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Krishna Janmashtami - Birthday of Krishna

Thursday, August 13th

Krishna Janmashtami  (Some calendars have it on August 14th, so you may want to celebrate it on both days.)

The Story of the Birth of Lord Krishna

The Story of the Birth of Lord Krishna

The birth of Krishna is in itself a transcendental phenomenon that generates awe among the Hindus and overwhelms one and all with its supra mundane happenings.  

Mother Earth, unable to bear the burden of sins committed by evil kings and rulers, appealed to Brahma, the Creator for help. Brahma prayed to the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who assured him that he would soon be born on earth to annihilate tyrannical forces.  

One such evil force was Kamsa, the ruler of Mathura (in northern India ) and his people were utterly terrified of him. On the day Kamsa's sister Devaki was married off to Vasudeva, an akashvani or voice from the sky was heard prophesying that Devaki's 8th son would be the destroyer of Kamsa. The frightened Kamsa immediately unsheathed his sword to kill his sister but Vasudeva intervened and implored Kamsa to spare his bride, and promised to hand over every new born child to him. Kamsa relented but imprisoned both Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.  

When Devaki gave birth to her first child, Kamsa came to the prison cell and slaughtered the newborn. In this way, he killed the first six sons of Devaki. Even before her 8th child was born, Devaki and Vasudeva started lamenting its fate and theirs. Then suddenly Lord Vishnu appeared before them and said he himself was coming to rescue them and the people of Mathura . He asked Vasudeva to carry him to the house of his friend, the cowherd chief Nanda in Gokula right after his birth, where Nanda's wife Yashoda had given birth to a daughter.

He was to exchange his boy and bring Yashoda's baby daughter back to the prison. Vishnu assured them that "nothing shall bar your path".

At midnight on ashtami, the divine baby was born in Kamsa's prison. Remembering the divine instructions, Vasudeva clasped the child to his bosom and started for Gokula, but found that his legs were in chains. He jerked his legs and was unfettered! The massive iron-barred doors unlocked and opened up.

While crossing river Yamuna, Vasudeva held his baby high over his head. The rain fell in torrents and the river was in spate. But the water made way for Vasudeva and miraculously a five-mouthed snake followed him from behind and provided shelter over the baby.  

When Vasudeva reached Gokula, he found the door of Nanda's house open. He exchanged the babies and hurried back to the prison of Kamsa with the baby girl. Early in the morning, all the people at Gokula rejoiced the birth of Nanda's beautiful male child. Vasudeva came back to Mathura and as he entered, the doors of the prison closed themselves.

When Kamsa came to know about the birth, he rushed inside the prison and tried to kill the baby. But this time it skipped from his hand and reaching the sky. She was transformed into the goddess Yogamaya, who told Kamsa:  "O foolish! What will you get by killing me? Your nemesis is already born somewhere else." 

In his youth Krishna killed Kamsa along with all his cruel associates, liberated his parents from prison, and reinstated Ugrasen as the King of Mathura.

Who is Krishna?

Who is Krishna?

The Most Powerful Incarnation of Vishnu

The great exponent of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is one of the most powerful incarnations of Vishnu, the Godhead of the VedicTrinity of deities.  Of all the Vishnu avataras he is the most popular, and perhaps of all Vedic gods the one closest to the heart of the masses. Krishna was dark and extremely handsome.

The Importance of Being Krishna

For generations, Krishna has been an enigma to some, but God to millions, who go ecstatic even as they hear his name. People consider Krishna their leader, hero, protector, philosopher, teacher and friend all rolled into one. Krishna has influenced the Indian thought, life and culture in myriad ways. He has influenced not only its religion and philosophy, but also into its mysticism and literature, painting and sculpture, dance and music, and all aspects of Indian folklore.

The Time of the Lord

Indian as well as Western scholars have now accepted the period between 3200 and 3100 BC as the period in which Lord Krishna lived on earth. Krishna took birth at midnight on the ashtami or the 8th day of the Krishnapaksha or dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Shravan (August-September). The birthday of Krishna is called Janmashthami, a special occasion that is celebrated around the world. The birth of Krishna is in itself a transcendental phenomenon that generates awe and overwhelms one and all with its supra mundane happenings.

Baby Krishna: Killer of Evils

Stories about Krishna's exploits abound. Legends have it that on the very sixth day of his birth, Krishna killed lady demon Putna by sucking on her breasts. In his childhood, he also killed many other mighty demons, such as Trunavarta, Keshi, Aristhasur, Bakasur, Pralambasur et al. During the same period he also killed Kali Nag (cobra de capello) and made the holy water of river Yamuna poison free.

Krishna's Childhood Days

Krishna's Childhood Days

Krishna made cowherdesses happy by the bliss of his cosmic dances and the soulful music of his flute. He stayed in Gokul, the legendary 'cow-village' in Northern India for 3 years and 4 months. As a child he was reputed to be very mischievous, stealing curd and butter and playing pranks with his girl friends or gopis. Having completed his Lila or exploits at Gokul, he went to Vrindavan and stayed until he was 6 years and 8 months old.

According to a famous legend, Krishna drove away the monsterous serpent Kaliya from the river to the sea. Krishna, according to another popular myth, lifted the Govardhana hill up with his little finger and held it like an umbrella to protect the people of Vrindavana from the torrential rain caused by Lord Indra, who had been annoyed by Krishna. Then he lived in Nandagram till he was 10.

Krishna's Youth and Education

Krishna then returned to Mathura, his birthplace, and killed his wicked maternal uncle King Kamsa along with all his cruel associates and liberated his parents from jail. He also reinstated Ugrasen as the King of Mathura. He completed his education and mastered the 64 sciences and arts in 64 days at Avantipura under his preceptor Sandipani. As gurudaksina or tuition fees, he restored Sandipani's dead son to him. He stayed in Mathura till he was 28.

Krishna, the King of Dwarka

Krishna then came to the rescue of a clan of Yadava chiefs, who were ousted by the king Jarasandha of Magadha. He easily triumphed over the multi-million army of Jarasandha by building an impregnable capital Dwarka, "the many-gated" city in an island in the sea. The city located on the western point of Gujarat, is now submerged in the sea according to the epic Mahabharata. Krishna shifted, as the story goes, all his sleeping relatives and natives to Dwarka by the power of his yoga. In Dwarka, he married Rukmini, then Jambavati, and Satyabhama. He also saved his kingdom from Nakasura, the demon king of Pragjyotisapura, had abducted 16,000 princesses. Krishna freed them and married them since they had nowhere else to go.

Krishna, the Hero of the Mahabharata

Krishna, the Hero of the Mahabharata

For many years, Krishna lived with the Pandava and Kaurava kings who ruled over Hastinapur. When a war was about to break oput between the Pandavas and Kauravas, Krishna was sent to mediate.  War became inevitable, and Krishna offered his forces to the Kauravs and himself agreed to join the Panadavas as the charioteer of the master warrior Arjuna. This epic battle of Kurukshetra described in the Mahabharata, was fought in about 3000 BC. In the middle of the war, Krishna delivered his famous advice, which forms the crux of the Bhagavad Gita.

Krishna's Final Days on Earth

After the great war, Krishna returned to Dwarka. In his final days on earth, he taught spiritual wisdom to Uddhava, his friend and disciple, and ascended to his abode after casting off his body, which was shot at by a hunter named Jara.

 

Krishna-Leela

Krishna-Leela

Rasa lila or dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna are a special feature in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur.  In the early morning, ladies draw patterns of little children's feet outside the house with rice-flour paste, walking towards the house. This symbolizes the entry of the infant Krishna into his foster-home. This is performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and commemorate his love for Radha.  While the Rasa Lila recreates the youthful Krishna's day, Govinda from all those present, teams of young men form human pyramids to reach the pot and break it. The festival is thus celebrated with great joy and communal togetherness by one and all. 

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

 

 

 

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Published by our partner:

Enjoying India
by
J.D. Viharini
EnjoyingIndia.com