A curious mind will always need answers to folklores, theories, beliefs and depictions. An inquisitive mind who has seen James Cameron’s movie Avatar has always wondered why the aliens were blue. The same minds also wonder why the sky is blue and why is Lord Krishna depicted as a blue-skinned-God. While we may not be able to provide the director’s vision about the movie here in this blog, we can answer and give some rest to your mind explaining the colour theories behind Lord Krishna’s depiction.

On Janmashtami (the birthday of Lord Krishna), one cannot miss the widely used, circulated, unmissable picture over the internet of either baby Krishna or Lord Krishna with peacock feathers and a flute. A lot of us would have pondered why his skin looked so blue and different.

Let’s hear some folklore tales

One possible explanation is that the colour is just a pictorial depiction as religiously, blue (especially skin) implies a spiritual aura. As per Hindu religion, blue things are symbols of the infinite and something that cannot be measured – like the blue sky, the blue ocean etc.

On the other hand, mythology states that Lord Krishna drank poisoned milk given by Poothana, the demoness and hence his skin turned blue. Other mythological stories reveal that when Krishna entered a river to vanquish the serpent king Kalinga, his skin turned blue due to the snake’s venom.

While these stories are fascinating to hear, and most of us have revelled in them, but the question always remained – is there a scientific explanation for the blue colour of Lord Krishna’s skin?

For those who love science tales

Medically there is a condition that can result in your skin turning blue called methemoglobinemia, where the haemoglobin in the blood (chiefly responsible for distributing oxygen throughout the body) is unable to release oxygen to all body tissues. The blood running through the body hence does not get enough oxygen, and as a result of this, the skin appears blue-tinted in colour.

A regular functioning human body is said to have around 1 per cent of methaemoglobin. However, when the same increases to more than 10 per cent, our skin gets a bluish tinge. While this condition may be hereditary and be passed down over generations, it can also be caused due to exposure to contaminated water with uranium.

Around 2009, a few cases in Punjab surfaced with the drastic increase in the use of chemical fertilizers in fields; there was a sudden increase in such cases and they were later known as the Blue Baby Syndrome. There were also similar cases in villages in Bulgaria and Romania that had sanitisation issues and hence the nitrates concentration was high in their groundwater.