Krishna Charitra

Krishna Charitra

Product ID: 28410

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Author: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
Translator(s)/ Editors(s): Alo Shome
Publisher: Pustak Mahal
Year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 207
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788122310351


Krishna Charitra is a famous Bengali classic where Bankim Chandra endeavors to discover Sri Krishna, the real person, behind centuries of myths and legends.

Written in 1886, this was the first instance where the character of Krishna is studied from a pragmatic and questioning perspective. Like his novel Ananda Math, Krishna Charitra originates from Bankim Chandra's passionate feeling of patriotism.

He wanted to uphold Sri Krishna as not just a mythological figure, but an ideal Indian character, whom other Indians could look up to. Sri Aurobindo says, “Bankim Chandra poured over the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas striving to catch the deeper and sacred sense of those profound writings. To give that to his countrymen was the strenuous aim of Krishna Charitra.”

In this translation of Krishna Charitra, several passages of Bankim's academic discussions have been omitted, so as to make it easier for the common reader. Also deleted are the criticisms on the European people that Bankim Chandra includes in his book from time to time. Otherwise, the text strictly follows the structure and the content of the original dissertation.


Born in 1945, Alo Shome graduated from Gauhati University as a merit scholar. Besides her graduation in English Literature, she has a diploma in journalism from The British Institute and a diploma in creative writing from Indira Gandhi National Open University. Her writings have appeared in various magazines, newspapers and websites including Femina, Eve's Weekly, Indian Express, Amrita Bazar Patrika, Maharashtra Herald and Deccan Herald. Her long work on wildlife conservation was serialised in Sanctuary Cub magazine from January 1992 to March 1993. She has also published two volumes of poems and has won an Editors' Choice Award from The International Library of Poetry. For the past five years, Alo is engaged in the study of Indian mythology, especially focusing on the myths and characters of the Mahabharata. Besides Krishna Charitra, she has translated Bankim Chandra's work on “Vaishnava Symbolism”, Babaji Gaurdasa's Alms Bag and his essay on “Sri Krishna in Literature”. Currently, she is collecting material for her article “Was Kunti really the mother of Karna?”


There is no higher religion or nobler way of life than that preached by Krishna; Krishna is holiness himself. He was full of compassion and lived only for the sake of justice. He desired nothing for himself.
--- Bankim Chandra on Lord Krishna

The establishment of Krishna's divinity is not the aim of this book. It is the discussion of his human nature which is my intention. I myself believe in his divinity; that faith, too, I have not concealed. But I have taken no pains for persuading the reader to subscribe to that belief.
--- Bankim Chandra on Krishna Charitra


Life and Personality of Bankim Chandra
Introduction to Bankim Chandra’s Krishna Charitra
Section I – The Beginning
The Purpose of My Work
How to Find the Real Krishna
The Mahabharata from Historical Point of View
The Pandavas
Interpolations and Distortions in the Mahabharata
The Unnatural and the Supernatural in the Mahabharata
Section II – Vrindavana
Yaduvansha (Sri Krishna’s Ancestry)
Sri Krishna’s Birth
Sri Krishna’s Childhood
Sri Krishna’s Adolescence
The Gopis of Vraja
Sri Radha
Closing of Vrindavana Lila
Section III – Mathura to Dwaraka
The Slaying of Kansa
Sri Krishna’s Education
Life in Dwaraka
Sri Krishna’s Consorts
Section IV – Indraprastha
Draupadi’s Swayamvara
Report of Krishna’s Meeting with Yudhisthira
The Harana of Subhadra
Fire in the Khandava Forest
Krishna, the Humanitarian
Krishna’s Advice to Kill Jarasandha
Account of Krishna’s Meeting with Jarasandha
The Duel of Bhima and Jarasandha
The Ritual of Honouring the Best Person in the Assembly
The Slaying of Shishupala
Exile of the Pandavas
Section V – Upaplavya
Warriors Choose their Sides
Sanjaya’s Mission
Proposal of Krishna’s Visit to Hastinapura
The Journey
Day One in Hastinapura
Day Two in Hastinapura
Krishna’s Meeting with Karna
Section VI – Kurukshetra
Bhishma in Battle
Jayadratha Killed
Understanding the Work of the Later Poets
The Fall of Ghatotkacha
The Fall of Drona
The Religion that Krishna Preached
The Fall of Karna
The Fall of Duryodhana
The Last Days of the War
Setting up a Legislation
Sermons on Desire
Last Meeting with the Pandavas
Section VII – The Incidents in Prabhasha
Annihilation of the Yadus
Translator’s Epilogue
Translator’s Notes
A. The Mahabharata and its Time
B. The Caste System in India
C. The Status of Women in Sri Krishna’s Time
D. How Bhakti was Perceived in Mahabharata's Time
E. Some Critical Comments on Bankim Chandra’s Krishna Charitra
A. Rabindranath Tagore’s Criticism of Bankim Chandra’s Krishna Charitra
B. Bankim Chandra’s Defence against Tagore’s Criticism
C. Bankim Chandra’s Study of Sri Krishna in Literature