The Krishna Avatar of Lord Vishnu is the eighth avatar and is the most revered deity in Hinduism. Every time when the burden of sins committed by the kings became unbearable Lord Vishnu incarnated himself in the form of human life to get rid of tyrants.
Krishna is the central character in the epic Mahabharata, where the Bhagavad Gita, is spoken by Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield. Krishna is depicted in a variety of forms because there are so many stories surrounding him. He is considered the most colorful character in Indian mythology. His mischievous nature, his love for his friends, and stories of his childhood are narrated in every household.
The most common story describes Krishna as an ultimate playboy who was responsible for charming all Gopikas around him and the divine lover who plays the flute. In paintings, Krishna often has blue skin and wears a crown of peacock feathers with a yellow loincloth.
King Kamsa of Mathura was a tyrant and an evil king. It was prophesied that Kamsa would be killed by the eighth child born to his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. Kamsa imprisoned both of them and ensured that each of their newborns was eliminated on the day of their birth. Krishna was born as the eighth son to Devaki and Vasudeva. The night Krishna was born, a divine voice directed Vasudeva to smuggle the newborn out of the prison and take him to his friend’s house in Gokul and exchange his son with his friend’s newborn girl.
Vasudeva followed the instruction and safely delivers the newborn to Gokul and get his friend’s newborn daughter to the prison. Kamsa thinks that the eighth child, born to his sister is not a boy but a girl. When he tries to eliminate the newborn girl it incarnated in the form of Goddess Durga. Kamsa finds out that the child destined to kill him is safe and out of his reach.
Suggested Read: Krishna Chalisa
Kamsa, the evil uncle of Lord Krishna wanted to kill him but was saved by his father. Kamsa came to know that Krishna was somewhere in his kingdom, so he ordered Putana, an evil demoness, to kill all the infants in his kingdom. The evil Putana followed the order and start eliminating all the infants of the kingdom and reached Gokul where she came to know about the miraculous boy, Krishna. She decided to eliminate him and took the form of a beautiful maiden. She poison’s her milk and reaches Krishna’s house on the pretext of feeding him, but Krishna sucked her life out of Putana.
During childhood he performed many feats of strength, killing all demons sent against him by Kamsa. There are stories of Krishna and the fruit seller, Krishna with Arishtasura, Krishan with Keshi, Krishna with the Serpent Kaliya, Krishna saving the village under Giri Govardhan, Krishna eating the mud. In his youth, Krishna had many amorous adventures with married cowgirls. At last, in his middle age, he killed Kamsa and took part in the Bharata war (the most famous episode is the one recollected in the Bhagavad Gita). His mission accomplished, Krishna retreated into the forest in meditation.
Krishna was born during the Krishna paksha, the dark fortnight of the month. The effulgence of the Lord is seen with greater effect when it is dark. In a world of disorder, Krishna was born to establish order. He was born on Ashtami day. Ashtami is associated with trouble and difficulties. When do troubles arise? When Righteousness is forgotten. Krishna’s advent signifies the dispelling of darkness, the removal of troubles, banishing of ignorance, and teaching mankind the Supreme Wisdom.
Krishna’s primary role was that of the teacher. He taught the Gita to Arjuna. He told Arjuna: “Be only My instrument!” Krishna thereby declared: “Using you as an instrument I am reforming the whole world.” All the teachings of the Divine are related to Dharma and Prema (Divine Love). The Gopikas prayed to Krishna that he should never leave their hearts in which they had installed Him.
Mira also sang in the same strain. “I dived deep into the ocean and found a pearl. Will you let me slip it out of my hand?” (Swami sang the song in Tamil). Samsara (worldly life) is a vast ocean. Desires are like waves. Our feelings constitute the depth of the ocean. In this deep ocean, there are crocodiles, whales, and sharks in the form of attachments and hatred. It is not easy for ordinary beings to cross this ocean.
The Gopikas declared that only with the help of the Divine name can people save themselves. People tend to look upon the devotion of the Gopikas in worldly terms. Their minds never turned towards any sensory objects. They were completely free from sensual desires. All their desires were concentrated on God. They viewed the entire universe as the manifestation of God.
Krishna was always immersed in bliss. Whether it was a burial ground, or a battlefield, or a haven of peace, he remained the same. Krishna was standing between two immense opposing armies and he sang a song. That is the Gita, which means the song of God. Would it be possible for anyone to sing in such a situation? One sings only when one is happy but Krishna sang because he was the embodiment of joy could sing even on the battlefield.
Krishna delighted the world by his leelas The essence of Krishna’s life is, he proclaimed the Truth to the world, propagated the eternal verities, and delighted the world by his leelas. When Balaram told Yasoda that he had found Krishna eating mud, Yasoda questioned Him about it.
In reply, Krishna said: “Oh mother, am I a child, a miscreant or a madcap to eat mud? See for yourself whether there is any mud in my mouth.” And when He opened His mouth, Yasoda was awe-struck to see the fourteen worlds of the Cosmos in that Divine mouth. She could not believe her eyes and exclaimed: “Is this a dream? Or is it the Maya of Vishnu? Is it an illusion produced by someone? Is it true? Am I Yasoda or someone else? I am totally bewildered.”
Yasoda had no faith in herself and hence could not recognize Krishna’s divinity. Confidence in one’s self is the prerequisite for the recognition of Divinity. The reason in Yasoda’s case is that she always looked upon Krishna as her son and the maternal attachment, clouded her understanding. Every episode connected with Krishna is a marvel. That was why Vyasa declared that all the stories relating to the avatars of Vishnu are full of wonder and beauty.
Suggested Read: Hare Krishna Maha Mantra