Krishna, in Hinduism and Indian mythology,
the eighth avatar, or incarnation, of the god Vishnu. According to tradition,
Vishnu appeared as Krishna to rid the world of a tyrannical king named
Kamsa, the son of a demon.
Numerous legends describe Krishna's miracles
and heroic exploits. He slew or defeated scores of evil demons and monsters.
He appears prominently, sometimes as a deity, in the epic poem Mahabharata,
in which he sides with the Pandavas, one of two contending families, and
acts as the charioteer of the hero Arjuna. It is to Arjuna, troubled on
the eve of the decisive battle, that Krishna delivers the celebrated discourse
on duty and life known as the Bhagavad-Gita.
For his part in the struggle between the Pandavas
and their enemies, the Kauravas, Krishna and all his race were cursed by
Gandhari, the mother of the slaughtered Kaurava brothers. Thereafter, Krishna's
people quarreled among themselves, ultimately exterminating one another
in a single day by fighting with uprooted reeds grown from a magical iron
powder. Krishna and his brother Bala-Rama alone survived. They retired
into a nearby forest, where a serpent crawled out of Bala-Rama's mouth,
leaving him dead. The solitary Krishna was then killed by a hunter who
mistook him for a deer and shot him with an arrow tipped with the same
magical iron that had destroyed Krishna's people.
Although Krishna was earlier celebrated primarily
as a heroic figure, in recent centuries he has been adored as a mischievous
child and as the lover of the girls who live in the cowherd settlement
where he began his earthly career.
"Krishna," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia
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