Before the birth of Lord Krishna, was anyone else named Krishna?

How did the name Krishna come into usage and why was the Lord named Krishna?


Why Arjuna was also addressed sometimes as Krishna is explained here. Any others with the name Krishna from the Mahabharata time and why they were addressed by that name?

  • 1
    Check this: krishna.com/name-krishna-means Jan 12, 2016 at 11:41
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    In sanskrit Krishna means dark. so in one way the lord was named krishna because he was dark compexioned. one of the lords name is neelameghasyamasundara(beautiful like a dark cloud).
    – Vishu
    Jan 13, 2016 at 7:14
  • Besides Sri Krishna, 3 other persons in Mahabharata are also called by the name Krishna (Arjuna, Draupadi and another one I don't remember). So maybe you can add the others also to your question (Why are they named so?) Jan 13, 2016 at 23:35
  • 1
    here is how lord Sri Krishna was named .(vedabase.com/en/sb/10/8/13)
    – Vishu
    Jan 14, 2016 at 8:03
  • 2
    @sv., Drapadi was called KrishnA, not Krishna. Note the terminal deergha 'a'. It's the feminine form. Jan 25, 2016 at 4:49

2 Answers 2


Why was Lord Kṛṣṇa named 'Kṛṣṇa'?

According to Sanjaya from the Mahābhārata:

05,068.005a   kṛṣir bhūvācakaḥ śabdo ṇaś ca nirvṛtivācakaḥ
05,068.005c   kṛṣṇas tadbhāvayogāc ca kṛṣṇo bhavati śāśvataḥ

Born of the Sattwata race, he is called Krishna because he uniteth in himself what are implied by the two words 'Krishi' which signifieth 'what existeth' and 'na' which signifieth 'eternal peace'.

Alternate translation from here:

The word kṛṣ is the attractive feature of the Lord’s existence, and na means 'spiritual pleasure.' When the verb kṛṣ is added to na, it becomes kṛṣṇa, which indicates the Absolute Truth.


Muni Ved VyAsa, the (author of MahAbhArata) was also referred as "Krishna DwaipAyana". His birth was before Krishna.

Krishna was 1 of the many names given to VAsudeva (son of Vasudeva), due to his dark skin complexion. This should have been in good spirit and not racial. Probably it was usual for prominent people to have many names in those times.
Interestingly Arjuna apologizes during Gita 11.41-42 for referring "Krishna" to a person, for whom now he was assured to be God. In Gita alone, many of his other names/addressing can be found.

During MahAbhArata times, like VyAsa & VAsudeva, Arjuna & Draupadi were also referred as Krishna & KrishnA respectively due to their dark complexions.

From Shrimada BhAgavatam (thanks to @Vishu)

Your son Kṛṣṇa appears as an incarnation in every millennium. In the past, He assumed three different colors — white, red and yellow — and now He has appeared in a blackish color. [In another Dvāpara-yuga, He appeared (as Lord Rāmacandra) in the color of śuka, a parrot. All such incarnations have now assembled in Kṛṣṇa.]

  • Arjuna isn't apologizing for using the name Krishna - he's apologizing for addressing him as "he Krishna", "he Yadava", etc. using informal, casual forms of address rather than something more reverential. Those are the forms of address people would use when talking to their friends or someone of the same age, and Arjuna is realizing that's certainly not the way to address Sriman Narayana. Feb 16, 2016 at 3:23
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I think Arjuna considered "Krishna, YAdava, (& may be GopAla)" to be too candid names compared to VAsudeva, Keshav, Hari etc. which were more formal. But that's just my opinion. We can't say for sure, that's why it is added as a kind of trivia. Regarding sources, I don't have anything to cite beside the word "Krishna" means "Black". Hence wiki-fied for others to add the relevant text.
    – iammilind
    Feb 16, 2016 at 3:47

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