Lord Krishna: Born blue, named ‘black’

Shree Krishna

An 18th century painting of blue Lord Krishna, surrounded by Gopinis and Gwalas, at the Bhaktapur Museum, Nepal. . 

Dissecting Shree Krishna’s birth chart. With prime focus on his romantic life, and what made him playboy par excellence ;) #krishnabirthday

Yesterday, I had started doing retrospective analysis of Lord Krishna’s birth chart. Saying my prime focus would be on his romantic life and what made him playboy par excellence, I was thinking of posting a blog on the astrological readings by today evening.

But I went adrift, nay, to another direction, at midnight on the eve of Krishna Janmaashtami — the super human’s birth anniversary. Subsequently, I got engaged in a Facebook conversation on his complexion and name viz. Krishna (कृष्ण), meaning black in Sanskrit.

My argument is he was born blue and named Krishna. His another name is Shyama (श्याम), which also suggests that the names were awarded after his (dark) complexion.

And, I ended up writing this blog (this evening).

Finding out the evidences supportive to my argument was an easier said than done job. I had to turn the pages of voluminous treatise of Shreemad Bhagawat Purana, and struggle to understand the verses in Sanskrit. I even sought my dad’s help to find the appropriate chapters and to comprehend the verses.

Luckily, the soft copy in English helped me find the verses of interest in the Dashama and Ekadasha Skandhas (10th and 11th cantos).

Though named Krishna, all the classical murals and paintings available today portray him in blue colour. And, believe me, that is on a par with the classical texts and legends.

Yes,  Krishna was (born) blue.  Shreemad Bhagawat Purana says so.

The 27th verse in the 5th Chapter of 11th Canto says that Vishnu’s avatara in Dwapara Yuga would be gray blue (Shyama), and the Bhagawan would wear yellow garments, and brandish his aayudhas (implements) — shankha (conch),  chakra (disc), gada (club) and padma (lotus).

With my basic understanding of human anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, what I know is the pigment called melanin gives (dark) colouration to the skin. But certainly it was not melanin that made Krishna blue.


I believe he suffered from some sort of congenital cyanosis or a heart condition that  circulated less oxygen-concentrated or deoxygenated blood in his arteries and veins. Consequently, the level of carbon dioxide in blood would give the bluish colouration.
Also, it is likely that he suffered from abnormal Red Blood Cells with less oxygen-binding capacity.

No doubt, whatever condition it was, it was rare and benign one.

Otherwise, Krishna would not live for 125 years. (The 25th verse of Chapter 6, Canto 11 says that 125 autumns passed during Krishna’s life. )

Interestingly, classical literature puts his age at 90 when the Mahabharata war was waged.

Maybe modern scientists and physiologists can shed light on this, if they are convinced that Krishna existed and he was blue.

READ ALSOBhagwan ShreeKrishna: Personality sui generis

Another tweet

He suffered from congenital cyanonsis; deoxygenated blood circulated in his body. That is why he was born blue, and named #Krishna :)

 **I’d misspelt cyanosis in the tweet.

UPDATE I, Aug 29
Shyama in Sankrit and Cyan in English (roots in Greek) sound similar, and they indicate colour blue. A mere coincidence?

I got a query on Facebook: What word is used, exactly, to describe the gray blue?

I am adding the reply here also:

द्वापरे भगवाञ्छ्याम: पीतवासा निजायुध: ।
श्रीवत्सादिभिरङ्कैश्च लक्षणैरूपलक्षित: ।।

Meaning: In Dwapara, the Bhagwan will be Shyama (gray blue), yellow-clad, with his implements and having body marks like Shreevatsa…

The preceding shlokas talk about the complexion of Vishnu avataras in Satya and Treta yugas.

Now, one may argue that Shyama and Krishna both mean black.

Though used synonymously, they have slightly different meanings. Shyama is ‘bluish’ and Krishna black (=dark). Moreover, the words may have other symbolic and metaphoric meanings.** 

I am sure available standard Sanskrit dictionaries differentiate the ‘colour-ful’ meanings.

Btw, CYAN and SHYAM not only sound similar but also give similar meaning. A mere coincidence?

** According to Swami Prabhupada, the semantic derivation of word Krishna (Krish+na) suggests many meanings.
1. Krish=Attraction, Na= Bliss
2. Krish=Existence, Na=nay (to death-and-birth cycle)

(12:52 a.m. August 30)

Furthermore, I found another mention of BLUE complexion in the 13th verse of 28th Chapter in 3rd Canto.

“He looks like petals of blue lotus”


प्रसन्नवदनाम्भोजं पद्मगर्भारुणेक्षणम्
नीलोत्पलदलश्यामं शङ्खचक्रगदाधरम् ।

This shloka describes how Krishna looks like.

Apropos to his complexion, it clearly says he looked like the petals (दल) of Neelotpala (नीलोत्पल) i.e. blue lotus.

(Neela means blue and Utpala lotus in Sanskrit. Shiva who consumed KaalaKuta, the strongest poison, and turned his throat blue is named Neelakantha.)

There could be more evidences in Shreemad Bhagawat itself.

I will gradually add up what I come across.


5 comments on “Lord Krishna: Born blue, named ‘black’

  1. well, yes, i know i!, the “black skinned” taboo! So (as the west ideology says: “let us try to find another way to explain the simplest things in our way, since we are the model to the world and for everything in whole the universe”.) How this “black skinned” could provoke such beauty’s desire?

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