In my search of becoming closer to the divine through a tradition that is associated with Hinduism, I'm left re-discovering, or should I say uncovering, much ideology to be a mere attempt to synthesize differing teachings. My love for the divine in her tantrik forms, have left me questioning numerous Brahmanic practices. There's still much left to be uncovered, and I'm finding that religious biases are what is pushing historical inaccuracies.
From Indus Valley having no religious icons, sans a one-inch stamp depicting a male seated with horns, along with numerous horned animals in conjunction with pregnant feminine icons, we are provided with a stretch of the imagination pushing that figure to be Shiva. Moreover, in the Vedic tradition, it is still unclear how Vishnu overtook the pantheon, when Varuna was the ultimate, followed by Indra who is to be extensively more powerful than Vishnu. Nonetheless, the following puranic era established Vishnu as the head of the pantheon, but the stories do not seem to add up. In a prior post, I addressed how the figure Buddha Shakyamuni is more in-line with Shiva or tantra as opposed to Brahmanic dualist form-worship that is akin to Vishnu traditions. Hence, it appears to me that to state that Buddha Shakyamuni was an incarnation of Vishnu was done solely to cease conversions, especially in a tradition with a caste system that prohibits individuals from experiencing the divine, something tantra and Buddha Shakyamuni opposed.
It is important to note that new agers, particularly those with a theosophical interest of Mdm. Blavatsky, believe that Krishna and Jesus were incarnations of, not Vishnu, but Lord Maitreya. In terms of Krishna, that belief is starting to make more and more sense to me. In studying the history of the development of Hinduism, Hinduism is first and foremost not a religion, but a collective of differing cults, which was sought to be synthesized under the larger banner of Hinduism. This is not Protestant versus Catholic where the Christ figure is worshiped nonetheless, but it is Duality/Dvaita Vedanta/Right Hand Path versus Nonduality/Advaita Vedanta/Left Hand Path. For it seems that since the time of Brahmanic establishment, the lower parishioners have consistently rebelled under the patriarchal ruling, which led to the Upanishads, which led to the Puranas, which led to Tantra, which led to Bhakti (devotion). Though I can feel the beauty that has been established from such revolts and synthesis, the truth of these beings seem to have been manipulated.
Krishna is said to be the full embodiment of the energy of Vishnu, fully realized as one can say, unlike his prior incarnations including Rama who was constantly questioning Sita's fidelity. Like the Rama/Sita story where Ram is Vishnu and Sita is Lakshmi, a match made in heaven, Krishna's counterpart is to be Radha to carry on the tradition. But, Krishna doesn't marry Radha, he marries Rukmini and many other women. Again, of course the bhakti movement, with heavily influences of the Brahmanic Vaishnava lineage states he only married Rukmini, and Rukmini and Radha were the same person. Most Hindus will typically go on to believe such views, until they take a third-party scholarly approach in viewing the ancient texts. In order to combat/synthesize the tantric traditions, it is important for Krishna to have his feminine counterpart, or his Shakti, which is typically agreed upon to be Radha.
David Kinsley, in his book Hindu Goddesses, discovered from his research that the figure Radha was not developed until the 12th century. Hence, Radha is a fairly new character to develop, where the Mahabharata text extolling the virtues of Krishna most likely developed in the 4th century. Hence, a significant time has tolled between the establishment of the Mahabharata and the finding of Radha.
From Kinsley's numerous research, one text would depict Radha as married to another individual while she would spend the nights with Krishna. Another shows Krishna infuriating Radha by being with other women/gopis. Such texts include the Padma-, Brahma-vaivarata-, Devi-Bhagavata Purana, and the Venisamhara. Numerous other texts are listed, where Radha has solely one theme, her devotion to Krishna. That is her sole importance, unlike Sita who is associated with the Earth and with a King to bring abundance and prosperity (Lakshmi), Radha is known only for her devotional fanaticism to Krishna. Kinsley argues that such was done particularly under the Bhakti movement, to teach devotees to give up all, including one's spouse, for the divine. In fact, much of the bhakti movement would make all of the gopis illicit lovers of Krishna, where Krishna would walk away from one (probably Radha) when she would start feeling "special" compared to the other gopis.
That's where my issue in search for the truth comes in to play. At least Sita was associated with the Earth, as well as bringing abundance and prosperity as queen, all elements associated with Lakshmi. Moreover, if Lakshmi is associated with "Sri" in the Vedas, as in Sri Lakshmi, then she would be associated with numerous other gods and high ranking demons, where she would then finally associate with Vishnu when he ends up being on the top of the hierarchy during the churning of the ocean, another argument Kinsley makes. Hence, the reason why Rama would constantly question her fidelity. Make sense?
But Radha, I don't see any Lakshmi aspects to her, though there are very short stories of her astrological aspects explaining her uniqueness, and even a curse where she was to endure separation from Krishna. However, to omit her from Krishna's story will not have much damage, if any, unlike Sita in the Ramayana. In other words, she seems to be a figure developed out of the bhakti movement, and further synthesized with Krishna using tantrik ideology, where she is then fully developed in the Gitagovinda, and elevated much later in the 15th/16th century under the Rdhavallabhins and Sakhibhavas groups that place her at the center of the cosmos, a very tantrik non-Brahmanic ideology.
For someone who grew up chanting Radhe-Krishna, and looking to them as the "divine couple", the uncovered information is heartbreaking. It's like meeting your favorite idol/celebrity to only realize he/she is not what you thought. I'm still trying to figure out who this Vishnu character is, and overall the origin of the Aryan Brahmanic tradition, which much of Hinduism appears to be a rebellion against (Tantra/Bhakti/Etc.). There's so much convulsion for this conquering group, it appears that their tactic has been "if you can't beat them, join them", in order to survive throughout the ages. In my search for the truth, there appears to be a lot of undoing that needs to be done.
One thing is for sure. Those within the tradition fail to answer these questions, only alluding to "one must have devotion to understand", etc., or having a "misunderstanding of the Puranas", as evidenced by the numerous websites, with of course, a Brahmanic leaning. Of course, none of these answer these questions, including how Vishnu, the little unknown barely mentioned character in the Vedas, usurped Indra's position (same with Varuna). In fact, they are simply a scapegoat to continue dogmatic following, something the next generations will completely dissolve. We live in the age of information now. We have access to these texts with a few clicks away, and all of us have the ability to become more educated than ever, something completely new to the planet, something completely new to the Brahmanic caste system. In fact, the elders in my family would tell me that they didn't have access to these books, that the only way they could learn was to look over the priests shoulders to get a glimpse at these books. Going through these books myself, it feels like a whole new religion is unfolding picking away at everything I grew up to believe. The priestly class has perpetuated these dogmatic teachings, and I guess that's why I love the Shiva-Shakti aspect of Hinduism, as it is a slap in the face to Patriarchal Brahmanic culture. No doubt, my loved Shiva was the first to commit the greatest sin in Hinduism, Brahminicide. Do note, that I do not mean to further separate, especially when I have found so much beauty in Vishnu/Krishna and Radha, but even Jesus himself had to toss a few tables with the priestly class in his day.
I'm only searching for the truth.
Overly educated and continuously exploring and revealing more behind the veil.
"It cannot be too highly emphasized that the mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns."
-James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions