“Why are Hindu Gods portrayed as having blue skin?”
A question which looks simple and short, but requires a rather lengthy explanation. Let me try to keep my reply as brief as possible.
There are actually a few answers to this question…
Krishna/Rama/Shiva and a few others are denoted in a bluish tinge as the color denotes serenity and the color of the sky which is considered the “heavens” (when death is denoted the soul is normally shown as traveling upward, never downward into the bowels of the earth).
Hence sky is “heavenly” and the color blue synonymous with calm and embracing, while being infinite. Blue immediately makes one visualize the sky or the ocean which is infinite, forever and ever-lasting.
Sadguru has said that “blue is the color of all-inclusiveness. You will see in the existence, anything that is vast and beyond your perception generally tends to be blue, whether it is the ocean or the sky. Anything which is larger than your perception tends to be blue because blue is the basis of all- inclusive .”
Nice answers, right? But then what about written history? What about these older images depicting these Gods as Black? When did they go blue?!! And Why?
Well that is the answer that we, or at least I, would rather believe, but there is another answer also…not as nice as the above explanation but it is note worthy and possibly more factual then the above.
Based on human history rather than mysticism, the portraying of Gods in blue, seems to be a recent innovation!
Most Hindu Gods are described as being dark complexioned. Dark was considered beautiful in most Hindu literature. The most beautiful woman Draupati was described as being dark/black skinned.
A few centuries ago Hindu Gods were depicted as black, not blue! So why the change?
Southeast Asia and China began depicting Gods such as Rama and Krisna as blue a few centuries ago, but they have never been described as such in written history, they were all said to have black or dark skin, not blue.
We may find the answer lies in the caste system of India, the lower castes are generally perceived as having darker skin and the higher castes lighter skin. Racist British colonialism probably had a role in exacerbating this.
So thus portraying Gods as blue was a compromise between fair and dark, a way out of their racist predicament ?
Although, I may still view Krisna to be blue, I think I may begin to revert to the original scripture that described these Gods as black, and old images depicting them as such to be closer to the truth, but perhaps somewhere in between we will find that answer.
One day we will only see each other as beautiful, not because we are the same but because we are not! Because of the color of all of our skin and hair and eyes, this is how God created us, perfect in all our diverse shades and hues!