“I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire.
I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om.
I am also the Rg, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas.
I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness,
the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend.
I am the creation and the annihilation,
the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.”
Lord Sri Krishna
(“Bhagavad-Gita As It Is”, 9.17-18)
Lord Krishna appeared in a time when religious principles had decayed and the government of Bharata (‘India’) had fallen into the hands of tyranny. Many gods or ‘demigods’ were worshipped and rituals were performed simply for show. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita (7.23): antavat tu phalam tesam tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam (‘Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary’). Krishna came to renew the religion of India and establish the Oneness of God. Krishna was born in Mathura, India. Mathura had been the capital of the kings of the Yadu dynasty since Surasena, chief of the Yadus, established his kingdom there. (see: Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.1.27-28) Note: Although Krishna did exist and was a Manifestation of God, not all of the details of this story can be authenticated, since Krishna appeared thousands of years ago.
Like Manifestations before Him, Krishna came from royal roots. He was descended through His father from the Soma Dynasty (Moon Dynasty), which traces back to Pururava, the grandson of Soma. Pururava’s mother, Ila, was the daughter of Vaisvasvat Manu (Sraddhadeva). The family of Manu is called the Solar Dynasty. Manu is also the father of King Ikshvaku, the ancestor of Rama and Buddha. Therefore, Rama, Krishna and Buddha (the 7th, 8th and 9th Hindu avataras) all come from a common ancestry. Krishna’s mother also came from this line. Prtha, who later became known as Queen Kunti, was the sister of Vasudeva and aunt of Krishna. So her children, such as Arjuna and Yudhishthira, are Krishna’s cousins. (see: SB: 9:1, 6, 14, 24:28-31)
Krishna’s father was Vasudeva. Vasudeva had recently married Devaki, the daughter of King Devaka. She had a cousin named Kamsa, the son of Ugrasena. Ugrasena and Devaka were brothers (their father was Ahuka) (see: SB: 9.24.21-23). She is sometimes referred to as Kamsa’s sister. After the marriage, Vasudeva mounted a chariot to drive home with his wife. Kamsa decided to please his sister by taking the reins of the chariot. As was the Vedic custom, Devaki had received a large dowry from her father, consisting of four hundred elephants, decorated with gold garlands, ten thousand horses, eight hundred chariots and two hundred young maidservants. Conchshells, bugles, drums and kettledrums sounded at their departure. (see: SB: 10.1.29-33)
Suddenly, Kamsa heard a voice say: “You foolish rascal, the eighth child of the woman you are carrying will kill you.” (SB: 10.1.34) Kamsa was very envious and sinful, so he grabbed his sister’s hair, took his sword with his right hand and prepared to slice off her head. Vasudeva tried to convince Kamsa not to kill his wife, pointing out that everyone dies eventually. Kamsa was not interested and still planned on killing Devaki. Finally, Vasudeva said: “O best of the sober, you have nothing to fear from your sister Devaki because of what you have heard from the unseen omen. The cause of death will be her sons. Therefore I promise that when she gives birth to the sons from whom your fear has arisen, I shall deliver them all unto your hands.” (SB: 10.1.54)
Kamsa accepted the proposal. Devaki was eventually to have eight sons and a daughter named Subhadra. When the time came, Vasudeva delivered his first born son, Kirtiman to Kamsa. Kamsa did not kill the child. However, when told by the great saint Narada Muni that the demons of the world (such as Kamsa) were going to be annihilated, Kamsa feared that any child of Devaki might kill him. So he chained Vasudeva and Devaki in iron shackles and killed each son. Kamsa became envious of anyone in the Yadu dynasty and he even imprisoned his own father. (see: SB: 10.1.55-69)
Finally, Devaki became pregant with Krishna, her eighth Child. “Devaki then kept within herself the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the foundation of the entire cosmos, but because she was under arrest in the house of Kamsa, she was like the flames of a fire covered by the walls of a pot, or like a person who has knowledge but cannot distribute it to the world for the benefit of human society. Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead was within her womb, Devaki illuminated the entire atmosphere in the place where she was confined. Seeing her jubilant, pure and smiling, Kamsa thought, "The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, who is now within her, will kill me. Devaki has never before looked so brilliant and jubilant." (SB: 10.2.19-20)
So Kamsa wondered how he could kill his pregnant sister. He considered that it would ruin his repuation. Kamsa eventually decided to wait until the Child was born. When Krishna was born “the entire universe was surcharged with all the qualities of goodness, beauty and peace” (SB: 10.3.1). While the guards were asleep Vasudeva escaped from the prison with his Son. The river Yamuna was filled with deep water, but somehow Vasudeva managed to cross it. He travelled to the house of Nanda Mahajara. Placing Krishna on the bed of Yasoda, the wife of Nanda Maharaja, he took Yasoda’s daughter and returned to the prison. He placed the girl on the bed of Devaki and bound himself again in chains. Overwhelmed with sleep after childbirth, Yasoda did not know whether her child was a boy or a girl. (see: SB: 10.2.21-23, 10.3.48-53) Nanda Maharaja was a friend of Vasudeva. Nanda was a king who lived in a very beautiful area filled with cows. One of Vasudeva’s wives, Rohini, lived there. (see: SB 10.2.7)
The watchmen approached King Kamsa to inform him of the birth of a child. Kamsa quickly went to the place where the child was. Devaki appealed to Kamsa not to kill the child, who was actually the daughter of Yasoda. She asked Kamsa to spare the child as a gift to his sister. Kamsa grabbed the child by its leg, in order to dash her against a stone. Suddenly, Kamsa had a vision in which he saw the child as the goddess Durga. She said: “O Kamsa, you fool, what will be the use of killing me? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has been your enemy from the very beginning and who will certainly kill you, has already taken His birth somewhere else. Therefore, do not unnecessarily kill other children.” (SB: 10.4.12) Thus both children were saved. Struck with wonder, he released Vasudeva and Devaki from prison. (see: SB 10.4.2-14)
After that night, Kamsa summoned his ministers and informed them of the words of Durga. They advised Kamsa, King of the Bhoja dynasty, that all the children born in all the villages and towns in the past ten days should be killed. They told him that all the gods had fled in fear of him, so he had nothing to worry from the demigods. They also advised him to persecute the brahmanas (‘priests’). (see: SB 10.4.29-45) Stories of Krishna’s childhood relate how various ‘demons’ came to kill Him, but were defeated.
Nanda Maharaja welcomed Lord Sri Krishna’s birth with jubilation. After bathing himself, he arranged for the brahmanas to come, chant Vedic hymns and perform the birth ceremony. Nanda donated cows to the brahmanas and grain covered with jewels and gold-embroidered cloth. The brahmanas recited vedic hymns and experts recited the histories of royal dynasties. Musicians played various instruments. The whole of vrajapura (Nanda’s residence) was cleaned and decorated. The cows were anointed and decorated. Everyone dressed up when they went to Nanda Maharaja’s house. (see: SB 10.5.1-8) This was how Nanda Maharaja celebrated the birth of Krishna.
When Krishna grew older, He and His brother Balarama went to Mathura, the capital city. It came to pass that Kamsa threatened Krishna and Balarama, and ordered that Vasudeva and Nanda Maharaja be killed. He also ordered His father, Ugrasena, to be killed. Krishna confronted Kamsa, who was prepared to fight. He had a sword and shield but Krishna attacked him with great force and killed him. The eight brothers of Kamsa rushed towards Krishna, in order to kill Him. Balarama defended Krishna and overcame the brothers. Krishna then released His mother and father, who had again become captive. At Krishna’s invitation, Ugrasena then became king of Mathura. (see: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: “KRSNA - the Supreme Personality of Godhead”: vol. II, pp. 43-46)
Vasudeva arranged for Krishna and Balarama to be initiated by Gargacarya, also known as Gargamuni, the Yadu family spiritual master. They were given the sacred thread and Gayatri mantra. Krishna became a brahmacari or ‘celibate student’, the first stage of the four stages of Hindu life. After receiving the Gayatri mantra, it is customary in Vedic society for a person to go away and study under an acarya or ‘spiritual master’. Krishna and Balarama went to live with Sandipani Muni. They had to serve their acarya and learn the Vedic scriptures, military science, politics and mathematics. (see: Prabhupada: pp. 50-51)
Kamsa’s two widows, Asti and Prapti, were the daughters of King Jarasandha. Jarasandha was the king of Behar Province, known then as Magadharaja. Kamsa’s widows returned to their father. Jarasandha was enraged and decided to annihilate the kingdom of Mathura. When attacked, Krishna led a small army to defend the city and repel the forces. Kalayavana, a king to the south of Mathura, who envied its opulence decided to attack the city as well. Krishna arranged the construction of a fort. It was made by the sea. It was a well-constructed city, and was named Dvaraka. The inabitants of Mathura sought refuge in Dvaraka. Krishna entrusted Balarama with the care of the city and went out to meet Kalayavana. The army of Kalayavana was defeated. Jarasandha was also defeated. (see: Prabhupada: pp. 93-102, 113-115) The remnants of a sunken Dvaraka have been found, and it has been discovered that that the whole coast of western India sunk by nearly 40 feet (circa 1500 BCE). This indicates that Dvaraka was not only a real city, but suggests the presence of Aryans in India prior to 1500 BCE. (1)
Vasudeva was the son of King Sura and his wife Marisa. He had a sister named Prtha, who was also called Kunti, and she was the mother of the Pandavas. (see: SB: 9.24.28-31) King Vicitravirya had two sons, Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was the elder son, but he was born blind. Pandu was married to Krishna’s aunt, Kunti, with whom he had five sons: Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Dhritarashtra is said to have had a hundred sons, the chief of them named Duryodhana. Pandu died at an early age, and the Pandavas (sons of Pandu) came under the guardianship of Dhritarashtra, Vidura and Bhishma, who were members of the Yadu dynasty. (see: Donald A. MacKenzie: “India - Myths & Legends”, p. 173)
Bhishma ensured that all of the children received military education. They were trained by the great military expert, Drona. Arjuna became a great bowman. When their military training was finished Yudhishthira was made an heir to the blind king. Duryodhana was very angry and Dhritarashtra divided the kingdom between the two sons. Duryodhana convinced his father to send the Pandavas somewhere else. (see: MacKenzie: pp. 178-198) Duryodhana plotted many years to get rid of his cousins. His plans never succeeded and his cousins only became more glorious and famous. He made one last attempt to rid himself of the Pandavas.
Kshatriyas, the warrior caste of India, were obliged to accept all challenges. So it came to pass that there was a gambling match between the Pandavas and the sons of Dhritarashtra. Duryodhana managed to cheat the Pandavas out of their wife, Draupadi and their kingdom. They were forced to go into twelve years of exile. (see: MacKenzie: pp. 237-248)
When they returned, they asked to each be given a village so that they might act as administrators. Duryodhana wouldn’t spare them as much land as a needle. Arjuna and his brothers took up arms. Warriors from all corners of the earth assembled to commence the Battle of Kurukshetra, to decide the balance of power in ancient Bharata (India). The battle lasted 18 days and many thousands were killed. Krishna had attempted to mediate between the two sides, but the Battle went ahead anyway. (see: MacKenzie: pp. 270-282)
Arjuna, the son of Pandu, was mounted on a chariot. His Cousin, Krishna, held the reins of the chariot. As Arjuna was taking up his bow and was about to shoot he asked Krishna to bring the chariot nearer so that he could see his opponents. Krishna brought the chariot into the midst of the two armies. The Bhagavad-Gita relates (1.26): “There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers.” He became “overwelmed with compassion”. He addressed his concerns to Krishna and concluded that (1.44-45): “Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen. Better for me if the sons of Dhrtarastra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield”. This conversation between Krishna and Arjuna is known as the Bhagavad-Gita or ‘Song of the Lord’. It is also known as the Gitopanisad, because it is the essence of Vedic knowledge. (see: Prabhupada, "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is", p. 3) The Bhagavad-Gita is the Message of Krishna and embodies the essential teachings of Hinduism.
So what did Lord Krishna teach? In response to Arjuna’s concerns about killing relatives, Krishna replied told him (2.11-12, 22, 30) “While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead. Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be... O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill? ... O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being.”It was Arjuna’s duty, as a member of the kshatriya branch of society, to fight for a just cause. Krishna taught that the soul is indestructible and eternal.
He described how one can attain true peace (2.71-72): “A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of proprietorship and is devoid of false ego—he alone can attain real peace. That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. If one is thus situated even at the hour of death, one can enter the kingdom of God.” Salvation is only possible by remembering Him (8.5-7): “And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body, remembering Me, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail. Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krsna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.” (8.14): “For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Prtha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.”
He taught that everyone should perform their prescribed duties in life (3.35): “It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.” (18.7): “Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If one gives up his prescribed duties because of illusion, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance.” One’s dharma or ‘duty’ in life is especially stressed in Hinduism.
He described the duties of the four varnas or ‘social orders’ in Indian society (18.41-46): “Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy. Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work. Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas. Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others. By following these qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done. By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings, and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.”
He taught the practice of yoga, the necessity of sacrifice, and devotional service. Krishna should be remembered and seen in all things (6.30): “For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” He states that yoga in devotion to Himself is superior to ascetisism (6.46): “A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi. And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me—he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.”
He explained the meanings of the Hindu concepts of Brahman, the self and karma (8.3): “The indestructible, transcendental living entity is called Brahman, and his eternal nature is called adhyatma, the self. Action pertaining to the development of the material bodies of the living entities is called karma, or fruitive activites.”
He taught that worshipping many gods is not useful (7.20, 23): “Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods [devatah]... Men of small intelligence worship demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary.” (9.24): “Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way.”
He taught the importance of bhakti-yoga (‘devotional service’) (9.26-31): “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me. In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me. I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him. Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (9.34): “Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.”
He taught that people should acquire virtues (13.8-12): “Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona fide spritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment... even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant evens; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth—all these I declare to be knowledge, and beside this whatever there may is ignorance.”
(16.1-3): “Fearlessness; purification of one’s existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the Vedas; austerity; simplicity; nonviolence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquility; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor—these transcendental qualities, O son of Bharata, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.” He describes what qualities to avoid (16.4): “Pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance—these qualities belong to those of demoniac nature, O son of Prtha.” (16.22): “There are three gates to this hell—lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.”
He even gave dietary laws, telling His devotees to eat foods which are “juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart” but to avoid foods which are “too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning”. He forbid the eating of food which was “prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants of untouchable things”. (see: Bhagavad-Gita 17.8-10) Food must first be offered to God before being eaten (3.13-14): “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin. All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by the performance of yajña [sacrifice], and yajña is born of prescribed duties.”
He emphasised the importance of moderation in all aspects of life. He says (6.16): “There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. He who is regulated in his habits of eatings, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.”
Krishna taught the importance of His Station (7.7-11): “O conquerer of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests on Me, as pearls are strung on a thread. O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man. I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of the ascetics. O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men...”
(7.26): “...I know everything that has happened in the past, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.”
(9.4-6, 8): “By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation. Understand that as the mighty wind, blowing everywhere, rests always in the sky, all created beings rest in Me... The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under My will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end.”
(9.17-20): “I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rg, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas. I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed. O Arjuna, I give heat, and I withhold and send forth the rain. I am immortality, and I am also death personified. Both spirit and matter are in Me.”
(10.8-11): “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emantes from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts. The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me. To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge, the darkness born of ignorance.”
(10.39-42): “Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being—moving or unmoving—that can exist without Me. O mighty conquerer of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences. Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendour. But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support the entire universe.”
Krishna says that He appears in every age. These are the Manifestations of God who appear throughout history. He says (4.7-8) “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”
As in every age of the past, many people do not recognize the Manifestation of God (9.11): “Fools deride Me when I descend in human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.” Krishna was a stainless Mirror of God, and though in the mirror we see the sun and call it the sun, yet the sun does not actually descend into the mirror. Similarly, the Essence of God does not actually descend into the body of Krishna but Krishna manifests all the divine attributes of God. His presence is the presence of God, His voice is the Voice of God, and His face is the Face of God. Like Christ who said (Rev. 22:13): “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last”, Krishna says (10.20): “I am the beginning, the middle and end of all beings.” In the Book of Isaiah, God says (48:12): “...I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.” And as the Qur’án says, referring to God (57:3): “He is the first and the last; the Seen and the Hidden; and He knoweth all things!” And Bahá’u’lláh says (“the Kitáb-i-Íqán”, p.179), referring to the Manifestations of God: “They are all the manifestation of the "Beginning" and the "End," the "First" and the "Last," the "Seen" and "Hidden" - all of which pertain to Him Who is the innermost Spirit of Spirits and eternal Essence of Essences.”
Lord Krishna was born in Mathura, India. According to the Hindu Scriptures He was born at midnight on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Sravana. In the Gregorian calendar, this is the 19th of July 3228 BC. He lived 125/6 years and ascended on the 18th of February 3102 BC on the new moon of the night of Phalguna. (2) His birth has also been estimated, based on astronomical calculations, to be the 27th of July 3112 BC, Friday, and the date of His Ascension as the 13th of April 3031 BC, Friday. According to this source, Kali yuga began on the 13th of October 3105 BC. (3) Srimad Bhagavatam (12.2.29-30) states that the age of Kali couldn’t touch the earth as long as Krishna was present in this world. According to the Manu Smriti (1.68-72), Kali yuga will last 4,800 years. The solar calendar was only inaugurated in India in the first century BC. In the time of Krishna a lunar calendar would have been used. 4,800 years from 3000 BC is 1800 AD. It can be concluded that sometime in the 19th century Krishna must have returned. (4)
Did Krishna live 5,000 years ago? Is there any proof of this other than astronomical calculations? The ancient Greeks who visited India following the great conquests of Alexander reported that the Indian Heracles (derived from ‘Hari-Krishna’) was honoured by the Souraseni (Shuraseni) tribe who had a city called Methora (Mathura). He is recorded by Megasthenes as living 138 generations before Alexander (who was c. 330 BC). If 20 years is a generation, then that would mean that Krishna lived in 3090 BC (2,760 + 330). (1, 5)
It is almost 600 years later that the Indus valley civilisation is said to have begun to flourish for a period of a thousand years (2500-1500 BC). Its origins can be traced to the Neolithic Period (7000-6000 BC). The origins of the civilisation have been traced to Baluchistan, where an agricultural community existed before 6000 BC (3,000 years before Krishna). It is said to have been in decline from about 1800 BC. The two major urban centres of this civilisation were Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. It was an advanced civilisation with water drainage, wells and rubbish collection. The economy was largely based on grain. The Indus valley civilisation covered an area of 750,000 square miles. Pottery, architecture and writing has been found from as early as the fourth millenium BC. Seven fire altars found at Kalibangan, possibly used for animal sacrifice, and a great bath found at Mohenjo-Daro are suggestive of the later Hindu fire rituals and purification through bathing. Steatite seals, depicting a possible Proto-Shiva, Lord of the Animals, in yogic posture, have been found, as well as phallic stones, which are worshipped in Shaivite Hindu traditions. (see: Gavin Flood: “An Introduction to Hinduism”, pp. 24-25, 28)
The Hindu religion is called vaidika dharma (‘Vedic dharma’) or sanatana dharma (‘eternal law’) by its adherents. Its origins are ancient and its Founder unknown. The foundation of Hinduism is belief in the Vedic Scriptures. The authors of the Vedas describe themselves as arya (noble). Traditionally, Western scholars have believed that the Aryans invaded India in 1500 BC. Many scholars have now dropped the ‘invasion theory’ and accepted indigenous development, which was the traditional Hindu version. (see: Klostermaier: “Hinduism - a short introduction”, pp. 5-10).
Although there are undoubtedly connections between Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages, archaeological evidence supports the idea of cultural continuity. (see: Flood, p. 33) The great civilisation that arose in the Indus valley may have been as a result of the immense spiritual potency unleashed by the Message of Krishna. In every age the Manifestation of God brings about the coming a a new civilisation, and perhaps, the Indus valley civilisation is the fruit of the Dispensation of Krishna. Perhaps the Indus valley civilisation was a Dravidian-speaking branch of the Vedic civilisation, or perhaps they were Sanskrit-speaking Aryans.
Hindus believe that the Veda is eternal, without beginning or end. It was revealed thousands of years ago to ancient seers or rishis, and was transmitted orally down the ages. Following the Muslim invasion it was written down. Scholars have suggested dates as early as 2300 BC and as late as 1200 BC. An astronomical ‘decoding’ of the text by Subhash Kak has suggested an origin as early as the third millennium BC. (see: Klostermaier, pp. 16-17)
Hinduism structures society into four varnas (‘castes’): Brahmanas (Brahmins, priests), ksatriyas (warriors and rulers), vaisyas (merchants, craftsmen), sudras (labourers, servants). [explain castes]. Devout Hindus observe the rites and duties of their caste, and follow the sequence of asramas (stages in life). The stages in life are studenthood (brahmacarya), householder (grhastya), forest dweller (vanaprasthya) and renunciation (samnyasa), leading a life of mendicancy and celibacy in order to attain liberation (moksha). Hindus believe that people are born into their respective castes based on the karma they have accumulated in their previous lives. (see: Klostermaier, pp. 30-34). Bahá’ís do not believe in reincarnation.
Hindus, particularly Vaisnavas (devotees of Vishnu), believe that in every age the Lord Vishnu descends to earth to teach righteousness and reestablish religion. These Manifestations are called avataras (‘descents’). The Hindu Scriptures speak of ten Avatars of Vishnu:  Matsya,  Kurma,  Varaha,  Narasimha,  Vamana,  Parasurama,  Rama and  Krishna. Buddha is recognized as the ninth. It is prophecied that in the end of the age of Kali, a tenth Avatar will appear, named Lord Kalki. (see: Klostermaier, p. 60)
Hindus believe that the world perpetually revolves through four cycles: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. It is said that the age that we are currently living in is the Age of Kali. This age (or ‘yuga’) was inaugurated by the Ascension of Lord Krishna. “The Supreme Lord, Visnu, is brilliant like the sun and is known as Krsna. When He returned to the spiritual sky, Kali entered this world, and people then began to take pleasure in sinful activities. As long as Lord Sri Krsna, the husband of the goddess of fortune, touched the earth with His lotus feet, Kali was powerless to subdue this planet.” (Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.2.29-30)
In this Age “religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali.” Furthermore, “In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine
qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power. Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit.
Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brahmana just by his wearing a thread. A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely
according to external symbols, and on that same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar. A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath. ... As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power. ... The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.”
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.2.1-10)
The conditions described in this quote are the same as those experienced by mankind during the last two centuries. It was during this time that a new Avatar of Vishnu was destined to appear, Lord Kalki. “Lord Visnu—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master of all moving and nonmoving living beings, and the Supreme Soul of all—takes birth to protect the principles of religion and to relieve His saintly devotees from the reactions of material work. ... Lord Kalki, the Lord of the universe, will mount His swift horse Devadatta and, sword in hand, travel over the earth exhibiting His eight mystic opulences and eight special qualities of Godhead. ... When the Supreme Lord has appeared on earth as Kalki, the maintainer of religion, Satya-yuga will begin, and human society will bring forth progeny in the mode of goodness.”
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 12.2.17-23)
Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is Kalki, the tenth Avatar, the ‘reincarnation of Krishna’, the “Lord of the universe”. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, states: “To Him the Bhagavad-Gita of the Hindus had referred as the "Most Great Spirit," the "Tenth Avatar," the "Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna."” (Shoghi Effendi: “God Passes By”, pp. 95-96) Bahá’u’lláh has inaugurated the Satya-yuga, the age of righteousness that must, in due time, be established upon the earth.
Bahá’ís uphold the Divine origin of the Hindu religion, and believe that Krishna was a Manifestation of God. The following is a story from the life of `Abdu'l-Baha, the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant:
“An Indian said to `Abdu'l-Bahá:
`My aim in life is to transmit as far as in me lies the message of Krishna to the world.'
`Abdu'l-Baha said: The Message of Krishna is the message of love. All God's prophets have brought the message of love. None has ever thought that war and hate are good. Every one agrees in saying that love and kindness are best.” (`Abdu'l-Bahá: “Paris Talks”, pp. 34-35)
“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and beacause it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” - Krishna, in Bhagavad-Gita (9.2)
“Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear” (18.65-66)
“Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets,
and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.
Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause -
a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed,
and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him.
This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.
Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it -
verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.”
(“the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, pp. 85-86)
Notes (1) to (5):
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