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.
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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.”