The legend of Lord Krishna’s birth is woven with mythological charm. It is said that Lord Krishna descended upon the mortal realm in the small town of Mathura, nestled along the banks of the Yamuna River, over five thousand years ago. His birth took place in the heart of darkness, in a prison cell where his parents, Vasudeva and Devaki, were unjustly imprisoned by Devaki’s brother, the tyrannical King Kansa. As a divine response to the tyranny of Kansa and the pleas of the oppressed, Lord Vishnu reincarnated in the form of Lord Krishna as a newborn infant. His appearance was accompanied by a series of extraordinary events, including the prison doors opening miraculously, the guards falling into a deep slumber, and Vasudeva safely carrying the infant Krishna across the turbulent waters of the Yamuna to the village of Gokul.
Janmashtami rituals and celebrations
The celebration of Janmashtami is a vibrant spectacle of devotion and spirituality. Devotees prepare for this auspicious day with great enthusiasm, adorning their homes and temples with colorful decorations, flowers, and intricate rangoli designs. Many people prepare beautiful Krishna jhakis outside their houses, displaying events associated with the life of Krishna. It is customary to fast until midnight, the time of Lord Krishna’s birth, when the divine child is believed to make his appearance. As the clock strikes 12, the conch shell is blown, and the sound of temple bells fills the air, signifying the arrival of Lord Krishna. Devotees break their fast by feasting on a sumptuous array of dishes, including sweets like “panjiri” and “makhan-mishri” to commemorate the young Krishna’s love for butter.
Spiritual significance of Janmashtami
The spiritual significance of Janmashtami transcends the mere celebration of a historical event. Lord Krishna, through his divine play and teachings, serves as a profound embodiment of spirituality and wisdom. He is revered not only for his mischievous exploits as a child but also for his role as a compassionate guide and philosopher in the epic Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to simply as the Gita, is a 700-verse dialogue between Lord Krishna and the warrior prince Arjuna. It takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where Arjuna is faced with a moral and existential crisis as he prepares to engage in a great war against his own kin. Arjuna is torn between his duty as a warrior and his love for his family, and in this moment of profound confusion and despair, he turns to Lord Krishna for guidance.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna imparts timeless wisdom and spiritual insights that extend far beyond the battlefield. He explains the profound philosophical concepts, including the nature of the self or atman, the impermanence of the physical world, the concept of dharma or duty, and the paths to spiritual realization. Krishna emphasizes the importance of selfless action, or karma yoga, devotion, or bhakti yoga, and meditation, or dhyana yoga, as a means to attain spiritual enlightenment and moksha.
The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are universally relevant and have inspired countless individuals on their spiritual journeys. Its message of equanimity in the face of life’s challenges, selfless service, and devotion to the divine has resonated with people from diverse backgrounds. The Gita serves as a timeless guide for leading a life of purpose, meaning, and spiritual fulfillment.
Janmashtami, therefore, represents not only the celebration of Lord Krishna’s divine birth but also an opportunity for devotees to reflect upon the profound teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and their application in their lives. It serves as a reminder that, like Arjuna, we too face moral and existential dilemmas on our life’s battlefield, and the wisdom of Lord Krishna can illuminate our path and lead us towards inner peace and spiritual growth. Here are a few quotes from the Bhagavad Gita:
1. “You are what you believe in, You become that which you believe you can become.” – Bhagavad Gita
2. “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work, You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.” – Bhagavad Gita
3. “There is nothing lost or wasted in this life.” – Bhagavad Gita
4. “The wise work for the welfare of the world, without thought for themselves.” – Bhagavad Gita
5. “The mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it.” – Bhagavad Gita
6. “No one should abandon duties because he sees defects in them. Every action, every activity, is surrounded by defects as a fire is surrounded by smoke.” – Bhagavad Gita
7. “Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.” – Bhagavad Gita
8. “It is better to live in your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” – The Bhagavad Gita.
9. “Death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore grieve not for what is inevitable.”
― Bhagavad Gita
10. “Seek refuge in the attitude of detachment and you will amass the wealth of spiritual awareness. The one who is motivated only by the desire for the fruits of their action, and anxious about the results, is miserable indeed.”
― Bhagavad Gita
11. “When a man dwells on the pleasure of sense, attraction for them arises in him. From attraction arises desire, the lust of possession, and this leads to passion, to anger.
From passion comes confusion of mind, then loss of remembrance, the forgetting of duty. From this loss comes the ruin of reason, and the ruin of reason leads man to destruction.”
― Bhagavad Gita
12. “The spirit is beyond destruction. No one can bring an end to spirit which is everlasting.”
― Bhagavad Gita
13. “A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return” – Bhagavad Gita
14. “Work for work’s sake, not for yourself. Act but do not be attached to your actions. Be in the world, but not of it.” – Bhagavad Gita
15. “Lust, Anger, and Greed are the three doors to hell.” – Bhagavad Gita