Page:Myths of the Hindus & Buddhists.djvu/265

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CHAPTER IV : KRISHNA

Notes on Krishna

KRISHNA, son of Devaki, is barely mentioned in the Chhandogya Upanishad (c. 500 B.C.). In the Mahabharata (3OOB.C.-2OO A.D.) he is a prominent figure ; in the Bhagavad Gita, which is a late addition, there is first put forward the doctrine of bhakti, loving devotion to him as a means of salvation, additional to the ways of work and knowledge. No mention is made of his youthful gestes. He is represented as the friend and adviser of princes; he is essentially Dwarkanath, the Lord of Dwaraka ; he is identified with Vishnu in many passages, although in his human form he worships Mahadeva and Uma and receives gifts from them.

At a subsequent period, between the time of the compilation of the Gita and that of the Vishnu and Bhagavata Puranas, probably in the tenth or eleventh century, arose the worship of the boy-Krishna, the chief element in the modern cult. The boy-Krishna no doubt represents the local god of a Rajput clan. The names of Govinda and Gopala (herdsman) indicate his origin as a god of flocks and herds.

A summary of the Mahabharata has already been given ; in the following pages, therefore, are related the more modern legends of Krishna s youth, with brief reference only to his doings in the Great War. What is given is essentially a condensed translation, compiled from various sources, particularly the Vishnu Purana, the Bhagavata Purdna, and the Prem Sagara. At the close of the Third Age a Rajput clan, the Yadavas, descendants of Yadu, a prince of the Lunar dynasty, dwelt beside the Jamna, with Mathura for their capital. Ugrasena, at the