Folklore Typologies: Similarities between Krishna and Biblical Characters
There are striking similarities between the stories in the Christian Bible and the Stories that make up the Scriptures of Hinduism. Here is a link to ReligiousTolerance.org where they discuss Similarities between Jesus and Krishna. I will explore this topic in a follow on article done in parallel with this one.
Hare, Hare, Hare! Step right up and hear about Lord Krishna!
I was exposed to the Hindu Scriptures as a Christian pre-teen living in Europe. At that time, I supposed that since Hinduism was so much older, and Israel was so far away from India, that Christianity must be a result of a misunderstanding of Hindu Scriptures and Ideas carried over from India by visitors. I was almost converted. I realized that the Jews didn't think Jesus was the messiah because he didn't qualify and it was uncharacteristic for Yahweh to diminish himself to become a human. No-where in Christian scripture does Jesus unambiguously declare that he is Yahweh in human form, however, it is a characteristic of Vishnu to appear in human form periodically. In my young mind I thought, Jesus was a strikingly different "person" than the Yahweh of the old Testament, Jesus was similar to Krishna and the teachings of Jesus were similar to Hinduism. Therefore, Christianity should be an extension of Hinduism rather than Judaism.
However, since everyone I knew, especially every adult I knew, was a Christian, I was persuaded that Hinduism was mythology, Christianity was "A Religion", Jesus was the one and only God in Human Form. As a Christian adult, I revisited the Hindu Scriptures to see what was so compelling about them, but I didn't feel the same pull towards Hinduism as I did as a child. Maybe our Psychologist Contributors Valerie or Marlene can elaborate on that phenomena.
The Bhagavata Canto 10, The Story of Lord Krishna, and The Birth of Lord Krishna
The Primary reference I used was Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 10, (Bhagavata Purana) but since then they have begun improvements to the site and the links are no longer available. They do provide an alternate site which you can reach from site above or from the links I provided below.
The Bhagavata Wiki
The Bhagavata Wiki, Canto 10-1
Be patient, it takes a while to load. Also there is a link on that page to a site that claims that Jesus Christ was an Incarnation of Vishnu. Good luck disproving that, evangelical.
The links above are a little hard to follow since it is a translation, so the references below are a little more "Layman Friendly".
Simplified Story of the Life of Lord Krishna from YouTube
Longer Video of the birth of Lord Krishna
Article on the historicity of Lord Krishna
Here is an article on the Historical Krishna where the following summary is derived in part. "Search for the Historical Krishna", Prof. N.S. Rajaram
Summary taken from the article
"In summary, we may safely conclude that technical and literary evidence from several independent sources point to the traditional Kali date of 3102 BC as being close to the actual date of the Mahabharata War. We have therefore overwhelming evidence showing that Krishna was a historical figure who must have lived within a century on either side of that date, i.e., in the 3200-3000 BC period."
Summary of the story of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna is regarded by Hindus and the incarnation of the God Vishnu. They believe that Vishnu is one of the Gods that make up the Hindu Trinity and is believed to be the lord of the universe who takes human form and is the lord of all creation, all things, all time. Through him people will know what is real, meaning comes only from god. Whenever there is too much evil in the world he takes human form to deal with it.
If you watched the video above, and you know your bible, you probably noted quite a few similarties to the stories in the Christian Bible. Here is an abbreviated list of some of the ones I noticed. The simplest explanation of how the stories can be so similar is if they are Folklore, in other words, the same story structure with the details changed to suit the audience.
- Evil king will be overthrown by a savior (The Messiah)Other Similarities outside the scope of the Video that are part of the Krishna Story
- The Birth of God on Earth prophesied (Various Biblical Prophesies)
- Virgin birth [depending on the Hindu "denomination"] (Mary)
- Devaki was the mother of Krishna and therefore all divinity (Mary)
- The Kings killing of the sons to attempt to kill the God-Child (Herods action)
- Escape of the central characters with the help of God (Acts 5 and 12)
- Receding of the waters during an escape (Red Sea)
- Talking Snake (Adam and Eve)
- Baby was raised by foster mother (Moses)
- Baby raised by peasants (Moses and Jesus)
- Mischevious boy (Similar to Jesus going to temple as a boy and non-canonical stories of Jesus as a child)
- River associated with Holiness and cleanliness (Baptism in the river)
- Krishna wrestled a snake by the river and won (by the river Jacob wrestled an angel, God or his brother depending on how its interpreted)
- Sacrifice out of love (similar to teaching of Christ)
- Picking up a mountain (to hold over his followers as shelter to protect them from heavy rains caused by another angry God, Faith can move mountains)
- Killing a Giant Serpent (Yahweh slaying the Leviathan)
- Krishna would return when things got bad (Second Coming)
- Krishna was Pierced, killed, and taken up to Heaven (Jesus Stabbed by soldier, body disappearing, later taken up to heaven)
Any form of an argument a Christian can use to defend Christianity can be used interchangeably to defend Hinduism and Lord Krishna.
However, it is more likely that since the stories about Krishna predate Judeo-Christian scripture, then it seems that the similarities in the stories about Moses, Jesus and in Acts are pre-existing folklore structures with the details changed to suit the audience.
Below is an incomplete list of events in Lord Krishnas life with my notes as to the Chapter and verse in the Bhagavata Canto 10.
I only noted enough to make my case and leave the rest as an exercise for those interested in comparative religion studies.
Chapter 1, verses are listed above the line
- Princess Devaki got married to Vasudeva
- Her Evil Brother Prince Kamsa drove the coach on thier wedding day
- While driving the coach, a spiritual voice told Prince Kamsa that "Devaki will have eight sons and the eighth son will kill him"
- He put his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva in prison
- They had sons in jail and each one was killed by Kamsa to prevent Lord Krishna from being born.
- Prince Kamsa overthrew his father put him in prison and took the throne,
- Vishnu says he will put himself in the womb of Devaki to be born.
- One evening during thunder and lightning, the eighth child was born and they saw that it was the lord Vishnu as vishnu said he would do in Chapter 2:8-9
- Since the child was in danger of being killed, Vishnu put the guards to sleep and freed the father
- The father took the baby out into the stormy night and the great serpent accompanied them spreading its hood over them to protect the child
- As the father approached the river Jumna, it parted to let the father cross,
- The father went to a house where a woman had just given birth, and the father switched the babies, and Vishnu was raised by the family never knowing the difference.
[MISCHEVIOUS BOY: Similar to Jesus leaving his parents to go the temple]
- The boy was mischievous, he stole sweet milk and distributed it to the other people and animals in the town
[HEROD: Event similar to and event related to Herod]
- But Kamsa summoned and demons and spirits to search for the child
[LEVIATHAN, HOLY RIVER: Similar to an event related to a story about Yahweh slaying Leviathan in Job, similar to the event where Jacob wrestled an Angel, God or his brother (depending on the interpretation) and similar to Jesus going into the river to be Baptized, similar to the tradition to the belief that baptism is a sort of rebirth, cleansing, new beginning or relinquishing the bad and accepting the good]
- One day, wrestling and playing by the river, they saw that the river was poisoned, so Krishna jumped in to kill the Giant Serpent that was poisoning the river.
- He danced on the serpents head and set if free, cleaning up the river making the river Holy once again.
- Kamsa saw the giant serpent and its children in the river and knew that it had been defeated by Krishna,
[LEVIATHAN, HOLY RIVER]
- Krishna made the land around the Holy River beautiful. Krishna went down by the river and danced with all the women that were there.
[SACRIFICE OUT OF LOVE]
- One day Krishnas surrogate father was preparing a sacrifice to Indra the rain god in order to bring rain. The people were afraid that Indra was angry at them. Krishna said that people should sacrifice out of love not fear, so the sacrifice was not appropriate and would be better spent if it were directed to worship the things they love and to sacrifice to the cows and mountains
[SACRIFICE OUT OF LOVE]
[MOVING THE MOUNTAIN]
- So they did and Indra got angry and sent a terrible storm, so Krishna lifted the mountain and used it as an umbrella for the town.
[MOVING THE MOUNTAIN]
- After the storm Krishna got the invitation and he went with his friend Bellarama.
- Krishna and Bellarama killed the combatants and ordered the guards to kill them, so Krishna killed the evil king and returned the real king to power.
- Krishna battled many evils during his lifetime
[VISHNU WOULD RETURN WHEN THINGS GOT BAD]
- Krishna vowed to return to fight evil whenever it occurs.
[HE WOULD RETURN WHEN THINGS GOT BAD]
[PIERCED, KILLED AND TAKEN UP TO HEAVEN]
- There were many other events in the life of Krishna but the last thing Krishna did was to meditate under a tree in the forest, before being shot by mistakenly by a hunter and taken up to heaven.
[PIERCED, KILLED AND TAKEN UP TO HEAVEN]