Religion is often perceived as a spiritual allegory. At times, the cosmic order struggles between good and evil to maintain balance. The followers of Hinduism believe that the “Absolute One” or the “Supreme God” will come down to the human world to restore the cosmic balance. They are the devotees of Vaishnavism referred to be Vaisnavites, one of the largest Hindu groups. Their unconditional love and devotion lies within Vishnu, the Supreme deity. Whenever “adharma threatens to tip the cosmic balance, through the powers of maya and nature, the transcend Lord periodically manifests to destroy evil and restore dharma.” (Rodrigues 2006:200) Vishnu will incarnate through avatars in the form of a human or any other beings. This is also known as manifestation. This paper will focus on one of the most popular avatar, Krishna (Krsna) and the devotion to him. “The Krsna avatara is immensely popular in Hinduism, undoubtedly due to the influence of the Bhagavad Gita.” (Rodrigues 2006:203)The Bhagavad Purana is known as Puranic text which mainly focuses on bhakti, unlimited devotion to the divine. This text saw rapid growth with the “Bhakti Movement” in South India. Alvars, tamil poets travelled around the world singing songs explaining their love to Krishna. This total surrender to Krishna will liberate the devotees from samsara. Krishna can be viewed in three different narratives:
First, Krishna as a baby is perceived has maternal love. The devotional love held to Krishna is comparable to the love of a mother to her child. Yashoda and Krishna is a primary example of she loved him blindly for who he was. `` The boys looked adorable with the mud smeared on their bodies. After offering their breasts and gazing at their faces and their tiny teeth as they suckled, the mothers fell into a blissful state.” (BP 10.1.8.22-23) This is the same approach a devotee`s devotion to the divine. Sometimes, the divine can also will himself into a powerless state to allow his devotees to connect with him. The most important narrative is Krishna as a youth. Many poems have been chanted in relation to the unconditional love to the divine.
“Her family was poor, her cast quite low,
her clothes a matter of rags,
yet Ram [‘god’, Krishna] took that fruit – that touched, spoiled fruit for he knew that it stood for her love.” (Trans. Stratton Hawley and Juergensmeyer 1968)
Without love there is no devotion. Mira, a cowherding gokul girl who’s love for Krishna was seen as an obsessive love. This may also be referred as teenage love. Mira was able to feel and sense Krishna. He did not need to be present in flesh but he was through the air, every breath she took and every object she touched. “This feeling that Krishna is there, this total feeling of love, this total surrender, this losing oneself into one who may be or may not be, this losing itself is the transformation.” (Osho online library 2011) He doesn’t look at your caste, status or wealth, he only sees the devotion and love you hold for him. “Life without Hari [Krishna] is no life, friend,
and though my mother-in-law fights,
my sister-in-law teases, the rana is angered….” (Trans. Stratton Hawley and Juergensmeyer 1968)
This part of the poem explains that Mira’s longing love for Krishna. Her life is meaningless without Krishna no matter what her husband and in-laws may perceive. The thought of not being able devote herself to her God is “no life”. Thus, bhakti to Krishna is thought to help you attain liberation. This type of love and devotion is extremely valuable in Hinduism because it gives an importance to gender especially females. From the time of Karman or the Upanishad, females lived by rules and regulations which limited their rights. For example, in the Upanishad, sages believed that moksha is attained through the realization of oneness. Liberation can only be reach through the understanding of atman (Self). “If you understand your own atman, you will recognize...