Today is Janmashtami or Gokulastami – the day Lord Krishna was born. The Hindu deity is revered by millions all over the world and his tales recited even to children. Janmashtami is the day Bal Krishna is worshipped or Krishna in his infant form is worshipped. A naughty baby who would exasperate his mother no end, Krishna has been a charmer since childhood and known to win the hearts of everyone he meets. A statue of baby Krishna is placed in a swing decorated with flowers and soft pillows with richly decorated cushions and women folk sing to him, offer him sweets and pray to him on this day. The festival is celebrated with much pomp and splendour all over India and crowds of people throng Krishna temples to worship the dark Lord.

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Krishna is said to have been born 5200 years ago and he is the most popular and also the most powerful incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is said to have been born to free the Earth from all evil. Cursed that he could never be a king, Krishna is responsible for the making of kings and their empires. His ready-wit, his cunning and at times even his manipulation is a lesson of learning for people. Dark as the night, Krishna (Krsna) is named so as his name means ‘dark’. His discourse with Arjuna, the third Pandava just before the war of Mahabharata gave the Hindus one of their most sacred texts, the Bhagvad Gita. Dressed in a yellow loin-cloth, with a flute to his lips, standing with one leg crossed over the other at the ankles, Lord Krishna is compassionate, all-knowing and the embodiment of Dharma or righteousness.

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While the Lord wears many ornaments, his constant accessory is a peacock feather in his hair. Have you ever wondered why Lord Krishna wears a peacock feather? Does the feather have some deeper meaning or significance? And why only a peacock feather? Why not any other feather or some ornament? There have been many tales surrounding the reason Lord Krishna wears a peacock feather. Let’s take a look at some of them:

1. A symbol of purity

Lord Krishna had mainly 8 wives known as the Ashtabharya and had 16,000 junior wives with whom, he did not share any marital relations. Also, Krishna is known to be the Askalitha Brahmacharya, one who is eternally a Brahmacharya as despite being married his aim was never any sensual pleasures and only the betterment of the world. Thus, Krishna is considered to be completely pure and free from any sensual desire. Peacocks in India are considered to be a symbol of purity. There is a mythological belief (albeit false) that peacocks do not use sex for reproduction but rather, the peahen drinks the tears of the peacock to conceive. Thus, Krishna is as pure as a peacock and that is what the feather signifies.

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2. The colour of nature

A peacock feather is said to have all the 7 colours of nature and it appears bluish in the day and black at night. Ether, which covers all of us also appears blue by daytime and black by night. Lord Krishna, also called the dark skinned one is represented by both these colours. Thus, Krishna wears the peacock which symbolises the entire range of colours humans are made of and that each one of us a part of the almighty. As God, he is formless but to mortals, he appears Blue by day and Black by night, making him just like a peacock feather.

3. His love for dance

There’s a story that says that once, Lord Krishna decided to play the flue in the forest. So melodious was his music that the peacocks were enamoured and began to dance with him. All beings of the forest were completely spell bound. The peacocks danced till they grew tired but Lord Krishna went on dancing for days. Finally, when he stopped dancing, the spell was broken. But the peacocks were so full of happiness and gratitude that the king of peacocks went up to Lord Krishna and as gratitude, asked him to accept him feathers as they were his most prized possession. He dropped some feathers on the ground and Lord Krishna accepted his humble offering. Since then, Lord Krishna always wears a peacock feather in his hair.

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Image Credit:

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4. The rain God

Peacocks love rain and dance during the monsoons. The sight of a sky completely covered by dark clouds is enjoyed by them and makes them happy. Similarly, Krishna being dark-skinned resembles the dark, rain-heavy clouds. When the peacocks see Lord Krishna, he reminds them of rain and thus, makes them very happy. Also, his music coupled with his dark skin helps them dance better. thus as gratitude, they offer him their feathers which he happily accepts and places in his hair.

While these are some of the most popular concepts, there is also the concept of Maya or Illusion that is promoted. According to a Quora user, this is why Krishna wears a peacock feather in his hair:

“The main teaching of Lord Krishna is that our whole life and the whole manifested universe is His ‘Maya’. He continuously tells His great disciple Arjuna to realize His presence underlying seemingly unrelated events and various living organisms populating the universe.

Even though Lord Krishna also manifested inside His own ‘Maya’, He was never controlled or disturbed by its powers.

The feathers of peacock exemplify Lord’s Maya in a manner which human mind can try to grasp. The brilliant colors of peacock do not arise from the correspondingly colored pigments. Instead, they arise from the phenomenon called ‘structural coloration’. The light waves entering the different thickness of keratin layers on peacock feathers get out of phase and undergo interference. The resulting light wave patterns give the beautiful play of colors which the human eyes see. The ‘actual’ color is just deep brown pigment which occurs in the background of these keratin layers.

Thus, Lord Krishna wears a brilliant example of His own Maya in His crown and stimulates our intelligence to understand the fact that the whole universe is a diverse manifestation of one single divinity. Thus, we are also supposed to understand the nature of Maya continuously during our life so that we do not get carried away and suffer due to its influence. If we also start wearing this idea in our mind, like Krishna wears its symbolically in His crown, then we can also enjoy this life in the manner Lord Krishna wants us to live.

However, only the divine being Himself can fully know His intentions.”

Which of these theories do you think is the correct one? Or do you know of some other tale? Let us know in comments!