Of all the Hindu gods, Krishna is surely a favorite among both the young and the old. Children tend to identify with stories that portray him as a naughty child, often stealing butter and getting into trouble! For many adults, he is well respected as a wise man and a life coach, most of all, for his critical role in counselling the Pandavas (especially Arjun) to victory in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.
Many Hindus all over the world celebrate Lord Krishna’s birth on Janmashtami, which this year will occur on August 14, 2017. Krishna was born on a dark stormy night in the midst of chaos and under the rule of a despotic king who wanted to kill him, despite being his uncle.
On Janmashtami, Hindus typically fast, sing devotional songs and celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna in various ways, including by taking care of a little baby, decorating a pretend baby in a cradle or making tiny footprints in their houses as if Krishna himself came to their houses.
Here are our top five picks to introduce children to Krishna:
Amma Tell me About Krishna Series : This trilogy by Bhakti Mathur is perfect for young children - in rhyming verse, the author tells the entire story of Krishna’s birth, why his uncle Kansa wanted to hurt him, how Krishna was raised by his step mom, Yashodha, and later defeated Lord Kansa. These stories offer wonderful opportunities to teach children many lessons of bravery, resilience and wit. (Picture books, Ages 2-6)
Govardhan Girdhari Jigsaw puzzle (60 piece): One of the most famous stories about Krishna’s fortitude is the story about the young child Krishna lifting the mountain Govardhan to protect all the villagers from the fury of Lord Indra. Frustrated that the downpour had not scared the villagers, King Indra eventually conceded and approached Krishna for an apology for his misbehaviour. This beautiful puzzle depicts Krishna with the mountain lifted on his left hand and held up as an umbrella.
The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna: With stunning illustrations by Demi and simple text, this book makes for a visual and auditory delight. Krishna is portrayed as a relatable character who is naughty and yet bold in the face of danger. A perfect introduction to Krishna for the newbie, this book was highly commended by the South Asia Book Award committee in 2014.(Picture book, Ages 5 and up)
Agha and the Eight Mile Monster :This engaging tale of Krishna’s bravery in conquering an 8 mile long snake and turning him into a playground is sure to delight your pint-sized monster. Bright colorful illustrations and a thrilling story makes this book a great one for read alouds and story times too! Also, see other books by Insight Kids including Krishna and the Mystery of the Stolen Calves and The Littlest Giant. (Picture book, Ages 4 and up)
Krishna Tales: A compendium of Krishna tales, this book would serve as a great reminder of all the famous Krishna stories, including the killing of the demoness Putana, the time when Krishna shows his mother the entire universe in his mouth, Krishna's raising of the Govardhan mountain, his flirting with Radha, and fights with Bakasura. A must-have collection for the Krishna lover in your house! (Chapter book, Ages 4-9)
Check out our top picks for Holi