Krishna was clearly ‘the dude’ of his time. I mean, one of his many names was ‘Mohan’, which literally means ‘bewitching’ and ‘a charmer’. We usually remember the 8th avatar of Vishnu as the cute little butter thief, or as the charioteer guide of Arjun in Mahabharat, who helped the warrior find his path in the midst of battle. But Krishna is so much more than that.
Here are some things about the legendary mythological character that most people probably don’t know.
1. Krishna has 108 names.
Lord Krishna is said to have 108 names among which the famous ones are Gopal, Govind, Devakinandan, Mohan, Shyam, Ghanshyam, Hari, Girdhari, Baanke Bihari to name a few.
2. Krishna had 16,108 wives.
Lord Krishna had 16,108 wives in total, out of which eight were his principal wives known as ‘Ashtabharya’ namely Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Nagnajiti, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Bhadra, Lakshmana who bore him 10 sons each. He rescued 16,100 women from the clutches of a demon Narakasura who had forcibly kept them in captivity in his palace and freed them. However, they all returned to Lord Krishna as none of their families were ready to accept them back and so he married them all to protect their honour. However, it is said that he never had any relations with them.
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3. Krishna was cursed by Queen Gandhari, which led to his death and the destruction of his dynasty.
The Kurukshetra war left all 100 of Gandhari’s sons dead. When Krishna approached her to pay his condolences, the grieving mother spitefully cursed him that he along with the Yadu dynasty would perish in 36 years. Krishna already felt that the Yadavas were already transforming into a morally decadent race and should perish and so he calmly said “Tathastu” (So be it) at the end of her declaration.
4. Krishna’s skin colour was dark, not blue.
Krishna’s good looks are the matter of folklore, but though commonly depicted in paintings and idols as blue, his skin colour was actually dark. Spiritualists believe that his all-inclusive, magnetic aura had blue hues and so he is generally depicted as being blue in colour.
5. Krishna brought his Guru Sandipani Muni’s dead son back to life.
After completing their education under Guru Sandipani Muni, Krishna and Balarama asked their Guru what he wanted as Guru Dakshina ( fee for imparting knowledge). Guru Sandipani Muni asked them to restore his dead son who had disappeared in an ocean near Prabhasa. Balaram and Krishna travelled to the spot where they learnt that their Guru’s son had been trapped by a demon who lived inside a conch named Panchajanya which they subsequently took to Yama (God of Death) and asked him to restore the boy. Thus, Krishna and Balarama succeeded in restoring their Guru’s son.
6. Krishna blowing on his conch, Panchjanya, was the war cry for the Pandavas in Kurukshetra.
Krishna’s conch named Panchjanya had powerful reverberations all over the world when blown. Krishna blew his conch to signal the start of the battle of Kurukshetra and at the end to symbolise the victory of dharma (righteousness).
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7. Krishna was related to the Pandavas.
Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas was actually Vasudev’s sister. Vasudev was Krishna’s father.
8. Eklavya was Krishna’s cousin, but was slain by him.
Eklavya, the skilled archer was the son of Devsharavu who was Vasudev’s brother (Vasudev was Krishna’s father). After Dronacharya makes Eklavya cut off his right thumb, Lord Krishna grants him a boon to be reincarnated so as to seek revenge on him. Eklavya is reincarnated as Dhrishtadyumna who stepped out of the yajna fire, created for the sole purpose of killing Dronacharya.
It is also said that Lord Krishna killed Eklavya. His father, Devsharavu was the adopted son of the king of hunters, Nishada Vyatraja Hiranyadhanus. After Eklavya sacrificed his right thumb, his thirst to prove himself as the greatest archer grew and he taught himself to be ambidexterous. He started straying from the path of righteousness. Nishada Vyatraja Hiranyadhanus were long standing allies of Jarasandha, who was Krishna’s enemy and when Krishna was carrying away Rukmini, Eklavya joined forces with Shishupala and Jarasandha to stop him. When Eklavya challenged him, Krishna hurled a rock at Eklavya killing him. According to legend, Eklavya’s death was imminent as he would later have been a force to reckon with and would have wreaked havoc in Hastinapur.
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9. There are conflicting reports about whether Radha, Krishna’s consort, was mentioned at all in ancient scriptures.
Krishna is said to have loved his consort, Radha to the point of devotion and many images show him worshipping her. But interestingly, many spiritualists have mentioned that there is no trace of her in any of the ancient scriptures; be it the Shrimad Bhagvatam or the Mahabharata or the Harivansham which is about Krishna’s life. They argue that her name first cropped up in works of Acharya Nimbark and poet Jayadeva. Others argue that her name has been carefully concealed in scriptures like the Rigveda and some of the Puranas.
10. The Radha-Krishna relationship was used to legitimize premarital sex in modern India
In March 2010, the Supreme Court declared that premarital sex was not an offence. The court argued that since Radha-Krishna lived together according to mythology, premarital sex cannot be construed as an offence.
11. Krishna’s death was the result of a number of curses and his own act of adharma against Vali.
Krishna died due to the culmination of many curses. As legend goes, Gandhari’s curse on Krishna was that he would die with the entirety of his clan in 36 years. Krishna was cursed a second time by the sage Durvasa, when he was asked by him to apply kheer all over his body. Krishna obeyed but did not apply kheer on Durvasa’s feet as they were resting on the ground. Enraged, Durvasa cursed Krishna saying that his death would be by his foot.
As the Yadava clan brought about their own destruction after Gandhari’s curse, Lord Krishna went into yoga samadhi under a tree. His foot was mistaken by a hunter, Jara for an animal and he shot an arrow into Krishna’s foot. Discovering his mistake, he begged for forgiveness but Krishna revealed that in Tretayug, Krishna was Rama and he had deceived Vali (Sugreeva’s brother) by shooting him from behind and was now reaping the result of his karma. Vali had been reincarnated as Jara and was destined to kill Krishna.
Hindu mythology sure makes for an interesting read.