Growing up in a working class, Tamil-Hindu household in Canada, there were times when I was spiritually confused. My parents would always bring up Hinduism, karma, and the gods when trying to instill moral values in me. From going to schools (as part of the gifted program), where most of my peers came from white-collar households, a lack of older siblings to show me the ropes and run interference, and my parents' cultural baggage, I felt restrained and that I needed to push myself harder just to be on par with everyone else. I looked up to characters like Tony Montana and Nino Brown. They had the power, respect, and freedom. To borrow from Nietzche, those characters represented the Ubermensch and the will to power, while my parents embodied the Last Man.
Late 12-13th century Chola-era bronze statues of Krishna, his consorts, and his mount
It was my curiosity about Tamil history that led me to look into Hinduism more, including the characters and events that inspired the works of art, architectural accomplishments, and empire-building. Despite being an agnostic, I was fascinated by the themes and the complex personalities of the gods. I realized what my parents believed in was based on their interpretation and I also started developing my own interpretations. Other viewpoints on religion, from Carl Sagan to Ancient Aliens, also shaped my outlook. The life story of one god, Lord Krishna, stood out. However, it was in a way that would put Doc Holliday, Al Capone, and Frank Lucas to shame. I realized Lord Krishna was the real OG, and here's why:
1. He was defying the law since he was a kid
When someone's got your back by letting you use their back
From the day he was born, Krishna was wanted dead by Kamsa, the ruler of the Vrishni kingdom. As far as Kamsa was concerned, Krishna posed a lethal threat. Despite having a price on his head, Krishna laid low. Eventually, he dealt with Kamsa permanently (more on that later). Besides being wanted dead by a head of state, Krishna organized heists as a kid, successfully getting his hands on stolen butter.
2. He was straight up pimpin'
When you tell the girls how you put the blue in rhythm & blues
Before there was Snoop Dogg, Dolemite, and Henry VIII, there was Krishna. With just a flute, Krishna was the mack daddy of Vrindavan. His main girl was Raadha, but he was also kickin' it with the other milkmaids (gopis) without breaking a sweat. If anything, he invented the pickup game. Later in his life, Krishna was not content with one wife. Instead, he had eight.
3. He had a tricked out whip
"Heads up!" - Arjuna (citation needed)
Krishna loved to travel in style, even when he was busy making his enemies bleed. The Kurukshetra War was a meatgrinder, with over 3.9 million combatants and only 12 survivors. Instead of opting for something better suited for messy situations, such as a war elephant or a chariot focused on armor, Krishna went with an ornate, gold-plated chariot pulled by at least 4 white horses. With Krishna at the reins, and Arjuna taking point, they were out there cutting down their enemies in style.
4. He was an ice cold killa
One fist, two fist, red fist, blue fist
While other kids were learning to count, Krishna was racking up a body count. He was an infant when he killed Putana, a would-be demon assassin working for Kamsa who tried to poison Krishna with tainted breast milk. Kamsa sent more killers after Krishna only for them to meet their doom. Eventually, a teenaged Krishna confronted Kamsa and proceeded to beat him to death.
"I see the arrow in my ways" - Bhisma (citation needed)
During the Kurukshetra War, Krishna was bound by a vow not to use weapons himself. To take out Bhisma, Krishna used his head and came up with a devious plan to have a transgender person ride in the chariot with a concealed Arjuna. Bhisma, who never took women seriously on the battlefield, let his guard down, allowing Arjuna to shoot him in the back multiple times. Krishna knew that sometimes you have to follow the rules laid out and be ruthless within those constraints.
5. He was a true bro
Anyone familiar with the Bhagavad Gita knows that before the Kurukshetra War, Arjuna was going soft and had reservations on fighting his relatives for the kingdom. It was Krishna that told Arjuna to man up and to fight for what was rightfully his, even if it meant making his enemies (who happen to be his relatives) bleed. Not only did Krishna give some powerful pep talk to strengthen Arjuna's resolve, he was also by Arjuna's side during the war, actively helping Arjuna while putting his own life on the line. Krishna was not one to dissuade friends from standing up for themselves, but is also one not to incite his friends to do risky things while watching from the sidelines.
When it comes to understanding stories and works of writing, including religious works, there is always a degree of interpretation involved. Sometimes, these intepretations would be at odds with each other or with existing norms. Those forming and presenting their interpretations, along with the original authors, may have their own biases and agendas. Some ideas will be promoted and become part of the norm, while other ideas are suppressed. As with everything in life, one can simply accept what is presented to them, or make the effort to explore on their own which is what I'd like to encourage.