Lecture by India Oates


Lord Krishna

1.    Krishna as an avatar (worldly manifestation) of Lord Vishnu

a.    Krishna protects people, slays demons

2.    Distinct mischievous, erotic, and playful personality that characterizes the divine

a.    Shown in stories of Krishna as Divine Child and Divine Youth

3.    Bala Krishna: Krishna as Divine Child

a.    Pure/chaotic joy and spontaneity characterize the divine

                                              i.     Bala Krishna as a butter thief

b.    Lila: divine play

                                              i.     The divine as totally self-absorbed in this play, spontaneous, free, unrestricted

c.    Combat as play: draws on the role of Vishnu as protector

                                              i.     Krishna subdues Kaliya (serpent who poisoned the waters of a town) and sucks the life out of Putana (disguised demon)

d.    Paradigm of devotional love: a parent/child relationship

                                              i.     The devotee is like an adoring parent to their child

4.    Krishna as divine lover

a.    He has incredible beauty and powerful, erotic attraction, fills the world with bliss (ananda)

                                              i.     His flute is irresistible to all of creation; lover of gopis

b.    Divine play with gopis (cowherdesses)

                                              i.     Their love-play is of a reciprocal nature and culminates in sex

                                            ii.     This is enacted through the dance of the Raslila

c.    Radha (a gopi) is Krishna’s primary consort

                                              i.     She has adulterous and pure love for him because the love of God transcends social obligation

                                            ii.     Exemplified in the Gita-Govinda (by Jayadevi, 12th century) through Radha and Krishna’s union, separation/longing, and reunion

                                          iii.     Radha is the ideal devotee- utterly fixated on him, constantly desires him

d.    Paradigm of devotional love: relationship between lovers

                                              i.     Devotees intensely focus their mind on the deity, like how lovers do