Importance of Lord Krishna in Hindu Religion
Lord Krishna is a prominent figure in the Hindu religion and is considered as the supreme authority of Godhead. A large number of people in India as well as abroad follow him and consider him as the ultimate authority and the main Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. 'Hare Krishna Hare Ram' cult which has many temples and religious institutions in India and around the world is devoted to Lord Krishna only. Out of all the deities in Indian mythology and culture, Lord Krishna is the only well known religious figure among the international communities.
Lord Krishna's birthday is celebrated every year in form of a festival called Krishna Janmashtami in India as well by his followers elsewhere in the world and as this day is observed as per Hindu calendar it falls sometimes during the months of August and September.
Many pictures of Lord Krishna are depicted as him playing a flute. That represents and symbolises his childhood when he used to go to jungle along with the domestic cattles and there he played the flute in presence of his friends and companions.
Have you heard about Lord Krishna or his teachings in form of Bhagavad Gita?
Birth and childhood life
Lord Krishna is considered as the most powerful Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. Mythologically, Lord Vishnu is the supreme Godhead of the Hindu Trinity of deities that is - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). In the pictorial presentations Krishna is shown as a handsome personality with slightly dark complexion. In fact the word Krishna literally means 'blackish'.
Researchers and scholars agree that Krishna took birth in the year 3228 BCE (about 5248 years ago). Krishna's parents were Vasudeva, the father and Devaki, the mother. Devaki's brother Kamsa was a cruel and evil tyrant King and was told by forecast and fortune tellers that Devaki's son would kill him. So, Kamsa, being apprehended, imprisoned his sister and brother in-law and decided to kill the children whenever born to the couple. When Krishna was born, Vasudeva with great difficulty, with the help of some kind hearted people, took the child out of the prison and brought another child to replace it. When Kamsa tried to kill this child thinking it was Krishna, then it slipped from his hands but the child told him that Kamsa's end was nearing. Kamsa was furious but could not do anything. Krishna was brought up by Nanda and his wife Yashoda in a place near modern day Mathura.
Hindu scriptures and many holy Hindu books describe his childhood as full of episodes related to his mischiefs with friends and relatives and also many stories are there which showcase his exemplery intelligence and brevity in fighting against the evil forces. He is the only one personality which got so much respect and following by the masses after his death that he was considered as the incarnation of the supreme Godhead. Some of his later disciples took the glory of their master to the far off lands and from that new cult of 'Hare Krishna, Hare Rama' was created. Today, we find the international organisation ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Conciouness) which is fully devoted to the worshipping and spreading of Krishna philosophy in the world.
The young Krishna
Once reaching the adulthood Krishna changed into an attractive and impressive personality whose powers were thought to be above humans or of supernatural qualities. Many stories are there as how Krishna killed the demons including the tyrant king Kamsa, who torchered or oppressed the masses in those times. After the evil Kamsa was killed, Krishna requested Kamsa's father Ugrasen to take charge of the Kingdom and Krishna was made the prince in the king's court. Later Krishna raised a new Kingdom named as Dwarika and ruled it. That was the time when Pandavas requested his help in war against Kauravas.
Young girls of that time were much infatuated with the charm of Krishna and were also attracted to his flute tunes. Krishna gave love and affection to all of them and every girl (known by a common name of Gopi) thought that Krishna was her friend and protector. The name of Radha comes on the forefront as the most prominent of the Gopis. The legend goes that there were occasions when each of the Gopi found Krishna dancing with her only and Gopis were not knowing that Krishna with his divine powers was simply appearing to each of them like that. This strange thing is known as Krishna-lila or Raas-lila also.
In our scriptures, there is a mention of eight wives of Krishna but scholars differ in its interpretation. There are narrations where it is also mentioned that Krishna had sixteen thousand queens. Some say that they indicate the different aspects of the Lord and his ways. Western scholars like Dennis Hudson and George Williams have considered it as a spiritual symbol of love of Krishna for all the Gopis who have shown their devotion for him.
Krishna's role in the Mahabharata war
Mahabharata is one of the main epic in Hindu culture and one can understand it's importance by comparing it with other famous mythological epics in the world like say the Iliad and the Odyssey by great Greek writer Homer.
In Mahabharata war, Lord Krishna helped Pandavas by becoming the charioteer of Arjun, the great warrior. Being a divine power he told that he would not take the weapons in his hands but only guide the Arjuna in the war. Mahabharata is the story of fight between the truthful Pandavas and evil Kauravas who were cousins but the greed of Kauravas for land and property culminated in the famous Mahabharata war. The story goes that the main warrior Arjun from the Pandava side became emotional and perturbed when he saw that he had to fight and kill or get killed in the hands of his own cousins and his concience did not approve of it and at one point of time he simply thought not to fight. It was Lord Krishna who preached him and explained him the purpose of our life and what we have to do and what not to do. These preachings are preserved in the form of a compilation in Sanskirt language known as 'Bhagawad Gita' and is considered as a holy book in Hindu religion. Many people including some great Indian personalities have immensely benefited by these preachings and practical guidance provided for amalgamating them in our lives.
After getting the enlightenment from Lord Krishna, Arjun with renewed vigour and force understood what was his duty at that moment and announced war on Kauravas.
Some of the sayings of Lord Krishna
- Focus on what you do, not results, in anything.
- Desire is one of the greatest destructions of happiness.
- What is real can’t be unreal.
- Ignoring one’s own duty is a sin.
- Having the right attitude matters a lot in anything.
- Do not worry at all as long as you do good work.
- Your mind is your best friend as well as your greatest enemy.
- Life is so unpredictable and full of twists and turns.
- Happiness is a state of mind.
A brief about Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most read and revered scripture of Hindu religion. Many scholars have tried to interpret and explain its meaning and teachings and some are still pursuing that objective.
The saints and Yogis of India are much impressed and motivated by the teachings of Bhagavad Gita. They are actually the carriers of this knowledge to masses. Some scholars say that it is the 'The Song of the Lord'. Though Bhagavad Gita is the teachings of Lord Krishna delivered to the great warrior Arjuna right in the battlefield and removed doubts and confusions from the disillusioned mind of Arjuna, but these teachings apply to everyone in this world who are pursuing some goals but are worried too much for the results. The essence of these teachings is that do your work and do not unnecessarily perturb, bother or worry only for the results as results would come as the natural consequences of your actions. The prudent people concentrate and focus in the work in hand rather than worrying for the results.
Hare Krishna Hare Ram movement
The great Indian scholar Swami Prabhupada is the person who told the importance of Lord Krishna to the western world and after going through the voluminous mythological and spiritual Indian scriptures and literature translated by Swami Prabhupada in English many people became impressed with that wealth of knowledge and then Swami Prabhupada was able to raise sufficient financial aid for spreading the awareness in masses about the Lord Krishna, the ultimate authority of Godhead. Through the activities of ISKCON, this movement has picked up a good pace not only in India but also in many other countries. They have a chain of temples globally and they conduct courses on spirituality and Krishna conciousness. They have a network of large number of workers who have devoted their lives for worshipping and spreading the Krishna Conciouness everywhere.
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Lord Krishna is one of the main figures worshipped and revered in Hindu religion and it is one who have been adored and respected by a bigger world community. In India we have some festivals when people emphasise on the worshipping of Lord Krishna and pray Him for well being and prosperity. Lord Krishna is not only a symbol of spiritual attainment but also a well known entity in Indian mythology related to skills like music, love and soft relations.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Umesh Chandra Bhatt