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Darling Krishna, people doubt who you belong to?
Krishna: To you of course mother.
Yashoda: But people say all sorts of things. They point out that though your father and I both are extremely fair in complexion, you are dark in contrast. Why is it so?
Krishna: Mother it is because of you. When I was born I too was fair like you. However, it was pitch dark at that time. You were sleeping away merrily. I was sleeplessly turning sides the whole night. As a consequence, the darkness of the night stuck to me and I became black.
Krishna’s simple mother could never disbelieve her son. She stretched out her hand and squeezed Him to her chest. The same question was put to Him insultingly by Duryodhyana, the villain of the epic Mahabharata. The following dialogue takes place there:
Duryodhyana: Nobody can say for sure who your parents are. If Nanda Baba and Yashoda are your parents then why are so black?
Krishna: I am black (kaalaa) because I have come as your end (kaal).
However, when Krishna’s beloved Radha asked Him the same question, His reply was markedly different:
Radha: My Dear, Even though you are so beautiful, why are you black?
Krishna: Dear Radhe, Actually I was extremely fair. However, I have become dark only to enhance your fair beauty, which is all the more magnified by contrast with my dark complexion.
Some bhaktas speculate that since Krishna always lives in the eyes of the gopis of Vrindavana, it is the black kohl (kaajal) of their eyes that has blackened Him. Or perhaps He is dark because He absorbs all the negativity in the hearts of His worshippers.