(Last Updated on : 13/01/2011)
Krishna has ever been the perfect `Avatar` of Lord Vishnu whose influence on human lives far exceeds that of any other God incarnate. Krishna is also depicted as Govinda, who is the principal cause of all causes, the embodiment of wisdom and selfless action as well as a human liberal and practical philosopher with foresight.
Krishna is a Sanskrit term whose literal meaning is black or dark and describes someone with a very dark skin. The Gaudiya tradition explains the primary meaning of the name Krishna is "all-attractive. The meaning of the name is justified by an interpretation of a verse in the Mahabharata and is given in the Chaitanya Charitamrita. According to Adi Sankara`s, Krishna is the 57th name of Vishnu and means the "Existence of knowledge and Bliss."
Three great works in Hinduism enumerate Krishna`s Teachings, namely the Bhagavad Gita, Anugita and Udhavagita. Bhagwad Gita is the sacred Book depicting `Mahabharata` for Hindus. The advice Lord Krishna renders to discouraged Arjuna
, immortalized the Bhagavad Gita, influenced philosophers and continues to inspire millions of people worldwide.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita is the narrations about the relationship between the Supreme Lord and his devotees. In this narration, transcendental nature of the Supreme Lord and his devotees is fully described. Krishna always played the role of a defender of the oppressed. He killed Kansa to unshackle his victims from cruelty. He befriended the poor; the character of Sudama is a legendary character whose berries he ate. He came to rescue of Draupadi
. Lord Krishna is also seen as a playmate to cowherds at Vrindavan, a loving and giving soul.
Krishna defined dharma (religion) as something that brought about the good of the individual and society. Krishna`s conversations with Arjun are on transmigration of soul and aims at attaining liberation, descriptions of Karma and effects of austerity. Devotion, meditation and other religious disciplines reflect in Bhagavad Gita
. Krishna also touches upon the psychic powers of yogic practices. The love of Gopis is divine which says of the greatness and divinity of Lord Krishna. He is said to create an air of romanticism, enchanted the Gopis and impressed them with the tune of his `bansuri`. Krishna responded by dancing with Gopis in Ras Leela. The mystical passage of Krishna`s life with Gopis and love for Radha is the most marvelous expansion of love expressed in that beautiful play at Vrindavana, which no one can understand yet, become perfectly chaste and pure.
The Harivamsa of Mahabharata is an appendix to this epic and contains the earliest detailed version, starting from birth of Lord Krishna
and leading to his childhood and youth. The scenes from the narrative are set in north India, mostly in the present states of Uttar Pradesh
. The events in the childhood of Lord Krishna
like Kaliya Daman
, Mountain lifting by Lord Krishna
and others are considered to be sacred by the Hindus.
Lord Krishna`s birthday is celebrated as Janmasthami
, which is based on scriptural details and astrological calculations. Krishna took birth in the royal family of Mathura
and was the eighth son born to princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. King Kamsa, Devaki`s brother, had ascended the throne by imprisoning his father, King Ugrasena. Afraid of a prophecy that predicted his death at the hands of Devaki`s eighth son, he had the couple cast into prison where he planned to kill all of Devaki`s children at birth. After killing the first six children, and Devaki`s apparent miscarriage of the seventh, Krishna took birth. As his life was in danger he was given to his foster parents Yasoda and Nanda in Gokul, Mahavana. Two of his siblings also survived, Balarama (Devaki`s seventh child, transferred to the womb of Rohini, Vasudeva`s first wife) and Subhadra (daughter of Vasudeva and Rohini born much later than Balarama and Krishna).
The stories of Lord Krishna`s plays with the gopis in his growing days were romanticised in the poetry of Jayadeva, author of the Gita Govinda. Krishna as a young man returned to Mathura, killed his uncle Kamsa, and made Ugrasena as the king of the Yadavas. In the meanwhile, he became a friend of Arjuna and the other Pandava princes of the Kuru kingdom; living on the other side of the Yamuna .He married Rukmini, daughter of King Bhishmaka of Vidarbha. In Vaishnava traditions, Krishna`s wives in Dwarka are believed to be expanded forms of the Goddess Lakshmi.
In the Mahabharata Krishna was the cousin of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He asked the sides to choose between his army and himself. The Kauravas picked the army and he stayed supporting the Pandavas. He agreed to be the charioteer for Arjuna in the great battle of Kurukshetra. The Bhagavad Gita is the advice given to Arjuna by Krishna before the start of the battle. In the Bhakti movement Krishna was the focus of attention and even with its end and is still an important and popular devotional and ecstatic aspects of Hindu religion, particularly among the Vaishnava sector.
The Supreme Lord descends from time to time in this material world to re-establish the teachings of the Vedas. In His Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna promises: "Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion--at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I myself appear millennium after millennium."