Question: I read all the stories about Krishna but can’t tie the images in my heart with most of the images people seem to paint. I thought that Krishna doesn’t age beyond 14, and Rādhā too. So why does everyone paint them like adults with so many curves and sexy looks?

Krishna and his Gopīs manifest themselves as fully blossomed youths. They are “nava-yauvana,” “nitya-kiśor.” This means they are exactly on the border between adolescence and youth. In Sanskrit, youth (yuvana) begins and adolescence (kiśor) ends at 16. So they manifest themselves as “16-year-olds,” eternally.

This is a little misleading because our modern culture in many ways postpones emotional development due to the extensive schooling we put ourselves through, thus “16” describes something that feels a bit younger to us than is actually the case with Rādhā and Krishna. It’s also misleading because Sanskrit literature acknowledges the phenomenon that not every human being matures at the same rate, and generally, more exceptional individuals mature faster. They say the maximum maturity rate for the most exceptional individuals is about 150% of the norm, and they say that Krishna and his associates mature at this maximum rate. This means that when Krishna had only been 8 years into his manifestation on Earth, he had already mentally and physically matured to the equivalent of a contemporary 12 year old (which, again, is still older than it sounds to us in our modern concept of age).

So, when they describe Krishna as eternally manifesting the age of 16, we should know that this is equivalent to what we would probably experience as being someone in his “early-mid-twenties.”

Why?

Because 16-24 is the ideal age for romance!

What’s so important about romance?

Romance is the most intense form of love, because it includes all other forms of love, but surpasses them all in intimacy.

Love is the essence of joy, and joy is the meaning of life – the essence of why consciousness even exists. ānanda-maya. 

So, Krishna and Rādhā naturally manifest at the ideal age for relishing their divine romance to the fullest. And that is why artists throughout the centuries have rightly depicted them in romantic, curvy, voluptuous shapes, with wanton, love-laden, flirtatious glances and poses.

Some modern cartoons depict Krishna as very, very young. Take “Little Krishna, Darling of Vṛndāvana” for example. This is because these cartoons are mostly aimed at children. They are inaccurate, and are very shy about Krishna’s romantic nature – preferring to depict him more as an intelligent hero whose most eyebrow raising moments are simply childhood mischief. This is a very child-proof version of the Supreme Absolute Enjoyer of Existence – Śrī Krishna! The traditional, racy paintings are more in line with how ancient and classical Sanskrit and Bengali literature actually describes Rādhā and Krishna.

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