Above: “Krishna and Christ,” artist unknown
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? This delightful possibility is considered here today in honor of Krishna’s birthday or Janmashtami (Aug. 16, 2014).
|"Jesus and Lord Rama" by Alex Donis|
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
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:
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.”
“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.
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