Vasudeva

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For the Kushan king, see Vasudeva I. For the book by Narendra Kohli, see Vasudeva (book).
Not to be confused with Vāsudeva, a name of Krishna.
Krishna being carried over river Yamuna by Vasudeva just after his birth on Janmashtami
Krishna and Balarama meet their parents. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma

In Hindu itihasa or more commonly known as Hindu history, Vasudeva (Devanagari वसुदेव, IAST Vasudeva) is the father of Krishna, the son of Shoorsen, of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. His sister Kunti was married to Pandu. Kunti plays a big role later in the war Mahabharata. Vasudeva was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap. The patronymic Vāsudeva (with long ā) is a popular name of Krishna. According to the Harivansa Purana, Vasudeva and Nanda were brothers.[1]

Related to this name is an early religion, sometimes called Bhagavatism[2] that was largely formed by the 4th century BC where Vāsudeva (Krishna, the son of Vasudeva) was worshiped as the supreme Deity in a strongly monotheistic format, where the Supreme Being was perfect, eternal and full of grace.[2]

The name forms part of a famous mantra also known as a "twelve syllable mantra", which believed to be the earliest mantra from pre-reformation times, pre-dating sectarian divisions in Vaishnavism- (IAST oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya), it is translated as "Om, reverence to the Lord Vāsudeva (Krishna)".[2]

Vasudeva married Devaki, the sister of Kansa, and he was also the father of Krishna's sister Subhadra. From his first wife, Rohini, who bore his eldest son, Balarama.

Vasudeva and Devaki spent most of their early adult life behind bars in the deepest pits of darkness as ordered by Kansa. Vasudeva was known for his consistent approach to life and his virtue of being a truthful person, never uttering a lie during his lifetime. After Kansa was killed by Krishna, Vasudeva was installed as the Crown-Prince of Mathura under the reign of Devaki's uncle, King Ugrasena.

The name is from vásu "good" and deva "deity". The Vasus are a group of eight Vedic deities.

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Further reading[edit]

  • RG Bhandarkar: "Vasudeva of Panini" 4.3.98. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1910.