Subscribe for Newsletters and Discounts
Be the first to receive our thoughtfully written
religious articles and product discounts.
Your interests (Optional)
This will help us make recommendations and send discounts and sale information at times.
By registering, you may receive account related information, our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
By subscribing, you will receive our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. All emails will be sent by Exotic India using the email address

Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
Sign In  |  Sign up
Your Cart (0)
Best Deals
Share our website with your friends.
Email this page to a friend

Krishna’s Avatar: A Source of Joyous Symbolism

Article of the Month - May 2014
Viewed 12417 times since 15th May, 2014
The whole scenario of Krishna’s avatar on this earth is filled with a rich symbolism which not only fills one with ecstatic joy, but also presents in a simple and vivid language the most profound aspects of Indian philosophy.

Gods and Rishis Praying Vishnu for Eliminating Kansa

For example, consider the moment when the gods, tormented as they were by the demons, went to the refuge of Lord Brahma, their creator. What did Brahma do after listening to their woes? He took them to Lord Shiva and together they all went to Lord Vishnu to request him for help. Now the question is: Why did Brahma Ji take Lord Shiva also with them to Lord Vishnu?

The answer is that Lord Vishnu saves dharma in two ways. One is by protecting his bhaktas, which requires sattva-guna and the other is by destroying villains which requires tamo-guna. Now, Vishnu is the presiding deity of sattva-guna and hence he can indulge in the former action alone. However, the second act, that of killing the enemies of dharma, requires a presence of the destructive power of tamo-guna, whose presiding deity is none other than Lord Shiva.

Another more abstract explanation is that in Indian philosophy it is an established principle that every individual has within himself all the three gunas. However, he can reach to the Supreme Lord only when the tamo-guna and rajo-guna inside him follow the sattva-guna.

Chaturbhuja Vishnu


Next comes the birth of Lord Krishna. Prior to Krishna, His mother had in her womb Balarama, who thus became Krishna’s elder brother. Balarama was the avatar of Shesha, the serpent who canopies over Lord Vishnu’s head.



Krishna Balarama

In Vishnu’s earlier avatar as Rama, the same Shesha had incarnated as his younger brother Lakshmana. Now the question is, why did Shesha took birth as the elder brother, even though he had taken the role of the younger brother in the previous avatar? The answer to this lies in the extreme love Shesha had for his Lord. When he was Lakshmana, being the younger he couldn’t stop Rama from going to the forest and thought that in this incarnation, by becoming the elder brother, he would be better able to serve his Lord.

According to the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the timing of Krishna’s manifestation on this earth was extremely auspicious. All the directions became clear and pleasant, even though it was the rainy season. Why did the directions become so happy at the imminent arrival of the Supreme Lord? In the Indian tradition, the directions are all thought as different devis and the guardians of these directions as their husbands (digpati). Under the tyranny of the demon king Kamsa, their husbands had either been imprisoned or had vacated their posts and run away. Now with impending arrival of Lord Krishna they were sure to be soon reunited with their loving husbands.

Not only the directions, even the five elements making up the physical world were extremely happy at the imminent arrival of Lord Krishna. These elements are the earth, water, fire, wind and sky.

The Earth:

Lord Vishnu with Shridevi and Bhudevi


As the time of Krishna’s arrival approached, the Earth adorned herself by revealing forth the rich jewels situated in her mines. Why was the Earth delighted? Because at last she was going to be united with her husband Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu has two wives Shridevi (Lakshmi) and Bhudevi (Earth).


The former is the presiding deity of movable wealth and the latter of the immovable (like land). Actually, these two wealths belong to Lord Vishnu only. When the Earth heard that her husband was coming from Vaikuntha (where he lived with Lakshmi) to be with her, she adorned herself for welcoming him, much like the wife whose husband comes home after a long stint abroad. The Earth blossomed, thinking that very soon the Lord would be placing His lotus feet on her bosom.

Vishnu's Vaman Incarnation



Actually, even though many avatars before had graced the Earth, none had given her the level of happiness that Krishna was going to give. As Vamana, the Lord was a brahmachari.



Parashurama, Incarnation of Vishnu and Annihilator of the Kshatriyas



As the great Parashurama He had given the Earth away to the brahmins.



Whole world is Rama Sita I know,
With folded hands to them I bow.


Actually, even though many avatars before had graced the Earth, none had given her the level of happiness that Krishna was going to give. As Vamana, the Lord was a brahmachari.



As Rama he had married Sita Ji, the daughter of the Earth. At last, in the Krishna avatar, she was hoping to get the happiness denied to her in the previous avatars.


The waters of the rivers became crystal clear. Why? Because it is only in the pure heart that God is manifested.


God Agni on His Mount Ram


Due to the fear of the demons, brahmins had stopped tending to the sacred fires and were not performing yajnas any more. Thus no offerings were being poured into the fires and Agni devata was hungry. Now with the advent of Lord Krishna, his hunger was sure to be satisfied.




Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman


The wind started blowing in a cool and pleasant manner, delighting and comforting in its touch. What was the special reason for the wind’s happiness? The wind god Vayu was extremely happy at the service his son Hanuman had provided to Rama in the previous avatar of the Lord.


Now he was supremely glad that he himself was getting a chance to serve Him. When the Lord Krishna would lie down tired after playing with his friends, this is how the cool in wind would blow, lulling Krishna to restful sleep. This was how the wind practised and perfected itself for the future service of the Lord.

The Sky:

Murali Krishna with His Cow and Peacock


The sky was all the more delighted. The books of Vedanta had always compared it with God, with reference to the sky’s oneness and vastness. However, Vedanta had always negated the sky’s blueness, calling it to be false. But now that the Krishna was incarnating with a body coloured like that of the sky (blue), even this remaining characteristic of the sky would be accepted by the Lord as his attribute.


The Birth of Krishna:

God Appears in the Vision of Devaki and Vasudev….

Krishna was born in the prison where his parents were imprisoned. At the time of his birth his father Vasudeva was bound in chains. However, no sooner had he taken up the baby Krishna in his hands than all chains fell off. There is nothing miraculous about this. By merely uttering Krishna’s divine name one is freed of all the knots binding us to the material world. Then what surprise is there in the fact that when he picked up Krishna, all chains binding Vasudeva fell off and he became free.


Crossing the Yamuna

Vasudeva’s immediate action after Krishna’s birth was to shift Him to the town of Vrindavana, where He would be safe from Kamsa who had imprisoned Vasudeva and his wife in the first place. For this purpose, he placed the infant Krishna in a basket and set out towards Vrindavana. The clouds, lightly rumbling, showered Krishna with their drops. The serpent Shesha then appeared on the scene and protected Krishna from the drizzle by spreading out its hood over Him like an umbrella. Shesha knew, that even though he was the elder brother (Balarama) in the present incarnation, his primary duty was to serve the Lord.


Soon Vasudeva reached the river Yamuna. The river, even though overflowing and turbulent due to the rains, first rose up and then finally afforded passage to Krishna, much like the sea, which had given Him way when as Rama He had set out to conquer Lanka.

Why did the river Yamuna act the way it did? There are many reasons. Firstly, she realised that the great Lord Himself, whose lotus feet is difficult to attain for even the greatest of saints would play with those very feet on its banks. This realisation enraptured her to no end and she wept with joy. Her eyes shed so many tears that the river was flooded.

Additionally, Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the lord of death. Lest the Lord think that she, being the sister of death, was lifeless, she made special efforts to display that she was full of life.


Lord Krishna Vanquishes Kaliya

Why did Yamuna suddenly recede her waters? She realised that the baby Krishna, thinking that her waters were too deep and wide, might not enter her waters to play. Therefore, she immediately reduced her waters to three levels: Till His throat, navel and knees. Another reason why Yamuna opened herself like never before in front of the Lord was that she was being tormented by the hot fumes issuing from the mouth of the snake Kaliya, who was living within her waters. Displaying her vast expanse of waters was her way of opening up her painful heart to Krishna. Eventually the Lord did vanquish Kaliya and free Yamuna.


Of course, the ultimate source of joy for Yamuna was the fact that in His avatar as Krishna, the Lord would marry her, granting her the most special privilege of all, that if being His wife.


References & Further Reading:

Post a Comment
Post Review
I received the package today... Wonderfully wrapped and packaged (beautiful statue)! Please thank all involved for everything they do! I deeply appreciate everyone's efforts!
Frances, USA
I have always been delighted with your excellent service and variety of items.
James, USA
I've been happy with prior purchases from this site!
Priya, USA
Thank you. You are providing an excellent and unique service.
Thiru, UK
Thank You very much for this wonderful opportunity for helping people to acquire the spiritual treasures of Hinduism at such an affordable price.
Ramakrishna, Australia
I really LOVE you! Wonderful selections, prices and service. Thank you!
Tina, USA
This is to inform you that the shipment of my order has arrived in perfect condition. The actual shipment took only less than two weeks, which is quite good seen the circumstances. I waited with my response until now since the Buddha statue was a present that I handed over just recently. The Medicine Buddha was meant for a lady who is active in the healing business and the statue was just the right thing for her. I downloaded the respective mantras and chants so that she can work with the benefits of the spiritual meanings of the statue and the mantras. She is really delighted and immediately fell in love with the beautiful statue. I am most grateful to you for having provided this wonderful work of art. We both have a strong relationship with Buddhism and know to appreciate the valuable spiritual power of this way of thinking. So thank you very much again and I am sure that I will come back again.
Bernd, Spain
You have the best selection of Hindu religous art and books and excellent service.i AM THANKFUL FOR BOTH.
Michael, USA
I am very happy with your service, and have now added a web page recommending you for those interested in Vedic astrology books: Many blessings to you.
Hank, USA
As usual I love your merchandise!!!
Anthea, USA
Subscribe to our newsletter and discounts
Share with friends
Links Related to
"There is Rama, the son of Ayodhya's king Dasharatha in his human birth, and there is Rama's divinity, his divine aura that overwhelms the Tulasi's entire Ramacharit-manas, one manifest - with attributes, and the other, unmanifest - without attributes. With main emphasis on his majesty in South Indian tradition this crown is taller than usual. His 'khadgasana' images are usually in three modes; one with his right foot moved forward represents him in a commander's disposition ready to rush for protecting a devotee in crisis or redeem him from some calamity. Harihara, a form in which he shares with Shiva half of the body. Basically a bird Garuda is seen for ages as Vishnu's ardent devotee, a learned human being and an auspicious presence, and in iconographic tradition often conceived with a man's face, anatomy, ornaments and ensemble. The Puranas are replete with tales of Garuda's divine exploits."
Iconography of Vaishnava Images: Vishnu
"A man receives a wife given by the gods... Where women are revered, there the gods rejoice; but where they are not, all efforts are unfruitful…. The husband, tradition says, is the wife, They can never be cut loose from one another. This is the dharma made by Brahma himself….he king who bears patiently when those in anguish insult him will be exalted in heaven…. If the driver of a vehicle injures a man, animal or property, he needs to be punished along with the owner of the vehicle…. This in a nutshell, is the definition of suffering and happiness."
Living According to Manu: God’s Manual of Instruction for Life
"Durga Puja is more than the periodically observed navratra in the subcontinent..The akaal bodhon Durga Puja has evolved into great socio-cultural significance in the Eastern Delta region, and is the lifeblood of Bengalis everywhere...On dashami the next day, one could sense the pall that descends upon the delta...Ma Durga's time in Her girlhood home draws to a close. Now is the final throes of festive exuberance."
Durga Puja - Worshipping the Wife of Shiva, Daughter of Bengal
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
"The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries."
An Example of Living Vedanta: The Story of King Rantideva
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world."
Shiva and Vishnu: A Unique Aspect of Their Worship
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Understanding the True Nature of Happiness
"Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
"Her epithet in the Devi-Mahatmya is Mahalakshmi. She is the wrathful four-armed goddess of battlefield represented holding in them various weapons…. A form of Lakshmi seated over a lotus laid over a golden seat and a pair of white elephants…. Except in some classical forms in Lakshmi-Narayana imagery Lakshmi is ordinarily two-armed…. Incarnation theory is the crux of Vaishnavism. Vishnu incarnates alone but Lakshmi also incarnates in simultaneity…. Though very rare some enthused artists have conceived on Ardhanarishvara line also Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images."
Iconography of Vaishnava Deities: Goddess Lakshmi
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"One uniqueness of our Vedic religion is that it allows for salvation not only through renunciation (nivritti) but also through the path of material happiness (pravritti).... If dharma makes it mandatory that conjugal pleasure be restricted to the life partner, how is it that Krishna indulged in the amorous sport of Rasa with others' wives?.... Some stopped cooking, some stopped feeding, some stopped eating, some stopped washing clothes etc. and ran away.... Upanishads call the jiva in waking state as Vishwa and the dreaming jiva as Taijasa (Mandukya Upanishad Mantras 3-4)."
Krishna's Rasa Lila: The Vedantic Perspective
"Both the Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga…. The following is a list of features typical to Kaliyuga…. A man will consider only those people to be his relatives who are related to him through….The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others….. We can save ourselves from Kaliyuga."
50 Characteristics of Kaliyuga
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"Bhishma undoubtedly is one of the central figures of the Mahabharata.…. One should not venture out too early in the morning…. But one should not go to sleep with wet feet….A person who desires to live long should never irritate the following three…. One must shun company of people who criticize the Vedas…. If we are traveling, one must find shelter inside a house…."
Living the Full Life: 50 Instructions from the Mahabharata
Show More
All rights reserved. Copyright 2019 © Exotic India