Krsna, better known as Krishna, is a manifestation of the god Vishnu, the preserver, and the stories of his lilas center around his childhood where Krishna was a disobedient child, spreading light-hearted havoc by playing tricks on his elders and disobeying his parents. As a young child, Krishna was a butter thief and once after he had eaten some dirt, his mother opened his mouth to get the dirt out and she saw the entire universe inside him. Needless to say, this is not what she was expecting, and it was disconcerting to say the least. Krishna realized that he needed to conceal his true identity from his mother and so he made her forget. Another aspect of Krishna's lila is his youthful adventures with the gopis, or cowherdesses, his female followers. He would flirt and dance with the gopis in the woods with all of them by becoming many. This lila reflects the idea of the surrender of the devotee to god, because the gopis out of passion for God strayed from their husbands and homes. The devotees of Krishna to this day express this playful energy in their festivals and raslilas, plays which depict these stories (Hein, 1987).
Hein speculates that perhaps Krishna's lila became popular to correct the restrictiveness of the caste system and other repressing aspects of culture at the time because in earlier times, the earnest Krishna of the Bhagavad Gita was more admired. The focus on the younger antics of Krishna in the Harivasma Purana around 300 C.E. were appealing for this reason, they sought in the Divine what they lacked in their lives and what they cherished most: the playful spirit of Krishna to help them endure these strictures.