Krishna (listen) is a major deity in Hinduism. He is worshiped as the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and also as the supreme God in his own right. He is the god of compassion, tenderness, and love in Hinduism and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities.

Krishna's birthday is celebrated every year by Hindus on Janmashtami according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar, which falls in late August or early September of the Gregorian calendar.

Krishna is also known by numerous names, such as Govinda, Mukunda, Madhusudhana, Vasudeva, and Makhan chor in affection. The anecdotes and narratives of Krishna's life are generally titled as Krishna Leela.

He is a central character in the Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana and the Bhagavad Gita, and is mentioned in many Hindu philosophical, theological, and mythological texts. They portray him in various perspectives: a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero, and as the supreme power. His iconography reflects these legends, and show him in different stages of his life, such as an infant eating butter, a young boy playing a flute, a young man with Radha or surrounded by women devotees, or a friendly charioteer giving counsel to Arjuna.

The synonyms of Krishna have been traced to 1st millennium BCE literature. In some sub-traditions, Krishna is worshipped as Svayam Bhagavan, and this is sometimes referred to as Krishnaism. These sub-traditions arose in the medieval era Bhakti movement context. Krishna-related literature has inspired numerous performance arts such as Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Odissi, and Manipuri dance. He is a pan-Hindu god, but is particularly revered in some locations such as Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, Jagannatha in Odisha, Mayapur in West Bengal, Dwarka and Junagadh in Gujarat, Pandharpur in Maharashtra, Udupi in Karnataka, and Nathdwara in Rajasthan. Since the 1960s the worship of Krishna has also spread to the Western world and to Africa, largely due to the work of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

The name "Krishna" originates from the Sanskrit word Kṛṣṇa, which is primarily an adjective meaning "black", "dark", or "dark blue". The waning moon is called Krishna Paksha, relating to the adjective meaning "darkening". The name is also interpreted sometimes as "all-attractive". As a name of Vishnu, Krishna is listed as the 57th name in the Vishnu Sahasranama. Based on his name, Krishna is often depicted in idols as black- or blue-skinned. Krishna is also known by various other names, epithets, and titlesthat reflect his many associations and attributes. Among the most common names are Mohan "enchanter", Govinda, "chief herdsman",


Krishna with cows, herdsmen, and Gopis

Krishna is represented in the Indian traditions in many ways, but with some common features. His iconography typically depicts him with black, dark, or blue skin, like Vishnu.[29] However, ancient and medieval reliefs and stone-based arts depict him in the natural color of the material out of which he is formed, both in India and in southeast Asia.[30][31] In some texts, his skin is poetically described as the color of Jambul (Jamun, a purple-colored fruit).[32]

Krishna is often depicted wearing a peacock-feather wreath or crown, and playing the bansuri (Indian flute).[33][34] In this form, he is usually shown standing with one leg bent in front of the other in the Tribhanga posture. He is sometimes accompanied by cows or a calf, which symbolise the divine herdsman Govinda. Alternatively, he is shown as an amorous man with the gopis (milkmaids), often making music or playing pranks.[35]

Krishna lifting Govardhana at Bharat Kala Bhavan, recovered from a Muslim graveyard in Varanasi. It is dated to the Gupta Empire era (4th/6th-century CE).[36]

In other icons he is a part of battlefield scenes of the epic Mahabharata. He is shown as a charioteer, notably when he is addressing the Pandava prince Arjuna character, symbolically reflecting the events that led to the Bhagavad Gita – a scripture of Hinduism. In these popular depictions, Krishna appears in the front as the charioteer, either as a counsel listening to Arjuna, or as the driver of the chariot while Arjuna aims his arrows in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.[37][38]

Alternate icons of Krishna show him as a baby (Bala Krishna, Bāla Kṛṣṇa the child Krishna), a toddler crawling on his hands and knees, a dancing child, or an innocent-looking child playfully stealing or consuming butter (Makkan Chor)[39] ,holding Laddu in his hand (Laddu Gopal)[40][41] or as a cosmic infant sucking his toe while floating on a banyan leef during the Pralaya (the cosmic dissolution) observed by sage Markandeya.[42] Regional variations in the iconography of Krishna are seen in his different forms, such as Jaganatha in Odisha, Vithoba in MaharasRegionaltra,[43] Venkateswara (also Srinivasa or Balaji) in Andhra Pradesh,[44] and Shrinathji in Rajasthan.[45][46]

Guidelines for the preparation of Krishna icons in design and architecture are described in medieval-era Sanskrit texts on Hindu temple arts such as Vaikhanasa agama, Vishnu dharmottara, Brihat samhita, and Agni Purana.[47] Similarly, early medieval-era Tamil texts also contain guidelines for sculpting Krishna and Rukmini Devi (she is sometimes referred to as Sauriraja-pperumal in Tamil). Several statues made according to these guidelines are in the collections of the Government Museum, Chennai.[48]