Lord Krishna is depicted mostly as blue-skinned. Dark color has been used in most of the paintings of the medieval times for the Lord – whether in the form of a child or an adult.
This is why He is also called Shyam, meaning dark complexioned.
But why is Lord Krishna’s body bluish or blackish in color?
The Puranas give us two accounts:
1. When the Lord was playing with his friends near a river, the ball rolled into the waters. To find it, Lord Krishna descended to the bottom of the river where He encountered Kalia Nag. The young Krishna slayed Kalia but in the process, the serpent’s venom turned his skin dark.
2. When Krishna was still an infant, his maternal uncle, Kamsa, sent a demon called Putana to kill him. Putana abducted Krishna and chose to kill the Lord by feeding him poisoned milk from her breast. The milk didn’t Krishna but killed Putana. Yet the effect of the poison turned Krishna’s skin dark.
There are two other accounts.
3. International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) members believe that Krishna’s blue color may be because the color symbolizes madhurya rasa, or the color of pure love.
In Krishna Bhakti Ratna Prakasa, Raghava Gosvami writes:
“He eternally manifests the color syama, within which all colors rest. His complexion is not the material color black.”
4. The ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’, a commentary on the Bhagawad Gita by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, explains that the color blue also denotes that due to “polluted mentality and due to material sins, the aggregate combination of living entities appeared to be bluish”.
Lord Vishnu’s transcendental body was seen by Arjuna as bluish. Since Lord Krishna is Lord Vishnu’s avatar, the former’s body, too, appears bluish.
Whatever may be the reason of the Lord’s skin color or the color itself, He remains in the hearts of all who seek Him and everyone remains in His heart.