What does “Krishna” mean?


What does “Krishna” mean?

The meaning is immediately evident to anyone who knows any of the thousands of śāstric statements like “The All-Attractive himself is Krishna” (kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam). It is immediately clear to anyone who has been able to hear Krishna’s glories described by a realized paramparā. It is even immediately obvious to anyone who has heard about Krishna from countless conventional sources. As soon as we hear this name, “Krishna,” the object that immediately becomes manifest in our mind (i.e. the person, Krishna) is the primary meaning of the word. As soon as we pronounce even the first syllable of this name, “Krishna,” our minds immediately comprehend the direct and obvious meaning.

Krishna: (1) His complexion is blue-black like the Tamāla tree, he is breast-fed by Yaśoda, and he is the Supreme Spiritual Substance.” — Nāma Kaumudī

“Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Vaikuṇṭha express the same meaning… Kṛṣṇa is Vasudeva’s son.” — Amara-kośa

Kṛṣ is a word that means ‘existence.’ Ṇa means ‘carefree.’ Taken together, as Kṛṣṇa, they denote the Supreme Spiritual Substance.” — Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣada, Pūrva 1.1

[The above is translated from Tattva-Sandarbha 47.2. Amara Kośa and Gopāla-tāpanī references are given in the commentary of Śrī Satyanārāyaṇa dāsa Bābājī.]

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  1. Further explanation:

    Start with this, from amarkoṣa – that Vaikuṇṭha is also a name for Kṛṣṇa. Then review the meaning of Vaikuṇṭha – it means carefree. (vai means something that is distinct from, and kuṇṭha means anxiety).

    Now look at Gopāl Tāpanī’s explanation. It is showing why Vaikuṇṭha and Kṛṣṇa are both names for the same entity. Kṛṣṇa means carefree too.

    What are both of them referring to? They are both referring to param-brahman (The Supreme Spiritual Substance). The Supreme Spiritual Substance is without any axiety, worry, need, responsibility, etc. It is pure bliss.

    Krishna is the supreme, original entity of pure bliss. This is the denotation.

    “Carefree” is not the only meaning of “Krishna.” Let’s look into it more: Kṛṣ means “existence” because bhū (existence) means, “a cohesive entity.” The more root meaning of kṛṣ is “cohesion” aka “attraction.”

    Ṇa also has several meanings. It’s noted in Gopāl Tāpanī as meaning “carefree” (nivṛtti). Essentially, nivṛtti/carefree means “without effort.” Krishna is sarva-karana-karanam, so he is the “existence without effort.” (This means self-causing, self-sustaining, absolute truth).

    It is not well known, but Monier makes a note of it, that Ṇa also refers to “consciousness.” This is because the only entity that exists “without effort,” as its own cause and the cause of all other things, is consciousness.

    So, another meaning of Kṛṣṇa is “The Magnet of Consciousness” or “All-Attractive” or shall-we-say, “Incredibly HOT” (to use slang), “The Attractor of Consciousness.”

    Another implication is that his beauty is inherent and effortless “The Effortless Attractor.”


    1. Very nice di-section of Krishna’s name. I prefer your older style explanation and to this day am still using it for preaching in Cambodia (Had parts translated)…. I distributed your small booklet on Srila Prabhupada’s book table near my Prasadam cart outside the WTC to many… Here’s your old time writing for your enjoyment………………………………………………………………………………………….

      …who’s Krishna

      “Is Krishna God or something?”

      Krishna is more than God.
      When you say “God,” I think of people fighting and killing each other in Ireland, Jerusalem, India, and everywhere else. When you say “God,” I think of self-righteous fanatics who seem to hate my guts. When you say “God” I think of a stern, bearded old man sitting high on a cold throne, pointing His fearful finger at me.
      When you say “God,” I just don’t think of Krishna- although it’s true that Krishna is the Supreme Personal-conception of God.
      Life is meant for happiness and pleasure. The Supreme Life-form must be the one who enjoys the supreme happiness and pleasure.

      DOUBT: There is no higher power.

      There ain’t? Then why can’t I even stop blinking? If there’s no higher power, that makes me the highest power. If I’m the highest power, I should be able to control my own blinking. But I can’t. I’m not in control.

      We want to stay young, but we get sick. We want to live, but we must die. Clearly we are not certainly higher powers enforcing their authority upon our lives. And far above all these higher powers is one Highest Power. It is obvious to the honest.

      The greatest enjoyment of pleasure and happiness can be during our most intimate relationships. The Supreme Personality is the supreme enjoyer, and thus God must be more than just a builder of universes, a judge of damanation and salvation, a high-and-mighty autocrat. God must ultimately be the supremely loveable target of our most intense and spontaneous affection.
      This is Krishna.


  2. If someone has a little beauty, or some strength, intelligence, or wealth, he or she becomes attractive. Krishna possesses all the attractive features in infinite fullness: beauty, strength, fame, wealth, intelligence, and renunciation. Therefore, He is the all-attractive person.

    When God is without the politics, without the fear, without the formality; when God comes home, takes off His crown and relaxes with his close fiends; when God is supremely lovealbe, supremely intimate, supremely enchanting, and supremely sweet... then God is worthy of the name “Krishna.”

    Prabhu thank-you for this…Hare Krishna


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