Krishna Janmashtami Celebration
Shravan vad 8 celebrates the birth of Lord Shri Krishna, one of
the most venerated incarnations in the Hindu Dharma. Five thousand
years ago, he incarnated, at the end of the third cosmic phase,
'Dwapar Yuga' and the beginning of the present, 'Kali Yuga'.
Purpose of Incarnation
In the Gita (4/78) the Lord has ordained:
"Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glanir bhavati Bharat;
sambhaavami yuge yuge."
i.e. I incarnate whenever Dharma declines and evil predominates,
to establish Dharma and vanquish evil.
In the Bhavishyottara Puran Shri Krishna himself extols the celebration
of Janmashtami to Yudhishtir, the eldest of the five Pandavas.
He incarnated in Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) to vanquish the evil
King Kansa and other evil elements who were harassing pious people.
His second reason was to fulfil the pledge he had given to Vasudev
and Devki. When they married Kansa heard a divine proclamation
that the couple's eighth son would be his nemesis. To obviate
this, Kansa imprisoned the couple and killed the first seven sons
born to Devki. When Shri Krishna was born Vasudev placed him in
a cradle and took the baby child through the river Yamuna. Thus
the Lord survived and eventually vanquished Kansa and other evil
The first importance of Janmashtami is to observe dharma. Since
we humans are all imprisoned in samsara, the Lord incarnates in
this prison with us, establishes dharma and redeems us from maya.
We can only win over maya if we seek the Lord's aid, as did Arjuna
during the battle of Mahabharat. As sage Ved Vyas ordains:
"Yato Krishnastato dharmaha, Yato dharmastato Jayaha."
i.e. Where there is krishna, there is dharma, where there is dharma,
there is victory. Since Duryodhana, leader of the Kauravs did
not observe dharma, he did not have Krishna. No Krishna, no victory.
Surrenderance - 'Sharnaagati'
During the battle Shri Krishna uttered 700 shloks in the form
of the 'Bhagvad Gita' to convince the reluctant Arjun to fight.
The Lord finally uttered the essence of his sermons in the following
"Sarva dharmaan parityajya maamekam sharanam vraja,
aham twaa sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa shuchaha."
i.e. O Arjun! Forsake all your personal beliefs and surrender
to me. Do not lament for I shall deliver you from all sins.
Therefore a true spirit of Janmashtami is for devotees to implicitly
surrender at the Lord's lotus-feet, while staunchly observing
In the Gita (18/54), the Lord stipulates:
"Brahma bhootaha prasannaatmaa na shochati na kaankshati,
Samaha sarveshu bhuteshu madbhaktim labhate param."
i.e. One who becomes 'Brahmarup' and offers devotion to Parabrahma
(God), he forever remains blissful and attains the highest glory
of God. 'Brahmarup' simply means to become the ideal devotee like
Arjun who represents 'Nar' to then worship Krishna - Narayan.
Hence the murtis of Nar-Narayan. Similarly, Shri Krishna played
the 'Maha Raas' traditional (stick folk dance) with the Gopis
of Vrundavan because of their unalloyed love for him. Radha was
the foremost among them. Therefore devotees should develop 'Gopi-bhav',
to become Radha-rup (like Radha) to worship Shri Krishna. Hence
devotees everywhere also consecrate murtis of 'Radha-Krishna'
in mandirs, worshipping the Lord with his consort or choicest
In addition to such surrenderance, how should the devotee strive
to attain 'Gopi-bhav' to please the Lord?
In the Srimad Bhagwat (11/12/1,2), Shri Krishna himself propounds
'Satsang', which is another important principle in celebrating
"I am not as pleased by endeavors such as: Yoga, Sankhya,
scriptural study, austerities, renunciation, altruistic social
deeds, donation, fasting, yagna, study of Vedic scriptures, observance
of the laws of Dharma and Yama (part of yoga), as I am by Satsang."
'Satsang' means associating with a God realised Sadhu. This was
exemplified by King Parikshit when he was cursed to die in seven
days, by surrendering to Shukdevji, who was a God-realised sadhu.
Finally, after Shri Krishna's departure from earth, how did the
Lord continue his manifestation? This question was posed by Shaunak
and other rishis to Suta Purani (in the Bhagwat). He replied,
"Dharma resided in the Lord's true sadhu who is the true
beholder of Dharma." In the Bhagwat, Shri Krishna supports
this when he revealed to Uddhavji: "O Uddhav! You are not
any the lesser than me." Thus the Lord revealed Bhagwat Dharma
to Uddhavji and since then propagated it through him. The true
spirit then, in celebrating Janmashtami is for devotees to do
Satsang through the Satpurush who is the beholder of Bhagwat Dharma
- in order to realize God within.
Festival & Rituals
- People fast on this day, usually
a waterless fast.
- They spend the day immersed in
Shri Krishna's glory by reading, reciting and singing his divine
leela especially in the evening in mandirs.
- At midnight, the Lord's birth
hour, arti is performed. He is also installed in the form of
'Lalji' (child form) in a swing and devotionally offered many
sumptuous food dishes. 'Makhan' (butter) is especially included
since Shri Krishna loved this in childhood. The traditional
prasad is 'Panchajiri' - made of five ingredients: powdered
ginger, 'suva', coriander, sugar and ghee. Other ingredients
include poppy seeds (khaskhas) and dessicated coconut shavings.
After arti, devotees jubilantly sing and hail kirtans extolling
the Lord's incarnation:
- "Nand gher anand bhayo,
Jai Kanaiyalal ki ..
Hathi, ghoda, palkhi, jai Kanaiyalal ki …"
- "Bawa Nand tane darbar,
nobat vaage re lol …
Hari pragatya taaranhaar, nobat vaage re lol…"