listing the goddesses of various cities, says, “Rukmini Dvaravatyam Tu Radha Vrindavane Vane.”

In the Shiva Purana, the Yuddhakanda of Rudrasamhita contains the story of Shankhachuda, who is actually Sridama, the Sakha of Lord Krishna in Goloka, who incarnates as a demon due to the curse of Radharani. In this, the 30th and 31st Chapter narrate how Lord Krishna and Radha (owing to this being a Shiva-centric Purana), plead forgiveness from Lord Shiva.

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is completely about Radhakrishna, though owing to a considerable number of interpolations in this Purana, and it's being well known, I leave it unquoted.

The Devi Bhagavata Purana dedicates its entire Navama Skandha (Ninth Canto) to the glories of Radhakrishna and their Leelas in Goloka and the rest of the universe.

Coming to Srimad Bhagavatam, there are many who say that Shukabrahma, who recited the Bhagavatam, was a pure devotee of Radhakrishna, and so uttering their pastimes would cause him to lose his consciousness and therefore leave the Purana incomplete. Hence he refers to her using common nouns such as ‘Kaachit’ (One Girl), ‘Saa Vadhuh’ (That Bride (of Krishna)), and ‘Priya’, (Beloved).

Apart from these references, the sloka Anayaradhito Nunam gives her name in the phrase Aaradhito - as purported by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarti.

It is Radharani who delivers the famous 'Bhramara Gita' where she talks to a bee thinking it to be Krishna's messenger when Uddhava visits Vrindavana.

Also, the Second Canto, Fourth Chapter, when Shukabrahma Rishi says the Dhyana Slokas, he meditates upon Lord Hari in his Eternal Abode with all his Shaktis and Opulences. The name he gives to Vishnu’s Energy is ‘Raadhas’.

Apart from that, as user @brahmajijnasa said, the Brihad Brahma Samhita, Narada Pancaratra, Sanatkumara-samhita, Garga Samhita, Brihad-gautamiya-tantra, Urdhvamnaya-tantra and the Purusa-bodhini Upanishad give references to Srimati Radharani.

The Narada Pancharatra gives the Radha Kavacha and the Radha Sahasranama Stotra as told by Lord Shiva to Devi Parvati.

The Garga Samhita is also devoted to the story of Radhakrishna, and how the divine couple performed their Leelas in Vrindavana, and also describes their separation and eventual reunion in Siddhashrama, after the elapse of the hundred-year curse of separation.

EDIT: In the Vishnu Purana, during the description of Rasa Leela in Chapter 13 of Book 5, there are seven slokas (slokas 32-38) describing Krishna leaving the Rasa Mandala and going off with a special Gopi into the forest. The other Gopis also describe their footprints, and Krishna's adorning her with flowers and leaving her some distance away. This is almost the same as in the Bhagavatam. The word used here (where there it is Anayaradhito) is Vishnur Abhyarchito Yaya - Vishnu was worshipped extensively by her. Therefore we can infer that this Gopika is Srimati Radharani.

  • @Surya Is Narada Pancharatra avaliable online...? I'm interested in reading Narada Pancharatra... – Tejaswee Jul 21 '16 at 13:26
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    @Surya and all others, thanks a lot for citing all the sources. Its good to find all such information and also an eye opener for all the misleading sites that claim that Shri Radha is an imaginary character. I'll link this question and answer on the original site (speakingtree.com) also from where i read the misleading information so that other people also do not get misguided. – Aby Jul 23 '16 at 21:56
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    @Surya Haha, the Vishnu Purana reference would only be remotely convincing to someone who already believed that Radha was the Gopi mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 3 '16 at 15:11
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    @Surya Well, I certainly think that the Vishnu Purana and the Srimad Bhagavatam are describing the same story, I just don't see any reason to believe that that favorite Gopi is Radha. I certainly don't believe that whoever that favorite Gopi was dwells in Goloka. But I think it's possible that that favorite Gopi is Nappinnai (whose existence I'm also undecided on). – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 3 '16 at 15:43
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    Yeah, good to know that the Vishnu Purana tells the same thing as Bhagavatam. So you are still not convinced that the Brahma-vaivarta Purana is not full of interpolations? Btw, it would be a good thing to add some verses in your answer that explain for what reason we should believe that Radha is that special gopi the Vishnu Purana and Bhagavatam are referring to. – brahma jijnasa Sep 5 '16 at 20:19
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Most of the people here have given references from smritis and Tantras. But radha is mentioned in one of the 108 muktika canon upanishads. Namely Gopala tapani upanishad -

"The central character of the text is Radha who is described as the Shakti of Krishna, her devotion and discussion of Gopala Krishna. Gopala Krishna is presented as identical to the nondual Absolute Reality (Atman-Brahman), the sat-cit-ananda, the Guru, the Om and the object of Vedanta, who can be reached by devotion to love. It is an important text to the Vaiṣṇava schools of Hinduism, particularly the Gaudiya Vaishnavas of Bengal region of South Asia.

The text is listed as 95th in the Telugu language Muktika anthology of 108 Upanishads."

English translation of Gopala Tarani Upanishad.

People should stop believing in these modern day "mythologists" and "folklorists" who use Hindu holy books for entertainment. Specially this devdutt pattnaik guy.

Also this upanishad talks about Krishna and radha from an advaita and vedanta point of view, the dualistic schools of madhvacharya and chaitanya really didn't care much about philosophy or atma etc, their movement was purely of bhakti so i don't think any vaishnavas will make up and add this upanishad into Vedas.

Furthermore all the claims of westerners have been wrong- ganesha being interpolation wrong, Krishna being 2 wrong, purusha sukta- yajnopaveeta interpolation wrong there is 90 percent chance that this claim is wrong too.

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    You may also add relevant verses from that Upanishad. You can get English translation of Gopala Tapini Upanishad from here. – Pandya Jan 20 '18 at 11:26
  • @Pandya the link you provided is no more valid. – user16618 Nov 22 '18 at 17:28
  • @RaRa Thanks for pointing out, updated the link. – Pandya Nov 24 '18 at 13:24

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