Krishna, the 8th Avatar
Krishna was born about 10,000 years ago in the Dwarpara Yuga as the "dark one," symbolizing infinity. Lord Krishna is the embodiment of love and divine joy, that destroys all pain and karma. He is the protector of sacred utterances and cows (Lakshmi.) Krishna is an instigator of all forms of knowledge and born to establish the religion of love.
Krishna was born as the 8th child of Devaki, sister of the cruel demon king Kams, and her husband, Vasudeva. Sage Narada had predicted that Kamsa would be killed by his nephew, so the king killed Devaki´s first six children. The 7th, Balarama, escaped and the 8th, Krishna, was secretly exchanged for a cowherd's daughter, who was really Durga. When Kamsa tried to kill her, she revealed her true form and told him he would be killed before long by Krishna.
Krishna was brought up in a cowherder family and loved to play the flute to entertain the other cowherders (gopas,) the milkmaids (gopis,) and the cows. As a child, Krishna had great love for his foster-mother Yashoda, and their relationship stands as a great example for the love between a mother and her child.
During his childhood and youth, Krishna played many pranks on his neighbors and playmates.
Krishna and Bhakti in the Mahabharata
After Krishna killed Kamsa, he became king. He married Rukmini, who became his first queen. He had 6 other wives, and the 8th was Satyabhama.
In the great Mahabharata epic, Krishna spoke memorable words on the essence of Bhakti Yoga or the yoga of pure spiritual devotion. During the battle of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna the essence of Bhakti Yoga, of love for God. This revelation is found in the great Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.
Krishna is usually described as the most complete of the ten Avatars of Vishnu. This means that this entity carried more of the energy of Vishnu than any of the other very powerful beings which were also Avatars of Vishnu.
When Krishna was an adult and took up his spiritual work full time, he admonished all: "Do not try to copy me. Do not try to imitate me." He all but told everyone that he was not human in the sense that they were.
Krishna demonstrated an overpowering attraction of women. It is reported that 16,108 women fell in love with him. Swami Sivananda of Divine Life in Rishikesh and other mystical teachers maintain that the love was not physical but that the libido was transformed into Divine Love. Others maintain that the love was physical, with the same end result: Divine Love.
The roots of his involvement with so many women lie in the incarnation of Rama. When that Avatar was in the forest for 14 years, he came across many saints and sages who had taken refuge there from the forces of the demonic Ravana and Kumbarnaka. When they encountered Rama, they were astounded to observe that their love for him included a physical attraction. Rama, observing this, stated that in this incarnation he was the faithful husband and could not fulfill their desires. However in his next incarnation, they could all enjoy a physical embrace with him. Thus this story, which supports the act of physical love by Krishna, postulates that the sages were reborn as women who came to enjoy their final physical desire before experiencing true Divine Love, which would lead them unerringly to final liberation.
Those who deny this interpretation maintain that Krishna was capable of imparting bliss far superior to physical love and therefore merely took the women directly to the realm of Divine Love.
Krishna's consort is Lakshmi, in the form of his first Queen, Rukmini, who is his power. However, another portion of her shakti is Radha, the shakti of bliss, also called Hladini Shakti. While stories are told about relationship with his married neighbor, Radha, when he was a child, her name does not even appear in the Mahabharata.
Krishna exacts a promise from Uddhava.
Uddhava was Krishna's cousin-brother, that is they were cousins, and Krishna was raised by Uddhava's mother, Yashoda. Towards the end of his life, he told Uddhava and others that he had to leave the body, because the energy of the coming Kili Yuga* was too dense for him to be able to maintain a body. Uddhava and others were astonished and cried out, "Adharma will predominate during Kili Yuga. That is the time we will need you the most." Krishna asked the group, "Since even I cannot manifest a body in the Dark Age, who will come for me to bless the people." Uddhava volunteered to incarnate as an amsha avatar (partial avatar,) which he does regularly, so he is always here to uphold the dharma.
Krishna's Janmasthami (birthday) is celebrated annually in July-August. This year it will be August 3, 4th in the US. Statues of Krishna are placed in wooden chariots and paraded around each temple. There are pujas and other ceremonies all over India and wherever Krishna is worshipped.
*Kaali is time, the Goddess Kaali is the ruler of time (as is Shiva as Kala.) Kili is dark, so the Dark Age is Kili Yuga. The confusion is in transliterating two different Sanskrit letters as the same Roman letter.