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. 10 this year).
|"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. Each had a carpenter as his adoptive father. 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.
Would sparks fly if these two great teachers of love met? Toronto poet Brian Day writes about their ineffable intimacy a poem that begins, “They approach one another with cool flowers of language…” Many thanks to Brian for permission to reprint the whole poem below. It also appears in “Azure,” a book of Day’s poetry published by Guernica Editions.
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.
The idea of a queer Jesus shocks and offends some traditional Christians, but he can be liberating for LGBT people and our allies. The bisexual 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 poem offers a beautiful glimpse into how they might love each other.
Krishna and Jesus
They approach one another with cool flowers of language,
move their mouths in the gorgeous recitation of beauty;
speak with the unpenned poetry of scripture,
the memory behind words of the blue walks of heaven.
After rage at armies and amassers of money,
each shows the other his friendly form,
withdraws from the gaping ground of his battles
to the secluded pool of nakedness and bathing;
eases to a heart as capacious as his own,
awakes the faint world with fresh adoration.
Hands trace over skin as sure sacred text,
ponder as patiently, savour as deep.
These princes of devotion, co-creators of love,
make themselves love on the plane of their skin,
blurring their words to a once-fused language,
their forms to one sinuous glistening of delight.
They meld themselves to this moist skin and strength,
retuning their limbs to the bright keys of heaven:
agape that these bodies bred from stars
could harbour such awe at the pouring of pleasure:
at skin newly lit and expansive as sky,
at the quick touch of wonder in a night of such eyes.
Krishna has blossomed as the season of flowers
and Jesus the fig tree now heavy with bloom.
They meet as the alpha and snake tail of time,
the clasp that unites bright intimate worlds.
Reprinted with permission from the book “Azure,” 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
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 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and “third sex.”
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