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Jaidev goswami in Gita Govinda mentions about Radha , are there any prior references to her? I am not asking about puranic references, but works of any acharya. Who is the first well known saint to have mentioned Radha in his works?

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As far as I know, Adi Shankaracharya mentions Sri Radha's name in his Yamunashtakam stotra Slokas 6 & 7. Sankskrit-Tamil translation available in this kamakoti website.

जलान्तकेलिकारिचारु राधिका ङ्गरागिणी स्वभर्तुरन्यदुर्लभाङ्गसङ्गतांशभागिनी स्वदत्तसुप्तसप्तसिन्धुभेदनातिकोविदा । धुनोतु मे मनोमलं कलिन्दनन्दिनी सदा ॥६॥

Jala-Anta-Keli-Kaari-Caaru-Raadhika-Angga-Raaginnii Sva-Bhartur-Anya-Durlabha-Angga-Sangga-Taamsha-Bhaaginii Sva-Datta-Supta-Sapta-Sindhu-Bhedana-Ati-Kovidaa | Dhunotu Me Mano-Malam Kalinda-Nandinii Sadaa ||6||

May Yamunā — Whose water is mixed with the cosmetics of sporting Rādhikā, Who enjoys the continuous touch of Her consort (Kṛṣṇa) which is a luxury for others, Who is mighty enough to penetrate the serene seven oceans, and Who is the daughter of Kalinda — washes the malice of my mind.[6]

जलच्युताच्युताङ्गरागलम्पटालिशालिनी विलोल राधिका कचान्तचम्पकालिमालिनी । सदावगाहनावतीर्णभर्तृभृत्यनारदा धुनोतु मे मनोमलं कलिन्दनन्दिनी सदा ॥७॥

Jala-Cyuta-Acyuta-Angga-Raaga-Lampatta-Ali-Shaalinii Vilola-Raadhikaa-Kaca-Anta-Campaka-Ali-Maalinii | Sada-Avagaahana-Avatiirnna-Bhartr-Bhrtya-Naaradaa Dhunotu Me Mano-Malam Kalinda-Nandinii Sadaa ||7||

May Yamunā — Who is full of damsels using fallen cosmetics of Acyuta (Kṛṣṇa) in Her water, Who has flowers from the braids of vibrant Rādhikā in Her water, Who is always taken as support by Nārada and other devotees of Her consort (Kṛṣṇa), and Who is the daughter of Kalinda — washes the malice of my mind.[7]

The celebrated Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan(1268 A.D -1369 A.D)[Jayadeva Goswami's period is 1170 A.D-1245 A.D] mentions Radha's name in the 10th Canto of his Yadavabhyudayam, a poem on the life of Lord Krishna

dEvakee dhanujasThooNA dhivuyam DHAma vrajAngaNam ramA rADHAdhayScha ithi rASibhEdhairna bhidhyasE

There is no difference in the (states of) the Lord associated with Lakshmi (Ramaa), Radha or other consorts, or as being born as the Son of Devaki or being born from the Pillar as Narasimha, or living in Vaikunta or Vrindavan

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  • Recently I came to know many stotras of AdiShankaracharya could be later works. So I will take it that it is Vedanta Desikan who definitely mentioned Radha, Yamunashtakam we can't be sure.
    – user16895
    Jan 11 '19 at 7:16
  • @krr it's upto you.. I can only give from what are considered Adi Shankara's works today and I don't know if it is authentic or not..Since Shankara glorified Lord Narayan at many places and since this is related to him, it may be authentic. Of course,we cannot be sure of stotras unless they were referred in some other works by some other ancient acharyas.
    – user16618
    Jan 11 '19 at 11:29
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The oldest saints who were worshipers of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa as far as we know today were Nimbarkis or Nimbarka Vaishnavas in the Nimbarka Sampradaya, see at wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimbarka_Sampradaya

According to the latest development in dating, Nimbarka also known as Nimbaditya lived in the 7th century which is about 1 to 2 centuries before Shankara.

Other members have written an answer or commented on this question have mentioned other famous people known in history of Hinduism who have mentioned Radha in their writings or were worshipers of Radha. So the chronology of those would be as follows:

  • Nimbarkis .......................... 7th century
  • Adi Shankara ..................... 8th - 9th century
  • Jayadeva ........................... 12th century
  • Līlāśuka (Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura) ........ 13th - 14th century
  • Sri Vaishnavas: Vedanta Desikan and Ghatikasatham Ammal ............................... 13th - 14th century
  • Vidyāpati ........................... 14th century
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavas: Sri Caitanya, Nityananda Prabhu ........................................... 16th century

Sri Nimbarkacharya on the worship of the divine couple, Radha and Krishna, says in Dasha Shloki:

ange tu vame vrishabhanujam muda, virajmanamanurupasaubhagamsakhi sahasraih parisevitam sada, smarema devim sakaleshtakamadam

To the left hand side of Goloka Bihari is the daughter of King Vrishabhanu, Sri Radha, who is as beautiful as the Lord and is worshipped by thousands of handmaidens. She fulfills the wishes of all. Sri Kishori is eternally remembered as Sri Ji.

It is said in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 15.27:

The Lord especially liked to hear Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura’s Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, the poetry of Vidyāpati, and Śrī Gīta-govinda, by Jayadeva Gosvāmī. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu felt great pleasure in His heart when His associates chanted verses and sang songs from these books.

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Jayadev goswami was the first person to mention Radha in his erotic literature Gita Govinda. Prior to him many people had commented on puranas and gita but no one had mentioned radha in their commentary.

मेघैर्मेदुरमम्बरम् वनभुवः श्यामास्तमालद्रुमैः नक्तम् भीरुरयम् त्वमेव तदिमम् राधे गृहम् प्रापय। इत्थम् नन्दनिदेशितश्चलितयोः प्रत्यध्वकुञ्जद्रुमम् राधामाधवयोर्जयन्ति यमुनाकूले रहःकेलयः॥ १-१

"hè! Rādha, clouds are thickening on the sky, black Tamaala trees blacken the woodlands, and night is also drawing nigh... and that one is naively timorous... thereby, you alone lead him home..." this way when Nanda instructed Rādha, both Rādha and Mādhava are on the go homeward, and then the happenstances of their sequestered plays of passion, on each pathway, at every tree, and in each and every arbour on the banks of River Yamuna, are transcendentally exquisite. [1-1]

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  • Any online reference for Gita Govinda?
    – Rickross
    Sep 5 '20 at 9:18
  • I have added one reference to Gita Govinda.
    – Pandya
    Sep 8 '20 at 7:15
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Shrî Krishnadwaipâyana Vedavyâsa first mentions Shrîmatî Râdhârânî in the Brahmavaivarta Purâna, the Devibhâgavata Purâna(9th Skandha) & the Mahâbhâgavata Upapurâna. She also appears in the Padma Purâna(4:2, 4:7, 4:20-21, 5:70, 5:72-74, 5:77, 5:81, 5:83, 6:93) & Skanda Purâna(2:4:1, 2:4:3-4, 2:4:12, 2:4:18, 2:6:1-3, 2:9:7, 2:9:16, 2:9:26-29) & to some extent in the Yuddha Khanda of Rudra Samhita in Shiva Purâna.

Then comes Garga Muni who mentions Her in the Garga Samhitâ.

They are followed by those souls who revealed Tântrika texts like Krishnayâmala Tantra, Nârada Pancharâtra, Sanatkumâra Tantra, Brihadgautamiya Tantra, Sammohana Tantra & Râdhâ Tantra.

Then comes Shrî Nimbârkâchârya(~11th century CE) who glorified Her in his works.

Finally the Gîtagovinda of Jayadeva(12th century) & the advent of Gaudiya Vaishnavism(around 16th century) made Her widely popular outside the sâdhaka community.

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