Of all things that are blue, Krishna (The beautiful god from India) stands out. Krishna is not only an incarnation of Vishnu but also a God of his own, the most popular of all gods. He is also a hero in many myths and is portrayed as a lover, warrior and king. His skin color is called shyam, which is similar to when the sun shines through the monsoon clouds, and a black-blue color appears. In art, Krishna appears in several guises. He can sometimes be seen: as a vicious and chubby child or as a sensual youth. He is also the great hero who defeats Kamsa’s evil demons in full class.
With Janmashtami (the birthday of Lord Krishna) just having been celebrated, the photo of Lord Krishna, in his full glory in blue skin can be seen all over the net. He is unmissable with a peacock feathers on his head and one hand holding a flute.
One thing that has always fascinated me, of all things that are blue, is the blue color of Lord Krishna’s skin. A lot of us would have wondered why his skin looked so different from ours.
Religiously, there have been multiple explanations for the same. According to religion, things that are blue (especially skin) signifies a spiritual aura. Mythology states that Lord Krishna drank poisoned milk given by Poothana the demoness and hence his skin turned blue. There are other stories which reveal that when he entered the river to vanquish the serpent king Kalinga, his skin turned blue due to the snake’s venom. In Sanskrit, the term Krishna means dark or black. Some others state that Krishna means ‘all attractive’.
As per Hindu religion, things that are blue are symbols of the infinite and something that cannot be measured – like the blue sky, the blue ocean etc.
While most of us have revelled in these stories, the question has time and again surfaced – is there a scientific explanation for the blue color of Lord Krishna’s skin?
Scientifically or rather medically there is a disorder than can result into your skin turning blue. This condition is called methemoglobinemia. This is a condition where haemoglobin in blood (which is primarily responsible for distributing oxygen throughout the body) is unable to function correctly and is unable to release oxygen to all body tissues. The blood running through the body does not get enough oxygen. As a result of this, the skin appears tinged with blue color. A regular functioning human body has around 1 percent of methaemoglobin. However, when this increases to more than 10 percent, our skin gets a bluish tinge. This is a very rare disorder. This condition may be hereditary and be passed down over generations.
This condition can also be caused due to exposure to specific drugs. Water contaminated with uranium and thus resulting in uranium toxicity can also lead to blue skin. We actually had cases in Punjab in 2009. The drastic increase in the use of chemical fertilizers in fields; there was a sudden increase in what was called the Blue Baby Syndrome. There were also similar cases in villages in Bulgaria and Romania that had sanitisation issues and hence the concentrate of nitrates was very high in their ground water.
Now whether Lord Krishna had a skin condition or if he was exposed to contaminated ground water, is something that does not have an answer yet.
Other alternate theories…
Let us look at other theories as to why Lord Krishna is always portrayed as one having blue skin.
Science states that we all exist in the form of energy. We are all energy in one form or the other. Furthermore, every living being emits an aura. An aura is nothing but a circle or field of energy which surrounds the body of the emitter. This aura is of a specific color.
The color spectrum states that all things that are blue or the blue color in itself is a cool and calm color. It produces a calming, soothing and relaxing effect. It is said that a person with blue aura reflects both self-awareness as well as immense intelligence. The mere presence of this person can be both soothing as well as impressive. It is also said that the blue aura is connected with the 5th body chakra which is the throat chakra. People having a blue aura usually have excellent oratory skills and express themselves very clearly.
Connecting this back to the religious scripture of the Mahabharata, in the battle of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna provides a detailed explanation of the significance of the battle. He guides Arjuna to fight for Dharma even if it means raising arms against his near and dear ones. This entire chapter emphasizes and reiterates Lord Krishna’s excellent and impressive explanation and expression skills. The Mahabharata is one of the episodes from Lord Krishna’s life which talks about his sense of justice, duty and truth. His mere presence is soothing as well as impressive as indicated in multiple instances during the course of the Mahabharata.
Hence many have argued the theory that Lord Krishna’s skin is not really blue in color, but he actually manifests a blue colored aura always. His aura is so powerful and such a deep blue that his skin always appears blue. Lord Krishna is considered to be the universe – encompassing all. He is the never-ending sky and the deepest of oceans. His blue aura is said to be a reflection and depiction of this all-inclusive vastness.
Hinduism also has many scientific and cosmic aspects. There are multiple theories that talk about the presence of a parallel universe. In such a parallel universe, the atomic matter is radiant and bluish black in color. One main example of this matter is the super big black hole that has a singularity in terms of gravitation. These bodies that are a part of infinity are much ahead of their space-time. This black hole is the center of the entire galaxy. The solar system and multitudes of other galaxies are said to revolve around this black hole. This black hole is the master and is essential for creation, preservation and destruction of anything and everything.
The famous Relativity Theory by Albert Einstein circles this aspect where he shows that time and space are intricately intertwined. The bigger an object, the more it warps the surrounding space. In effect it contributes to the theory that states that one day, everything will collapse and fold into this dark infinity hole. What amazes and frustrates scientists and continues to puzzle them is that something so massive and powerful actually takes up zero space.
Now according to Hinduism, this dark black hole is nothing but Vaikuntha Or Vishnu – Nabi, which is the abode of Lord Vishnu, who reincarnated as Lord Krishna. This is the center of the galaxy. Among the Trimurti Gods of the Hindus, Lord Vishnu is considered the Nurturer (Lord Brahma is the Creator while Lord Shiva is the Destroyer.)
It is He who is the supreme nurturer and holds powers to transform the entire universe into nothingness and create entire worlds out of nothingness. He is seen as the divine who safeguards justice in both humans as well as Gods. He is said to mediate disagreements and is gentle in nature.
Lord Vishnu is said to be omnipresent. He is attributed the blue color as he is vast like the blue sky and the blue ocean. He is supposed to be infinite and the blue color resembles this.
As Swami Vivekanand put it – Lord Vishnu is the God of infinite love. The law of nature is that anything infinite is associated with blue color. For example – if you take a palmful of water from the ocean, it is colorless, yet the ocean is deep and blue and infinite.
Of all his reincarnations, Lord Krishna is the only one who was aware of his supernatural powers from his childhood. Hence Lord Krishna is very often considered as an equal of Lord Vishnu instead of his reincarnation only. Thereby his skin appears bluish-black in color.
Another theory to explain the same states that as far as the color black is concerned, it is not a color as per the color spectrum. It is something that absorbs all visible colors but reflects nothing back. Similarly, Lord Krishna as the nurtured, is said to absorb all the negativities and reflect none of them back on the earth. Hence, he appears dark and his skin appears blue.
Another very interesting factor is that the color blue is said to be the mid path for the color black and white. Blue is in between black and white and said to be a neutral force that balances the black (evil) and white (good) forces.
There are many such theories that explain the infinite nature attributed to all things blue and in parallel try to explain why Lord Krishna’s skin is blue in color.
As of today, it is still heavily debatable, and people believe what they want to believe.