Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu gods, is revered as a supreme deity and the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu. Worshiped as a restorer of order to the world, he appears in a number of myths and legends. The most important source of stories about Krishna is the Mahabharata, the great Hindu epic written between 400 B . C . and A . D . 200, and the Bhagavatam, written later.

deity god or goddess

Hindus worship Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu gods, as a supreme god and restorer of order to the world. Here, Krishna lifts a mountain.
Hindus worship Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu gods, as a supreme god and restorer of order to the world. Here, Krishna lifts a mountain.

Birth and Childhood. According to myth, Krishna was the son of Vasudeva and Devaki. His uncle, the wicked King Kamsa of Mathura, heard a prophecy that he would be killed by the eighth child of his sister Devaki. As a result, Kamsa vowed to kill the child. However, when Devaki gave birth to Krishna, her eighth child, the god Vishnu helped switch him with the newborn child of a cowherd and his wife. This couple raised Krishna as their own son.

From birth, Krishna exhibited great powers. Once when his father was carrying him, the baby Krishna dipped his foot in the waters of a raging river. The waves parted, allowing Vasudeva to cross.

After the evil Kamsa discovered that Krishna was alive, he sent demons to destroy the child. Krishna managed to overcome them all. He put an end to the ogress Putana by sucking the life out of her and caused a cart to crush the monstrous flying demon named Saktasura. He also destroyed Trinavarta, a whirlwind demon, by smashing it against a rock.

As Krishna grew up, he often amused himself by playing pranks on people. He also enjoyed teasing the daughters of the cowherds and had many romantic adventures.

incarnation appearance of a god, spirit, or soul in earthly form

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

prophecy foretelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted

Struggles Against Evil. When Krishna reached manhood, Kamsa lured him and his brother Balarama to Mathura to a wrestling contest. As the brothers entered the city, Kamsa released a wild elephant to trample them. Krishna killed the beast. Next Kamsa sent his champion wrestlers to fight the brothers, but Krishna and Balarama defeated them all. Finally, Kamsa ordered his demons to kill Krishna's real parents, Vasudeva and Devaki. Before this could take place, however, Krishna killed Kamsa, thus fulfilling the prophecy made years before.

After killing Kamsa, Krishna led his clan, the Yadavas, to the fortress city of Dvaraka. He settled there and married a beautiful princess named Rukmini. He later took other wives as well.

The climax of Krishna's long struggle against the forces of evil came with the great war between two families: the noble Pandavas and their evil cousins the Kauravas. Krishna served as the charioteer of Arjuna, one of the Pandava leaders. Although he took no part in the fighting, Krishna gave advice to Arjuna, and the Pandavas eventually defeated the Kauravas and rid the world of much evil. The conversations between Krishna and Arjuna are found in a section of the Mahabharata called the Bhagavad Gita.

clan group of people descended from a common ancestor or united by a common interest

After the war, Krishna returned to Dvaraka. One day while he sat in the forest, a hunter mistook him for a deer and shot an arrow at him. The arrow pierced Krishna's heel, his only vulnerable spot. After Krishna died, his spirit ascended to Goloka, a heavenly paradise, and his sacred city of Dvaraka sank beneath the ocean.

See also Bhagavad Gita ; Devils and Demons ; Hinduism and Mythology ; Indra ; Mahabharata, The ; Shiva ; Vishnu .

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