Krishna, the Prince of Love

Krishna has become the one of the most referenced forms in the devotional and ecstatic practices of bhakti yoga. Krishna is said to be the eighth and most important avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, and is depicted as a hansom blue colored deity with a crown of peacock’s feathers, playing the flute. His peacock’s feathers are a symbol of beauty and knowledge, and the flute represents the calling for God and symbolizes a pure, open heart.

Through the stories of his life, Krishna personifies three different archetypes: the mischievous child, the passionate lover, and the cunning warrior.

As a small child, Krishna was known for his playful and fearless approach to danger and for his superhuman powers. He effortlessly defeated the serpent demon Kaliya by dancing on his head, and host of other demons were killed by Krishna’s phenomenal strength or by his ability to magically increase his size and weight. One of the most popular children’s stories is of Krishna’s continuous stealing of freshly made butter from his mother and the villagers and how he successfully escapes his resulting punishments.

As an adolescent, Krishna was known for his adventures and sensual play with the village gopis (milk maidens) and his beloved lover Radha. This mischievous and passionate playfulness culminated in the Rasa Lila (blissful dance). On a beautiful autumn night Krishna drew the gopis away from their husbands and chores with the sound of his flute. They danced ecstatically in circles and celebrated their love for Krishna with complete devotional surrender.

As a young man, Krishna transforms into a fierce and cunning warrior, conquering the evil kings Kamsa and Jarasandha. In the famous battle described in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna becomes the counsel and tactician of Prince Arjuna, teaching him the lessons of right action (karma) as well as guiding his army into victory .

Overall, Krishna is said to be the personification of divine love and joy. Amritananda writes, “Love universal and egoless, cosmic in dimension, is what one gets when one concentrates on the heart center. This is where one hears the call of Krishna.”

Comments 1

  1. It is hard for me to tell if the stories of Krishna are meant to be taken literally, say as Christians take the stories of Jesus.

    Krishna is seen as the God-man, much like Jesus is seen as the Son of God by Christians. The Bhagavid Gita (in which Krishna speaks as though he is God) was not written by Krishna, but by a Rishi who saw the battle and conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, in his mind’s eye.

    Many Hindus will openly tell you that these stories are simply that, and are full of metaphors and details which elaborate various natures or principles of nature. But some are very, very devout when it comes to Krishna.

    I see a lot of Krishna/Radha worship as well, and I understand that they are seen as the manifestation of Shiva and Shakti. Krishna was evidently raised in Vrndavana, along the banks of the river Yamura. There, he played some pranks on the Gopis (cowherd girls), and on one occasion snuck away with their clothes while they were bathing in the river. How much he was their “lover” is unclear to me.

    I became interested in Radha, since they say that Krishna and Radha are divine lovers and eternal soul mates. Eveidently, she was married to another man. I find it difficult to learn about the details of their relationship, as some say that she was one of the Gopis, Krishna’s favorite, and their love was as adolescents. They say that Radha was given to a wealthy man in an arranged marriage.

    They also say that Krishna went on to take a thousand or ten thousand wives when he avenged his grand-father’s murder and became king. I was wondering if you have any additional information on this subject. Thanks.

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