THE MA­HAB­HARATA IS TRA­DI­TION­ALLY CON­SID­ERED IN­AUS­PI­CIOUS BE­CAUSE IT DEALS WITH BLOOD­SHED AND THE BREAK-UP OF A FAM­ILY

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( poorna- avatar), the most per­fect per­sonal man­i­fes­ta­tion ( sa­guna

brah­man) of the im­per­sonal di­vine ( nir­guna brah­man).

So, for many devo­tees, Kr­ishna’s heaven of Goloka stands higher than Vishnu’s heaven of Vaikun­tha. Vaikun­tha is lo­cated in the ocean of milk, but all this milk comes from the ud­ders of cows lo­cated in Goloka. These cows vol­un­tar­ily re­lease their milk be­cause they are so moved by the mu­sic of Kr­ishna who, in­spired by the beauty and love

In Tamil Nadu, Kr­ishna is rarely dis­tin­guished from Vishnu. He in­spired the col­lec­tive of po­ets known as Al­vars. In Ker­ala, about 400 years ago, the San­skrit po­etry known as Narayaniyum was com­posed. It tells the story of the Bha­ga­vata Pu­rana in a very short form and it is pop­u­lar in the Gu­ru­vayur tem­ple. North In­dia is com­pletely un­aware of these tra­di­tions.

In South East Asian coun­tries like Cam­bo­dia, Kr­ishna is heroic. He wres­tles and de­feats demons, but there are no ref­er­ences to his pas­toral roots.

So the Kr­ishna who be­came pop­u­lar in South East Asia over 1,000 years ago is Va­sudev Kr­ishna of the Ma­hab­harata, not Gopal Kr­ishna of the Bha­ga­vata. Kr­ishna is thus very dif­fer­ent when seen through the lens of ge­og­ra­phy, as he is when seen through the lens of his­tory.

Udupi Kr­ishna with churn­ing staff

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