Krishna is one of the most universally beloved deities in Hinduism, not least because his teachings clarify confusion created by various interpretations of Hindu scriptures. As the last avatar (manifestation) of Lord Vishnu, Krishna’s word is accepted as final. Some sects hold him up as the Supreme Being.
Appearing in Indian sacred texts dating back more than 5,000 years, Krishna shows up in many different aspects and guises, all of them good, beautiful, or wise. In Sanskrit, ‘Krishna’ means “dark blue” and “all attractive one”. Ancient artworks depict Krishna with blue skin, wearing a loincloth, his head crowned with peacock feathers.
Over the centuries, the devotion to Krishna has inspired fabulous paintings and carvings of the god in all his manifestations. The richness of design, colour and composition can still be seen in many examples of Indian art found all over the world. Poetry and music sing the praises of Lord Krishna, and theatre and dramatic art tell of his many heroic tales and adventures.
A potential tattoo motif depicts him as a bright blue baby, innocent and sweet, licking his butter-soaked fingers. Shown in his boyhood, Krishna appears in scenes as a child adopted by cowherds where he reveals his divine nature by conquering demons. Later, he is the lover of the gopis (milkmaids), playing his flute and dancing with them by moonlight, which, in Hinduism, stands as the perfect symbol of the soul’s relationship with God. Here is Krishna in one of his most recognizable poses — poised on one leg, the other bent in front, he plays the flute, entertaining milkmaids and cows alike. The image of the playful youth surrounded by female admirers suggests his role as ‘divine lover’.
Krishna’s favourite gopi was Radha, his consort or partner, who comes to be revered as a goddess in her own right. His love for Radha is celebrated in Sanskrit and Bengali love poetry. This is Krishna as symbol of love.
Myth and legend recount many heroic acts that demonstrate Krishna’s bond with the common man, the workers and the poor. In one story, he tamed the serpent that poisoned the river that had killed many cowherds. Here he is again as an aspect of Vishnu, the preserver and protector. One of Lord Krishna’s most famous appearances is as the one who gave to the world the sacred text, Bhagavad-gita.
As the beloved friend of the warrior god Arjuna, Krishna appears as the epitome of wisdom and truth. Krishna convinces Arjuna that the war he is about to fight is a just one. The advice, contained in the Bhagavad-gita, has troubled many who live by codes of non-violence. Krishna’s words lay down the guidelines for right living and how to uphold them in times of moral crisis. They speak not only of the splendours but also the horrors of ‘True Reality’, and the way to transcend personal dilemmas when confronted with the corruption of the human spirit. In this way, balance is restored to the universe.
Stories of Krishna and the other Indian deities are attempts at explaining mysteries and phenomena that defy reason and logic. Krishna is said to be beyond limits, yet also subject to nature. One account describes him at the moment of being captured by an enemy, as bursting into flames and showing all of creation within him. Such fabulous tales fulfill the human yearning to understand.
Deities have a symbolic purpose in Hinduism but one can go without them or go beyond them. All deities are equal. Deities are only a creation of mind, and it is necessary to look beyond the processes of creation and destruction. Therefore, realization of absolute truth is possible only through the route of Meditation. Spirituality or Hinduism is capable to lead us to that stage, which is definitely beyond the scope of mind. Mind is again a creation only, therefore prone to decay and destruction.
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna / Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama / Rama Rama Hare Hare..”
Who hasn’t heard that before? And seen the orange-clad young men and women dancing and singing their devotions to god. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness – more commonly known as ‘the Hare Krishna’ – was founded in 1966 in New York City. Based on the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita and other texts, devotees dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing their Supreme Lord, Krishna.
Get inspired by some really amazing images and tattoos in our Krishna Inspiration Gallery