The Glory of Sri Krishna Janmashtami
Sri Krishna Janmashtami, also popularly known as Gokulashtami, Krishnashtami, Sri Krishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi is observed as one of the most auspicious and sacred Hindu festivals in all parts of India.
Janmashtami celebrates the birth (“Janma” in sanskrit) of Hindu God, Sri Krishna who is the ninth incarnation of The Supreme Being of the Hindu Trinity Gods – Sri Vishnu. According to Hindu lunar calendar, Janmashtami is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of Krishna Paksha in the holy month of Shravan in Bhadrapad (August-September) of the lunisolar Hindu Calendar.
The Verses of Srimad Bhagavad Gita On Sri Krishna’s Birth
The divine tale of Sri Krishna’s birth is described in the Sacred Hindu Vedic Texts “Srimad Bhagavad Gita” referred to as “Song of God”, “Divine Song”, or “The Celestial Song” is a divine discourse between Sri Krishna and Sri Arjuna before the commencement of the battle of “Mahabharata”. Srimad Bhagavad Purana is considered as an epic sacred text referred as a soul guiding book describing the purpose of human existence and relationship with God, teaching the science of Yoga, the meaning of Individual Consciousness attaining union with Ultimate Consciousness and the Path to Self Realization and Ultimate Truth.
Let us revisit the verses 7 & 8 of Chapter 4 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, describing the significance of the birth of Sri Krishna
yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskritam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge
Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 7 & 8
Translation of the above Verses : Sri Krishna says,
Whenever and wherever a decline of righteousness and predominance of unrighteousness prevails; at that time I manifest Myself personally, O descendant of Bharata
For the protection of devotees and for the annihilation of miscreants and to fully establish righteousness, I appear millennium after millennium
The Epic Tale of Krishna’s Birth
The birth tale of Lord Krishna is very enchanting one. In India, it is one of the most popular stories parents and grandparents narrate to their children and grandchildren. The narration of such epic tales lay a strong spiritual foundation in kids from a very young age. So, here is the story on birth of Sri Krishna .
There lived a King named Ugrasen. He had two children, prince Kansa and princess Devaki. Prince Kansa was evil by nature. When Kansa grew up, he imprisoned his own father Ugrasen and made himself a king.
Soon, his sister Devaki was married to King Vasudev. However, after the wedding, Kansa heard a divine warning from the sky, “O King! Your sister’s eighth son will grow up to kill you.” After Kansa heard this, he was afraid. Immediately he imprisoned his own sister Devaki and her husband king Vasudev, and kept them under continuous watch.
Each time Devaki gave birth to a child in the prison, Kansa arrived personally and killed the child. When Devaki was expecting the seventh child, Sri Vishnu called upon Yogmaya (divine illusion) and said, “Devaki’s seventh eternal embryo should be implanted in Rohini’s (Second wife of Vasudev) body.” Yogmaya transferred the embryo to Rohini’s womb from Devaki’s womb. This was done to prevent Kansa from killing the seventh child at His birth. Kans was destined to be killed by Devaki’s eighth son, and not to take any chances he was killing all the sons born to Devaki at birth. Rohini was carrying the child and after nine months, eternal incarnation in the form of Sri Balram was born. Kans was informed that Devaki’s seventh child was dead. Balram was the elder brother of Sri Krishna. He is said to be the incarnation of ‘Sheshnag’.
When Devaki was carrying a child for the eighth time, King Vasudev’s friend’s (King Nanda’s) wife Yashoda was also expecting a child. The eighth child, Sri Krishna, was born to Queen Devaki at midnight in the prison.
As stated in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that His appearance, birth, and activities, are all transcendental, and one who understands them factually becomes immediately eligible to be transferred to the spiritual world. The Lord’s appearance or birth is not like that of an ordinary man who is forced to accept a material body according to his past deeds. He appears out of His own sweet pleasure and will. When the time was mature for the appearance of the Lord, the constellations became very auspicious. At that time, in all directions, East, West, North and South, there was an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. There were auspicious stars visible in the sky, and there were signs of good fortune. The dried rivers were flowing, and lakes were adorned with lotus flowers. The forests were full with beautiful birds and peacocks. All the birds cheered with sweet voices, and the peacocks danced in glory. The wind blew very pleasantly, carrying the aroma of different flowers. The whole ambiance was filled with energy and divine charisma.
As soon as the eighth child was born, Sri Vishnu appeared in divine form and the prison was filled with a dazzling light. Both Devaki and Vasudev prayed to Sri Vishnu. At the same time as Sri Krishna was born in the prison, the divine energy of Sri Vishnu was born in Gokuldham, as a baby girl to Queen Yashoda. A divine message came to Vasudev soon after the birth of Sri Krishna, “Take this child across the Yamuna River to Gokuldham and exchange Him with Yashoda’s daughter. You will return to the prison before anyone comes to know about the birth of this child.”
Vasudev immediately followed the advice. As he carried the child in his arms, he found that the prison doors opened automatically and the guards were put to sleep by the will of God. Vasudev approached the Yamuna River, which was very turbulent due to fierce winds and rain. However, as soon as Vasudev reached the riverbank, miraculously, the river parted and made way for Vasudev carrying the divine child. Vasudev reached the opposite bank of the river safely and found all the people of Gokuldham fast asleep. He entered the palace of King Nanda and Queen Yashoda, and put the baby Krishna in the place of Yashoda’s baby girl. Then Vasudev returned to the prison with the baby girl.
As soon as Vasudev laid the baby girl by Devaki’s side, the prison doors shut automatically. The guards were now awake and were startled by the cries of the baby girl. The guards ran to Kansa and announced the birth of the eighth child.
Kansa rushed to execute the child in the prison, remembering the divine warning that the eighth child would kill him. Devaki appealed, “O Kansa, this baby is a girl, and not the boy that the divine warning told you about. How can this child harm you?” However, Kansa ignored her, snatched the child from her lap, and hurled the child against the prison wall.
The child did not fall down; instead, she flew up and appeared in the sky as a Goddess with eight arms, each arm carrying a weapon. She said, “O evil King! You will gain nothing by killing me. The one who will destroy you is elsewhere.” Then the Goddess disappeared. Kansa freed Vasudev and Devaki from prison.
Meanwhile, there was great rejoicing in Gokuldham, hailing the birth of a son in the household of Nanda. King Nanda named the child “Krishna”. Entire Gokuldham wore a festive appearance. The streets were swept clean and all the houses were decorated with flags and flowers. Cows were smeared with turmeric, and adorned with peacock feathers and garlands. All people of Gokuldham danced in joy and flocked to Nanda’s house to see baby Krishna and to offer gifts. Such is the exhilarating tale of the birth of Sri Krishna.
Even today, since time immemorial, Janmashtami is celebrated with great enthusiasm and festive fervor all across India and in different parts of world. Janmashtami celebrations in Dakor, Mathura and Dwarka cannot be missed since these are popular pilgrimage places of Sri Krishna. The day preceding Janmashtami, devotees observe fast until midnight when Sri Krishna is born. They break their fast with milk and fruits in the morning. The temples and shrines are decorated with lights, garlands and flowers, the devotees sing krishna bhajans and dance in rejoice. Chanting Sri Krishna jaap is a common ritual for the entire day on Krishna Janmashtami. Devotees make sweets at home and give prasadam to all. Krishna’s idol is bathed and adorned with new garments and jewellery in the ritual called “Shringar”. Aartis are performed to Sri Krishna and a wide variety of sweets and delicacies are offered to Sri Krishna, the practices of offering Chappan Bhog is very common in Temples and Shrines across India. Devotees participate in all temple activities such as cleaning, making garlands, making sweets and delicacies for the Lord. It is one way to offer obeisances to the Almighty Lord. The festivities in the temples and homes, fill the air with divinity and charm.
Gopalkala- Festival of Dahi Handi
On the second day of Krishna Janmashtami, some states in India celebrate the event of Dahi Handi (Hanging Earthern Pot filled with Krishna’s favourite Yogurt and Sweets ). Sri Krishna loved butter (known as makhan). Dahi Handi event commemorates and celebrates the mischievous attitude of little Krishna (aka Kanha, Kanhaiya, Makhanchor, Govinda, Gopal). Dahi Handi festival is also called as Gopalkala or Govinda Festival, which celebrates the childhood events of Sri Krishna stealing his favorite delicacies from Earthern Pots hung in houses of Vrindavan. On the day of Dahi Handi, Earthern Pot filled with delicacies and sweets is hung high up the streets with ropes at both the ends. Groups of young boys and men act as Gopalas (Krishna’s Sakkhas or Friends) and make a human pyramid to reach the Earthen Pot. The goal is to break the pot and steal the delicacies depicting the childhood mischiefs of Sri Krishna. The streets are flocked with sea of devotees who witness and enjoy the event with great zeal and enthusiasm. Devotees shout,” Govinda Aalaa Govinda Aalaa” (Here comes Govinda) in sheer excitement to cheer the Gopalas. The topmost layer of human pyramid is only one man who breaks the Earthern pot with coconut. Such amazing is the devotion, love and zeal of Krishna Janmashtami festivities in the spiritual land of India.
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Go4Ethnic wishes you and family Happy Janmashtami.