HINDU ENCYCLOPEDIA

सनातन धर्म भूमिका

Meaning of "Krishna"

Word

Krishna

Sanskrit

कृष्ण hi

IAST

kṛṣṇa

In General

Sri Krishna is glorified as the 8th Avatara of Lord Vishnu. The most widely read Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita is attributed to Krishna. In B.G. Krishna gives a unified view on Hinduism.

Krishna was a genius, a brilliant statesman, a brave fighter, a great scholar in Vedic texts, and a rare philosopher of original thought. While all religious text speaks of doing special service for the sake of God, he emphasized on doing all worldly things as a service to God. His life was an example of what he spoke. Unlike other great Gurus and Avatar, Krishna considered beauty in simple life and carrying out ones duty without worrying about fruit of action, as the greatest virtue in man.

There was a prophecy that the 8th son of Devaki will kill his uncle Kamsa, the king of Madhura. So Kamsa put Vasudeva and Devaki in jail. For the fear of Kamsa’s wrath against the newborn, his parents replaced him with the child of Yesoda and Nadagopar with help of divine intervention. The childhood of Krishna was most vivid and exemplary and is theme of great many literature and dance drama. According to astronomical calculation the birth of Krishna is on 18 july 3228 BCE (rohini nakshatra – ashtami day – shravana month) and he left the worldly abode on 18th February 3102 BCE (the start of Kali Yuga). He had a life 126 years. Krishna’s birthday is celebrated as Janmastami day. The great work Mahabharata made Sri Krishna famous for being instrumental in the victory of Pandavas in the Great War at Kurushetra, which restored Dharma in the world.

Bhagavata Purana glorifies Krishna as the most intimate god. He can be loved as a Guru, friend, son, lover or any form one like. He is so intimate that one can play, prejudice and quarrel with him and he respond to all type of human passions. Complaining about his lack of response as a friend or devotee is most touching and tempting mode of devotion to him; no other God can ever afford this feeling. A mother can even beat him as her son, and friend and lover can quarrel and complain about him. There were a lot of people who loved and hated him during his lifetime. To all of them he awarded either Swarga or Moksha. Kamsa was awarded with Swarga, for always thinking of him in fear. Gopikas were elevated to highest spiritual level, Moksha for loving him passionately.

Krishna had eight wives; they are: Rukmini, Sathyabhama, Kalindi, Jambavati, Bhadra, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, and Lakshmana. He rescued sixteen thousand ladies held as slaves by Narakasura. When these girls are freed they came to Dwaraka and thought that somebody may accept them as wives, but the society doubted their chastity and did not accept them. Krishna then came forward and treated all of them as royal wives and served them with all facilities.

Krishna’s life was intimately connected with that of the Pandavas. He supported Yudhishthira to conduct Rajasuya Yajna; went to the court of Hastinbapura for compromise talk to avoid war; went with Bhima and Arjuna to finish Jarasandha; Motivated, guided and protected Arjuna in War; killed many treacherous persons like Sisupala; Gave his sister Subhadra in marriage to Arjuna; protected Panchali from being stripped off in the court of Hastinapura; Protected Parikshith, the heir apparent. He consoled Pandavas during their bad times and advised them in their good times.

Krishna never compromised dharma for anything. When the affluence made his own sons, grandchildren and Vamsa to become drunkards and fought against themselves, he tried his best to guide them in the right path, but when it failed he came to the conclusion that they deserved to be destroyed by the destiny. Just before his demise from the world, he advised his best friend Urddhava to go for a pilgrimage. The benefit thus said was also a novel idea and it is said in Urdhava gita.

Veda

In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna lament for the loss of secret knowledge in Veda Samhita. Krishna was an ardent lover of Veda and he focused on the spiritual knowledge hidden in Veda.

Purana

DevakI was a cousin sister of Kamsa. During her marriage with Vasudeva, son of king Surasena a celestial voice addressed Kamsa as follows: 'Asyah tvam astamagarbho hanta' (Her eighth son will kill you). As soon as Kamsa heard the celestial voice he stood up from the marriage chariot he was driving and caught hold of Devaki by her hair and raised his sword to cut her throat. All the conciliatory words failed to pacify Kamsa. Then Vasudeva promised to hand over to Kamsa all the children born to Devaki to decide its fate. Even though the prophecy is about the eighth child, Kamsa was not ready to take chance and killed all the seven children of Devaki and put Devaki and Vasudeva in jail.

When the 8th child is born to Devaki in jail a cestrial voice instructed Vasudeva to exchange the child with that of Yasoda’s child in Ambadi. The jail got opened and chain fell down from Vasudeva and everybody is found in deep sleep. Outside it was raining heavily and Yamuna was overflowing. A sarpa came to the help of Vasudeva to protect the infant from the rain and Yamuna gave way for him to walk through. Everything looked as wished by a divine force and Vasudeva exchanged the infant with that of a Yasoda.

As soon as Vasudeva had returned the prison, the guards woke up and reported to Kamsa about the delivery of a child by Devaki. Kamsa rushed to the jail, and found a girl child. Kamsa was expecting a boy child as his killer; any way he was not ready to take a chance, so he caught hold of the child and was about to dash it against the rock, then to everybody’s surprise the child which is Yogamaya slipped free of his hands and rose in the sky wherefrom it spoke as follows: “Oh ! Unrighteous and cruel Kamsa ! thy prowess is not to be exhibited against women. Thy killer is born on earth”.

Kamsa was frightened by the words thus heard. He thought of killing every child born elsewhere and avoids death. Putana a Rakshasi was sent all over the country to feed poison to newborns and thus kill them. Puthana disguised as young charming women went to every newborn babies in the country and killed thousands of them. When she reached Yasoda’s house Krishna was playing in the bed with nobody near. When Puthana fed him her milk, the infant Krishna sucked not just milk but her blood also. She instantly assumed her original form and fell down dead. Kamsa then sent Sakata , Trnavartasura, Vatsasura, Bakasura, Aghasura, Dhenukasura, and many others with the same mission to kill children, but all of them met with death in Ambadi.

Kamsa now become suspicious about Krishna and sent his men to Krishna to kill him. Pralamba and many other came with this mission and died. Krishna exhibited many divine powers right from infancy. While naming Krishna and Balabadrarama the sage Garga informed the parents of the divinity with the children. The Gopikas once saw Krishna eating mud and informed Yasoda of it, and Yasoda, in great anger, opened the child's mouth to look for the sand when she saw there all the worlds including herself and she closed her eyes in great alarm.

Krishna was very naughty while he was a boy. One day Krishna broke a milk pot. Angry at this Yasoda tied the child to a mortar with a cord. Krishna then began running, dragging the mortar behind him. Dragging the Mortar (Ulukhala) behind him he passed through a narrow gap between two trees. The trees fell down and from that rose up in the sky two Devas. The two trees were actually Nalakubara and Manigriva, the sons of Vaisravana, both of whom had been cursed into the form of trees by Narada. In another occasion when Krishna was 8 years old, he once picked up the clothes of the Gopa women who were bathing in the river naked and climbed to the top of a tree with the clothes and played on his flute. The Gopa women understood the mistake of bathing naked in open and cried for the cloth. Krishna then returned the clothes to them.

Though a child, Krishna was careful about the welfare of his people. The people of Ambadi used to perform Yajna every year in favour of Indra. Krishna opposed the custom saying that Mount Govardhana was the house-hold deity of the people of Ambadi and it was enough for them to worship the mountain. The people of Ambadi, therefore, offered the Yajna they had arranged that year for Indra to Govardhana. Angered at this Indra let loose heavy rains on Ambadi. Krishna then held Mount Govardhana like an umbrella lest the people should suffer from the heavy rains, and they took shelter under it. The rain did not stop even after seven days. Yet, due to Krishna’s kindness the people did not suffer any hardships.

All the mothers loved Krishna as their child. All the boys found him as their best friend. So also is the girls, they loved him passionately. When Krishna play flute, they use to dance round him. They also developed intense love for him. Radha was the chief among the Gopikas. Their play called as Rasaleela became theme for bhakiti in later literatures like Bhagavata Purana.

When all the attempts of Kamsa to do away with Krishna failed he resorted to another trick. Kamsa invited Sri Krishna and Balabhadra to attend 14 days Dhanur yajna to be held at Madhurapuri; The Gopalas and Gopikas shed tears at the prospect of Krishna leaving Ambadi. But, Krishna and Balabhadra took leave of them and started for Mathurapurl in the chariot brought by Akrura.

Krishna broke the bow, killed the fierce elephant, fought with famous pugilists and finally killed Kamsa. Balarama and Krishna then released Vasudeva, Devaki and Ugrasena from prison. Ugrasena was crowned King of Mathura.

Vasudeva, on the advice of sage Garga sent Rama and Krsna for their studies to the Asrama of the great sage Sandipani. Krishna learned the Vedas, the sixty-four arts and Dhanurveda (science of archery) at the feet of Sandipani.

Krishna got many friends and foes. The Jarasandha was always at war with Sri Krishna for killing Kamsa, the husband of his daughters Asti and Prapti. Sisupala, Kalyavana, and Banasura also attacked Madhurapuri very often. To avoid the enemies and for the better future of Vrishni people Krishna and Rama voluntarily quitted Mathura and went to an island called Dvaraka in the western sea.

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Krishna went as a mediator to Hastinapur to divide country and give the share of country due to Pandavas, who had returned from their exile in the forest. Duryodhana denied this request. Krishna then requested to give at least a house for Pandavas to live decently. Durodhana refused the request and said he won’t let loose even a drop land for Pandavas. Both the sides began preparations for war until death. While inviting every kingdom to join the war, both side requested the Yadava army of Dwaraka. To them Krishna told that one of them can take the whole army and the other side can have him, but he will be unarmed and will not fight. Arjuna accepted Krishna and Duryodhana accepted the Yadava Army.

Dharmaputra requested Krishna to find out means to avoid war somehow or other and Krishna sent a message to Dhrtarastra through Sanjaya but nothing came out of it. Ultimately Krishna himself decided to visit the Kauravas for which purpose he went first to Dwaraka in his chariot with Satyaki. On his way Krishna held talks with many a great sage. From Dwaraka he returned to Hastinapura where he visited and consoled Kunti at Vidura's house. He had his supper also there. The next day he attended Duryodhana's court and strongly pleaded for the Pandavas. But Duryodhana and others ridiculed him and even attempted to take him captive. Sri Krishna at once exhibited his Visva-rupa (Cosmic form). The Kauravas were frightened to witness Brahma on Krishna’s forehead, Siva on his chest, Aditya-Vasu-Rudras in his mouth etc.

When the Kaurava and the Pandava armies were gathered at Kuruksetra in full battle array and Arjuna, at the sight of the thousands of relations in the opposite camp, became a prey to a great delusion and sat down. Krishna then advised to Arjuna to do karma which is the need of the hour. The various arguments Krishna said is codified as Bhagavad Gita.

Krishna being the charioteer of Arjuna always motivated him. And as a charioteer he looked after the horses in the battle-field. He adhered to the vow he had taken, that he will not fight, but once he was about to break the vow on finding the war is going to lose because of the fighting skill of Bhishma. Krishna rushed forward with his Cakrayudha to kill Bhisma, who then praised Krishna. Arjuna intervened and promised to kill Bhishma. In another occasion Krishna created illusory darkness and prompted Arjuna to kill Jayadratha In the fierce battle that ensued between Arjuna and Kama, Krishna pressed down the platform of the chariot when the latter shot the nagastra. The arrow flew off with Arjuna's crown.

Krishna prompted Bhima to kill Duryodhana in a fight which actually broke some of the rule of fight. When Duryodhana fell down with a broken leg there was only a handful of people left in the great war which had 18 akshouhini (large brigade). The War is over, so as requested by Yudhisthira Krishna left the battle-field for Hastinapura and met Dhrtarastra and Gandhari and consoled them. Krishna then went to Dwaraka with Subhadra and Satyaki.

Krishna granted the boon to Bhisma lying on the bed of arrows that he would not feel hunger and thirst and that his intellect would function powerfully as long as he was discoursing on dharma. Accordingly Bhishma give a lot of dharmic lesson to Yudhisthir.

Amidst the cry of the ladies who lost their dear ones, Krishna again went to Hastinapura and met Uttara, wife of Abhimanyu who delivered a still born. Being lost even the last expectation for an heir for the throne Kunti requested Krishna to revive the child. Krishna then brought back life in the child. This child later becomes famous as Pariksit.

Gandhari was having the apprehension that Krishna wished War as a destructive force to end the rule of treacherous rulers. Krishna always supported Dharma and she herself blessed her son Duryodhana with the word, let dharma prevail; but she could not control herself when all her sons were lost and taking two sides Kuru race being annihilated. The cruel words came out of her mouth, "If I have gained any powers by my loyal and devout service to my husband, Oh ! Krishna I curse you on the strength of that power. Since you forsook relations like the Kauravas and the Pandavas who quarreled with each other, you also will have to witness the killing of relations. Thirty six years from today your relations, ministers and sons will be killed, and you too will be killed by a hunter in the forest. Your women-folk also will cry as we women cry now."

Yudhishthira ruled the country to prosperity. The same time the prosperity of Vrishni people turn then lazy. The curse of Gandhari was haunting Krishna.

One day while the sages Visvamitra, Kanva and Narada came to Dwaraka was passing through Dwaraka, some Yadava boys brought Samba dressed as a pregnant woman before the sages and asked them to predict what child, whether male or female, would Samba give birth to. Angry at this insult, the sages said that the 'pregnant woman' would deliver an iron rod, which would become instrumental for the destruction of the Yadava dynasty.

Krishna who was told about the curse said that it was as it was destined to be. Next day Samba delivered an iron rod. The Yadavas filed it into powder and threw the powder into the sea. Sri Krishna enforced prohibition of liquors in Dwaraka with the object of avoiding any untoward incidents in Dvaraka. It was declared that those who produced liquor would be hanged to death

Evil omens. Signs of the destruction of the Yadavas began appearing. Agents of Kala visited house after house. Rats multiplied in numbers everywhere in the land, and they began gnawing the nails and hairs of people enjoying sleep. Sheep howled like jackals. Asses were born from cows and cats from mules. Dogs cohabited with rats. The Cakrayudha (Discus) given to Krishna by Agnideva at the time of Khandavadaha disappeared into the sky while the Yadavas were looking on. Thus symptoms of an all-round destruction were witnessed.

The Yadus, the Vrsnis and the Andhakas began to quarrel with one another. The powder of the iron rod thrown into the sea was washed ashore and it grew up like arrow-like grass. The Yadavas fought with one another and many were killed. Krishna got terribly angry at the death of Satyaki, Pradyumna and others.

During this period Balabhadra went and seated himself under a tree in deep meditation and died. Krishna stood near him. Daruka and Babhru also arrived there. Krishna deputed Daruka to Hastinapura to inform Arjuna about the annihilation of the Yadava race. Then Krishna went to the palace and consoled the women-folk there. When he told them that Arjuna would come and take care of them, his wives shed tears.

Krishna roamed about the forest for some time and then lay down on the ground immersed in Yoga with his feet raised up. An Asura called Jara, who saw Krishna’s raised feet from a distance mistook the same for a deer and shot it with his arrows. Krishna expired at once and rose up in the guise of Visnu to Vaikuntha.

Four of the eight wives of Krishna committed suicide by ending their life in the funeral pyre of Krishna. Arjuna came to Dvaraka and took part in the funeral activities. While Arjuna was leading the remaining women of Dwaraka to Hastinapura some forest-dwellers attacked them on the way and captured many of them. Some of the women escaped from their clutches jumped into the river Sarasvati and died in its waters.

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