Krishna shows up in stories across various Hindu traditions and even appears in other religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Ahmadiyya Islam. As the eighth avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is considered the principal, or complete, incarnation of God. Krishna has also been portrayed as a child-god, divine hero, a child prankster and model lover.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes for his cousin, Arjuna, the three yogic paths to salvation:
- Karma yoga: the path of action, or works. Karma yoga requires the believer to do what is right for selfless reasons, not to be rewarded.
- Jnana yoga: the path of knowledge. Jnana yoga is not focused on book learning, but on the knowledge of becoming one with the Universe and the Divine.
- Bhakti yoga: the path of devotion. Bhaki yoga is also known as “Krishna Consciousness.” It is focused on awareness of and affection for Krishna, or God. Although a form of yoga, it is not as rigorous a practice as many other yogic schools.