Krish"na(krsh"n), n. [Skr. ksha ' The black.'.] (Hindu Myth.) The most popular of the Hindu divinities, usually held to be the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu.
Krishna is a well-known Hindu deity. Originally the ethnic god of some powerful confederation of Rajput clans, by fusion with the Vishnu of the older theology Krishna becomes one of the chief divinities of Hinduism. He is indeed an avatar of Vishnu, or Vishnu himself. In his physical character mingle myths of fire, lightning, and storm, of heaven and the sun. In the epic he is a hero invincible in war and love, brave, but above all crafty. He was the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, and born at Mathura, on the Yamuna, between Delhi and Agra, among the Yadavas. Like that of many solar heroes, his birth was beset with peril. On the night when it took place, his parents had to remove him from the reach of his uncle, King Kansa, who sought his life because he had been warned by a voice from heaven that the eighth son of Devaki would kill him, and who had regularly made away with his nephews at their birth. Conveyed across the Yamuna, Krishna was brought up as their son by the shepherd Nanda and his wife Yashoda, together with his brother Balarama, 'Rama the strong,' who had been likewise saved from massacre. The two brothers grew up among the shepherds, slaying monsters and demons and sporting with the Gopis, the female cowherds of Vrindavana. Their birth and infancy, their juvenile exploits, and their erotic gambols with the Gopis became in time the essential portion of the legend of Krishna, and their scenes are today the most celebrated centers of his worship. When grown, the brothers put their uncle Kansa to death, and Krishna became king of the Yadavas. He cleared the land of monsters, warred against impious kings, and took part in the war of the sons of Pandu against those of Dhritarashtra, as described in the Mahabharata. He transferred his capital to Dvaraka ('the city of gates'), the gates of the West, since localized in Gujarat. There he and his race were overtaken by the final catastrophe. After seeing his brother slain, and the Yadavas kill each other to the last man, he himself perished, wounded in the heel, like Achilles, by the arrow of a hunter. The bible of the worshipers of Vishnu in his most popular manifestation, that of Krishna, consists of the Bhagavatapurana and the Bhagavadgita. See these words.
[Century Dict. 1906]
Hare Krishnas A popular name for the group
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (abbreviated
ISKCON), devotees of Krishna, founded in 1966 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (born 1896, died 1977). They are called thus because of their frequent public chanting of the words "Hare Krishna".
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