It seems to be a big festival for ISKCON - I had never heard of it till I visited an ISKCON place of worship.

1 Answer 1


There is one major scriptural reference for it.

From Padma Purana 2.7:

Saunaka said:

  1. O very wise one, O you very intelligent one, tell me due to which act a man goes to the world of cows from the ocean of the mundane existence which is difficult to cross and, O Suta, about RadhastamI and its excellent importance.

Suta said:

  1. O brahmana, O great sage, formerly Narada had asked this from Brahma. Listen, in brief, to what he had asked him.

Narada said:

3-5. O grandsire, O very wise one, O best among those who know all the sacred texts, O dear one, tell me (about) Radha- janmastami. O lord, what is its religious fruit? Who observed it in olden days? O brahman, what would be the sin of those men who do not observe it? In what way is the vow to be observed? When is it to be observed? Tell me (all) that from the beginning, from whom Radha was born.

Brahma said:

6-12. O child, listen very attentively to (the description of the vow of) Radhajanmastaml. I shall tell you in brief the entire (account). O Narada, except Visnu it is not possible (for anyone) to tell about its meritorious fruit. That sin like the murder of a brahmana, of them who have earned it through a crore of exis- tences, perishes in a moment, (when) they devoutly observe it (i.e. the vow). The religious merit of Radhajanmastaml is hundred times more than the fruit which a man obtains by observing (a fast on) a thousand Ekadasi (days). The merit due to Radhastaml observed (but) once, is hundred times more that the fruit obtained by giving gold equal to the Meru (mountain). People obtain that fruit from the Radhastaml, which (merit) they obtain by giving a thousand virgins (in marriage). A man gets that fruit of the Astami of the beloved of Krsna (i.e. Radhastaml), which he would get by bathing in holy places like Ganga. (Even) a sinner who obser- ves this vow casually or devoutly, would along with a crore mem- bers of his family go to Visnu's heaven.

13-20. O child, formerly in Krtayuga an excellent, very beautiful woman, having a beautiful (i.e. slender) waist, having eyes like those of a female deer, of a beautiful form, having lovely hair, lovely ears, was known by the name Lilavati. She had committed very grave sins. Once, she, hankering after wealth, went to another city moving out from her own city. There, in a beautiful temple, she saw many wise people intent on observing the Radhastami vow. They were worshipping devoutly the excellent image of Radha with sandal, flowers, in- cense, lamps, (pieces of) cloth and various kinds of fruits. Some sang, danced, recited the excellent hymn of praise. Some (others) joyfully played upon the lute and beat the drum. Seeing them like that, she, full of curiosity, went near them, and politely asked them: "O you religious-minded ones, what are you, full of joy, doing? O virtuous ones, tell me who am full of politeness (what you are doing)."

21-24. Those devotees, intent upon the observance of the vow, and interested in obliging and doing good to others, started speaking.

Those who observed the Radha (-astami) vow said: "Today that eighth day on which-i.e. on the eighth day of the bright fortnight Radha was born, has arrived. We are observing it care- fully. This (vow of) the Astami which is observed (like this) quic- kly destroys men's sins like the sin due to the murder of a cow, or arising from stealing, or killing a brahmana, or which is due to carrying off the wife of another person, or due to (a man's) violat- ing his teacher's bed (i.e. wife)."

25-42. Hearing their words, and repeatedly thinking (to herself), 'I shall observe (this vow) which destroys all sins' she observed that excellent vow there only along with those who were observing it. That pure woman died due to beinghurt (i.e. bitten) by a serpent. Then (Yama's) messengers with nooses and ham- mers in their hands came there by Yama's order, and tied her in a very painful way. When they decided to take her to Yama's abode, messengers of Visnu holding conches and maces came (there). (They had brought with them) an auspicious aeroplane made of gold, to which royal swans were yoked. Having quickly cut off (the nooses) with edges of their discs, they put that woman whose sin had gone (away), into the chariot. They took her to the charming city of Visnu, called Goloka, where she stayed with Krsna and Radha due to the propitiousness of the vow. O dear one, for him who, a fool, does not observe the vow of Radhas- taml, there is no acquittance from hell even for hundreds of crores of kalpas. Those women also who do not observe this vow which causes auspiciousness, which delights Radha and Visnu, which destroys all sins, go to Yama's city in the end and fall into a hell for a long time. If per chance they get a birth on the earth, they certainly (become) widows. O child, once (this) earth was struck by the groups of the wicked. She, being extre- mely helpless, became a cow, and approached me. Weeping again and again, she told me (about) her grief. Hearing her words, I went to the proximity of Visnu. I quickly narrated to Krsna (i.e. Visnu) the intensity of her grief. He said (to me): "O brahman, with the gods go to the earth. Later I (shall) also go there with my attendants." Hearing that I, along with the gods, came to the earth. Then Krsna, calling Radha (who was to him) greater than his own life, said (these) words (to her); "O goddess, I am going to the earth to destroy the burden of the earth. You (also) go to the earth." Having heard those (words), Radha also then went to the earth. That Radhika sprang up by day on the sacrificial ground of Vrsabhanu on the day called Astami in the bright half of the month of Bhadrapada. When purified for the sacrifice, she, having a divine form, was seen (there). The king, delighted in mind, took her to his house and handed her over to his queen. She, too, nourished her.

  1. Thus, O child, the words that I have told you are to be kept secret, to be kept secret, to be kept secret carefully. Suta said:

  2. He who would devoutly listen to this (account of the vow) giving the fruit of the four goals (of human life), becomes free from all sins and ultimately goes to Visnu's house.

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