Five Names That Krishna Is Known By

[Krishna with Yashoda]“The parental love of Mother Yashoda for Krishna steadily increases, and her love and ecstasy are sometimes described as intense affection and sometimes as overwhelming attachment.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 43)

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The Almighty. The Divine. God. The Supreme Deity. These are different descriptions for someone we think is impossible to be seen in the flesh. We think He is beyond the conception of even the most imaginative mind. Perhaps that’s exactly what He is: a concept designed by those wishing to make order of a world filled with chaos. Perhaps He is an imaginary figure from whom to derive comfort and safety, a way to feel like the virtuous path will indeed be rewarding some day.

The Vedas don’t leave anything to chance. There needn’t be sole reliance on faith when discussing spiritual matters. Use all of your intellect. Bring every one of your doubts to the table and don’t be afraid to voice them. The Vedas can rise up to such a challenge because they explain the Divine from all angles of vision. From whichever viewpoint you are coming, there is a way for you to understand, relate to, and then serve the Supreme Lord.

The name Krishna says that He is all-attractive. He is also of a blackish complexion. Not exactly the opposite of white, but something resembling a dark raincloud. In India a few tamala trees can still be found, and they resemble Krishna so much that His beloved Shrimati Radharani would often embrace them. Krishna is one of the principal names found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The same Krishna is also known by many other names, each of which has a specific meaning and significance.

1. Yashodanandana

Yashoda is the foster mother in the rural community of Vrindavana. The “foster” word is added because Krishna didn’t exactly emerge from her womb. There was a kind of switched at birth thing, where the father Vasudeva took Krishna from Mathura to Gokula in exchange for the baby girl who had just been born to Yashoda. This was done unbeknownst to Yashoda.

[Krishna with Yashoda]Krishna is the delight of Yashoda. He gives her so much pleasure through simply acting as a child. There is no need for God to show off. He already has everything. Pious souls like Yashoda do not doubt the existence of the Supreme Lord, so showing a magical display of strength is not necessary with her. Rather, Krishna acts in ways that He knows will be pleasing to the loving mother. He sucks milk from her breast, adorably attempts to crawl, steals butter she has made, and even cries when about to be punished for naughty behavior.

2. Girivaradhari

[Krishna lifting hill]Krishna is the lifter of mountains. What kind of mountains? Picture one so large that its circumference is 23 km. This mountain that takes hours to circumambulate by foot was held up in the air by Krishna’s pinky finger on His left hand. He held it up for a reason: to protect the innocent residents of Vrindavana. A torrential downpour threatened to wash them away. Though Krishna was a boy at the time, He still possessed the full power of the Divine. That potency never leaves Him. He may not reveal His full potency at every moment, but it is there for Him to utilize whenever necessary.

3. Vrindavana-chandra

Krishna is the moon of Vrindavana. He provides a bright, soothing light to give guidance in the otherwise dark night. He appears in the dynasty of kings that traces back to the moon-god, Soma. He is moonlike for everyone in Vrindavana, but especially the gopis. They are the cowherd girls who love Krishna so purely that He has no way of repaying them adequately. To meet their desires, He dances with them in what is known as the rasa-lila. This takes place during Sharada Purnima, which is the brightest full moon of the year.

4. Gopinatha

[Krishna with the gopis]The Sanskrit word natha means husband. That is the most common use of the word, but another translation is protector. While Krishna is not the official husband of the gopis, He is indeed their maintainer and protector. He is the Lord of their life breath, or prana-natha. They live only for Him. Though they may be engaged in household chores during the day, they never forget Him for a second. They practice bhakti-yoga without even thinking about it. When Krishna tries to praise them for this amazing dedication, they have no interest in hearing it. They would rather hear what Krishna is doing and whether or not He is thinking of them.

5. Shyamasundara

The Sanskrit word shyama describes Krishna’s complexion. It is dark, but extremely beautiful. Hence the word sundara is added to make another wonderful name for God. He is of a dark complexion that is extremely beautiful. He is able to attract anyone with this beauty. The cows, the peacocks, the birds, the parrots, the bees – all living entities in Vrindavana are attracted by Krishna’s beauty.

In Closing:

With a beautiful son Yashoda blessed,

On His pinky finger massive hill to rest.

Brightness to Vrindavana like the moon,

Gopis from separation in ecstasy’s swoon.

Shyamasundara since with complexion blue,

Beautiful in every aspect, inside and out too.

Krishna by many other names is known,

All attractiveness in Him alone.

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