Thursday, September 02, 2010

What if Christ and Krishna made love?

Above: “Krishna and Christ,” artist unknown
Below right: “Jesus and Lord Rama” by Alex Donis,

What if Christ met Krishna? They are two of the greatest teachers of love that the world has ever known. Would they speak of love, even make love? We celebrate this delightful possibility today in honor of Krishna’s birthday or Janmashtami (Sept. 2 this year).

"Jesus and Lord Rama" by Alex Donis
Many have noticed the similarities between Christ and the Hindu deity Krishna, but now the two god-men are portrayed as gay lovers in the work of artistic visionaries like artist Alex Donis, whose work appears at right, and poet Brian Day. His poem “Krishna and Jesus in Algonquin Park” is reprinted in full below.

Those who value love, sexuality and interfaith dialogue may find enlightenment by imagining an erotic encounter between Jesus and Krishna.

Like Christ, Krishna is a savior who taught love. Both are believed to be divinely conceived by God and a human woman, making them human AND divine.  Jesus called himself a shepherd and Krishna herded cattle, but both healed the sick, worked miracles and forgave enemies.

One difference between the two is that Jesus is considered celibate in Christian tradition, while Krishna is a fantastic lover who is “all-attractive” to men as well as women. Legends glorify Krishna’s many amorous encounters with all kinds of admirers: female and male, milkmaids and cowboys, human and divine.

A related question is: Did Jesus visit India? Krishna’s worship dates back 3,000 years before the birth of Christ, so they could not have met in the physical world, but it is possible the Jesus did travel to India. One popular theory suggests that Jesus went to India during his “unknown years” between ages 12 and 30, the period that is not documented in the New Testament. There he learned Hindu and Buddhist wisdom that is similar to his teachings in the Bible.

Would sparks fly if these two great teachers of love did meet? Toronto teacher Brian Day writes about their ineffable intimacy in “Krishna and Jesus in Algonquin Park,” a poem from his book “The Daring of Paradise.” The book, which explores the commonalities between multiple religions in a homoerotic way, was  released by Guernica Editions in 2013. Many thanks to Brian for permission to reprint the whole poem below. Algonquin Park is a provincial park in Ontario, Canada.

Another Day poetry book, “Conjuring Jesus,” features homoerotic poems about Christ. His book “Azure” includes “The Love Between Krishna and Jesus,” a poem that begins, “They approach one another with cool flowers of language…”

In a related work, California artist Alex Donis painted a sublime interfaith kiss in “Jesus and Lord Rama.” (Krishna and Rama are both blue-skinned incarnations of Vishnu.) It is part of his “My Cathedral” series of kisses between unlikely same-sex pairs.

The Donis exhibit electrified viewers when it opened in San Francisco in 1997. Heated arguments erupted in the gallery, followed by threatening phone calls and letters, and then physical violence. Vandals threw rocks and traffic barriers through the gallery windows—not once, but twice in three weeks. They smashed two of the artworks: first Jesus and Rama, and then Che Guevara kissing Cesar Chavez. The Christ-Rama image and its harrowing story appear in my book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More. Many thanks to Alex for permission to post the controversial painting here.

Most modern scholars reject the theory that Jesus visited India, but the idea has been explored in many books, including the 19th-century volume “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ” (The Life of Saint Issa) by Nicolas Notovitch and “Jesus Lived in India: His Unknown Life Before and After the Crucifixion” by Holger Kersten. There is even a movie version, “Jesus in India,” based on the book “King of Travelers: Jesus' Lost Years in India” by Edward T. Martin.

A thoughtful analysis of the similarities of Hindu-Christian philosophies is presented in “The Gospel of John in the Light of Indian Mysticism” (Christ the Yogi) by Ravi Ravindra.

Krishna also plays a central role in another Hindu festival that is especially popular with third-gender people. The Aravan Festival, held in April-May in south India, celebrates the marriage of Krishna and the male deity Iravan, considered the patron god of transgender communities. Iravan’s dying wish was to marry, so Krishna granted his wish by switching to his female Mohini female form and wedding him.

The idea of a queer Jesus shocks and offends some traditional Christians, but he can be liberating for LGBT people and our allies. The pansexual Krishna may serve the same purpose among Hindus.

People throughout history have pictured Jesus looking like one of them: black Jesus in Africa, white Jesus in the West, and Jesus who looks Asian or Latin American in those parts of the world. It’s OK to add queer Christ to the mix because he taught love for all and embodied God’s wildly inclusive love for everyone, including sexual minorities. Gay Jesus images are needed now because conservatives are using religious rhetoric to justify discrimination against queer people.

If Jesus and Krishna met, would there be conflict or kisses? Brian Day’s new poem offers a beautiful glimpse into how they might love each other.

Krishna and Jesus
in Algonquin Park
By Brian Day

They hoist their canoe to the lichened rocks
and face the smooth light they’ve paddled across.

Shucking the weight of their pale-coloured clothes
and plunging to the knuckly cupped hand of the lake,

they meet in the green, share their scents with the water,
feel their bodies enlivened with cool liquid sensation,

and turn in the still black waters of their minds.
As they ripple the mirror between world and world,

each sights the stroking phantoms of the other’s limbs,
and touches skin as papery smooth as birch.

They climb the smoothed ladder of rocks at the shore,
their abdomens slick and quick with their breath,

and lie with their backs baked sweet with stone.
Blue and clouds tumble to creation in their eyes.

Leading each other down pine-cooled trails,
the air sultry with blueberry and warm golden grasses,

they step to the island’s needled shade,
and each scents the lake-sweet on the other’s skin.

When evening has come and their hungers are sated,
their senses warmed by the perch where they sit,

their thoughts float calm as loons on the water—
then plunge to surface, later, someplace else.

Their bodies as languid as the swaying of trees,
they listen to the applause of breeze in the aspens,

know the touch of each star as it plays on their skin,
and lie down in the circling of heavens on earth.

Reprinted with permission from the book “The Daring of Paradise,” published by Guernica Editions.) ”

Krishna-like figures are shown in more sexually explicit homoerotic scenes by artist Attila Richard Lukacs. They can be viewed in his “Varieties of Love” series at the following link:

Diane Farris Gallery

Here are other popular images that add Buddha to the mix to depict interfaith friendship at the highest level.

“May Loving-Kindness Abound” by VisionWorks (

“May Loving-Kindness Abound” from shows figures from three religions offering blessings. Jesus holds a lotus blossom as he sits cross-legged between Krishna and Buddha.

Christ, Buddha and Krisha walk together. Artist unknown.

The above image of three religious figures is often posted online with a quote from bisexual spiritual teacher Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

For more info on Krishna and other Hindu deities who transcend sexual and gender norms, visit the Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association at:
The GALVA website is packed with fascinating material on Hindu saints and deities who embody the full spectrum of gender and sexual diversity, including but not limited to LGBTQ and “third sex.”

“The Love Between Krishna and Jesus” by Brian Day is reprinted in a previous version of this post and in his book “Azure.”

Related book:
Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex: Understanding Homosexuality, Transgender Identity, And Intersex Conditions Through Hinduism” by Amara Das Wilhelm.

Does anybody know who created the picture of Krishna and Christ at the top of this post? Or the one of Christ, Buddha and Jesus walking together. They are all over the Internet, but I haven’t been able to identify the artists. I would love to honor the artists by name.

Thanks to Mario Gonzalez for the tip about images.

This post is part of the LGBT Saints and Queer Christ series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year. The queer Christ series gathers together visions presented by artists, writers, theologians and others.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts


Rollan McCleary said...

What's getting overlooked here is there's every reason to suppose that Krishna - note the similarity to the Christ name - is simply part of an Indianization and Hinduizing of the original gospel story. The Thomist church was early founded in India and the great days of Krishna cult were medieval and arose after elements of the gospel story had permeated the surrounding culture. (I was unaware and incidentally interested to see Krishna was given a September birth - I am one of those who argues strongly there is evidence for just that for Jesus.

The other thing overlooked is the element of potential idolatry here. Either one believes there is one God or there are many, (or perhaps like Buddhism that there are no gods, only something that appears like them). Interfaith dialogue tends to overlook this.
The very earliest Christians like Justin Martyr regarded the gods of the Roman empire as little better than covers for demons distracting sight from the true God. It's unlikely they would have thought much different with regard to the vast array of Hindu deities of which Krishna is only one and a considerably commposite one. In India Thomas was said to have been slain by priests of the goddess Kali. It was for not sacrificing to the gods that many of the early Christians were martyred. So, we need to think.

KittKatt said...

Yes, I did gloss over the idea that Krishna and Christ were one because I was focusing on the homoerotic themes. The concept that Krishna and Christ and one is more common than the idea of them as lovers. There are actually many more similarities than those I listed in this post. Some say that Jesus went to India before beginning his ministry as recorded in the Bible, and that led to the stories of Krishna. However, the legend of Krishna seems to pre-date Jesus, at least according to some scholars.

Krishna’s birthday is a “movable feast” in Hinduism, falling in August or September. Interesting to think that Jesus was born in September… That makes him Virgo (the Virgin), right? Sounds rather celibate!

It’s always good to remember the dangers of idolatry. I was thinking of that when I posted this piece. As soon as we humans create an image of the divine, it immediately is only partially true and falls short of the All that is God. But I see value in creating multiple images of God to try to connect with some of God’s infinite dimensions.

Rollan, you wrote, “Either one believes there is one God or there are many.” But it gets rather confusing with the Trinity, doesn’t it?

Rollan McCleary said...

Re Jesus and Virgo, a good few years ago I read a study, a statistical one of sorts from California, which claimed that Virgo is the most gay of the signs (popularly we might imagine Aquarius for being "different"). In the ancient world Virgo was the sign of slavery and thus of sex slavery and prostitution and the whore goddesses. So no, there never was any special identity of the sign with celibacy, though there certainly is and was with a degree of wanting to be alone (like Greta Garbo1) and being independent of others in a way that can delay relationship or help make it one between younger and older.

Re polytheism and Trinity, a big question. Polytheism mostly personifies the variety of energies of nature and/or personality both. The Trinity is very different from this. It is less a matter of imagination than revelation and it is like three interpenetrating lights and modes of One character involved with Love which is intrinsically creative.

I do address this difficult question of doctrine and experience in my "Cosmic Father: Spirituality as Relationship" (available Amazon) and in what I am presently writing. In "Cosmic" I do controversially propose, including from experience, that the three have different functions, spheres of interest and "voices". Although I disagree with her on many things, the controversial Hebrew scholar Margaret Barker is importantly breaking down ideas that the Jewish monotheism was ever quite as absolute as some have maintained and that the Christian Trinity was a complete Christian innovation. She speaks of Yahweh as Israel's "Second God", a sort of proto God the Son to El the Father. It's a big subject. Too much for here but worth pursuing.

Riverwolf, said...

Thanks for sharing the images and links!

KittKatt said...

I added another intriguing link to my original post. Krishna-like men in beautiful homoerotic scenes have been painted by artist Attila Richard Lukacs. They can be viewed in his “Varieties of Love” series at the following link. Warning: these are more sexually explicit

Diane Farris Gallery

Riverwolf, it’s good to hear from you again after a period of silence. I’m glad you’re still coming here to enjoy the views.

Rollan, thanks for more details about Virgo characteristics and about the Trinity versus polytheism. It’s interesting that you find Jesus’ horoscope to place him with the whore goddesses. Please recommend which of your books explores this theme most completely.

As for the Trinity… Whether a concept is “imagination” or “revelation” may be, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder… at least for a while. Jesus said “by your fruits you will know them,” meaning that the fruits/ results of an idea will eventually prove whether it is worthy and true.

Madeleine said...


On my blog (in french, sorry), I show that Jesus was a woman: Mary Magdalene ;-)


Rev. Dr. Joan M. Saniuk said...

The thought brings a smile to my face! The Indian restaurant in my neighborhood has many pictures of Krishna flirting with women. The ol' blue "cowboy" is completely charming and completely irresistible. So I'm sure he could have had ANYONE he wanted.

KittKatt said...

Madeleine, your blog is a beautiful celebration of the divine feminine! The art is lovely and I am intrigued by the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene are the same person. I’ve heard many theories about Mary Magdalene before, but not that one! I plan to return again to see and read more.

Click here for a link to Madeleine’s blog with automated translation to English.

Joan, I’m smiling along with you. Others have also told me that they were intrigued by the idea that Krishna was “all attractive” to both sexes. In the LGBT community we might focus on people being attracted to both genders, but rarely talk about people being attractive TO both genders. Funny how our connection to various cultures and religions is shaped by restaurant experiences!

Anonymous said...

@Rolan McCleary
I'm no Hare Krishna, but you're off the picture here, the Krishna movement and Vaishnavism pre-date the birth of Christ by a long shot my friend. Surely the Christians would have made the link a long time ago! Most significantly however is the fact that Krishna's followers are monists, and as such they would openly tell you that "Christ IS Krishna" - they make no secret of it!

Kittredge Cherry said...

The poetry and art that imagine love between Christ and Krishna are not about historical fact, but about spiritual truth… the union of loving essences from two religious traditions.

Anonymous said...

The real relationship between them is is father and son
Bhagwad gita- Chapter 14 verse 4
"It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kuntī, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father."
From Jesus John 14:28-31
"If you really loved me you would be glad to hear that I am on my way to my Father. My Father has the greater power than I. The world must be convinced that I love the Father and act only as the father commands me to act."