The birthday of Hinduism’s favorite Lord Krishna is a special occasion for Hindus, who consider him their leader, hero, protector, philosopher, teacher and friend all rolled into one.
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). This auspicious day is called Janmashtami. 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.
Read about the story of his birth.
How do Hindus celebrate #Janmashtami? The devotees of Lord Krishna observe fast for the whole day and night, worshipping him and keeping vigil through the night while listening to his tales and exploits, recite hymns from the Gita, sing devotional songs, and chant the mantra Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
Krishna’s birthplace Mathura and Vrindavan celebrate this occasion with great pomp and show. Raslilas or religious plays are performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and to commemorate his love for Radha.
Song and dance mark the celebration of this festive occasion all over northern India. At midnight, the statue of infant Krishna is bathed and placed in a cradle, which is rocked, amidst the blowing of conch shells and the ringing of bells.
In the south western state of Maharashtra, people enact the god’s childhood attempts to steal butter and curd from earthen pots beyond his reach. A similar pot is suspended high above the ground and groups of young people form human pyramids to try and reach the pot and break it.
The town of Dwarka in Gujarat, Krishna’s own land, comes alive with major celebrations as hordes of visitors flock to the town.
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 Hindu Trinity of deities. Of all the Vishnu avataras he is the most popular, and perhaps of all Hindu gods the one closest to the heart of the masses. Krishna was dark and extremely handsome. The word Krishna literally means ‘black’, and black also connotes mysteriousness.
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 for Hindus that is celebrated around the world. 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.
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”.