Folklore: Indian myth
They were bedtime stories when I was 7 or 8. My mom told me about the mischievous things Krishna did. He was the son of a king, but the kings evil brother wanted to have the crown. He would imprison his brother and wife and killed off all of the sons according to the prophecy that the 7th son would overthrow him. But on the night the 7th son was born, an angel came and switched the babies.
But the 7th son, the mom got visited by an angel and switched the sons. He was raised in a village, and youd think hes a god and a perfect kid. But he was the most mischievous kid ever. In portraits of him, he always has a peacock feather. Hes very charming. He would steal butter from the pots, which they keep in large pots for storage up high. He would throw rocks at them so he can eat the raw butter, which is hard to make by hand. The most famous picture is of him as a fat baby eating butter.
He also has blue skin. Hes blue because he saves the village from this really evil snake, which is really huge, this thing bites him, he holds onto the snake, and has the snake release all of his venom into his body. So then the snake becomes harmless, but his skin turned blue because the venom is blue. Why doesnt he die? Because hes God! Its a beautiful ultramarine blue. All portraits of him are blue and with a peacock feather.
One of the main animal symbols is that hes associated with a cow. Thats associated with our values and worshipping the cow. He rides on the cow because hes considered a village boy, it goes with that other myth. Hes a charismatic womanizer, all the women of the town and all the girls loved him and wanted to be his bride. He would play tricks on garba, the women. You dance in a circle, where he would copy himself. Krishna is dancing with every single one. The second a woman thought he was dancing with only her, he would disappear. The lesson is not to be selfish.
He actually does pick a bride, Rada. Shes very smart and witty, daughter of Mother Earth, and has some spiritual power. She always asks Krishna, How can I not get jealous? Shes always mad at him for some reason or another. And hell try to win her back.
This is a complicated tale of Krishna, a god of whom many stories praise or speak of. He is the main figure in much of Indian culture. The god has humanly characteristics. Instead of being a solemn character, he is playful and the opposite of what a god should be. To have a picture of a fat baby god mischievously eating butter connects with people better and makes it easier to relate to this powerful god. He is no longer a distant deity in the heavens but brought down to earth to be on the same level as humans.
Pattanaik, Devdutt. Indian Mythology: Tales, Symbols, and Rituals from the Heart of the Subcontinent. Inner Traditions, 2003. Birth of Krishna found on page 126.