According to Bhagavata Purana, Krishna was born without a sexual union, but by divine “mental transmission” from the mind of Vasudeva into the womb of Devaki.
The stories of Krishna’s childhood and youth tell how he became a cow herder,his mischievous pranks as Makhan Chor (butter thief), his foiling of attempts to take his life, and his role as a protector of the people of Vrindavana.
On his return to Mathura as a young man, Krishna overthrew and killed his maternal uncle, Kansa, after avoiding several assassination attempts from Kansa’s followers. Krishna married Rukmini, the Vidarbha princess, by abducting her, at her request, from her proposed wedding with Shishupala. Krishna subsequently married 16,100 maidens who were held captive by demon Narakasura, to save their honour.
Krishna also caused the downfall of Drona, when he signalled Bhima to kill an elephant called Ashwatthama, the namesake of Drona’s son. Pandavas started shouting that Ashwatthama was dead but Drona refused to believe them saying he would believe it only if he heard it from Yudhisthira. Krishna knew that Yudhisthira would never tell a lie, so he devised a clever ploy so that Yudhisthira wouldn’t lie and at the same time Drona would be convinced of his son’s death. On asked by Drona, Yudhisthira proclaimed
Ashwathama Hatahath, naro va Kunjaro va
i.e. Ashwathama had died but he was nor sure whether it was a Drona’s son or an elephant.
At a festival, a fight broke out between the Yadavas, who killed each other. His elder brother, Balarama, then gave up his body using Yoga. Krishna retired into the forest and started meditating under a tree. The Mahabharata also narrates the story of a hunter, named Jara, mistook Krishna’s partly visible left foot for that of a deer, and shot an arrow wounding him mortally. Krishna’s soul then ascended to heaven, while his mortal body was cremated by Arjuna.
All Vaishnava traditions recognise Krishna as an avatar of Vishnu; others identify Krishna with Vishnu; while traditions, such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Vallabha Sampradaya and the Nimbarka Sampradaya, regard Krishna as the svayam bhagavan, original form of God, or the Lord himself. Swaminarayan, the founder of the Swaminarayan Sampraday also worshipped Krishna as God himself.
Since 1966, the Krishna-bhakti movement has also spread outside India. This is largely due to theInternational Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement. The movement was founded by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who was instructed by his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, to write about Krishna in English and to share the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy with people in the Western world.