Monday, August 22, 2011

What if Christ and Krishna made love?

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

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 (Aug. 22 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 (www.changingworld.com)

“May Loving-Kindness Abound” from Changingworld.com 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:
http://www.galva108.org
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.
http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts




16 comments:

Jayasankar K said...

"Lord Sree Krishna" is the god of Love......."Love" is defined as pure,with out the thought of cupful and it is a dedicated form......God's love is pure divine love and in that there is no form of cupful and other kind of thoughts........."Love" is defined as the pure,with out the form of cupful.......that love is called divine.Love is pure and with out the thought of cupful and that is divine love.don't compare with "Passion","Desire" and "Greed"......"Love" is called divine its pure,and with out the thoughts of cupful...and "Love" is divine when we are eradicate or leave or discard or give up all these thing.then only its caleed "Love" and "Divine "Love".........

KittKatt said...

I have been getting many hateful comments on this post from India lately. Most do not get approved, but I am approving this one because it’s not too negative (unfortunately not too comprehensible either), and I want to give a voice to those who object to the whole idea of Christ and Krishna making love.
Jesus and Krishna seem to be working together to bring a lot more traffic to the Jesus in Love Blog. Thanks to India’s huge population, this post alone has started generating 1,000 hits per week, far more than any other post here.

Michael said...

This is my favorite post so far... I think they would love one another, too.

I've always found Krishna to be really amazing, and as a Shaivite, to me he is an incarnation of God... not unlike Jesus.

I can't put it into words how beautiful the concept is to me, but I'm sure you understand. :P

Anonymous said...

you don't know what are you doing, it would be nice if you remove the post, just don't for generating traffic you post such things. Atleast leave the divine. We humans are always dong this with each other pls let go such thought which reflect the wrong ethics of the society of the western as well as eastern world. There will be some spark that will cause you to bring downg this pic. with LOVE :)

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thanks, Michael, for taking time to put your appreciation into words. I also find the love between Christ and Krishna to be an ineffably beautiful concept. It’s especially good to hear supportive words because this post does generate misunderstanding and hateful anonymous comments that I refuse to publish.

I approve one anonymous comment from someone who apparently wants me to “leave the divine” free of any connection to sexuality. But life itself makes that impossible! Sexuality was created by the Divine, and it is our task as people of faith to find ways to express sexuality in divine ways. We cannot separate sexuality from the divine.

I did not post this to generate traffic to my blog, but… much to my surprise, that has been the effect. This post has become the all-time most popular for the Jesus in Love Blog. It sometimes gets 1,000 page views a week, many of them from India.

Anonymous said...

Lord Krishna is God of Love and taught lesson of Krama and Love through the holy book Srimadbhagwat Geeta. But the defination of love has been misinterprated to gain cheap popularity.

Kittredge Cherry said...

A thought sparked by the latest anonymous comment: What is love?

priya said...

Thank you so much for this lovely picture. i really need a picture of this kind for my family. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Love is not just physical the pictures you post dont not indicate love it just shocks.

talking to each other is also love.

Kittredge Cherry said...

True, love can be expressed by talking to each other, but the point here is to say that physical and even erotic expressions of love can also be sacred.

Another idea behind this post is that leaders of two different religions can respect and love each other -- but many people seem to miss that point. I guess the homoeroticism overpowers everything in the minds of many viewers.

Binary Quantum said...

Sexuality for sure IS created by the Divine, but the Almighty has set some rules for everything.
The Bible clearly mentions the fate of those homosexuals of Sodom, who were doomed with destruction for this sinful act of theirs.
And you are associating such an ghastly abominable act with such exalted personalities as Jesus Christ and Krishna, and calling it LOVE!!! :/

Kittredge Cherry said...

Binary Quantum (cool name!), Scripture does not condemn loving, responsible homosexual relationships. The sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but sexual violence against strangers. There are many resources that fully explain the Bible and homosexuality. Here are a few that I recommend:

http://mccchurch.org/resources/mcc-theologies/

http://christiangays.com/

http://www.gaychurch.org/

Jesus said nothing directly about homosexuality, but he did say, “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

muayboxe said...

Hare Krishna! First and foremost, according to the universal religion applicable for all people and for all time, the Vedic path as summarized in the Bhagvad Gita by Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Himself- who NOT JUST A HINDU GOD!, For KRISHNA IS THE SUPREME LORD OF ALL! okay, Krishna says, the goal of all living entities is to exit this material world once and for all, never return back here, and go back to the Spiritual world or Goloka Vrindavan, back to Krishna. This is the GOAL of all Humans, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not or whatever! Also, to achieve this goal you must know that yiu are not this body!! okay? then understand that your true identity is that you are an individual spirit soul, a servant of Krishna, eternally. Presently we are living in such trying and miserable circumstances in the material world full of inequty, hatrd, ignorance, envy, etc. because, we have forgotten that we belong in the spiritual world with God, Krishna, and not rot in this material world. Coming the point of being gay or lesbian, we ar all living unde the illusion that we ar the'enjoyers' in this world, by thinking oneself male or female. In the true undrstanding of spirituality, we are All FEMALE!! MEANING we are all being enjoyed and are subservient beings, spirit souls of Krishna. So, either you identify yourself as a spiritual servant of Krishna, or identify youself as male, female, gay lesbian, whatever. Krishna or Jesus doesnt care. God, Krishna or Christ wants us ALL to stop our fooling around in the material world, whether as gay or hetero, and go back to the spiritual world, for real and eternity. That's it. Stop thinking about being gay or hetero. WE ARE ALL ONE AND SAME, THAT IS WE ARE ALL ETERNAL SERVANTS OF KRISHNA! REALIZE THIS FACT AND LEAD YOUR LIFE IN BLISS BYCHANTING THE MAHAMANTRA- HARE KRISHNA HARR KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE, HARE RAMA, HAR RAMA, RAMA RAMA HARE HARE! HARIBOL!!!NG.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Well, I wouldn’t like Jesus being referred to as a “Christian God,” so perhaps Krishna is not so much a “Hindu God” as a Hindu name for the supreme deity.

Muayboxe, you raise an interesting point by saying that everyone is really female. It seems to me like a false choice to say “either you identify yourself as a spiritual servant of Krishna, or identify youself as male, female, gay lesbian, whatever.” At least from a Christian perspective, you can be a servant of God AND be male, female, gay, lesbian, etc. Gender and sexuality are part of God’s good creation. The challenge is to express our male/female gay/lesbian selves in a godly way, remembering that as you say the ultimate reality is that we are souls created to love and serve God.

muayboxe said...

Hare Krishna! Am glad you liked some of my words. You know, when you say things like"express our male/female///selves in a godly way..."what it means is that you are identifying yourself with the body you inhabit! Does that make sense to you. Nothing bad or sin in what you think, however, it is not in line with the purpose with which God or Krishna/Jesus created this world for us! According to Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita, and the Srimad Bhagavatam, we are sent to this material world to try to enjoy it snd realize sooner thsn later that, this material world is nothing but a place of misery and that our attempts to make our lives happy and comfortable is futile in the final analysis! So Krishna instructs all mankind to NOT dwell on the realities that we perceive with the BODY and the BODILY relationships and zone-in on the Eternal Spirit Soul- which is you! You are NOT the body with names Tom, Dick, Harry, Male, Female, Gay, Hetero, etc. You are all-blissful spirit soul, part and parcel of Krishna or God, whose only business in life is to Glorify and praise the Eternal Name, Fame, and Activities of Krishna, Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, The Supreme Personality of Godhead! Period. To that end, we all must be matter of-fact about our body, gender, sexual orientation, so called professing of Christianity or Hinduism etc and focus on our Real Goal in Life: Truly understand the Word-Instruction of Krishna, Christ and make concerted efforts to return back to Krishna or God in His Spiritual Kingdom, so we may enjoy eternal spiritual bliss and joy in Gods Kingdom. Pls read the Bhagvad Gita As It is, by Srila Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON, to learn! everything about everything in this world and beyond in to the spiritual world. Krishna explains everything that we may think or doubt or worry or yearn for in this world and gives us PRACTICAL SOULUTIONS TO ACHIEVE RESULTS TO THAT EFFECT! WE ARE NOT MEANT TO KEEP SUFFERING IN THIS MATERIAL WORLD, GAY!LESBIAN!HETERO!BIRD!BEAST!OR INSECT! you may read Bhagvad Gita online as well at: http://vedabase.com/en/bg/18/66
or
www.krishna.com
Hare Krishna! Haribol!

Kittredge Cherry said...

Muayboxe, I appreciate your message of universal spiritual principles and I have taken time to reflect on what you are saying. But on my path to returning to God, I do not want to abandon the gay and lesbian people who do not yet know that they have access to God. I write this to you on the festival of Janmashtami, Krishna’s birthday. Happy Janmashtami!