How real is Krishna?

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by iBrian, Jun 12, 2004.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I'm under the impression that Krishna is regarded to have lived upon the earth at some point - and I am also very much under the impression that the core of wisdom attributed to Krishna comes from the Bhagavad Gita within the Mahabarata.

    However, I am also very much under the impression that the Mahabarata itself - including the Bhagavad Gita - was composed by a number of monks over a period of at least 100 years.

    Is there an earlier vehicle of Krishna teachings, and where does the belief that Krishna walked the earth more directly come from?
     
  2. hinduwoman

    hinduwoman New Member

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    Actually Mahabharata is thought to be composed over 800 years.

    Where Krishna came from is conjecture, but from tales associated with him it is possible he was the god of some nomadic and pastroal communities. Later he merged with Vishnu and perhaps with some hero king.

    Of course everything is only a guess. Like many things in Hinduism, its historical reality is :confused:
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Hi hinduwoman, and welcome to CR. :)
     
  4. tatvamasi

    tatvamasi idol worshipping advaitin

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    Hey, we seriously question the reality(absolute, that is) of this universe.
    Time and history are relative, aren't they.

    BTW, Krishna is as real as REAL. :D
     
  5. Tathaastu

    Tathaastu New Member

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    Hi everyone.

    My knowledge is very limited in the field of history of Hinduism, but from what I know, the Srimad Bhagwatam also gives a lot of information about Krishna, from his birth to his "death".

    Krishna is believed by Hindus to be the eighth reincarnation of Vishnu, after these reincarnations:
    1. Matsya (fish)
    2. Kurma (Tortoise)
    3. Varaha (boar)
    4. Narasimha (Man-Lion)
    5. Vaamana (Dwarf)
    6. Parshuram (Man with the Axe)
    7. Raam (Ideal Man)
    8. Krishna (Super man)
    9. Buddha (The enlightened one)
    10. Kalki (yet to come, The Man on the White Horse).

    It's really very interesting to see that the avataras (reincarnations) mentioned above follow the law of evolution: Life starting from water (fish), becoming amphibians (tortoise), putting foot on earth (Boar), half-man/half animal (Narasimha), almost full man (Vaamana), cave man (Narasimha), man etc...

    Coming back to Krishna, I personally feel that He really existed, though I cannot prove it. Many people say that the incarnations mentioned in Hinduism are only stories made up to increase the interest of the "common folk" towards spirituality, but I do not agree.

    Being a fervent believer in the Law of Karma, I firmly believe that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, when the negative energies increase to a certain extent/limit on the earth, in order to re-establish the balance, positive energy comes on earth, in any form, be it object, animal or man. This is what is actually referred to as incarnation of God.

    Strictly speaking, everybody and everything originates from the same supreme energy that we refer to as God, but avatar are just a "bigger dose" of divinity than normal humans.

    In the same way, Krishna had to come on earth to reestablish something that had started to disappear in the world: correct lifestyle.

    What I just wrote above may sound very religious, but there are also many historical evidences of the fact that Krishna actually lived on earth. I leave it to you to look for these evidences on the net. I just wanted to show the logic behind the possibility of incarnations on earth.

    I apologise if I said something out of the context of the discussion. As I said, I'm very inexperienced in all these things.

    "For he who believes, No explanation is required;
    For he who doesn't, No explanation is posible."

    God bless U all.
     
  6. Indogenes

    Indogenes New Member

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    Dear Tathaastu,
    Welcome! Like you, I am not entirely proficient in Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma, and am not a historian by profession, but do have a desire to learn and share information about both.

    To add to what you said regarding Krishna, there are places in modern-day India which correspond to places which are mentioned in the Mahabharata - such as

    Mathura (Krishna's birthplace),
    Vrindavan (where he spent his childhood),
    Hastinapur (which is identified with India's capital, Delhi),
    Kurukshetra (where the epic battle happened),
    Dwaraka (his kingdom) and
    Somnath (where he is reputed to have died).

    Gandhara from where Queen Gandhari came is associated with Kandahar of Afghanistan. Several kingdoms/tribes which are mentioned in the Mahabharata have been traced to have existed long ago in the geographical regions which comprise modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

    Given this backdrop of reality around which the Mahabharata has been written, there is an expectation that the story is true and Krishna was real. What takes it to the level of a myth are stories such as the one about how Queen Gandhari bore a 100 sons. After a long pregnancy she gave birth to a hard, cold ball which was split into a 100 pieces. Each of the 100 pieces were placed in a jar of water (totally 100 jars), and subsequently each produced a baby boy. Of course, our modern-day reality of test-tube babies and fertility drugs and treatment may have seemed a myth a century ago. So, who knows if the fabulous tales of the Mahabharata were reality in another age?

    As for me, I grew up loving and enjoying the stories of Krishna's childhood pranks, and revelled in the glorious tales of the Mahabharata. I think its fabulous stories convey moral, ethical and practical lessons and values for people to ponder over. So, from that point of view, the Mahabharata and Krishna are a part of my reality.

    I know I am in danger of digressing from the subject of the thread, but since you mentioned the 10 avatars, I want to add a clarification. Your list of 10 avatars corresponds to references in some of the 18 Puranas. However, there are differences in the number of avatars in the different Puranas, and in some of them Buddha is not mentioned as an avatar. Instead, from avatar 1 to 7 the list is the same as yours, but avatar 8 is Balarama (older brother of Krishna), and avatar 9 is Krishna. Among some Hindu sects (such as Vaishnavites, Dwaita), Balarama and Krishna are considered as the 8th. and 9th. avatars, and Buddha is not included. Since the Puranas are thought to have been written between 400 BC to 1000 AD, it is assumed that Buddha was included in the list of avatars as he was venerated by some Hindus also. But given the fact that Hinduism's popularity as the major religion was threatened for several centuries by Buddhism since its advent, it is quite possible that the inclusion of Buddha as a revered avatar in the Hindu Puranas was also a politic decision.
     
  7. Indogenes

    Indogenes New Member

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    P.S. Brian - for some reason the thread count is still showing 3 replies, when there are 5 - Thathaastu's reply and mine are not being counted. So I am posting this again, to see if it corrects the count.:confused:


    Dear Tathaastu,
    Welcome! Like you, I am not entirely proficient in Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma, and am not a historian by profession, but do have a desire to learn and share information about both.

    To add to what you said regarding Krishna, there are places in modern-day India which correspond to places which are mentioned in the Mahabharata - such as

    Mathura (Krishna's birthplace),
    Vrindavan (where he spent his childhood),
    Hastinapur (which is identified with India's capital, Delhi),
    Kurukshetra (where the epic battle happened),
    Dwaraka (his kingdom) and
    Somnath (where he is reputed to have died).

    Gandhara from where Queen Gandhari came is associated with Kandahar of Afghanistan. Several kingdoms/tribes which are mentioned in the Mahabharata have been traced to have existed long ago in the geographical regions which comprise modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

    Given this backdrop of reality around which the Mahabharata has been written, there is an expectation that the story is true and Krishna was real. What takes it to the level of a myth are stories such as the one about how Queen Gandhari bore a 100 sons. After a long pregnancy she gave birth to a hard, cold ball which was split into a 100 pieces. Each of the 100 pieces were placed in a jar of water (totally 100 jars), and subsequently each produced a baby boy. Of course, our modern-day reality of test-tube babies and fertility drugs and treatment may have seemed a myth a century ago. So, who knows if the fabulous tales of the Mahabharata were reality in another age?

    As for me, I grew up loving and enjoying the stories of Krishna's childhood pranks, and revelled in the glorious tales of the Mahabharata. I think its fabulous stories convey moral, ethical and practical lessons and values for people to ponder over. So, from that point of view, the Mahabharata and Krishna are a part of my reality.



    I know I am in danger of digressing from the subject of the thread, but since you mentioned the 10 avatars, I want to add a clarification. Your list of 10 avatars corresponds to references in some of the 18 Puranas. However, there are differences in the number of avatars in the different Puranas, and in some of them Buddha is not mentioned as an avatar. Instead, from avatar 1 to 7 the list is the same as yours, but avatar 8 is Balarama (older brother of Krishna), and avatar 9 is Krishna. Among some Hindu sects (such as Vaishnavites, Dwaita), Balarama and Krishna are considered as the 8th. and 9th. avatars, and Buddha is not included. Since the Puranas are thought to have been written between 400 BC to 1000 AD, it is assumed that Buddha was included in the list of avatars as he was venerated by some Hindus also. But given the fact that Hinduism's popularity as the major religion was threatened for several centuries by Buddhism since its advent, it is quite possible that the inclusion of Buddha as a revered avatar in the Hindu Puranas was also a politic decision.
     
  8. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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  9. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Hi Prajapati,

    Was there something about Rama and Krishna that warranted their deification?

     
  10. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    So was Krishna a man who became a God or did he come down from heaven knowing since the beginning he was God? Was he always a God or did he turn into God?

    And why isn't Rama as revered and as famous as Krishna?

    Also I noticed that Buddha and Jesus are said to be considered avatars, but they say hinduism is divided on the issue.
     
  11. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    first to answer Agnideva.... yes there was.

    sort of like Buddha. who was very much a human like you or me. Its only after he showed through his deeds and wisdom that he was no ordinary man, that he became deified as the 9th Avatar of Vishnu - the epitome of the enligtened man.

    same with Rama and Krishna. both were men and neither "became god". He did not turn into god - he was turned into one (by people) or at least an avatar of one. and again most likely because of their deeds and/or wisdom.

    Raam was a real king who really remainied devoted to his wife and carried out his duties to the word. hence he merited deification as the epitome of the ideal man - the 7th avatar of vishnu.

    Krishn was a cowherd, but wiser than most sages. Charismatic enough to talk Arjun into carrying out the war that was his duty/dharma to fight, at the crucial moment in the battle field of kurukshetra. hence his deification.


    as to why krishn more revered than rama - the answer i guess lies in what they epitomise - one is the example of an ideal man who carried out all his duties through the various stages of life (youth, adult, king, husband, etc) while the other is an exampe of noithing less than superman - someone who could influence things (and history) through his sheer presence.


    besides raam is very revered too - esp in the hindi belt. but there's something er.. mundane about whatever raam exemplified.

    krishna is a hero, the persone who acted like a rinus michaels (mentor) to a johan cryuff (arjun) and changed the course of india's history. so i guess people find it easier to look up to krishn.

    buddha exemplified wisdom and enlightment.

    jesus is not on the hindu radar nor ever was.
     
  12. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    What do Shivaites think about all this? It seems the core religious people in the hindu epics were avatars of Vishnua the preserver, so whether does this leave Shiva the destroyer? What about Devi? How come all these avatars are avaters of Vishnu and no other major God. And what ever happened to Brahma, not one really cares about him anymore:eek:.

    And WTF happened to Indra and the other older fellow gods? Are these vedic gods same as Vishnu, Devi, or Brahma or what?

    Oh and about Jesus, I heard that Hindus are devided on the issue of Jesus, and at the moment only Hare Krishna believes him to be the son of Krishna and a avatar, although some consider Hare Krishna a different religion.
     
  13. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    it doesnt matter what shivaites think of this.

    since vishnu is the preserver of life, all the stages or planes of existance that life can acquire, are considered the avatar of vishnu and not someone else's.

    same with devi - ince she does not examplify life in its various forms/planes of existance, the examples of various levels of existance (eg - amphibian, ideal man etc) are not considered devi's avatars.

    brahma has a myth associated with him that says he had insestual relationship with someone - or something down those lines. hence he has no temple to his name barring one.
    he is worshipped though - the swastik symbolises the creater, among other things.

    nothing happened to indra or any other god and no they arnt the same as any other.


    hare krishnas are a loony cult, popular amongst oddball westerners. considering that, its a brilliant tactical move on their part to have associated jesus with krishna - given that their major fan base is in the christian west. sort of like the vatican turned solstice - the most pagan of all festivals - into christmas !!!
     
  14. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    But wasn't Indra the supreme God? If he is the supreme God how come no one prays to him anymore and did he loose his high place to Vishnua and a few others or something.

    I actually read from somewhere that there is some connection between Indra and Shiva, but I'm not so sure.

    I don't know so much about Hare Krishna, but I liked the fact they adopted Jesus as an avatar;). Many people think of him as the sun of God! Hindus are right now divided on the issue, but why not give Jesus right of being an avatar? Afterall Jesus lived a very similar life to Buddha and Krishna, and a lot of sources say he actually went to India when he was a kid, which is where he might of learned to follow his Nirvana;). So yea there is nothing wrong with Jesus, I think Hindus have a hard time accepting him as something because of how close-minded traditional christians used to be. But they shouldn't be and should go to that level IMHO, so Jesus as well as any other should be granted full rights as an avatarl;).
     
  15. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Hi prajapati - please moderate your language before the staff here do it for you - we don't appreciate general dismissiveness towards other religions.
     
  16. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Silver,

    It’s important to remember when we’re discussing Hinduism that it is not one monolithic religion. Saying someone is Hindu is like saying someone is Judeo-Christian-Islamic, except the word Hindu is even broader than that. So each denomination of Hinduism is a religion in itself. But since almost all of them accept the Veda, concept of Brahman, and have similar beliefs and practices, we consider them one religion. In reality, each branch within each denomination has the authority to accept or reject doctrines.

    The doctrine of incarnation (that God Himself embodies here on Earth) is a Vaishnavite concept and that is truly what unifies all Vaishnavas. If you ask a Vaishnavite devotee, Rama and Krishna were always God, they knew it, wise people around them knew it, they were not people like you and me, and to say otherwise is sacrilege. The authority on who is an incarnation for Vaishnavas is the Bhagavat Purana. Anyone not mentioned in the Bhagavat Purana can never be a true incarnation in Vaishnavism. Buddha is mentioned in the Bhagavat Purana. However, some Vaishnavites do not accept the Buddha as an incarnation because the Alvar Vaishnava saints specifically spoke against the Buddha. In any case, even the Vaishnavites who do accept the Buddha as an avatar, do not worship him. Since Jesus is not mentioned in the Bhagavat Purana, he can never really become an incarnation of Vishnu.

    In Saivism and Shaktism, God has never had an incarnation, nor will S/He. Neither religion speaks of Rama or Krishna in their central texts. But, because of the popularity of Rama and Krishna, some non-Vaishnavaites have come up with alternate explanations of what is an avatar. The alternatives to God’s literal embodiment are: (a) they were lesser beings that embodied themselves; or (b) they were individuals who performed superhuman feats and later became deified.

    Using these alternative explanations of avatar, some *universalist* groups that have emerged from liberal (smarta) Hinduism in the last 150 years do accept Jesus as a teacher, a yogi, a master or avatar.

    Rama is as revered and famous as Krishna in the Hindu world. The largest branch of Vaishnavism known as Ramanandi Sampradaya is focused on Rama and has 100 million followers. I suspect Krishna is better known because of the worldwide presence of ISKCON.

    The idea that Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva is the Destroyer comes from the purana stories and is not part of true Hindu theology which is derived from the Vedas and Agamas.

    For example, in Saivite religion, Shiva is God - Creator, Preserver, Dissolver, and all the Vedic hymns are written with the understanding that Shiva is within man and Shiva in within nature. So, the different hymns written to different “Gods” in the Vedas are addressed to Shiva only. There is no question of worshipping Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra or Indra separately in Saivism. I suspect the Vaishnavite explanation is very similar.

    If someone claims that there are three supreme Gods: Brahma is a creator god, Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva is the Destroyer, they should be asked why Brahma is not worshipped (as you did). There is no real answer to this question, but you will get plenty of mythological answers.
     
  17. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    hare krishnas are NOT hiundus... what they say and believe in, is all their own with no real links to hinduism. & stop trying to be sardonic like you did in the 1st para - indra is the king of gods - not the preserver of life. hence the various planes of existance are not considered to be representative of the avatars of indra, but vishnu.

    and brian - if you will please tell what was so wrong in my language, i could address the problem. hare krishnas are not repeat not hindus. they are as hindu as the kaabal is true jewish or the illuminatti is christian.
     
  18. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    It's simply an issue of attitude and language - please try and mellow to a more civil tone and respect that CR is a place of many different faiths - there is a board for the Hare Krishna's here.
     
  19. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    aahh, the fog lifts.
     

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