There is a lot of speculation about the
antecedents of Lord Krishna. We do not have any clear
historical records about him other than the scriptural
evidence and his connection with the epic Mahabharata war.
We are not even sure whether the Krishna of Mathura, Gopala
of Brindavan and the Vasudeva Krishna of Dwaraka are
different historical personalities or one and the same. More
intriguing is how he came to be accepted as an incarnation
of Lord Vishnu and how exactly his inclusion in the Hindu
pantheon happened. He was definitely not a Vedic god and was
not worshipped by early Vedic Aryans. He was neither a
Brahmin, nor a Kshatriya nor a Vaishya. He came from a
non-Vedic background and grew in the company of cowherds.
From the vedic perspective he led a controversial life and
preached a philosophy that emphasized the internalization of
ritual and liberation through desireless actions, devotion
to God and self-surrender. He tried to combine the finer
aspects of vedic philosophy with the complex philosophies of
Samkhya and Yoga and thereby made his teachings
extraordinarily appealing to all sections of society. Long
before the Buddha, he tried to reform the Vedic religion
through his teachings and by making public the mostly
secretive Upanishadic knowledge that remained confined to
some selected families and vedic schools. The following
paragraphs are excerpted from the book, the Hinduism and
Buddhism An Historical Sketch, by Sir Charles Eliot in which
the author tries to trace the origin of the legend of
Krishna based on the available literary evidence. The author
made best possible effort to trace the historical origin of
Krishna from various sources. He also drew some erroneous
conclusions such as the possible connection between Krishna
and Greek gods such as Herakles and Pan and his clear bias
in favor of Christianity and western culture. Those who are
devoted to Lord Krishna and consider him to be Supreme God
may not appreciate the effort of the author. They are
advised to read this information with an open mind and
consider this as an exercise in speculation and
intellectual exploration. In the absence of valid historical
evidence all that we have about Lord Krishna are the
scriptures like the Bhagavadgita, the Mahabharata, the
Bhagavatapurana and speculative theories such as these. -
Kṛishṇa, the other great incarnation of Vishṇu, is one of the
most conspicuous figures in the Indian pantheon, but his
historical origin remains obscure. The word which means black or
dark blue occurs in the Ṛig Veda as the name of an otherwise
unknown person. In the Chândogya Upanishad,
Kṛishṇa, the son of Devakî, is mentioned as having been
instructed by the sage Ghora of the Ângirasa clan, and it is
probably implied that Kṛishṇa too belonged to that clan.
Later sectarian writers never quote this verse, but their
silence may be due to the fact that the Upanishad does not refer
to Kṛishṇa as if he were a deity, and merely says that he
received from Ghora instruction after which he never thirsted
again. The purport of it was that the sacrifice may be performed
without rites, the various parts being typified by ordinary
human actions, such as hunger, eating, laughter, liberality,
righteousness, etc. This doctrine has some resemblance to
and if this Kṛishṇa is really the ancient hero out of whom the
later deity was evolved, there may be an allusion to some simple
form of worship which rejected ceremonial and was practised by
the tribes to whom Kṛishṇa belonged. I shall recur to the
question of these tribes
 and the Bhâgavata sect below, but in this section I am
concerned with the personality of Kṛishṇa.
Vâsudeva is a well-known name of Kṛishṇa and a sûtra of
especially if taken in conjunction with the comment of
Patanjali, appears to assert that it is not a clan name but the
name of a god. If so Vâsudeva must have been recognized as a god
in the fourth century B.C. He is mentioned in inscriptions which
appear to date from about the second century B.C.
and in the last book of the Taittirîya Âraṇyaka,
which however is a later addition of uncertain date.
The name Kṛishṇa occurs in Buddhist writings in the form
Kaṇha, phonetically equivalent to Kṛishṇa. In the Dîgha
we hear of the clan of the Kaṇhâyanas (= Kârshṇâyanas) and of
one Kaṇha who became a great sage. This person may be the
Kṛishṇa of the Ṛig Veda, but there is no proof that he is the
same as our Kṛishṇa.
The Ghata-Jâtaka (No. 454) gives an account of Kṛishṇa's
childhood and subsequent exploits which in many points
corresponds with the Brahmanic legends of his life and contains
several familiar incidents and names, such as Vâsudeva,
Baladeva, Kaṃsa. Yet it presents many peculiarities and is
either an independent version or a misrepresentation of a
popular story that had wandered far from its home. Jain
tradition also shows that these tales were popular and were
worked up into different forms, for the Jains have an elaborate
system of ancient patriarchs which includes Vâsudevas and
Baladevas. Kṛishṇa is the ninth of the Black Vâsudevas
and is connected with Dvâravatî or Dvârakâ. He will become the
twelfth tîrthankara of the next world-period and a similar
position will be attained by Devakî, Rohinî, Baladeva and
Javakumâra, all members of his family. This is a striking proof
of the popularity of the Kṛishṇa legend outside the Brahmanic
No references to Kṛishṇa except the above have been found
in the earlier Upanishads and Sûtras. He is not mentioned in
Manu but in one aspect or another he is the principal figure in
the Mahâbhârata, yet not exactly the hero. The Râmâyaṇa would
have no plot without Râma, but the story of the Mahâbhârata
would not lose its unity if Kṛishṇa were omitted. He takes the
side of the Pâṇḍavas, and is sometimes a chief sometimes a god
but he is not essential to the action of the epic.
The legend represents him as the son of Vasudeva, who
belonged to the Sâttvata sept
of the Yâdava tribe, and of his wife Devakî. It had been
predicted to Kaṃsa, king of Mathura (Muttra), that one of her
sons would kill him. He therefore slew her first six children:
the seventh, Balarâma, who is often counted as an incarnation of
Vishṇu, was transferred by divine intervention to the womb of
Rohinî. Kṛishṇa, the eighth, escaped by more natural methods.
His father was able to give him into the charge of Nanda, a
herdsman, and his wife Yâsodâ who brought him up at Gokula and
Vrindâvana. Here his youth was passed in sporting with the Gopîs
or milk-maids, of whom he is said to have married a thousand. He
had time, however, to perform acts of heroism, and after killing
Kaṃsa, he transported the inhabitants of Mathura to the city of
Dvârakâ which he had built on the coast of Gujarat. He became
king of the Yâdavas and continued his mission of clearing the
earth of tyrants and monsters. In the struggle between the
Pâṇḍavas and the sons of Dhṛitarâshtṛa he championed the
cause of the former, and after the conclusion of the war retired
to Dvârakâ. Internecine conflict broke out among the Yâdavas and
annihilated the race. Kṛishṇa himself withdrew to the forest
and was killed by a hunter called Jaras (old age) who shot him
supposing him to be a deer.
In the Mahâbhârata and several Purâṇas this bare outline is
distended with a plethora of miraculous incident remarkable even
in Indian literature, and almost all possible forms of divine
and human activity are attributed to this many-sided figure. We
may indeed suspect that his personality is dual even in the
simplest form of the legend for the scene changes from Mathurâ
to Dvârakâ, and his character is not quite the same in the two
regions. It is probable that an ancient military hero of the
has been combined with a
deity or perhaps more than one deity. The pile of story,
sentiment and theology which ages have heaped up round
Kṛishṇa's name, represents him in three principal aspects.
Firstly, he is a warrior who destroys the powers of evil.
Secondly, he is associated with love in all its forms, ranging
from amorous sport to the love of God in the most spiritual and
mystical sense. Thirdly, he is not only a deity, but he actually
becomes God in the European and also in the pantheistic
acceptation of the word, and is the centre of a philosophic
The first of these aspects is clearly the oldest and it is
here, if anywhere, that we may hope to find some fragments of
history. But the embellishments of poets and story-tellers have
been so many that we can only point to features which may
indicate a substratum of fact. In the legend, Kṛishṇa assists
the Pâṇḍavas against the Kauravas. Now many think that the
Pâṇḍavas represent a second and later immigration of Aryans
into India, composed of tribes who had halted in the Himalayas
and perhaps acquired some of the customs of the inhabitants,
including polyandry, for the five Pâṇḍavas had one wife in
common between them. Also, the meaning of the name Kṛishṇa,
black, suggests that he was a chief of some non-Aryan tribe. It
is, therefore, possible that one source of the Kṛishṇa myth is
that a body of invading Aryans, described in the legend as the
Pâṇḍavas, who had not exactly the same laws and beliefs as
those already established in Hindustan, were aided by a powerful
aboriginal chief, just as the Sisodias in Rajputana were aided
by the Bhîls. It is possible too that Kṛishṇa's tribe may have
come from Kabul or other mountainous districts of the north
west, although one of the most definite points in the legend is
his connection with the coast town of Dvârakâ. The
fortifications of this town and the fruitless efforts of the
demon king, Salva, to conquer it by seige are described in the
but the narrative is surrounded by an atmosphere of magic and
miracle rather than of history.
Though it would not be reasonable to pick out the less
fantastic parts of the Kṛishṇa legend and interpret them as
history, yet we may fairly attach significance to the fact that
many episodes represent him as in conflict with Brahmanic
institutions and hardly maintaining the position of Vishṇu
Thus he plunders Indra's garden and defeats the gods who attempt
to resist him. He fights with Śiva and Skanda. He burns Benares
and all its inhabitants. Yet he is called Upendra, which,
whatever other explanations sectarian ingenuity may invent, can
hardly mean anything but the Lesser Indra, and he fills the
humble post of Arjuna's charioteer. His kinsmen seem to have
been of little repute, for part of his mission was to destroy
his own clan and after presiding over it s annihilation in
internecine strife, he was slain himself. In all this we see
dimly the figure of some aboriginal hero who, though ultimately
canonized, represented a force not in complete harmony with
Brahmanic civilization. The figure has also many solar
attributes but these need not mean that its origin is to be
sought in a sun myth, but rather that, as many early deities
were forms of the sun, solar attributes came to be a natural
part of divinity and were ascribed to the deified Kṛishṇa just
as they were to the deified Buddha.
Some authors hold that the historical Kṛishṇa was a
teacher, similar to Zarathustra, and that though of the military
class he was chiefly occupied in founding or supporting what was
afterwards known as the religion of the Bhâgavatas, a theistic
system inculcating the worship of one God, called Bhâgavat, and
perhaps identical with the Sun. It is probable that Kṛishṇa
the hero was connected with
the worship of a special deity, but I see no evidence that he
was primarily a teacher.
In the earlier legends he is a man of arms: in the later he is
not one who devotes his life to teaching but a forceful
personage who explains the nature of God and the universe at the
most unexpected moments. Now the founders of religions such as
MahâVîra and Buddha preserve their character as teachers even in
legend and do not accumulate miscellaneous heroic exploits.
Similarly modern founders of sects, like Caitanya, though
revered as incarnations, still retain their historical
attributes. But on the other hand many men of action have been
deified not because they taught anything but because they seemed
to be more than human forces. Râma is a classical example of
such deification and many local deities can be shown to be
warriors, bandits and hunters whose powers inspired respect. It
is said that there is a disposition in the Bombay Presidency to
deify the Maratha leader Śivaji.
In his second aspect, Kṛishṇa is a pastoral deity, sporting
among nymphs and cattle. It is possible that this Kṛishṇa is
in his origin distinct from the violent and tragic hero of
Dvârakâ. The two characters have little in common, except their
lawlessness, and the date and locality of the two cycles of
legend are different. But the death of Kaṃsa which is one of
the oldest incidents in the story (for it is mentioned in the
belongs to both and Kaṃsa is consistently connected with
Muttra. The Mahâbhârata is mainly concerned with Kṛishṇa the
warrior: the few allusions in it to the freaks of the pastoral
Kṛishṇa occur in passages suspected of being late
interpolations and, even if they are genuine, show that little
attention was paid to his youth. But in later works, the
relative importance is reversed and the figure of the amorous
herdsman almost banishes the warrior. We can trace the growth of
this figure in the sculptures of the sixth century, in the
Vishṇu and Bhâgavata Purâṇas and the Gîtâ-govinda (written
about 1170). Even later is the worship of Râdhâ, Kṛishṇa's
mistress, as a portion
of the deity, who is
supposed to have divided himself into male and female halves.
The birth and adventures of the pastoral Kṛishṇa are located
in the land of Braj, the district round Muttra and among the
tribe of the Âbhîras, but the warlike Kṛishṇa is connected
with the west, although his exploits extend to the Ganges
The Âbhîras, now called Ahirs, were nomadic herdsmen who came
from the west and their movements between Kathiawar and Muttra
may have something to do with the double location of the
Both archæology and historical notices tell us something of
the history of Muttra. It was a great Buddhist and Jain centre,
as the statues and vihâras found there attest. Ptolemy calls it
the city of the gods. Fa-Hsien (400 A.D.) describes it as
Buddhist, but that faith was declining at the time of Hsüan
Chuang's visit (c. 630 A.D.). The sculptural remains also
indicate the presence of Græco-Bactrian influence. We need not
therefore feel surprise if we find in the religious thought of
Muttra elements traceable to Greece, Persia or Central Asia.
Some claim that Christianity should be reckoned among these
elements and I shall discuss the question elsewhere. Here I will
only say that such ideas as were common to Christianity and to
the religions of Greece and western Asia probably did penetrate
to India by the northern route, but of specifically Christian
ideas I see no proof. It is true that the pastoral Kṛishṇa is
unlike all earlier Indian deities, but then no close parallel to
him can be adduced from elsewhere, and, take him as a whole, he
is a decidedly un-Christian figure. The resemblance to
Christianity consists in the worship of a divine child, together
with his mother. But this feature is absent in the New Testament
and seems to have been borrowed from paganism by Christianity.
The legends of Muttra show even clearer traces than those
already quoted of hostility between Kṛishṇa and Brahmanism. He
forbids the worship of Indra,
and when Indra in anger sends down a deluge of rain, he protects
the country by holding up
over it the hill of Goburdhan, which is still one of the great
centres of pilgrimage.
The language which the Vishṇu Purâṇa attributes to him is
extremely remarkable. He interrupts a sacrifice which his
fosterfather is offering to Indra and says, "We have neither
fields nor houses: we wander about happily wherever we list,
travelling in our waggons. What have we to do with Indra? Cattle
and mountains are (our) gods. Brahmans offer worship with
prayer: cultivators of the earth adore their landmarks but we
who tend our herds in the forests and mountains should worship
them and our kine."
This passage suggests that Kṛishṇa represents a tribe of
highland nomads who worshipped mountains and cattle and came to
terms with the Brahmanic ritual only after a struggle. The
worship of mountain spirits is common in Central Asia, but I do
not know of any evidence for cattle-worship in those regions.
Clemens of Alexandria,
writing at the end of the second century A.D., tells us that the
Indians worshipped Herakles and Pan. The pastoral Kṛishṇa has
considerable resemblance to Pan or a Faun, but no
representations of such beings are recorded from Græco-Indian
sculptures. Several Bacchic groups have however been discovered
in Gandhara and also at Muttra
and Megasthenes recognized Dionysus in some Indian deity. Though
the Bacchic revels and mysteries do not explain the pastoral
element in the Kṛishṇa legend, they offer a parallel to some
of its other features, such as the dancing and the crowd of
women, and I am inclined to think that such Greek ideas may have
germinated and proved fruitful in Muttra. The Greek king
Menander is said to have occupied the city (c. 155 B.C.), and
the sculptures found there indicate that Greek artistic forms
were used to express Indian ideas. There may have been a similar
fusion in religion.
In any case, Buddhism was predominant in Muttra for several
centuries. It no doubt forbade the animal sacrifices
of the Brahmans and
favoured milder rites. It may even offer some explanation for
the frivolous character of much in the Kṛishṇa legend.
Most Brahmanic deities, extraordinary as their conduct often is,
are serious and imposing. But Buddhism claimed for itself the
serious side of religion and while it tolerated local godlings
treated them as fairies or elves. It was perhaps while Kṛishṇa
was a humble rustic deity of this sort, with no claim to
represent the Almighty, that there first gathered round him the
cycle of light love-stories which has clung to him ever since.
In the hands of the Brahmans his worship has undergone the
strangest variations which touch the highest and lowest planes
of Hinduism, but the Muttra legend still retains its special
note of pastoral romance, and exhibits Kṛishṇa in two
principal characters, as the divine child and as the divine
lover. The mysteries of birth and of sexual union are congenial
topics to Hindu theology, but in the cult of Muttra we are not
concerned with reproduction as a world force, but simply with
childhood and love as emotional manifestations of the deity. The
same ideas occur in Christianity, and even in the Gospels Christ
is compared to a bridegroom, but the Kṛishṇa legend is far
more gross and naïve.
The infant Kṛishṇa is commonly adored in the form known as
Makhan Chor or the Butter Thief.
This represents him as a crawling child holding out one hand
full of curds or butter which he has stolen. We speak of
idolizing a child, and when Hindu women worship this image they
are unconsciously generalizing the process and worshipping
childhood, its wayward pranks as well as its loveable
simplicity, and though it is hard for a man to think of the
freaks of the butter thief as a manifestation of divinity, yet
clearly there is an analogy between these childish escapades and
the caprices of mature deities, which are respectfully described
as mysteries. If one admits the worship of the Bambino, it is
not unreasonable to include in it admiration of his rogueries,
and the tender playfulness which is permitted to enter into this
cult appeals profoundly to
Indian women. Images of the Makhan Chor are sold by thousands in
the streets of Muttra.
Even more popular is the image known as Kanhaya, which
represents the god as a young man playing the flute as he stands
in a careless attitude, which has something of Hellenic grace.
Kṛishṇa in this form is the beloved of the Gopîs, or
milk-maids, of the land of Braj, and the spouse of Râdhâ, though
she had no monopoly of him. The stories of his frolics with
these damsels and the rites instituted in memory thereof have
brought his worship into merited discredit. Krishnaism offers
the most extensive manifestation to be found in the world of
what W. James calls the theopathic condition as illustrated by
nuns like Marguérite Marie Alacoque, Saint Gertrude and the more
distinguished Saint Theresa. "To be loved by God and loved by
him to distraction (jusqu'à la folie), Margaret melted away with
love at the thought of such a thing.... She said to God, 'Hold
back, my God, these torrents which overwhelm me or else enlarge
my capacity for their reception'."
These are not the words of the Gîtâ-govinda or the Prem Sagar,
as might be supposed, but of a Catholic Bishop describing the
transports of Sister Marguérite Marie, and they illustrate the
temper of Kṛishṇa's worshippers. But the verses of the Marathi
poet, Tukaram, who lived about 1600 A.D. and sang the praises of
Kṛishṇa, rise above this sentimentality though he uses the
language of love. In a letter to Sivaji, who desired to see him,
he wrote, "As a chaste wife longs only to see her lord, such am
I to Viṭṭhala.
All the world is to me Viṭṭhala and nothing else: thee also I
behold in him." He also wrote elsewhere, "he that taketh the
unprotected to his heart and doeth to a servant the same
kindness as to his own children, is assuredly the image of God."
More recently Râmakṛishṇa, whose sayings breathe a wide
intelligence as well as a wide charity, has given this religion
of love an expression which, if somewhat too sexual to be
perfectly in accordance with western taste, is nearly related to
emotional Christianity. "A true lover sees his god as his
nearest and dearest relative" he writes, "just as the shepherd
of Vṛindâvana saw in
Kṛishṇa not the Lord of the Universe but their own beloved....
The knowledge of God may be likened to a man, while the love of
God is like a woman. Knowledge has entry only up to the outer
rooms of God, and no one can enter into the inner mysteries of
God save a lover.... Knowledge and love of God are ultimately
one and the same. There is no difference between pure knowledge
and pure love."
These extracts show how Kṛishṇa as the object of the soul's
desire assumes the place of the Supreme Being or God. But this
is not specially connected with the pastoral and erotic
Kṛishṇa: the best known and most thorough-going exposition of
his divinity is found in the Bhagavad-gîtâ, which represents him
as being in his human aspect, a warrior and the charioteer of
Arjuna. Probably some seventy-five millions to-day worship
Kṛishṇa, especially under the name of Hari, as God in the
pantheistic sense and naturally the more his identity with the
supreme spirit is emphasized, the dimmer grow the legendary
features which mark the hero of Muttra and Dvârakâ, and the
human element in him is reduced to this very important point
that the tie uniting him to his worshippers is one of sentiment
In the following chapters I shall treat of this worship when
describing the various sects which practise it. A question of
some importance for the history of Kṛishṇa's deification is
the meaning of the name Vâsudeva. One explanation makes it a
patronymic, son of Vasudeva, and supposes that when this prince
Vâsudeva was deified his name, like Râma, was transferred to the
deity. The other regards Vâsudeva as a name for the deity used
by the Sâttvata clan and supposes that when Kṛishṇa was
deified this already well-known divine name was bestowed on him.
There is much to be said for this latter theory. As we have seen
the Jains give the title Vâsudeva to a series of supermen, and a
remarkable legend states
that a king called 
Paundraka who pretended to be a deity used the title Vâsudeva
and ordered Kṛishṇa to cease using it, for which impertinence
he was slain. This clearly implies that the title was something
which could be detached from Kṛishṇa and not a mere
patronymic. Indian writings countenance both etymologies of the
word. As the name of the deity they derive it from vas to dwell,
he in whom all things abide and who abides in all.
Suggested Further Reading
 Ekanâtha, who lived in the
sixteenth century, calls the Adhyâtma R. a modern work. See
Bhandarkar, Vaishn. and Saivism, page 48. The Yoga-Vasishtḥa R.
purports to be instruction given by Vasishṭha to Râma who
wishes to abandon the world. Its date is uncertain but it is
quoted by authors of the fourteenth century. It is very popular,
especially in south India, where an abridgment in Tamil called
Jñâna-Vasishṭha is much read. Its doctrine appears to be
Vedântist with a good deal of Buddhist philosophy. Salvation is
never to think that pleasures and pains are "mine."
 Châṇḍ. Up. III. 17.6
 The Kaush. Brâhm. says
that Kṛishṇa was an Ângirasa XXX. g. The Anukramanî says that
the Kṛishṇa of Ṛig Veda, VIII. 74 was an Ângirasa. For Ghora
Ângirasa "the dread descendent of the Angirases" see Macdonell
and Keith, Vedic Index, s.v.
 E.g. Dig. Nik. V. The
Pâncarâtra expressly states that Yoga is worship of the heart
and self-sacrifice, being thus a counterpart of the external
 Pâṇ. IV. 3. 98,
Vâsudevârjunâbhyâm vun. See Bhandarkar, Vaishnavism and Śaivism,
p. 3 and J.R.A.S. 1910, p. 168. Sûtra 95, just above, appears to
point to bhakti, faith or devotion, felt for this Vâsudeva.
 Especially the Besnagar
column. See Rapson, Ancient India, p. 156 and various articles
in J.R.A.S. 1909-10.
 X. i, vi.
 III. i. 23, Ulâro so
Kaṇho isi ahosi. But this may refer to the Rishi mentioned in
R.V. VIII. 74 who has not necessarily anything to do with the
 See Hemacandra
Abhidhânacintâmani, Ed. Boehtlingk and Rien, p. 128, and
Barnett's translation of the Antagada Dasāo, pp. 13-15 and
 Apparently the same as the
 III. XV.
 It would seem that the
temple of Dvârakâ was built between the composition of the
narrative in the Mahâbhârata and of the Vishṇu Purâṇa, for
while the former says the whole town was destroyed by the sea,
the latter excepts the temple and says that whoever visits it is
freed from all his sins. See Wilson, Vishṇu Purâṇa, V. p. 155.
 A most curious chapter of
the Vishṇu Purâṇa (IV. 13) contains a vindication of
Kṛishṇa's character and a picture of old tribal life.
 Neither can I agree with
some scholars that Kṛishṇa is mainly and primarily a deity of
vegetation. All Indian ideas about the Universe and God
emphasize the interaction of life and death, growth and decay,
spring and winter. Kṛishṇa is undoubtedly associated with
life, growth and generation, but so is Śiva the destroyer, or
rather the transmuter. The account in the Mahâbhâshya (on Pân.
III. 1. 26) of the masque representing the slaughter of Kaṃsa
by Kṛishṇa is surely a slight foundation for the theory that
Kṛishṇa was a nature god. It might be easily argued that
Christ is a vegetation spirit, for not only is Easter a spring
festival but there are numerous allusions to sowing and harvest
in the Gospels and Paul illustrates the resurrection by the
germination of corn. It is a mistake to seek for uniformity in
the history of religion. There were in ancient times different
types of mind which invented different kinds of gods, just as
now professors invent different theories about gods.
 The Kṛishṇa of the
Chândogya Upanishad receives instruction but it is not said that
he was himself a teacher.
 Hopkins, India Old and
New, p. 105.
 Bhandarkar. Allusions to
Kṛishṇa in Mahâbhâshya, Ind. Ant. 1874, p. 14. For the
pastoral Kṛishṇa see Bhandarkar, Vaishṇavism and Śaivism,
 The divinity of Râdhâ is
taught specially in the Brahma-vaivarta Purâṇa and the Nârada
pâncarâtra, also called Jñânâmṛitasâra. She is also described
in the Gopâla-tâpanîya Upanishad of unknown date.
 But Kaṃsa appears in both
series of legends, i.e., in the Ghata-Jâtaka which contains no
hint of the pastoral legends but is a variant of the story of
the warlike Kṛishṇa.
 Vishṇu Purâṇa, V. 10, 11
from which the quotations in the text are taken. Much of it is
repeated in the Harivamsa. See for instance H. 3808.
 The Muttra cycle of
legends cannot be very late for the inscription of Glai Lomor in
Champa (811 A.D.) speaks of Nârâyana holding up Goburdhan and a
Cambojan inscription of Prea Eynkosey (970 A.D.) speaks of the
banks of the Yamunâ where Kṛishṇa sported. These legends must
have been prevalent in India some time before they travelled so
far. Some of them are depicted on a pillar found at Mandor and
possibly referable to the fourth century A.D. See Arch. Survey
Ind. 1905-1906, p. 135.
 Strom, III. 194. See
M'Crindle, Ancient India, p. 183.
 Vincent Smith, Fine Art in
India, pp. 134-138.
 In the Sutta-nipâta Mâra,
the Evil One is called Kaṇha, the phonetic equivalent of
Kṛishṇa in Prâkrit. Can it be that Mâra and his daughters have
anything to do with Kṛishṇa and the Gopîs?
 Compare the Greek stories
of the infant Hermes who steals Apollo's cattle and invents the
lyre. Compare too, as having a general resemblance to fantastic
Indian legends, the story of young Hephæstus.
 Mgr. Bongard, Histoire de
la Bienheureuse Marguérite Marie. Quoted by W. James, Varieties
of Religious Experience, p. 343.
 Viṭṭhal or Viṭṭoba is
a local deity of Pandharpur in the Deccan (perhaps a deified
Brahman of the place) now identified with Kṛishṇa.
 Life and Sayings of
Râmakṛishṇa. Trans. F. Max Müller, pp. 137-8. The English poet
Crashaw makes free use of religious metaphors drawn from love
and even Francis Thompson represents God as the lover of the
Soul, e.g. in his poem Any Saint.
 Though surprising, it can
be paralleled in modern times for Kabir (c. 1400) was identified
by his later followers with the supreme spirit.
 Mahâbhâr. Sabhâp. XIV.
Vishṇu Pur. V. xxxiv. The name also occurs in the Taittirîya
Âraṇyaka (i. 31) a work of moderate if not great antiquity
Nâzâyanâya vidmahe Vasudevâya dhîmahi.
 See. Vishṇu Pur. VI. V.
See also Wilson, Vishṇu Purâṇa, I. pp. 2 and 17.
 Thus the Saura Purâṇa
inveighs against the Mâdhva sect (XXXVIII.-XL.) and calls
Vishṇu the servant of Śiva: a Purâṇic legal work called the
Vriddha-Harita-Samhitâ is said to contain a polemic against
Śiva. Occasionally we hear of collisions between the followers
of Vishṇu and Śiva or the desecration of temples by hostile
fanatics. But such conflicts take place most often not between
widely different sects but between subdivisions of the same
sect, e.g., Tengalais and Vadagalais. It would seem too that at
present most Hindus of the higher castes avoid ostentatious
membership of the modern sects, and though they may practise
special devotion to either Vishṇu or Śiva, yet they visit the
temples of both deities when they go on pilgrimages. Jogendra
Nath Bhattacharya in his Hindu Castes and Sects says (p. 364)
that aristocratic Brahmans usually keep in their private chapels
both a salâgram representing Vishṇu and emblems representing
Śiva and his spouse. Hence different observers vary in their
estimates of the importance of sectarian divisions, some holding
that sect is the essence of modern Hinduism and others that most
educated Hindus do not worship a sectarian deity. The Kûrma
Purâṇa, Part I. chap. XXII. contains some curious rules as to
what deities should be worshipped by the various classes of men
 Bhag.-gîtâ, XL. 23-34.
 See Srisa Chandra Vasu,
Daily practice of the Hindus, p. 118.
 II. 1 and I. 1.
 See Maitrâyaṇa Up. V. 2.
It is highly probable that the celebrated image at Elephanta is
not a Trimûrti at all but a Maheśamûrti of Śiva. See Gopinâtha
Rao, Hindu Iconog. II. 382.
|Source: Book 5,
Chapter 25, Section 4 of the Hinduism and Buddhism An
Historical Sketch by Sir Charles Eliot reproduced by
Jayaram V for Hinduwebsite.com. During reproduction,
page references have been removed. Certain Sanskrit
words might not have reproduced exactly due to font
issues. While all possible effort has been made to
reproduce the text, we can guarantee neither the
accuracy nor the correctness of the text reproduced.
Serious students of Hinduism are requested to refer the
original text for their quotations and references.