Why is goddess Durga Bala called
What is the meaning of the goddess Radha in Shaktism?
RAdhA is not a deity of Shaktism. She belongs to Vaishnavism, where she is worshiped together with Krishna.
In Shaktism the main deities are 1. The Dasa MahAvidyAs (who are worshiped mainly according to Tantras) and 2. Goddess DurgA and her forms such as the Nava-DurgAs (who are worshiped according to PurAnic methods). This group also includes goddess Gauri, AmbikA, AnnapurnA.
Goddess MahAkAli and Shodashi are probably the only exceptions who are worshiped according to both Tantric and Puran methods.
For example, the goddess DurgA is worshiped mainly by PurAnic methods mentioned in Devi BhAgavatam, KAlikA PurAna, and Nandikeswara PurAna.
With that said, RAdhA is mentioned in two Tantra texts under the MahAvidyAs. In the Nila Tantram (which is part of the VishnukrAntA) we find:
TAvattantre bhedabuddhi stavadeva prithak kriyA |
Harihare bhedabudhir jAyate jagadambike ||
KarAlavadanakAli srimad ekajatA shivA |
Shodashi bhairvai bhinnA bhinna cha bhuvaneswari ||
ChinnA bhinna annapurna cha bhinnA cha bagalamukhi |
MAtangi kamalA bhinnA bhinnA vAni cha rAdhikA ||
NilA Tantram 22.9-11.
In these verses, Lord Shiva says that the methods of worship followed by different SAdhakas are different as long as Bhedabuddhi (sense of duality) remains. During such phases, the SAdhaka sees all the deities mentioned (such as Hari, Hara, KAli, TArA, Shodashi, Bhuvaneswari, Bhairavi, AnnapurnA etc.) as different.
In any case, what is important for us is that even RAdhA (or RAdhikA) is mentioned in the list together with the MahAvidyA deities. It is also mentioned in Sammohana Tantram.
But she is still a Vaishnava deity.
In RAdhA Tantram, which deals with her in detail, she is mentioned as Amsha (part) of the Supreme Goddess Tripura as well as Duti (emissary).
Sri rAdhA tripura duti (RAdhA Tantram, Patala 7 verse)
From this answer we also get to know the two main branches of Shaktism, namely Sri Kula and KAli Kula. And RAdhA is not on either of these lists.
KAli tArA raktakAli bhuvana mahishamardini |
TriputA tvaritA durgA vidyA prtyangirA tathA ||
KAlikulam smakhyAtam sri kulam cha parama |
Sundari bhairavi bAlA bagala kamalApi cha ||
DhumAvati cha mAtangi vidyA swapnAvati priye |
Madhumati mahAvidyA sri kulam paribhAshitam ||
The ten goddesses known to belong to the KAli Kula (the family or group of KAli) are KAli, TArA, RaktakAli, Bhuvaneswari, Mahishamardini, TriputA, TvaritA, DurgA, VidyA, and PratyangirA. And the ten goddesses belonging to Sri Kula are - [Tripura] Sundari, [Tripura] Bhairavi, BAla [Tripura Sundari], Bagalamukhi, Kamala, DhumAvati, MAtangi, SwapnAvati, Madhumati and MahAvidya.
Niruttara Tantram Patala 1, verses 6-8.
So RAdhA or RAdhikA belongs to Vaishnavism and not to Shaktism.
Whatever mantras are on Radha, they are in NArada PancharAtra, which are texts of Vaishnavism. None of the Sri Kula Tantras (such as JyAnArnava, TantrarAja, YoginiHridaya, VAmAkeswara etc.) give RAdhA mantras. None of the Kali Kula Tantras (like GuhyakAli, ShyAma Rahasya etc.) do not give them either. None of the so-called TArA Kula Tantras (such as Nila Tantram, TArA Rahasya, etc.). On what basis should we include them in Shaktism? It is also empirically verifiable that she is worshiped only in Vaishnavism and not outside of it.
Dr. Vineet Aggarwal
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