Krishna
Overview
Krishna( in IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

, pronounced ˈkr̩ʂɳə literally "dark, black, dark-blue") is a central figure of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 traditions as an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 . Krishna is identified as a historical individual who participated in the events of the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

.

Krishna is often described as an infant or young boy playing a flute
Venu
The venu is a bamboo transverse flute used in the Carnatic music of South India. Although it is often called Carnatic flute or simply flute in English, venu is the instrument's ancient Sanskrit name...

 as in the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

, or as a youthful prince giving direction and guidance as in the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

.
Quotations

O ye, who see perplexities over your heads, beneath your feet, and to the right and left of you; you will be an eternal enigma unto yourselves until ye become humble and joyful as children. Then will ye find Me, and having found Me in yourselves, you will rule over worlds, and looking out from the great world within to the little world without, you will bless everything that is, and find all is well with time and with you.

I tarry awhile from the turmoil and strife of the world. I will beautify and quicken thy life with love and with joy, for the light of the soul is Love. Where Love is, there is contentment and peace, and where there is contentment and peace, there am I, also, in their midst.

Children, do you want to know by what your hearts should be guided? Throw aside your longings and strivings after that which is null and void; get rid of your erroneous thoughts about happiness and wisdom, and your empty and insincere desires. Dispense with these and you will know Love.

Be not the destroyers of yourselves. Arise to your true Being, and then you will have nothing to fear.

Pitiful and foolish is the man who seeks what he already has, and does not know that he has it. Yes, Pitiful and foolish is he who does not know the bliss of love which surrounds him and which I have given him.

O ye who sit in bondage and continually seek and pant for freedom, seek only for love. Love is peace in itself and peace which gives complete satisfaction. I am the key that opens the portal to the rarely discovered land where contentment alone is found.

Children, look at the flowers at your feet; do not trample upon them. Look at the love in your midst and do not repudiate it.

Encyclopedia
Krishna( in IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

, pronounced ˈkr̩ʂɳə literally "dark, black, dark-blue") is a central figure of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 traditions as an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 . Krishna is identified as a historical individual who participated in the events of the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

.

Krishna is often described as an infant or young boy playing a flute
Venu
The venu is a bamboo transverse flute used in the Carnatic music of South India. Although it is often called Carnatic flute or simply flute in English, venu is the instrument's ancient Sanskrit name...

 as in the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

, or as a youthful prince giving direction and guidance as in the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

. The stories of Krishna appear across a broad spectrum of Hindu philosophical
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

 and theological traditions. They portray him in various perspectives: a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero and the Supreme Being. The principal scriptures discussing Krishna's story are the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, the Harivamsa
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

, the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

  and the Vishnu Purana
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

.

Worship of a deity of Krishna, in the form of Vasudeva
Krishna Vasudeva
The cult of Krishna Vāsudeva is historically one of the earliest forms of worship in Krishnaism and Vaishnavism. It is believed to be a significant tradition of the early history of the worship of Krishna in antiquity. This tradition is considered separately to other traditions that led to...

, Bala Krishna
Bala Krishna
Bala Krishna sometimes translated to "Divine Child Krishna", is historically one of the early forms of worship in Krishnaism and an element of the history of Krishna worship in antiquity...

 or Gopala, can be traced to as early as 4th century BC. Worship of Krishna as svayam bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

, or the Supreme Being, known as Krishnaism
Krishnaism
Krishnaism is a group of Hindu denominations within Vaishnavism, centered on devotion to Radha Krishna or other forms of Krishna, identified with Vishnu.The central text of Krishnaism is the Bhagavad Gita....

, arose in the Middle Ages in the context of the bhakti movement
Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement is a Hindu religious movement in which the main spiritual practice is loving devotion among the Shaivite and Vaishnava saints. The Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu and began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic...

. From the 10th century AD, Krishna became a favorite subject in performing arts and regional traditions of devotion developed for forms of Krishna such as Jagannatha in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, Vithoba
Vithoba
Vithoba , also known as Vitthala and Panduranga , is a Hindu god, worshipped predominantly in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. He is generally considered a manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna...

 in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and Shrinathji
Shrinathji
Shrinathji is an anthropomorphic form of Hindu god Krishna, manifest as a seven year old child . The principal shrine of Shrinathji is situated at the temple town of Nathdwara, located 48 Kilometers North-east of Udaipur city in Rajasthan...

 in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

. The Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

 sect of Krishnaism was established in the 16th century, and since the 1960s has also spread in the West
Hinduism in the West
The reception of Hinduism in the western world begins in the 19th century, at first at an academic level of religious studies and antquiarian interest in Sanskrit....

, largely due to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness , known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

.

Name and titles

The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word is primarily an adjective meaning "black", "dark" or "dark-blue"., sometimes it is also translated as "all attractive". It is cognate with Slavic čьrnъ "black". As a feminine noun, is used in the meaning "night, blackness, darkness" in the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, and as a demon or spirit of darkness in RV 4.16.13. As a proper noun, occurs in RV 8.85.3 as the name of a poet.
As a name of Vishnu, Krishna listed as the 57th name in the Vishnu Sahasranama
Vishnu sahasranama
The Vishnu sahasranama is a list of 1,000 names of Vishnu, one of the main forms of God in Hinduism and the personal supreme God for Vaishnavas . It is also one of the most sacred and commonly chanted stotras in Hinduism...

.
Based on his name, Krishna is often depicted in murti
Murti
In Hinduism, a murti , or murthi, or vigraha or pratima typically refers to an image which expresses a Divine Spirit . Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped...

s as black or blue-skinned.

Krishna is also known by various other names, epithets and titles, which reflect his many associations and attributes. Among the most common names are Govinda
Govinda
' and ' are names of Krishna, referring to his youthful occupation as a cowherd. He is regarded as the Supreme Godhead in the Vaishnava tradition and also by much of the pan-Hindu tradition...

, "finder of cows", or Gopala, "protector of cows", which refer to Krishna's childhood in Vraja. Some of the distinct names may be regionally important; for instance, Jagannatha (literally "Lord of the Universe"), a popular deity of Puri in eastern India.

Iconography

Krishna is easily recognized by his representations. Though his skin colour may be depicted as black or dark in some representations, particularly in murti
Murti
In Hinduism, a murti , or murthi, or vigraha or pratima typically refers to an image which expresses a Divine Spirit . Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped...

s, in other images such as modern pictorial representations, Krishna is usually shown with blue skin. He is often shown wearing a yellow silk dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

 and peacock feather crown. Common depictions show him as a little boy, or as a young man in a characteristic relaxed pose, playing the flute
Bansuri
The bansuri is a transverse alto flute of Bangladesh, India and Nepal made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. An ancient musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition, it is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha, and is...

. In this form, he usually stands with one leg bent in front of the other and raises a flute to his lips, known as Tribhangi Mudra, accompanied by cows, emphasizing his position as the divine herdsman, Govinda, or with the gopi
Gopi
Gopi is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and...

s (milkmaids).
The scene on the battlefield of Kurukshetra
Kurukshetra
Kurukshetra is a land of historical and religious importance. Historically the land belonged to Punjab now a district in Haryana state of India. It is a holy place and is also known as Dharmakshetra . According to the Puranas, Kurukshetra is named after King Kuru, the ancestor of Kauravas and...

, notably where he addresses Arjuna
Arjuna
Arjuna in Indian mythology is the greatest warrior on earth and is one of the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata. Arjuna, whose name means 'bright', 'shining', 'white' or 'silver' Arjuna (Devanagari: अर्जुन, Thai: อรชุน, Orachun, Tamil: Arjunan, Indonesian and Javanese: Harjuna,...

 in the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

, is another common subject for representation. In these depictions, he is shown as a man, often with typical god-like characteristics of Hindu religious art, such as multiple arms or heads, denoting power, and with attributes of Vishnu, such as the chakra
Chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

 or in his two-armed form as a charioteer.

A 800 BС cave paintings in Mirzapur
Mirzapur
Mirzapur is a city in the heart of North India, nearly 650 km between Delhi and Kolkata and also equidistant from Allahabad and Varanasi. Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mirzapur has a population of a little over 205,264 and is renowned for its famous carpet and brassware industry...

, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

, North India, which show raiding horse-charioteers, one of whom is about to hurl such a wheel could potentially be identified as Krishna.

A steatite tablet unearthed from Mohanjodaro depicting a young boy uprooting the two trees from which are emerging two human figures is an interesting archaeological finding for fixing the date of Krishna. This image recalls the Yamalarjuna episode of Bhagavata and Harivamsa Purana. In this image, the young boy depicted is undoubtedly Krishna and two human beings emerging out of the trees are the two cursed Gandharvas, identified as Nalkubara & Manigriva, who were turned into to two Arjuna trees or Yamalarjuna got liberated by Krishna. Dr. E.J.H. Mackay did the excavation at Mohanjodaro who compares this image with the Yamalarjuna episode. Prof. V.S. Agrawal has also accepted this identification. This seems that the Indus valley people knew Krishna’s exploits and stories related to Krishna. However, this lone finding may not substantiate to corroborate with the date of Krishna contemporary to Pre-Indus or Indus times but at the same time it cannot be ignored.

Representations in temples often show Krishna as a man standing in an upright, formal pose. He may be alone, or with associated figures: his brother Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

  and sister Subhadra
Subhadra
Image:Jagannath, Baladev and Subadra in Radhadesh.jpg|thumb|right|250px|alt=|Subhadra, flanked by her brothers Balarama and Jagannatha . Deities of the Radhadesh temple in Belgium...

, or his main queens Rukmini
Rukmini
In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Krishna heroically kidnaps her from an un-wanted marriage at her request . Of Krishna's 16,108 queens, Rukmini is the first and most prominent...

  and Satyabhama
Satyabhama
Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums.She is believed to be a partial avatar of Bhudevi.-Marriage:...

.

Often, Krishna is pictured with his gopi-consort Radha
Radha
Radha , also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is the childhood friend and lover of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Vaisnava traditions of Hinduism...

. Manipuri Vaishnavas do not worship Krishna alone, but as Radha Krishna
Radha Krishna
Radha Krishna is a Hindu deity. Krishna is often referred as svayam bhagavan in Gaudiya Vaishnavism theology and Radha is a young woman, a gopi who is Krishna's supreme beloved. With Krishna, Radha is acknowledged as the Supreme Goddess, for it is said that she controls Krishna with Her love...

, a combined image of Krishna and Radha. This is also a characteristic of the schools Rudra
Rudra Sampradaya
In Hinduism, the Rudra Sampradaya is one of four Vaishnava sampradayas, a tradition of disciplic succession in the religion. Vaishnavism is distinguished from other schools of Hinduism by its primary worship of deities Vishnu and/or Krishna and their Avatars as the Supreme forms of God...

  and Nimbarka sampradaya
Nimbarka Sampradaya
The Nimbarka Sampradaya , also known as the Hamsa Sampradāya, Kumāra Sampradāya, ' and Sanakādi Sampradāya, is one of the four authorised Sampradāyas as according to the Padma , one of the eighteen main...

, as well as that of Swaminarayan faith
Swaminarayan Faith
Swaminarayan Hinduism, also known as the Swaminarayan faith or the Swaminarayan sect, is a modern tradition in the Vaishnava denomination of Hinduism, in which followers offer devotion to and worship Swaminarayan as the final manifestation of God....

. The traditions celebrate Radha Ramana
Radha Ramana
Radha Ramana is a famous image of Radha Krishna worshiped in Hinduism. There is a famous temple of this deity in Vrindavana.-Name:This name of Krishna should be understood from a certain perspective, as a lover of his Radha....

  murti
Murti
In Hinduism, a murti , or murthi, or vigraha or pratima typically refers to an image which expresses a Divine Spirit . Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped...

, who is viewed by Gaudiyas as a form of Radha Krishna.

Krishna is also depicted and worshipped as a small child (Bala Krishna
Bala Krishna
Bala Krishna sometimes translated to "Divine Child Krishna", is historically one of the early forms of worship in Krishnaism and an element of the history of Krishna worship in antiquity...

, the child Krishna), crawling on his hands and knees or dancing, often with butter or Laddu
Laddu
Laddu or Laddoo is a ball-shaped sweet popular in South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh as well as countries with immigrants from South Asia. Laddu is made of flour and sugar with other ingredients that vary by recipe...

 in his hand being Laddu Gopal. Regional variations in the iconography of Krishna are seen in his different forms, such as Jaganatha  of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, Vithoba
Vithoba
Vithoba , also known as Vitthala and Panduranga , is a Hindu god, worshipped predominantly in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. He is generally considered a manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna...

  of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and Shrinathji
Shrinathji
Shrinathji is an anthropomorphic form of Hindu god Krishna, manifest as a seven year old child . The principal shrine of Shrinathji is situated at the temple town of Nathdwara, located 48 Kilometers North-east of Udaipur city in Rajasthan...

  in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

.

Literary sources

The earliest text to explicitly provide detailed descriptions of Krishna as a personality is the epic Mahābhārata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

  which depicts Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

. Krishna is central to many of the main stories of the epic. The eighteen chapters of the sixth book (Bhishma Parva) of the epic that constitute the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

  contain the advice of Krishna to the warrior-hero Arjuna
Arjuna
Arjuna in Indian mythology is the greatest warrior on earth and is one of the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata. Arjuna, whose name means 'bright', 'shining', 'white' or 'silver' Arjuna (Devanagari: अर्जुन, Thai: อรชุน, Orachun, Tamil: Arjunan, Indonesian and Javanese: Harjuna,...

, on the battlefield. Krishna is already an adult in the epic, although there are allusions to his earlier exploits. The Harivamsa
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

, a later appendix to this epic, contains the earliest detailed version of Krishna's childhood and youth.

In early texts, such as Rig Veda, there are no references to Krishna, however some, like Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar
Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar
Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar was an Indian scholar, orientalist, and social reformer.-Early life:Bhandarkar was born in Malvan in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. After his early schooling in Ratnagiri, he studied at Elphinstone College in Bombay...

 attempted to show that "the very same Krishna" made an appearance, e.g. as the drapsa ... krishna "black drop" of RV 8.96.13. See Krishnasura
Krishnasura
Krishnasura is an asura king from the Vadic scriptures of Hinduism. The Rig Veda and Sam Veda describe Krishnasur as an asura king who lived in the banks of river Anshumati. He was defeated by Indra.- Misunderstanding :...


Some authors have also likened prehistoric depictions of deities to Krishna.

Chandogya Upanishad
Chandogya Upanishad
The Chandogya Upanishad is one of the "primary" Upanishads. Together with the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it ranks among the oldest Upanishads, dating to the Vedic Brahmana period....

 (3.17.6) Composed around 900BC-700BC mentions Vasudeva Krishna

Yāska
Yaska
' ) was a Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini , assumed to have been active in the 5th or 6th century BC.He is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of words...

's Nirukta
Nirukta
Nirukta is one of the six disciplines of Hinduism, treating etymology, particularly of obscure words, especially those occurring in the Vedas. The discipline is traditionally attributed to , an ancient Sanskrit grammarian...

, an etymological dictionary around 6th century BC, contains a reference to the Shyamantaka jewel in the possession of Akrura, a motif from well known Puranic story about Krishna. Shatapatha Brahmana
Shatapatha Brahmana
The Shatapatha Brahmana is one of the prose texts describing the Vedic ritual, associated with the Shukla Yajurveda. It survives in two recensions, Madhyandina and Kanva , with the former having the eponymous 100 adhyayas,7624 kandikas in 14 books, and the latter 104 adhyayas,6806 kandikas in 17...

 and Aitareya-Aranyaka, associate Krishna with his Vrishni origins.

Pāṇini, the ancient grammarian and author of Asthadhyayi (probably belonged to 5th century or 6th century BC) mentions a character called Vāsudeva, son of Vasudeva, and also mentions Kaurava and Arjuna which testifies to Vasudeva Krishna, Arjuna and Kauravas being contemporaries.

Megasthenes
Megasthenes
Megasthenes was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica.He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain...

 (350 – 290 BC) a Greek ethnographer and an ambassador of Seleucus I to the court of Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

 mentioned about Herakles
Megasthenes' Herakles
Megasthenes' Herakles is the conventional name of reference of an ancient Indian deity. Herakles was originally a classical Greek divinity. However, in the aftermath of Alexander's conflicts in North-Western India, an Indian version of this classical Greek deity was identified by Megasthenes who...

 in his famous work Indica. Many scholars have suggested that the deity identified as Herakles was Krishna. According to Arrian
Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

, Diodorus, and Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, Megasthenes described an Indian tribe called Sourasenoi, who especially worshipped Herakles in their land, and this land had two cities, Methora and Kleisobora, and a navigable river, the Jobares. As was common in the ancient period, the Greeks sometimes described foreign gods in terms of their own divinities, and there is a little doubt that the Sourasenoi refers to the Shurasenas, a branch of the Yadu
Yadu
Yadu is one of the five Indo-Aryan tribes mentioned in the Rig Veda . The Mahabharata, the Harivamsha and the Puranas mention Yadu as the eldest son of king Yayati and his queen Devayani. The prince of King Yayati, Yadu was a self-respecting and a very established ruler...

 dynasty to which Krishna belonged; Herakles to Krishna, or Hari-Krishna: Methora to Mathura, where Krishna was born; Kleisobora to Krishnapura, meaning "the city of Krishna"; and the Jobares to the Yamuna
Yamuna
The Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges in northern India...

, the famous river in the Krishna story. Quintus Curtius also mentions that when Alexander the Great confronted Porus, Porus's soldiers were carrying an image of Herakles in their vanguard.

The name Kṛishṇa occurs in Buddhist writings in the form Kaṇha, phonetically equivalent to Kṛishṇa.

The Ghata-Jâtaka (No. 454) gives an account of Kṛishṇa's childhood and subsequent exploits which in many points corresponds with the Brahmanic legends of his life and contains several familiar incidents and names, such as Vâsudeva, Baladeva, Kaṃsa. Yet it presents many peculiarities and is either an independent version or a misrepresentation of a popular story that had wandered far from its home. Jain tradition also shows that these tales were popular and were worked up into different forms, for the Jains have an elaborate system of ancient patriarchs which includes Vâsudevas and Baladevas. Kṛishṇa is the ninth of the Black Vâsudevas and is connected with Dvâravatî or Dvârakâ. He will become the twelfth tîrthankara of the next world-period and a similar position will be attained by Devakî, Rohinî, Baladeva and Javakumâra, all members of his family. This is a striking proof of the popularity of the Kṛishṇa legend outside the Brahmanic religion.

According to Arthasastra of Kautilya (4th centuries CE) Vāsudeva was worshiped as supreme Deity in a strongly monotheistic format.

Around 150 BC, Patanjali
Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

  in his Mahabhashya  quotes a verse: "May the might of Krishna accompanied by Samkarshana increase!" Other verses are mentioned. One verse speaks of "Janardhana with himself as fourth" (Krishna with three companions, the three possibly being Samkarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha). Another verse mentions musical instruments being played at meetings in the temples of Rama (Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

) and Kesava (Krishna). Patanjali also describes dramatic and mimetic performances (Krishna-Kamsopacharam) representing the killing of Kamsa by Vasudeva.

In the 1st century BC, there seems to be evidence for a worship of five Vrishni heroes (Balarama, Krishna, Pradyumna
Pradyumna
Pradyumna is a form of the Hindu god Vishnu. He is one in 24 Keshava Namas , praised in all pujas. It is also the only name in Sanskrit with all the 3 letters joint...

, Aniruddha
Aniruddha
Aniruddha , meaning "uncontrolled" or "without obstacles", was the son of Pradyumna and the grandson of Krishna. He is said to have been very much like his grandfather, to the extent that he may be a jana avatar. The four important Vishnu extensions are Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and...

 and Samba
Samba
Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia and with its roots in Brazil and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival...

) for an inscription has been found at Mora near Mathura, which apparently mentions a son of the great satrap Rajuvula
Rajuvula
Rajuvula was an Indo-Scythian Great Satrap who ruled in the area of Mathura in northern India in the years around 10 CE. In central India, the Indo-Scythians conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE...

, probably the satrap Sodasa, and an image of Vrishni, "probably Vasudeva, and of the "Five Warriors". Brahmi inscription on the Mora stone slab, now in the Mathura Museum
Mathura Museum
Mathura museum is an archaeological museum in Mathura city of Uttar Pradesh state in India. The museum was founded by then collector of the Mathura district, Sir F.S Growse in 1874...

.

Many Puranas
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

 tell Krishna's life-story or some highlights from it. Two Puranas, the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

 and the Vishnu Purana
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

, that contain the most elaborate telling of Krishna’s story and teachings are the most theologically venerated by the Vaishnava  schools. Roughly one quarter of the Bhagavata Purana is spent extolling his life
Life
Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased , or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

.

Life

This summary is based on details from the Mahābhārata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, the Harivamsa
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

, the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

 and the Vishnu Purana
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

. The scenes from the narrative are set in north India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, mostly in the present states of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

, Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

, Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

, Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

  and Gujarat.

Birth

Based on scriptural details and astrological calculations
Jyotisha
Hindu astrology , also Jyotish or Jyotisha, from Sanskrit , from "light, heavenly body") is the ancient Indian system of astronomy and astrology...

 the date of Krishna's birth, known as Janmashtami, is 18 July 3228 BCE and departed on 3102 BCE. Krishna belonged to the Vrishni
Vrishni
The Vrishnis were an ancient Indian clan who were believed as the descendants of Vrishni, a descendent of Yadu. It is believed that Vrishni was son of Satvata, a descendant of Yadu, the son of Yayati. He had two wives, Gandhari and Madri. He has a son named Devamidhusha by his wife Madri....

 clan of Yadava
Yadava
The Yadavas were an ancient Indian people who believed themselves to be descended from Yadu, a mythical king. The community was probably formed of four clans, being the Abhira, Andhaka, Vrishni, and Satvatas, who all worshipped Lord Krishna. They are listed in ancient Indian literature as the...

s from Mathura, and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki
Devaki
In Hinduism, Devaki is the wife of Vasudeva and biological mother of Krishna.She was the daughter of Devaka, the younger brother of King Ugrasena of Mathura. She was a partial incarnation of Aditi, the mother of the Devas.-Imprisonment :...

, and her husband Vasudeva
Vasudeva
In Hindu itihasa , Vasudeva is the father of Krishna, the son of Shoorsen, of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. His sister Kunti was married to Pandu. He was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap....

. Mathura was the capital of the Yadava
Yadava
The Yadavas were an ancient Indian people who believed themselves to be descended from Yadu, a mythical king. The community was probably formed of four clans, being the Abhira, Andhaka, Vrishni, and Satvatas, who all worshipped Lord Krishna. They are listed in ancient Indian literature as the...

s, to which Krishna's parents Vasudeva and Devaki belonged. The king Kansa
Kamsa
In Hinduism, Kamsa or Kansa , often known as Kans in Hindi, is the brother of Devaki, and ruler of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. His father was King Ugrasena and mother was Queen Padmavati...

, Devaki's brother, had ascended the throne by imprisoning his father, King Ugrasena
Ugrasena
Ugrasena was the King of Mathura, a kingdom that was established after the various Yadava clans, which include the Vrishnis and Bhojas decided that the dividing states would unite as one and that the Kingship would not be subject to heredity and if decided not to be so, the succeeding leader...

. Afraid of a prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 that predicted his death at the hands of Devaki
Devaki
In Hinduism, Devaki is the wife of Vasudeva and biological mother of Krishna.She was the daughter of Devaka, the younger brother of King Ugrasena of Mathura. She was a partial incarnation of Aditi, the mother of the Devas.-Imprisonment :...

's eighth son, Kansa had the couple locked into a prison cell. After Kansa killed the first six children, and Devaki's apparent miscarriage of the seventh (which was actually a secret transfer of the infant to Rohini as Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

), Krishna was born.

Since Vasudeva believed Krishna's life was in danger, Krishna was secretly taken out of the prison cell to be raised by his foster parents, Yasoda
Yasoda
Yasoda/Yashoda was wife of Nanda within the Puranic texts of Hinduism. Within the Bhagavata Purana it is described that Yasoda later became the foster-mother to Krishna, who was born to Devaki but was given to Yashoda and Nanda in Gokul, by Krishna's father Vasudeva on the night of his birth, for...

  and Nanda
Nanda (mythology)
Nanda or Nandagopa, according to the Harivamsha and the Puranas, was the head of the gopas .It is said that Nand Baba owned 9 lakhs of cows . Nandvanshis or Ahirs are descendants of Nand. The night of Krishna's appearance or birth, Vasudeva brought Krishna to Nanda for Krishna's childhood years...

, in Gokul
Gokul
-In Vedic Scripture:-Geography:Gokul is located at . It has an average elevation of 163 metres .-Demographics: India census, Gokul had a population of 4041. Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45%. Gokul has an average literacy rate of 60%, higher than the national average of...

a. Two of his other siblings also survived, Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

  (Devaki's seventh child, transferred to the womb of Rohini
Rohini Devi
In Hinduism, Rohini Devi is a consort of Vasudeva. She is the mother of Balarama and Subhadra, and played a prominent role in the nurture of Krishna. She was a partial incarnation of Kadru, the mother of the snakes.-Vasudeva's imprisonment:...

, Vasudeva's first wife) and Subhadra
Subhadra
Image:Jagannath, Baladev and Subadra in Radhadesh.jpg|thumb|right|250px|alt=|Subhadra, flanked by her brothers Balarama and Jagannatha . Deities of the Radhadesh temple in Belgium...

 (daughter of Vasudeva and Rohini, born much later than Balarama and Krishna). According to Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

  divine Krishna was born without a sexual union, but by divine "mental transmission" from the mind of Vasudeva into the womb of Devaki.

Childhood and youth

Nanda was the head of a community of cow-herders, and he settled in Vrindavana. The stories of Krishna's childhood and youth tell how he became a cow herder, his mischievous pranks as Makhan Chor (butter thief), his foiling of attempts to take his life, and his role as a protector of the people of Vrindavana.

Krishna killed the demoness like Putana, sent by Kansa for Krishna's life. He tamed the serpent Kāliyā
Kaliya
Kaliya , in Hindu mythology, was the name of a poisonous Naga living in the Yamuna River, in Vrindavan. The water of the Yamuna for four leagues all around him boiled and bubbled with poison...

, who previously poisoned the waters of Yamuna
Yamuna
The Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges in northern India...

  river, thus leading to the death of the cowherds. In Hindu art, Krishna is often depicted dancing on the multi-hooded Kāliyā.

Krishna lifted the Govardhana hill  and taught Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

, the king of the devas
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

 and rain, a lesson to protect native people of Vrindavana from persecution by Indra and prevent the devastation of the pasture land of Govardhan. Indra had too much pride and was angry when Lord Krishna advised the people of Vrindavana to take care of their animals and their environment that provide them with all their necessities, instead of worshipping Indra annually by spending their resources. In the view of some, the spiritual movement started by Lord Krishna had something in it which went against the orthodox forms of worship of the Vedic
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 gods such as Indra.
In Bhagavat Purana, Lord Krishna says that the rain came from the nearby hill Govardhana, and advised that the people worshiped the hill instead of Indra. This made Indra furious, so he punished them by sending out a great storm. Lord Krishna then lifted Govardhan and held it over the people like an umbrella.

The stories of his play with the gopi
Gopi
Gopi is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and...

s (milkmaids) of Vrindavana, especially Radha (daughter of Vrishbhanu, one of the original residents of Vrindavan) became known as the Rasa lila
Rasa lila
The Rasa lila or Rasa dance is part of the traditional story of Krishna described in Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavata Purana and literature such as the Gita Govinda, where he dances with Radha and her sakhis...

 and were romanticised in the poetry of Jayadeva
Jayadeva
Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

, author of the Gita Govinda
Gita Govinda
The Gita Govinda is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva, who was born in Kenduli Sasan near Puri in Orissa. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha...

. These became important as part of the development of the Krishna bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 traditions worshiping Radha Krishna
Radha Krishna
Radha Krishna is a Hindu deity. Krishna is often referred as svayam bhagavan in Gaudiya Vaishnavism theology and Radha is a young woman, a gopi who is Krishna's supreme beloved. With Krishna, Radha is acknowledged as the Supreme Goddess, for it is said that she controls Krishna with Her love...

.

The prince

On his return to Mathura as a young man, Krishna overthrew and killed his maternal uncle, Kansa, after avoiding several assassination attempts from Kansa's followers. He reinstated Kansa's father, Ugrasena
Ugrasena
Ugrasena was the King of Mathura, a kingdom that was established after the various Yadava clans, which include the Vrishnis and Bhojas decided that the dividing states would unite as one and that the Kingship would not be subject to heredity and if decided not to be so, the succeeding leader...

, as the king of the Yadavas and became a leading prince at the court. During this period, he became a friend of Arjuna
Arjuna
Arjuna in Indian mythology is the greatest warrior on earth and is one of the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata. Arjuna, whose name means 'bright', 'shining', 'white' or 'silver' Arjuna (Devanagari: अर्जुन, Thai: อรชุน, Orachun, Tamil: Arjunan, Indonesian and Javanese: Harjuna,...

 and the other Pandava
Pandava
In the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, the Pandava are the five acknowledged sons of Pandu , by his two wives Kunti and Madri. Their names are Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Although, Karna is told by Lord Krishna that according to the laws and ethics he is the first son of Kunti making...

 princes of the Kuru kingdom, who were his cousins. Later, he took his Yadava subjects to the city of Dwaraka (in modern Gujarat) and established his own kingdom there.

Krishna married Rukmini
Rukmini
In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Krishna heroically kidnaps her from an un-wanted marriage at her request . Of Krishna's 16,108 queens, Rukmini is the first and most prominent...

, the Vidarbha
Vidarbha
Vidarbha is the eastern region of Maharashtra state made up of Nagpur Division and Amravati Division. Its former name is Berar . It occupies 31.6% of total area and holds 21.3% of total population of Maharashtra...

 princess, by abducting her,at her request, from her proposed wedding with Shishupala
Shishupala
Shishupala or Sisupala was son of Damaghosha, king of Chedi, by Srutadeva, sister of Vasudeva. Therefore he was not only cousin of Krishna, but also Krishna's implacable foe, because Krishna had carried off Rukmini, his intended wife...

. Krishna subsequently married 16,100 maidens who were held captive by demon
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

 Narakasura
Narakasura
In Hindu beliefs, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar . In other sources, he is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. He is said to have established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha in Assam after overthrowing the last of the Danava king...

, to save their honour. of which eight were chief—collectively called the Ashta Bharya—including Rukmini
Rukmini
In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Krishna heroically kidnaps her from an un-wanted marriage at her request . Of Krishna's 16,108 queens, Rukmini is the first and most prominent...

, Satyabhama
Satyabhama
Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums.She is believed to be a partial avatar of Bhudevi.-Marriage:...

, Jambavati
Jambavati
Jambavati is the only daughter of the king-bear Jambavan. Her story is told in the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana. She received the famous "Syamantaka Jewel" as a gift from her father and she married to Lord Krishna and occupied the third most prominent position of his eight principal queens...

, Kalindi, Mitravrinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra and Lakshana. Krishna killed the demon and released them all. According to social custom of the time, all of the captive women were degraded, and would be unable to marry, as they had been under the Narakasura's control. However Krishna married them to reinstate their status in the society. This symbolic wedding with 16,000 abandoned daughters was more of a mass women rehabilitation. In Vaishnava traditions, Krishna's wives are forms of the goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

— consort of Vishnu, or special souls
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

 who attained this qualification after many lifetimes of austerity, while his queen Satyabhama, is an expansion of Radha
Radha
Radha , also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is the childhood friend and lover of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Vaisnava traditions of Hinduism...

.

When Yudhisthira was assuming the title of emperor, he had invited all the great kings to the ceremony and while paying his respects to them, he started with Krishna because he considered Krishna to be the greatest of them all. While it was a unanimous feeling amongst most present at the ceremony that Krishna should get the first honours, his cousin Shishupala
Shishupala
Shishupala or Sisupala was son of Damaghosha, king of Chedi, by Srutadeva, sister of Vasudeva. Therefore he was not only cousin of Krishna, but also Krishna's implacable foe, because Krishna had carried off Rukmini, his intended wife...

 felt otherwise and started berating Krishna. Due to a vow given to Shishupal's mother, Krishna forgave a hundred verbal abuses by Shishupal, and upon the one hundred and first, he assumed his Virat (universal) form and killed Shishupal with his Chakra
Chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

. The blind king Dhritarashtra
Dhritarashtra
In the Mahābhārata, Dhritarashtra was King of Hastinapur at the time of the Kurukshetra War, the epic's climactic event. He was born the son of Vichitravirya's first wife Ambika, and was fathered by Vyasa. He was blind from birth, and became father to a hundred children by his wife Gandhari...

 also obtained divine vision during this time to be able to see the Lord's form. Essentially, Shishupal and Dantavakra
Dantavakra
Dantavakra , was the king of Karusha according to the Mahabharata and the Puranas. According to the Padma Purana , he was of Chaidya lineage. According to the Vishnu Purana , he was son of Vriddhasharman and Shrutadeva. He was an ally of Jarasandha, a friend of Shishupala and an enemy of Vasudeva...

 were both re-incarnations of Lord Vishnu's gate-keepers Jaya and Vijaya
Jaya-Vijaya
Jaya and Vijaya are the two demigod gatekeepers of the abode of Vishnu, known as Vaikuntha .-Curse of the four Kumaras:...

, who were cursed to be born on Earth, to be delivered by the Lord back to Heaven.

Kurukshetra War and Bhagavad Gita

Once battle seemed inevitable, Krishna offered both sides the opportunity to choose between having either his army called narayani sena or himself alone, but on the condition that he personally would not raise any weapon. Arjuna, on behalf of the Pandavas, chose to have Krishna on their side, and Duryodhana
Duryodhana
In the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata, Duryodhana is the eldest son of the blind king Dhritarashtra by Queen Gandhari, the eldest of the one hundred Kaurava brothers, Emperor of the world at that time which means Emperor of India or Bharatvarsha as it was known at that time, cousin and the chief...

, Kaurava prince, chose Krishna's army. At the time of the great battle, Krishna acted as Arjuna's charioteer, since this position did not require the wielding of weapons.

Upon arrival at the battlefield, and seeing that the enemies are his family, his grandfather, his cousins and loved ones, Arjuna becomes doubtful about fight. He lost all his hopes and put down his Gandiv
Gandiva
The Gandiva is the bow of Arjuna, the hero of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.The bow was created by Brahman of old , the supreme God in Hindu theology. Brahma held it first for a thousand years. Afterwards, Prajapati held it for five hundred and three years. After that Indra, for five and eighty years...

 (Arjuna's bow). Krishna then advises him about the battle, with the conversation soon extending into a discourse which was later compiled as the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

.

Krishna had a profound effect on the Mahabharata war and its consequences. He considered the Kurukshetra war as a last resort by voluntarily making himself as a messenger in order to establish peace between the Pandavas and Kauravas. But, once these peace negotiations failed and was embarked into the war, then he became a ruthless strategist. During the war, upon becoming angry with Arjun for not fighting in true spirit against his ancestors, Krishna once picked up a carriage wheel and converted it to a Chakra
Chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

 (discus) to challenge Bhishma
Bhishma
Bhishma or Bheeshma or Devavrata or 'Bhishma Pitamah' was the eighth son of Kuru King Shantanu who was blessed with wish-long life and had sworn to serve the ruling Kuru king. He was one of the most prominent characters of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. He was the grand uncle of both the...

 when the latter injured him. Upon seeing this, Bhishma dropped his weapons and asked Krishna to kill him. However, Arjuna apologized to Krishna, promising that he would fight with full dedication hereafter, and the battle continued. Krishna had directed Yudhisthira
Yudhisthira
In the great Hindu epic Mahabharata, Yudhisthira , the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti, was king of Indraprastha and later of Hastinapura. He was the leader of the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War...

 and Arjuna to return to Bhishma the boon of "victory" which he had given to Yudhisthira before the war commenced, since he himself was standing in their way to victory. Bhishma understood the message and told them the means through which he would drop his weapons—which was if a woman entered the battlefield. Next day, upon Krishna's directions, Shikhandi
Shikhandi
Shikhandi is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata. He was originally born as a girl child named 'Shikhandini' to Drupada, the king of Panchala...

 (Amba reborn) accompanied Arjuna to the battlefield and thus, Bhishma laid down his arms. This was a decisive moment in the war because Bhishma was the chief commander of the Kaurava army and the most formidable warrior on the battlefield. Krishna aided Arjuna in killing Jayadratha
Jayadratha
In the epic Mahābhārata, Jayadratha was the king of Sindhu Kingdom . He was married to Dushala, the only sister of the 100 Kaurava brothers. He was the son of the sinful king Vridhakshtra.- Abduction of Draupadi:...

, who had held the other four Pandava brothers at bay while Arjuna's son Abhimanyu
Abhimanyu
Abhimanyu is a tragic hero in the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata. He is the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, who is the half-sister of Lord Krishna...

 entered Drona
Drona
In the epic Mahābhārata, Drona or Dronacharya was the royal guru to Kauravas and Pandavas. He was a master of advanced military arts, including the Devastras. Arjuna was his favorite student. Dronas love for Arjuna was second only to his love for his son Ashwatthama...

's Chakravyuha
Padmavyuha
The Padmavyuha or Chakravyuha refers to a Military formation narrated in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.-Background:The Chakravyuh or Padmavyuh, is a multi-tier defensive formation that looks like a blooming lotus or disc when viewed from above...

 formation—an effort in which he got killed by the simultaneous attack of eight Kaurava warriors. Krishna also caused the downfall of Drona, when he signalled Bhima
Bhima
In the Mahābhārata, Bhima is one of the central characters of Mahabharata and the second of the Pandava brothers...

 to kill an elephant called Ashwatthama
Ashwatthama
A hero of the Indian epic Mahābhārata, Ashwatthama or Ashwatthaman was the son of guru Drona. He is one of the seven Chiranjeevins. Dronacharya loved him very dearly. The rumours about his death in the Kurukshetra war, led to the death of his father from the hands of Prince Dhrishtadyumna...

, the namesake of Drona's son. Pandavas started shouting that Ashwatthama was dead but Drona refused to believe them saying he would believe it only if he heard it from Yudhisthira. Krishna knew that Yudhisthira would never tell a lie, so he devised a clever ploy so that Yudhisthira wouldn't lie and at the same time Drona would be convinced of his son's death. On asked by Drona, Yudhisthira proclaimed i.e. Ashwathama had died but he was nor sure whether it was a Drona's son or an elephant. But as soon as Yudhisthira had uttered the first line, Pandava army on Krishna's direction broke into celebration with drums and conchs, in the din of which Drona could not hear the second part of the Yudhisthira's declaration and assumed that his son indeed was dead. Overcome with grief he laid down his arms, and on Krishna's instruction Dhrishtadyumna beheaded Drona.

When Arjuna was fighting Karna
Karna
Karna or Radheya is one of the central characters in the epic Mahābhārata, from ancient India. He was the King of Anga...

, the latter's chariot's wheels sank into the ground. While Karna was trying to take out the chariot from the grip of the Earth, Krishna reminded Arjuna how Karna and the other Kauravas had broken all rules of battle while simultaneously attacking and killing Abhimanyu, and he convinced Arjuna to do the same in revenge in order to kill Karna. During the final stage of the war, when Duryodhana
Duryodhana
In the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata, Duryodhana is the eldest son of the blind king Dhritarashtra by Queen Gandhari, the eldest of the one hundred Kaurava brothers, Emperor of the world at that time which means Emperor of India or Bharatvarsha as it was known at that time, cousin and the chief...

 was going to meet his mother Gandhari
Gandhari (character)
Gāndhārī is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata. In the epic, she was an incarnation of Mati, as the daughter of Subala, the king of Gandhara, or the modern Kandahar, a region spanning northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, from which her name is derived...

 for taking her blessings which would convert all parts of his body on which her sight falls to steel, Krishna tricks him to wearing banana leaves to hide his groin. When Duryodhana meets Gandhari, her vision and blessings fall on his entire body except his groin and thighs, and she becomes unhappy about it because she was not able to convert his entire body to steel. When Duryodhana was in a mace-fight with Bhima, Bhima's blows had no effect on Duryodhana. Upon this, Krishna reminded Bhima of his vow to kill Duryodhana by hitting him on the thigh, and Bhima did the same to win the war despite it being against the rules of mace-fight (since Duryodhana had himself broken Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

 in all his past acts). Thus, Krishna's unparalleled strategy helped the Pandavas win the Mahabharata war by bringing the downfall of all the chief Kaurava warriors, without lifting any weapon. He also brought back to life Arjuna's grandson Parikshit, who had been attacked by a Brahmastra
Brahmastra
In ancient Sanskrit writings, the Brahmastra was a weapon created by Brahma.-Features:It is sometimes known as the Brahma Astra . As described in a number of the Puranas, it was considered the deadliest weapon...

 weapon from Ashwatthama while he was in his mother's womb. Parikshit became the Pandavas' successor.

Family

Krishna had a total of 16,108 wives, out of which eight were his princely wives and 16,100 were rescued from Narakasura, who had forcibly kept them in his harem, but all of them are considered to be incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi.

The first son of Queen Rukmini was Pradyumna
Pradyumna
Pradyumna is a form of the Hindu god Vishnu. He is one in 24 Keshava Namas , praised in all pujas. It is also the only name in Sanskrit with all the 3 letters joint...

, and also born of her were Charudeshna, Sudeshna and the powerful Charudeha, along with Sucharu, Chharugupta, Bhadracaru, Charuchandra, Vicaru and Caru, the tenth. Pradyumna fathered the greatly powerful Aniruddha
Aniruddha
Aniruddha , meaning "uncontrolled" or "without obstacles", was the son of Pradyumna and the grandson of Krishna. He is said to have been very much like his grandfather, to the extent that he may be a jana avatar. The four important Vishnu extensions are Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and...

 in the womb of Rukmavati, the daughter of Rukmi. This took place while they were living in the city of Bhojakata
Bhojakata
Bhojakata was the capital of Rukmi a Bhoja-Yadava king of Vidarbha Kingdom. Rukmi wanted his sister Rukmini to be married by the Chedi king Shishupala. But she was in love with Vasudeva Krishna. Krishna abducted Rukmini against the will of Rukmi. Then king Rukmi left the capital of Vidarbha, viz...

.

The ten sons of Satyabhama were Bhanu, Subhanu, Svarbhanu, Prabhanu, Bhanuman, Chandrabhanu, Brihadbhanu, Atibhanu (the eighth), Sribhanu and Pratibhanu.

Samba, Sumitra, Purujit, Satajit, Sahasrajit, Vijaya, Citraketu, Vasuman, Dravida and Kratu were the sons of Jambavati. These ten, headed by Samba, were their father's favorites.

The sons of Nagnajiti were Vira, Candra, Asvasena, Citragu, Vegavan, Vrisha, Ama, Sanku, Vasu and the opulent Kunti.

Sruta, Kavi, Vrisha, Vira, Subahu, Bhadra, Santi, Darsa and Purnamasa were sons of Kalindi. Her youngest son was Somaka.

Madra's sons were Praghosha, Gatravan, Simha, Bala, Prabala, Urdhaga, Mahasakti, Saha, Oja and Aparajita.

Mitravinda's sons were Vrika, Harsha, Anila, Gridhra, Vardhana, Unnada, Mahamsa, Pavana, Vahni and Kshudhi.

Sangramajit, Brihatsena, Sura, Praharana, Arijith, Jaya and Subhadra were the sons of Bhadra, together with Vama, Ayur and Satyaka.

Diptiman, Tamratapta and others were the sons of Lord Krishna and Rohini.

Later life


Curse of Gandhari
According to Mahabharata, Kurukshetra resulted in the death of all the hundred sons of Gandhari. Night before death of Duryodhana, Lord Krishna visited Gandhari to offer his condolence.Gandhari felt that Krishna knowingly didn't put an end to the war,In a fit of rage and sorrow, Gandhari cursed that Lord Krishna will perish after 36 years including everyone from yadu
Yadu
Yadu is one of the five Indo-Aryan tribes mentioned in the Rig Veda . The Mahabharata, the Harivamsha and the Puranas mention Yadu as the eldest son of king Yayati and his queen Devayani. The prince of King Yayati, Yadu was a self-respecting and a very established ruler...

 dynasty.

At a festival, a fight broke out between the Yadava
Yadava
The Yadavas were an ancient Indian people who believed themselves to be descended from Yadu, a mythical king. The community was probably formed of four clans, being the Abhira, Andhaka, Vrishni, and Satvatas, who all worshipped Lord Krishna. They are listed in ancient Indian literature as the...

s who exterminated each other. His elder brother Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

 then gave up his body using Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

. Krishna retired into the forest and sat under a tree in meditation. While the Mahabharata narrates the story that a hunter named Jara mistook his partly visible left foot for a deer and shot an arrow wounding him mortally; while Krishna's soul ascended to heaven, his mortal body was cremated by Arjuna.

According to Puranic sources, Krishna's disappearance marks the end of Dvapara Yuga
Dvapara Yuga
Dvapara Yuga or Dwapara Yuga is the third out of four yugas, or ages, described in the scriptures of Hinduism. This yuga comes after Treta Yuga and is followed by Kali Yuga...

  and the start of Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga...

, which is dated to February 17/18, 3102 BCE. Vaishnava teachers such as Ramanujacharya  and Gaudiya Vaishnavas held the view that the body of Krishna is completely spiritual and never decays as this appears to be the perspective of the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

. Krishna never appears to grow old or age at all in the historical depictions of the Puranas
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

  despite passing of several decades, but there are grounds for a debate whether this indicates that he has no material body, since battles and other descriptions of the Mahabhārata epic show clear indications that he seems to be subject to the limitations of nature. While battles apparently seem to indicate limitations, Mahabharatha also shows in many places where Krishna is not subject to any limitations as through episodes Duryodhana trying to arrest Krishna where his body burst into fire showing all creation within him. Krishna is also explicitly described as without deterioration elsewhere.

Vaishnavism

The worship of Krishna is part of Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, which regards Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 as the Supreme God and venerates His associated Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s, their consorts, and related saints and teachers. Krishna is especially looked upon as a full manifestation of Vishnu, and as one with Vishnu himself. However the exact relationship between Krishna and Vishnu is complex and diverse, where Krishna is sometimes considered an independent deity, supreme in his own right. Out of many deities, Krishna is particularly important, and traditions of Vaishnava lines are generally centered either on Vishnu or on Krishna, as supreme. The term Krishnaism has been used to describe the sects of Krishna, reserving term "Vaishnavism" for sects focusing on Vishnu in which Krishna is an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

, rather than as a transcendent Supreme Being.

All Vaishnava traditions recognise Krishna as an avatar of Vishnu; others identify Krishna with Vishnu; while traditions, such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

,See McDaniel, June, "Folk Vaishnavism and : Life and status among village Krishna statues" in Vallabha Sampradaya and the Nimbarka Sampradaya
Nimbarka Sampradaya
The Nimbarka Sampradaya , also known as the Hamsa Sampradāya, Kumāra Sampradāya, ' and Sanakādi Sampradāya, is one of the four authorised Sampradāyas as according to the Padma , one of the eighteen main...

, regard Krishna as the svayam bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

, original form of God, or the Lord himself. Swaminarayan, the founder of the Swaminarayan Sampraday
Swaminarayan Sampraday
Swaminarayan Sampraday , known previously as the Uddhav Sampraday, is a Hindu sect established by Swaminarayan...

 also worshipped Krishna as God himself. "Greater Krishnaism" corresponds to the second and dominant phase of Vaishnavism, revolving around the cults of the Vasudeva
Vasudeva
In Hindu itihasa , Vasudeva is the father of Krishna, the son of Shoorsen, of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. His sister Kunti was married to Pandu. He was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap....

, Krishna, and Gopala of late Vedic period
Vedic period
The Vedic period was a period in history during which the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain. Philological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed roughly between 1700–1100 BCE, also...

. Today the faith has a significant following outside of India as well.

Early traditions

The deity Krishna-Vasudeva ( "Krishna, the son of Vasudeva
Vasudeva
In Hindu itihasa , Vasudeva is the father of Krishna, the son of Shoorsen, of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. His sister Kunti was married to Pandu. He was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap....

") is historically one of the earliest forms of worship in Krishnaism
Krishnaism
Krishnaism is a group of Hindu denominations within Vaishnavism, centered on devotion to Radha Krishna or other forms of Krishna, identified with Vishnu.The central text of Krishnaism is the Bhagavad Gita....

  and Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

. It is believed to be a significant tradition of the early history of the worship of Krishna in antiquity. This tradition is considered as earliest to other traditions that led to amalgamation at a later stage of the historical development. Other traditions are Bhagavatism  and the cult of Gopala, that along with the cult of Bala Krishna
Bala Krishna
Bala Krishna sometimes translated to "Divine Child Krishna", is historically one of the early forms of worship in Krishnaism and an element of the history of Krishna worship in antiquity...

 form the basis of current tradition of monotheistic religion of Krishna.
Some early scholars would equate it with Bhagavatism, and the founder of this religious tradition is believed to be Krishna, who is the son of Vasudeva, thus his name is Vāsudeva; he is said to be historically part of the Satvata tribe, and according to them his followers called themselves Bhagavatas and this religion had formed by the 2nd century BC (the time of Patanjali
Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

), or as early as the 4th century BC according to evidence in Megasthenes
Megasthenes
Megasthenes was a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica.He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria possibly to Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra, India. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain...

 and in the Arthasastra  of Kautilya, when Vāsudeva was worshiped as supreme deity in a strongly monotheistic format, where the supreme being was perfect, eternal and full of grace.
In many sources outside of the cult, the devotee or bhakta  is defined as Vāsudevaka. The Harivamsa
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

 describes intricate relationships between Krishna Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha that would later form a Vaishnava  concept of primary quadrupled expansion, or avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

.

Bhakti tradition

Bhakti, meaning devotion, is not confined to any one deity. However Krishna is an important and popular focus of the devotional and ecstatic aspects of Hindu religion, particularly among the Vaishnava sects. Devotees of Krishna subscribe to the concept of lila, meaning 'divine play', as the central principle of the Universe. The lilas of Krishna, with their expressions of personal love that transcend the boundaries of formal reverence, serve as a counterpoint to the actions of another avatar of Vishnu: Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, "He of the straight and narrow path of maryada, or rules and regulations."

The bhakti movements devoted to Krishna became prominent in southern India in the 7th to 9th centuries AD. The earliest works included those of the Alvar
Alvars
The alwar or azhwars were Tamil poet saints of south India who lived between the sixth and ninth centuries A.D. and espoused ‘emotional devotion’ or bhakti to Visnu-Krishna in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service. Sri Vaishnava orthodoxy posits the number of alvars as ten, though there are...

  saints of the Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

  country. A major collection of their works is the Divya Prabandham. The Alvar Andal
Andal
Andal is the the only female Alvar of the 12 Alvar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. She is credited with the great Tamil works of Thirupavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi that are still recited by devotees during the Winter festival season of...

's popular collection of songs Tiruppavai, in which she conceives of herself as a gopi, is the most famous of the oldest works in this genre.
Kulasekaraazhvaar's Mukundamala
Mukundamala
Mukundamala is a poem in Sanskrit written by Kulashekhara Alvar, one of the last kings of the Chera dynasty in Kerala, and the 9th Alvar c.1100CE. It is written in the style of Bhakti saints and asks Mukunda, another name for Krishna, to give the unworthy author freedom from Samsara...

 was another notable work of this early stage.

Spread of the Krishna-bhakti movement

The movement spread rapidly from northern India into the south, with the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 poem Gita Govinda
Gita Govinda
The Gita Govinda is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva, who was born in Kenduli Sasan near Puri in Orissa. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha...

  of Jayadeva
Jayadeva
Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

  (12th century AD) becoming a landmark of devotional, Krishna-based literature. It elaborated a part of the Krishna legend—his love for one particular gopi
Gopi
Gopi is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and...

, called Radha
Radha
Radha , also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is the childhood friend and lover of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Vaisnava traditions of Hinduism...

, a minor character in Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

 but a major one in other texts like Brahma Vaivarta Purana
Brahma Vaivarta Purana
Brahma Vaivarta Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text, is divided into four parts. First part describes the creation of the universe and all beings, the second part relates to description and histories of different goddesses...

. By the influence of Gita Govinda, Radha became inseparable from devotion to Krishna.

While the learned sections of the society well versed in Sanskrit could enjoy works like Gita Govinda or Bilvamangala's Krishna-Karnamritam, the masses sang the songs of the devotee-poets, who composed in the regional languages of India. These songs expressing intense personal devotion were written by devotees from all walks of life. The songs of Meera
Meera
Meerabai was an aristocratic Hindu mystical singer and devotee of Lord Krishna from Rajasthan and one of the most significant figures of the Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement...

 and Surdas
Surdas
Surdas, the 15th century sightless saint, poet and musician, is known for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the 'Sur Sagar' , out of which only about 8,000 are extant...

 became epitomes of Krishna-devotion in north India.

These devotee-poets, like the Alvars before them, were aligned to specific theological schools only loosely, if at all. But by the 11th century AD, Vaishnava  Bhakti schools with elaborate theological frameworks around the worship of Krishna were established in north India. Nimbarka
Nimbarka
Nimbarka , is known for propagating the Vaishnava Theology of Dvaitadvaita, duality in unity. According to scholars headed by Prof. Roma Bose, he lived in the 13th Century, on the assumption that Śrī Nimbārkācārya was the author of the work Madhvamukhamardana...

 (11th century AD), Vallabhacharya  (15th century AD) and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Vaishnava saint and social reformer in eastern India in the 16th century, believed by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishna...

 (16th century AD) were the founders of the most influential schools. These schools, namely Nimbarka Sampradaya
Nimbarka Sampradaya
The Nimbarka Sampradaya , also known as the Hamsa Sampradāya, Kumāra Sampradāya, ' and Sanakādi Sampradāya, is one of the four authorised Sampradāyas as according to the Padma , one of the eighteen main...

, Vallabha Sampradaya and Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

 respectively, see Krishna as the supreme god, rather than an avatar, as generally seen.

In the Deccan, particularly in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, saint poets of the Varkari
Varkari
Varkari is a Vaishnava religious movement within the bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism, geographically associated with the Indian states of Maharashtra and northern Karnataka. Varkaris worship Vithoba , the presiding deity of Pandharpur, regarded as a form of Krishna, an Avatar of Vishnu...

  sect such as Dnyaneshwar
Dnyaneshwar
Dnyāneshwar , also known as Jñanadeva , was born into a Deshastha Brahmin Kulkarni family.He was a 13th century Maharashtrian Hindu saint , poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath tradition whose works Bhavartha deepika teeka ,...

, Namdev
Namdev
Sant Namdeo or Bhagat Namdeo was born on October 29, 1270 in the state of Maharashtra village of Narasi-Bamani, in Hingoli district . His father, a calico printer/tailor, was named Damshet and his mother's name was Gonabai...

, Janabai
Janabai
Janābāi was a Marāthi religious poetess in the Hindu tradition in India, who was born likely in the seventh or the eighth decade of the 13th century. According to folklore, she died in 1350....

, Eknath
Eknath
Eknath was a prominent Marathi scholar and religious poet. He is called a "sant" in the Marathi tradition as are most other religious poets...

  and Tukaram
Tukaram
Sant Tukaram was a prominent Varkari Sant and spiritual poet during a Bhakti movement in India.Sant Tukaram was born and lived most of his life in Dehu, a town close to Pune in Mahārāshtra, India. He was born to a couple with the family name "More", the descendent of the Mourya Clan with first...

  promoted the worship of Vithoba
Vithoba
Vithoba , also known as Vitthala and Panduranga , is a Hindu god, worshipped predominantly in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. He is generally considered a manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna...

, a local form of Krishna, from the beginning of the 13th century until the late 18th century. In southern India, Purandara Dasa
Purandara Dasa
Purandara Dāsa is one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic music and is widely regarded as the "father of Carnatic Music". Purandara Dasa addressed social issues in addition to worship in his compositions, a practice emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanaka Dasa...

  and Kanakadasa  of Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

 composed songs devoted to the Krishna image of Udupi. Rupa Goswami
Rupa Goswami
Rupa Goswami was an Indian devotional teacher , poet, and philosopher from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. Alongside his brother Sanatana Goswami, he was considered the leader of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan associated with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Hindu saint believed to be the...

 of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, has compiled a comprehensive summary of bhakti named Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.

In the West

Since 1966, the Krishna-bhakti movement has also spread outside India. This is largely due to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness , known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

 (ISKCON), popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement. The movement was founded by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who was instructed by his guru
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada,, was a preacher of Gaudiya Vaishnavism throughout India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He was born as Bimal Prasad Dutta in the seaside pilgrimage town of Jagannath Puri, Orissa, India...

, to write about Krishna in English and to share the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy with people in the Western world.

In the performing arts

While discussing the origin of Indian theatre, Horwitz talks about the mention of the Krishna story in Patanjali
Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

's Mahabhashya (c. 150 BC), where the episodes of slaying of Kamsa (Kamsa Vadha) and "Binding of the heaven storming titan" (Bali Bandha) are described. Bhasa
Bhasa
Bhāsa is one of the earliest and most celebrated Indian playwrights in Sanskrit. However, very little is known about him.Kālidāsa in the introduction to his first play Malavikagnimitram writes -...

's Balacharitam and Dutavakyam (c. 400 BC) are the only Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 plays centered on Krishna written by a major classical dramatist. The former dwells only on his childhood exploits and the latter is a one-act play based on a single episode from the Mahābhārata when Krishna tries to make peace between the warring cousins.

From the 10th century AD, with the growing bhakti movement
Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement is a Hindu religious movement in which the main spiritual practice is loving devotion among the Shaivite and Vaishnava saints. The Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu and began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic...

, Krishna became a favorite subject of the arts. The songs of the Gita Govinda
Gita Govinda
The Gita Govinda is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva, who was born in Kenduli Sasan near Puri in Orissa. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha...

 became popular across India, and had many imitations. The songs composed by the Bhakti poets added to the repository of both folk and classical singing.

The classical Indian dance
Classical Indian dance
Indian classical dance is a relatively new umbrella term for various codified art forms rooted in Natya, the sacred Hindu musical theatre styles, whose theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni .- Definitions :...

s, especially Odissi
Odissi
Odissi, also spelled Orissi , is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as...

  and Manipuri
Manipuri dance
Manipuri dance is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. It originates from Manipur, a state in north-eastern India on the border with Myanmar . In Manipur, surrounded by mountains and geographically isolated at the meeting point of the orient and mainland India, the form developed its own...

, draw heavily on the story. The 'Rasa lila
Rasa lila
The Rasa lila or Rasa dance is part of the traditional story of Krishna described in Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavata Purana and literature such as the Gita Govinda, where he dances with Radha and her sakhis...

' dances performed in Vrindavan
Vrindavan
Vrindavan also known as Vraj is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India...

 shares elements with Kathak
Kathak
Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from Uttar Pradesh, India. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or storytellers...

, and the Krisnattam, with some cycles, such as Krishnattam, traditionally restricted to the Guruvayur temple
Guruvayur Temple
Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Krishna, located in the town of Guruvayur in Kerala, India. It is one of the most important places of worship for Hindus and is often referred to as "Bhooloka Vaikuntam" which translates to the holy abode of Vishnu on Earth...

, the precursor of Kathakali
Kathakali
Kathakali is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion...

.
The Sattriya dance, founded by the Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

ese Vaishnava saint Sankardeva
Srimanta Sankardeva
Mahapurusha Srimanta Shankardeva , was the greatest Assamese saint-scholar, playwright, social-religious reformer and a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam, India...

, extols the virtues of Krishna. Medieval Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

  gave birth to a form of storytelling known as the Hari-Katha, that told Vaishnava tales and teachings through music, dance, and narrative sequences, and the story of Krishna one of them. This tradition spread to Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 and other southern states, and is now popular in many places throughout India.

Narayana Tirtha's (17th century AD) Krishna-Lila-Tarangini provided material for the musical plays of the Bhagavata-Mela by telling the tale of Krishna from birth until his marriage to Rukmini
Rukmini
In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Krishna heroically kidnaps her from an un-wanted marriage at her request . Of Krishna's 16,108 queens, Rukmini is the first and most prominent...

. Tyagaraja
Tyagaraja
Kakarla Tyagabrahmam , colloquially known as Tyāgarājar and Tyagayya was one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music or classical South Indian music. He, along with his contemporaries Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry, forms the Trinity of Carnatic music...

 (18th century AD) wrote a similar piece about Krishna called Nauka-Charitam. The narratives of Krishna from the Puranas are performed in Yakshagana
Yakshagana
Yakshagana is a musical theater popular in the coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, India. Yakshagana is the recent scholastic name for what are known as kēḷike, āṭa, bayalāṭa, bayalāṭa, daśāvatāra . It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during Bhakti movement...

, a performance style native to Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

's coastal districts. Many movies in all Indian languages have been made based on these stories. These are of varying quality and usually add various songs, melodrama, and special effects.

Jainism

The most exalted figures in Jainism are the twenty-four Tirthankaras. Krishna, when he was incorporated into the Jain  list of heroic figures presented a problem with his activities which are not pacifist or non-violent. The concept of Baladeva, Vasudeva and Prati-Vasudeva was used to solve it. The Jain list of sixty-three Shalakapurshas or notable figures includes amongst others, the twenty-four Tirthankaras and nine sets of this triad. One of these triads is Krishna as the Vasudeva, Balarama as the Baladeva and Jarasandha as the Prati-Vasudeva. He was a cousin of the twenty-second Tirthankara, Neminatha. The stories of these triads can be found in the Harivamsha of Jinasena (not be confused with its namesake, the addendum to Mahābhārata) and the Trishashti-shalakapurusha-charita of Hemachandra.

In each age of the Jain cyclic time is born a Vasudeva with an elder brother termed the Baladeva. The villain is the Prati-vasudeva. Baladeva is the upholder of the Jain principle of non-violence. However, Vasudeva has to forsake this principle to kill the Prati-Vasudeva and save the world.

Buddhism

The story of Krishna occurs in the Jataka
Jataka
The Jātakas refer to a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of the Buddha....

 tales in Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, in the Ghatapandita Jataka as a prince and legendary conqueror and king of India. In the Buddhist version, Krishna is called Vasudeva, Kanha and Keshava
Keshava
Keshava is a name of Krishna from within Hindu tradition.The name appears as the 23rd and 648th names in the Vishnu sahasranama.Lord Keshava is venerated by those persons wanting to avert bad luck, or ill omens...

, and Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

 is his younger brother, Baladeva. These details resemble that of the story given in the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

. Vasudeva, along with his nine other brothers (each son a powerful wrestler) and one elder sister (Anjana) capture all of Jambudvipa
Jambudvipa
Jambudvīpa is the dvipa of the terrestrial world, as envisioned in the cosmologies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, which is the realm where ordinary human beings live...

  (many consider this to be India) after beheading their evil uncle, King Kamsa
Kamsa
In Hinduism, Kamsa or Kansa , often known as Kans in Hindi, is the brother of Devaki, and ruler of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. His father was King Ugrasena and mother was Queen Padmavati...

, and later all other kings of Jambudvipa with his Sudarshana Chakra
Sudarshana Chakra
The Sudarshana Chakra is a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges used by Lord Vishnu. The Sudarshana Chakra is portrayed on the right rear hand of the four hands of Vishnu, who also holds a Shankha in his left rear hand, a Gada in his right fore hand, and a Padma in his left...

. Much of the story involving the defeat of Kamsa
Kamsa
In Hinduism, Kamsa or Kansa , often known as Kans in Hindi, is the brother of Devaki, and ruler of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. His father was King Ugrasena and mother was Queen Padmavati...

 follows the story given in the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

.

As depicted in the Mahābhārata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, all of the sons are eventually killed due to a curse of sage Kanhadipayana (Veda Vyasa, also known as Krishna Dwaipayana). Krishna himself is eventually speared by a hunter in the foot by mistake, leaving the sole survivor of their family being their sister, Anjanadevi of whom no further mention is made.

Since Jataka tales are given from the perspective of Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

's previous lives (as well as the previous lives of many of Buddha's followers), Krishna appears as one of the lives of Sariputra
Sariputra
Śāriputra or Sāriputta was one of two chief male disciples of the Buddha along with Maudgalyayana , counterparts to the nuns Khema and Uppalavanna, named the two chief female disciples...

, one of Buddha's foremost disciples and the "Dhammasenapati" or "Chief General of the Dharma" and is usually shown being Buddha's "right hand man" in Buddhist art and iconography. The Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

, is born in this tale as one of his youngest brothers named Ghatapandita, and saves Krishna from the grief of losing his son. The 'divine boy' Krishna as an embodiment of wisdom and endearing prankster forms a part of worshipable pantheon in Japanese Buddhism.

Bahá'í Faith

Bahá'ís believe that Krishna was a "Manifestation of God
Manifestation of God
The Manifestation of God is a concept in the Bahá'í Faith that refers to what are commonly called prophets. The Manifestations of God are a series of personages who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization...

", or one in a line of prophets who have revealed the Word of God progressively for a gradually maturing humanity. In this way, Krishna shares an exalted station with Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

, Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, the Báb
Báb
Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází was the founder of Bábism, and one of three central figures of the Bahá'í Faith. He was a merchant from Shíráz, Persia, who at the age of twenty-four claimed to be the promised Qá'im . After his declaration he took the title of Báb meaning "Gate"...

, and the founder of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh , born ' , was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. He claimed to be the prophetic fulfilment of Bábism, a 19th-century outgrowth of Shí‘ism, but in a broader sense claimed to be a messenger from God referring to the fulfilment of the eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity, and...

.

Ahmadiyya Islam

Members of the Ahmadiyya Community
Ahmadiyya
Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious revivalist movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad , who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as...

  believe Krishna to be a great prophet of God as described by their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mīrzā Ghulām Aḥmad was a religious figure from India and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community. He claimed to be the Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah , and the Mahdi awaited by the Muslims in the end days...

. Ghulam Ahmad also claimed to be the likeness of Krishna as a latter day reviver of religion and morality whose mission was to reconcile man with God. Ahmadis maintain that the term Avatar is synonymous with the term 'prophet' of the middle eastern religious tradition as God's intervention with man; as God appoints a man as his vicegerent upon earth. In Lecture Sialkot, Ghulam Ahmed wrote:

Let it be clear that Raja Krishna, according to what has been revealed to me, was such a truly great man that it is hard to find his like among the Rishis and Avatars of the Hindus. He was an Avatar—i.e., Prophet—of his time upon whom the Holy Spirit would descend from God. He was from God, victorious and prosperous. He cleansed the land of the Aryas from sin and was in fact the Prophet of his age whose teaching was later corrupted in numerous ways. He was full of love for God, a friend of virtue and an enemy of evil.


Krishna is also called Murli Dhar. The flute of Krishna means the flute of revealation and not the physical flute. Krishna lived like humans and he was a prophet

Other

Krishna worship or reverence has been adopted by several new religious movements since the 19th century, and he is sometimes a member of an eclectic pantheon in occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 texts, along with Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Buddhist, Biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

  and even historical figures. For instance, Édouard Schuré
Édouard Schuré
Eduard Schuré was a French philosopher, poet, playwright, novelist, music critic, and publicist of esoteric literature.- Biography :...

, an influential figure in perennial philosophy
Perennial philosophy
Perennial philosophy is the notion of the universal recurrence of philosophical insight independent of epoch or culture, including universal truths on the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness .-History:The idea of a perennial philosophy has great...

 and occult movements, considered Krishna a Great Initiate; while Theosophists regard Krishna as an incarnation of Maitreya
Maitreya (Theosophy)
Maitreya or Lord Maitreya is described in Theosophical literature of the late 19th-century and subsequent periods as an advanced spiritual entity and high-ranking member of a hidden Spiritual Hierarchy, the so-called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom...

  (one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom
Ascended master
Ascended Masters, in the Ascended Master Teachings is derived from the Theosophical concept of Masters of the Ancient Wisdom or "Mahatmas", though they differ in important aspects...

), the most important spiritual teacher for humanity after Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

. Krishna was canonized by Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...

 and is recognized as a saint
Saints of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
The Gnostic Saints of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica are a series of historical and mythological figures commemorated within the current of Thelema. They were first listed in Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass, which is the central rite of Ordo Templi Orientis and its ecclesiastical arm, Ecclesia Gnostica...

 in the Gnostic Mass
Gnostic Mass
A Gnostic Mass is a religious Mass administered by a Gnostic church. Several such churches exist, each with its own Gnostic version of the Mass. Some of these are:* Ecclesia Gnostica celebrates a Gnostic traditional Mass called The Gnostic Holy Eucharist...

 of Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century...

.

Further reading

  • The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
    Kisari Mohan Ganguli
    Kisari Mohan Ganguli was an Indian translator, who is most known for the first complete English translation of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata published as The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose between 1883 to 1896 by Pratap Chandra Roy , a Calcutta bookseller,...

    , published between 1883 and 1896
  • The Vishnu-Purana, translated by H. H. Wilson, (1840)
  • The Srimad Bhagavatam, translated by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, (1988) copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
    Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
    thumb|300px|Books of BBTThe Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is the world's largest publisher of books concerning Krishna and the philosophy, religion, and culture of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of India . It was established in 1972 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the...

  • The Jataka or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, edited by E. B. Cowell, (1895)
  • Garuda Pillar of Besnagar, Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report (1908–1909). Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1912, 129.'s image: as devotional truth

|publisher=Routledge
|location=New York
|pages=
|isbn=0-415-38394-3
|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=N5pjQgAACAAJ
|format =
|ref = harv
|postscript =
}}
  • History of Indian Theatre By M. L. Varadpande. Chapter Theatre of Krishna, pp. 231–94. Published 1991, Abhinav Publications, ISBN 81-7017-278-0.


External links

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