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Impact of Lord Krishna

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From time immemorial (Dwapara Yuga according to tradition), Lord Sri Krishna has been inspiring and guiding lakhs of Hindus. He lived the life of an ideal human being dedicated to Dharma and gave to the world the universal song of life, Bhagavadgita.

Even during his life, he was considered divine but became established as a god and an incarnation of Vishnu. Hindus throughout the world pay homage to him annually on his birthday familiar to all as Krishna Janmastami or Gokulastami; perhaps this is the biggest festival for Srivaishnavas, popularly known as Iyengars. They worship this god and offer choicest dishes to him as naivedya and distribute the same to friends and relatives. It is really worthwhile to have friends from Iyengar community who remember you on Janmastami.

Names of Kings:
Our ancient kings have shown a fondness for choosing the names of gods for themselves. Many of the dynasties have shown an eagerness to connect them with Krishna.
The first king to have the name Vasudeva Krishna is a foreign king of the yeuchi tribe of Central Asia. He is Vasudeva of the Kushana dynasty and a grandson of Kadphises. Many of the southern dynasties had become powerful by their valour but had a lowly origin and hence many of them took refuge under the Yadava dynasty in which Krishna was born. The Hoysalas, Yadavas of Devagiri, Mysore Wadiyars traced their origin to Yadu, the great. In the Kadamba dynasty, two kings had the name Krishnavarma (I and II). The Rashtrakutas were one of the most powerful dynasties of Karnataka whose horses are described to have drunk the water of Ganga during their war campaigns. Four kings of this dynasty had the name Krishna (I, II, III and IV).

Krishna I (756 - 74 AD) is remembered in Indian art for the rock-cut temple known as Kailasa at Ellora. The Yadavas of Devagiri were great devotees of Krishna and King Krishna of this dynasty patronised the cult of Krishna.

Of all the kings of Vijayanagara, Krishnadevaraya was a great devotee of Krishna. After defeating the Gajapati King of Orissa, he brought an image of Sri Krishna as war trophy and consecrated it at Hampi, in the Krishnaswamy temple. It is one of the ornate temples at Hampi.

In addition to that, he expressed his devotion to Sri Krishna by minting coins in gold and silver with the portrait of Balakrishna holding a lump of butter in his hand. Another king Srirangaraya I minted coins with the portrait of dancing Krishna. Finally, the Wadiyars of Mysore trace their origin to Yaduvamsha and two brothers Yaduraya and Krishnaraya are said to have migrated from Gujarat to Mysore area. In this dynasty, flourished four important kings who had the name Krishnaraja Wadiyar (I, II, III and IV). Chikkadevaraya Wadiyar and Krishnaraja Wadiyar III minted coins with the portrait of Balakrishna. The latter was a great king and was a patron of art, literature and culture.

Common People:
Common people throughout the country are known to have used Krishna's name for themselves. Krishnamurthy, Krishnappa, Krishne Gowda, Krishna Iyengar, Krishna Iyer etc. are some of the names which we hear almost daily. Some of them with the name of Krishna became celebrated in their own field as exemplified by Bidaram Krishnappa, Dewan Krishanmurthy, Mathoor Krishnamurthy, A. N. Krishna Rao, M. H. Krishna etc. Some of the variants like Gopala, Vasudeva, Gopivallabha etc. are also common. In Tamil area, Krishna become Kanna or Kannan. In North India, Kanhaiya is a popular name. Women also are fond of names like Radha, Rukmini, Gopi etc. Many place names also have the association of Krishna. However, places like Krishnarajapet, Krishnaraja Nagar, Krishnaraja Sagar etc. are used to commemorate the Wadiyar king Krishnaraja Wadiyar. But they indirectly refer to Krishna.

Sculpture and painting:
Temples dedicated to Lord Krishna are rare as compared to those of Siva and Vishnu. However, there are some temples dedicated to Krishna at Mathura, Dwaraka, Hampi, Udupi, Guruvayoor etc. But sculptures of Krishna are prolific in temples dedicated to other gods and goddesses. The Hoysala temples contain beautiful sculptures of Krishna in various poses. Many Hoysala temples which have three garbhagrihas, one of them is generally dedicated to Krishna. Hoysala sculptor is very fond of portraying Krishna as playing on his flute standing under the Tamala tree. On the one side are found gopas and gopis listening to the divine music while on the other side are depicted cows enjoying the music of Krishna. Sri Krishna himself is fully ornamented and is engrossed in playing on the flute. Sports of Sri Krishna have also attracted the sculptors.

Krishna Lila has been a favourite theme with painters of various schools. The Kangra School of painting mostly confined to the hilly tracts of the Himalayas has shown sports of Sri Krishna in bright colours. The Mysore and Tanjavur schools of painting have also popularised the sports of Krishna through the medium of painting.

Authors, poets, dramatists and musicians have played a major part in keeping the cult of Krishna alive. To a saint like Purandaradasa, Krishna is inseparable from his music. In recent times, ISKCON has been popularizing the cult of Krishna by building temple and publishing books. Thus the cult of Krishna has been influencing our life and culture and this is bound to increase in the days to come.

We worship Krishna but have forgotten his teaching and message of Dharma.

Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy,
Former Head,
Department of Ancient History & Archaeology,
University of Mysore.

Courtesy: Star of Mysore

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