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Lord Krishna & Jainism

(Published in February 2004 issue of ‘Jaina Voice’ a publication of WWW.JAINHERITAGECENTRES.COM)

Lord Krishna occupies a unique position in the Indian religious tradition. He embodies himself the luminous stature in the traditions of Jaina, Buddha and Vaishnava cults. Furthermore Krishna’s prehistoric relation with Jaina literature is blended with the core of his teachings and achievements. It appears ambiguous as to whether Krishna was a saint, super human-being, God or Goddess as scripted by numerous writers from the bygone years. The devotees of Krishna regard him as superman with paragon of virtues. He stands testimony to all the historical events that take place in Mahabharatha, where he is depicted as a hero, politician, conjurer, warrior, omnipotent, conspirer and many miracles have been knitted around Him which have only further intricated the personality. It is logical to consider him as an Aryan or Proaryan in the classics. He is the nucleus of discussion in the entire course of Mahabharatha.

Astrologically different views have been expressed regarding his date of birth and longevity. It is opined that he lived for 125 years 9 months and 8 days, on the contrary it is also mentioned that he lived for only 105 years, taking his birth on B.C.3208.

It is said that Lord Krishna and Neminatha, the twenty second prophet of Jainism were contemporers and related to each other making their dent at the transition period of Dwapara and Kaliyugas. During which time the Kurukshetra warfare had taken place. The Vishnupurana mentions that lord Krishna found his extinct on the first day of Kaliyuga. Megasthanese opined that there were 138 generations between the period of Lord Krishna and Chandragupta. Neminatha, also called Arishtanemi, is mentioned in Yajurveda. There are found five royal generations such as Puru, Kuru, Natha, rudra and Hari in Jainism in contrast to two generations such as sun and moon sects in vedic religion. Sri Neminatha and Sri Krishna belonged to Harivamsha. The Sanskrit and Kannada classics are rich with the stories and anecdotes of Pandavas and Kauravas, depicted as rivals in the epic. Samudravijaya, the father of Neminatha and Vasudeva, the father of Sri Krishna were regarded as brothers. Furthermore Analakavrishni, the father of Samudravijaya and Bhojavrishni, the father of Vasudeva were brothers of the same age. Shivadevi was the mother of Neminatha. It is not surprising to note the partisan attitude of Lord Krishna for Pandavas.

Harivamshapurana (Sri Neminathapurana) by Gunaverma-I, Ardhanemipurana by Nemichandra, Neminathapurana by Karnaparya, Salvabharatha by Sathvana, Harivamshabhyudaya by Bandhuverma, Harivamsha by Mangarasa-III, Neminathapurana by Mahabala and Jain Bharatha by Brahmananka provide a vivid, conceptual and an extensive description of Lord Krishna. According to the belief in Jainism Neminatha, Balarama and Sri Krishna underwent the religious ceremonies together simultaneously; Samudravijaya preached the ancient hymn; Neminatha narrated the Geetha version to Lord Krishna in Ardhamagadhi language and the same was delivered by lord Krishna in the battle field of Kurukshetra. Ardhamagadhi was the language spoken by the common folk. It is also cited that many conflicts had taken place between Neminatha and Sri Krishna. Eventually Sri Krishna regarded Neminatha as his teacher and mentor.

One can find the mention of Rukmini and Satyabhama, the wives of Sri Krishna as mentioned in the Nemiswamy chapter in Uttarapurana by Srimad Gunabadhracharya. There is also a mention of Pradhyumna, the son of Lord Krishna and Rukmini.

Jaina Bharatha has incorporated within it the various events pertaining to lord Krishna. These include Kalinga Mardhana, Rukminiharana and marriage of Lord Krishna with Satyabhama. Cattle rearing, Govardhanagiri episode and wrestling of Lord Krishna Chanoora. The assassination of Kamsa by Krishna is vividly depicted in it.                             

It is interesting to note the inherent relationship between Lord Krishna and Jainism in the ancient works.