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Krishna

by Alan G. Hefner
In Hinduism and Indian mythology Krishna is the eighth avatar or reincarnation of the god Vishnu. Also Krishna is one of the most popular Hindu gods. Tradition holds that Krishna saw Vishnu in a vision in which the former deity told Krishna to destroy Kamsa son of a demon, a tyrannical ruler of the world. Krishna's mother, Devaki, was Kamsa's half-sister. Kamsa already killed her first six sons because he had been told one of her sons would kill him. Krishna' brother, Devaki's seventh child, Balarama was miraculously saved by Vishnu.

Krishna was also saved when exchanged by his parents for the daughter of a herdsman Nanda and his wife Yasoda (the daughter was also a divine being, an incarnation of Maya). With his foster parents Krishna spent a happy life playing boyish pranks and seducing the gopis (cow girls) and other rustic maidens. They found his flute playing irresistible. Legend has it he may have had 16,000 wives. But his favorite was Radha, daughter of his foster father, and his childhood lover, although they did not marry.

According to legend Krishna was not only divine, but heroic as well. He is alleged to have defeated numerous dragons and monsters, and eventually as predicted, killed his half-uncle the tyrannical king Kamsa.

In the epic poem 'Mahabharata' he helps the Pandavas against the Kauravas, two families in contention. In the poem Krishna is depicted as divine. Also in the poem he delivers his celebrated oration 'Bhagavad-Gita' on duty and life to the troubled Hero Arjuna, for who he was a charioteer, on the eve of the decisive battle. This speech persuaded Arjuna that it was right to fight against his kinsmen.

His "Song of the Adorable One" is one of the great philosophical poems. There are certain parallels between his birth and infancy and that of Christ's which tend to link these two important figures together.

In art Krishna is usually portrayed as blue-skinned.


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