While Krishna appears as a full grown man in the Mahabharata, later texts furnished him with a childhood full of adventures, where he kills demons with superhuman powers. Others created thousands of gopini with whom Krishna flirts and dances. In the 12th century, the poem Gita Govinda introduced Radha as a heroine, after which Radha-Krishna became a symbol of romantic love. Krishna is therefore revered today in all these forms: a teacher and philosopher, but also as a mischievous child and ardent lover.
The lover-boy image of Krishna seems contradictory, especially since traditional followers of Krishna are among the most austere sects in Hinduism, Vaishnavism. And yet, the most romantic and sensual Hindu scriptures are based on the frolics of Krishna with married gopinis. Why a deity is allowed — even celebrated — for having multiple romantic attachments is a question often raised today with retroactive judgement.
Krishna devotees see his intimacy with older women as spiritual, not physical. “Krishna is not a playboy. He is a god, not a human, and he took thousands of forms so that he could be with all the women simultaneously and give them happiness. Their union was not physical but spiritual,” explains Sucharu Mata of ISKCON Nepal.
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