Lord Krishna is the emblem of platonic love. Lovers down the age are signified with the divine love of Radha and Krishna. But, Janmasthami is not the day for lovers. The day is remembered for our interesting mythological incident. Lord Krishna's birthday was celebrated all over the city with pomp and devotion.
International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), organised a 'bhajan' sabha for the devotees. Men and women were dressed in saffron, danced with the rhythm of 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna." The idol of Sri Krishna and Radha were decorated with brand new clothes and sparkling jewelleries.
In front of the main ditty, a small 'jhola' (swing) was decorated with flowers on which a small udol of 'Nadoo Gopal' was seated. Toddler Krishna is also known as Gopal which is one of his centre Octavian names.
The largest and costliest temple in Kolkata of Sri Krishan is Birla Mandir. In the evening we saw a huge serpent queue in front of the temple. People of all ages had gathered to offer their respect to their beloved lord. The deity was dressed with a gorgeous dhoti and kurta, specially designed for the occasion.
The work of 'Zari' embedded with shiny stones added glamour to the white marble idol. Radha who stands beside Krishna was looking equally charming in all new attires. The fragrance of 'Jasmine' would mesmerise the heart of every visitor and the sandalwood 'agarbati' gave it a divine touch.
Innumerable devotees gathered in front of Shyamsunder Tala Mandir, Dakshineswar Mandir and many other places. It is to be said that Lord Krishna was born in midnight. The following day to Lord's birthday is popularly known as Nando Utsav. People serve prasads to the special items for Janmasthami. Homemade butter
Who is Sri Krishna?
Krishna is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This fact is stated and corroborated in the Vedic scriptures and by various authorities. Lord Brahma in Brahma Samhita says, "Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes" (BS 5.1). In the Bhagavata Purana Krishna becomes the chief object of devotion. After describing various incarnations of the Lord such as Rama, Balarama, Vamana, Nrsimha, and Vishnu, Srila Sukadeva Goswami states, "All of the above mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead" (SB 1.3.28).
Lord Shiva in Gita Mahatmya, states that "only one God - Krishna, the son of Devaki" (Verse 7). In the Padma Purana it is stated, "By scrutinizingly reviewing all the revealed scriptures and judging them again and again, it is now concluded that Lord Narayana is the Supreme Absolute Truth, and thus He alone should be worshipped". Similarly it is said in the Skanda Purana, "In the material world, which is full of darkness and dangers, combined with birth and death and full of different anxieties, the only way to get out of the great entanglement is to accept loving transcendental devotional service to Lord Vasudeva. This is accepted by all classes of philosophers".
The position of Krishna as God is confirmed by great personalities like Narada, Asita, Devala, Vyasa, Parasara, Brahma and Shiva. Finally Krishna Himself confirms this fact in the Bhagavad-gita to His friend and devotee, Arjuna. He clearly says that He is "the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods" (BG 5.29), that "there is no truth superior to Me" (BG 7.7) and - "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me" (BG 10.8).
What is the position of Krishna?
As God, there is no one equal to or greater than Krishna. He is the original, unborn, eternal person, the most ancient, completely independent, and the cause of all causes. Parasara Muni, the father of Srila Vyasadeva and a great scholar who had himself held the position of Vyasa in a previous kalpa, very nicely defines the position of Bhagavan (God) as one Who is complete in six kinds of opulence namely - wisdom, beauty, fame, power, wealth and renunciation. While there are many great personalities who are very famous or very wealthy, only Krishna as God is replete in all six opulence.
The scriptures not only give us the unique position of Krishna but also give us a detailed description of all His aspects. They tell us that above this temporary material universe is an eternal spiritual world called Vaikuntha, and Krishna lives in the topmost planet of this universe called Goloka Vrindavana which is full of palaces made of touch-stone (cintamani), with trees that are capable of fulfilling all desires (kalpa-vraksha) and cows that are called Surabhi.
Here Krishna eternally resides, served by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune. He sports with His most confidential and intimate devotees, headed by Srimati Radharani. He has a form just like us but His body is spiritual and thus eternal. His complexion is dark-blue, like that of a rain-filled cloud and His eyes are like lotus petals. He is ever youthful, full of bliss and His beauty excels that of thousands of cupids. He likes to play the flute, He sports a crown with a peacock feather and He is adorned by the exquisite kastuba jewel.
Learn how Janmashtami is celebrated in various states of India.
In West Bengal, Janmashtami is celebrated with great enthusiasm and festive celebrations are replete with the performance of religious customs as mentioned in the sacred Hindu scriptures. Here the occassion is famously known as 'Gupt Vrindavan'("Gupt" meaning "Secret"), a name that alludes to the fact that Lord Krishna spent time in Vrindavan in divine enjoyment with his consort, Radha. Radha, a married woman, is said to be actually an incarnate of Goddess Lakshmi (the wife of Lord Vishnu) and her bond with Lord Krishna (also an incarnate of Lord Vishnu) was of pure love, a relationship that was misunderstood by the wordly people. Hence any meeting that the lord had with his consort was in secrecy. Such episodes of the Lord's life, from his childhood days to adult stage, is beautifully represented in wood or clay in the form of tableaus. The creation and decoration of the tableaus is made by skilled workers and is started several days in advance of the actual occassion. On the actual Janmashtami day, beautiful tableau processions are taken out to the accompaniment of the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch shells and chatting of the Lord's name. Special dramatic performances known as "Rasila" are performed in various temples dedicated to Lord Krishna to showcase various events from his life, especially highlighting his divine love for Radha and his other playmates. In individual homes, women cook up special dishes and offer to the Lord as well as perform worship services in his honour. It is a time that witnesses the worship not only of Lord Krishna but every other form of Lord Vishnu such as Lord Ayyapa and Lord Narayana. At night, special Janmashtami puja is performed at many Bengali homes as well as in the temples of the state. In Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, the festival sees idol worship and special functions being organised in every Krishna temple, especially the ones managed by ISKCON. A grand attraction during Janmashtami is the jhoolan celebration which has idols of baby Lord Krishna being put on swings and rocked for the whole day. Singers, most of them linked with temples, sing devotional bhajans and songs known as "kirtan" which are listened to by a large number of people all of whom are served a special dish consisting of 56 items known as 'chappan bhog'.
Also known as "The City of Gold", Dwarka is located in the state of Gujarat and is believed to be the city that he and his brother Balram had established and settled in for a long long time before leaving Mathura. Hence, the identity of Dwarka is inseparable from Lord Krishna and Janmashtami holds great importance for the people of Dwarka. The festival is observed here with great fervor.
In the early morning hours of Janmashtami, a 'mangla aarti' (beneficient worship) is performed in almost every temple of Dwarka. The cleaning of the idol of the Lord is then performed and only after it has been decorated and properly installed are the devotees able to pay a visit to the divine. A special dish known as 'Banta Bhog' and food items made of milk are served to the Lord. The Lord is also given some time to "sleep" in the evening. The Dwarkadheesh temple in Dwarka is highly famous for its grand and enormous Janmashtami celebration and is visited by pious devotees from all over the country. Though Janmashtami is observed in the city only during the month of Shravana, the Aboti Brahmins of the city are well known for the fact that they perform the routine of the Janmashtami pooja on a daily basis. It is known as 'nitya karm' of the Lord.
Mathura, situated about 150 kms from Delhi (the Indian capital), is believed to be the birth place of Lord Krishna and Janmashtami is naturally an event of special significance for the people of the city. The festival is celebrated at its grandest in this place.
The highlight of the Janmashtami festivities in Mathura is the "Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir", a grand temple that is believed to have been erected at the exact site where Lord Krishna was born. People from all over India as well as abroad throng this temple during the two days of Janmashtami with the result that Mathura becomes a major tourist spot during this festival. The main attraction of the temple is the place known as the 'Garbha Griha’, where the idol of Lord Krishna has been kept. The entire day has devotees observing a strict fast, breaking it only at midnight after the hour when the Lord is supposed to have taken birth. They sing songs and hyms in praise of the the Lord and chanting his different names as a mark of respect and as a rite of self-purification. Special tableaus known as 'jhankis’ are created during this time to recreate various incidents from the childhood of the Lord.
The celebration of Janmashtami goes back a long time in the history of old Delhi and many believe that the observance of the festival started from the period of rule of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The great prosperity that the emperor's reign brought saw many astrologers, moneylenders and tradesmen coming from different regions and settling down in Delhi, especially near Chandni Chowk. As a consequence, many mosques as well as temples had been built and Janmashtami began to be celebrated in a grander way.
Even in present times, Janmashtami continues to be celebrated with great zest in Delhi. Thousands of devotees wake up early on the Janmashtami day, take a bath and pay a visit to their nearest temples to decorate the temples, bathe the idol of the Lord and perform special puja before him during the occassion. They offer a special dish "bhog" before the idol and offer their prayers. The celebrations are almost of a similar nature at individual houses which are beautifully decorated for the festival with colourful bands, streamers and other decorative items. Small idols of the baby Lord are also purchased during this time and rocked for the entire day in the cradle. Conches are blown at the midnight hour to mark the hour of the Lord's birth approximately five thousand years ago.
Historically, Lord Krishna appeared in the Dvapara yuga, on the midnight of the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Sravan. This corresponds to July 19th 3228 BC. He exhibited His pastimes for a little over 125 years and disappeared on February 18th 3102 BC on the new moon night of Phalgun. His departure marks the beginning of the current age of corruption known as Kali. The great scholar Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti neatly outlines Lord Krishna's activities in this way. He was born in Mathura in the prison cell of Kamsa and carried to Gokul. The first three years and four months were spent in Gokula, then equal lengths of time in Vrindavan and Nandagram. At the age of eleven He left Vrindavan for Mathura where He lived for eighteen years and four months, and finally ninety-six years and eight months in Dvaraka totaling about 126 years of manifest pastimes. At the time of Mahabharata, when Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita, He was about ninety years of age.
Draped in silk and decorated with Jewels, Krishna, was born in his four-armed form of Vishnu Avatar. Sri Krishna appeared on the Earth with four weapons- the conch, club, disc and lotus. Parents of Sri Krishna wished and prayed to almighty to turn Sri Krishna into an ordinary baby as it was really very important for them to hide the little baby from Kamsa. The Lord listened to them and asked Vasudeva, the father of Sri Krishna, to take him to Vrindavan in order to exchange Sri Krishna with a newly born baby girl. It was due to the Lord’s grace Sri Krishna turned in a baby.
It was surprising that suddenly all the shackles and chains of the prison of Kamsa broke to make way for Vasudeva. All the guards of the prison fell asleep to make the process smooth and hassle-free. Vasudeva went out carrying his little baby without throwing questions to anyone. Vasudeva went across the holy Jamuna River to Vrindavana. When all the cowherds were asleep, Vasudeva entered into the house of Nanda with Krishna quietly. He placed his son on the bed of Yasoda. While returning back to his own shack, he picked up the newly born baby girl.
The omen said that the eight son of Vasudeva would kill Kamsa. So, there was a chance that Kamsa would spare the baby girl. However, Kamsa listened to no one; he dragged the little girl and thrashed her against a stone. He didn’t even bother to lend an ear to Devaki’s entreat. Suddenly, the girl slipped out of his hands and magically took the shape of the holy Hindu deity, Durga. Draped in fine garments and jewels, she rose above the head of Kamsa. Devi Durga uttered, "The enemy you contemplate is living somewhere else. You are a fool to hurt innocent children. Krishna will kill you."
Showing regret, the repentant Kamsa, begged to Devaki and Vasudeva to forgive him for his sins. He released both of them from shackles and opened the chains. He cried falling down on their feet. On the very next day, nevertheless, he was suggested and advised by all his ministers to kill all the new born babies in and around the entire territory. He gave up his emotional and sentimental attitude in order to kill all the newborn babies.