By Giriraj dasa
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.
Why are we born?
One has to take birth according to one’s activities of life. And after finishing one term of activities, one has to die to take birth for the next. In this way one is going through one cycle of birth and death after another without liberation.
How do we take birth?
When the child comes out of the abdomen through the narrow passage, due to pressure there the breathing system completely stops, and due to agony the child loses his memory. Sometimes the trouble is so severe that the child comes out dead or almost dead. One can imagine what the pangs of birth are like. The child remains for ten months in that horrible condition within the abdomen, and at the end of ten months he is forcibly pushed out.
We are forced to take birth
Everyone takes birth in this material world in continuation of his previous life, and thus he is subject to the stringent laws of nature, such as birth and death, distress and happiness, profit and loss.
(KB, chapter 73)
One who has taken birth in the material world is in a fallen situation.
And the results so far..
In whichever species of life I have taken birth, compelled by the force of my own activities, I have very painfully experienced two things, namely separation from my beloved and meeting with what is not wanted. And to counteract them, the remedies which I undertook were more dangerous than the disease itself. So I drift from one point to another birth after birth.
Why does Krishna takes ‘birth’?
Lord Hari, who is bliss personified, appeared in the home of Nanda Maharaja, the king of Vrndavana for three reasons: to engage the self satisfied sages in devotional service, to please the devotees by performing sweet transcendental pastimes, and to relieve the earth’s burden caused by the demons.
(Ananda Vrindavana Campu, chapter 2)
His appearance and disappearance vs. ours
His appearance and disappearance are like the sun’s rising, moving before us, and then disappearing from our eyesight. When the sun is out of sight, we think that the sun is set, and when the sun is before our eyes, we think that the sun is on the horizon. Actually, the sun is always in its fixed position, but owing to our defective, insufficient senses, we calculate the appearance and disappearance of the sun in the sky. And because Lord Krishna’s appearance and disappearance are completely different from that of any ordinary, common living entity, it is evident that He is eternal, blissful knowledge by His internal potency—and He is never contaminated by material nature. The Vedas also confirm that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is unborn yet He still appears to take His birth in multimanifestations. The Vedic supplementary literatures also confirm that even though the Lord appears to be taking His birth, He is still without change of body.
Is Krishna ‘obliged’ to take a birth like us?
The Lord is not obliged to take birth, but we are obliged to do so. That is the distinction between our birth and the birth of Krishna.
Krishna’s birth is transcendental, whereas our birth takes place by force, by the laws of nature. Krishna is not under the laws of nature; the laws of nature work under Him. Prakrti, nature, works under the order of Krishna, and we work under the order of nature. Krishna is the master of nature, and we are servants of nature.
(TQK, chapter 15)
Vasudeva then saw the newborn child, who had very wonderful lotuslike eyes and who bore in His four hands the four weapons śaṅkha, cakra, gadā and padma. On His chest was the mark of Śrīvatsa and on His neck the brilliant Kaustubha gem. Dressed in yellow, His body blackish like a dense cloud, His scattered hair fully grown, and His helmet and earrings sparkling uncommonly with the valuable gem Vaidūrya, the child, decorated with a brilliant belt, armlets, bangles and other ornaments, appeared very wonderful.
But something very special is happening in Gokula..
After Yasoda and her family members fell asleep in the maternity room, Hari cried beautifully like a newborn baby. His crying sounded like the maha-vakya omkara announcing the auspicious arrival of His pastimes. Omkara is a transcendental vibration that had previously emanated from the mouth of Lord Brahma. When the ladies of Vrndavana heard the sweet sound of Krishna’s crying, they woke up and ran to see the Lord. With the mellow of their matchless overflowing affection they anointed His body.
The natural fragrance of Krishna’s body smelled just like musk. After the ladies bathed Krishna in sweet ambrosia, He looked cleansed and beautiful. Then they smeared His body with fragrant sandalwood pulp. The presiding deity of the house sent a campaka flower resembling the flame of a lamp into the maternity room to worship that ornament of the three worlds. With the strength of His little arms, delicate as the tender leaves of a tree, Krishna made all the lamps in the maternity room look like a garland of lotus flower buds.
The ladies of Vrndavana saw baby Krishna like a blossoming flower made of the best of blue sapphires, or like a newly unfurled leaf of a tamala tree. Krishna looked like a fresh rain cloud decorated with the musk tilaka of the goddess of fortune of the three worlds. The ointment of the greatest auspiciousness lined His eyes. His presence filled the maternity room with good fortune. Although a mere baby, Krishna had a head full of curly hair. To hide the unique signs on His hands (goad, fish, conch etc.) the Lord folded His delicate petal-like fingers into His lotus palm. At that time Krishna laid on His back with His eyes closed.
(Ananda Vrindavana Campu, chapter 2)
Due to Yasoda’s intense love, personified bliss flowed from her breasts as steady streams of milk. When milk sometimes spilled out of Krishna’s bimba fruit red lips onto His cheeks, Mother Yasoda would wipe His face with the edge of her cloth. After feeding her son, After feeding her son, Yasoda gazed affectionately at Him in wonder.
She saw her child’s body as made of dazzling blue sapphires. His mouth resembled a red bimba fruit and His hands and feet looked like exquisite rubies. Krishna’s nails shone like precious gems. In this way, Yasoda thought her child was completely made of jewels. Then she perceived that His naturally reddish lips looked like bandhuka flowers, His hands and feet resembled Java flowers, His nails looked like mallika flowers. Yasoda then thought, “Krishna’s whole body seems to be made of blue lotus flowers. He does not appear to be mine.” After thus deliberating within herself Yasoda became stunned in amazement.
The beautiful, soft curly hairs on the right side of Krishna’s chest resembled the tender stems of a lotus. Seeing the mark of Srivatsa on His chest Yasoda thought it was breast milk that had previously spilled out of His mouth. She tried unsuccessfully to remove these ‘milk stains’ with the edge of her cloth. Struck with wonder, Yasoda thought this must be the sign of a great personality. Observing the sign of Laksmi (a small golden line) on the left side of Krishna’s chest, Yasoda thought a small yellow bird had made a nest amidst the leaves of a tamala tree. Could this be a streak of lightning resting on a rain cloud, or could it be the golden streaks marking a black gold-testing stone? Krishna’s delicate, leaf-like hands and feet glowing pink like the rising sun, looked like clusters of lotus flowers floating in the Yamuna.
Sometimes Yasoda saw the curly, dark blue locks of baby Krishna as swarm of bumblebees surrounding His face. Intoxicated from drinking too much honey nectar, the bees just hovered in the sky. His thick, beautiful blue hair appeared like the dark night. The two lotus eyes of Krishna looked like a pair of blue lotus buds. His cheeks resembled two huge bubbles floating in a lake of liquefied blue sapphires. Krishna’s attractive ears looked like a pair of fresh unfurled leaves growing on a blue creeper.
The tip of Krishna’s dark nose appeared like the sprout of a tree, and His nostrils looked like bubbles in the Yamuna River, the daughter of the sun god. His lips resembled a pair of red Java flower buds. Krishna’s chin rivaled a pair of ripe, red jambu fruits. Seeing the extraordinary beauty of her son fulfilled the purpose of her eyes and submerged Yasoda in an ocean of bliss.
Nanda maharaja is stunned..
The elderly Vrajavasi ladies addressed Vrajaraja Nanda, “O most fortunate one, you fathered a son!” Previously Nanda Maharaja had felt deeply aggrieved over his long-standing inability to obtain a son. His heart was like a small lake that had completely dried up during a long hot summer. But when Nanda Maharaja heard of his son’s birth he felt as if the dry lake of his heart had been blessed with a sudden downpour of nectar. The gentle sound of Krishna’s voice removed all his grief and lamentation. Now he bathed in the rains of bliss, swam in the ocean of nectar, and felt embraced by the joyful stream of the celestial Ganges.
Eager to see his son, Nanda’s body thrilled with astonishment and waves of ecstasy as he stood outside the maternity room. Because he had accumulated heaps of pious activities, it appeared that the King of Vrndavana was now shaking hands with the personification of pious deeds. Anxiously standing in the background, Yogamaya induced Nanda Maharaja to enter the maternity room. He rushed in to see his son, the personified seed of condensed bliss. It seemed that all the auspiciousness of the three worlds now resided within Krishna, the original cause of everything. Nanda saw his son as a perfectly charming person. The kajala around Krishna’s eyes looked like lines on a black creeper of beauty. As the very embodiment of Nanda’s good fortune, Sri Krishna bloomed like a beautiful flower in a garden of desire trees.
The aparajita flower is compared to the body of the Queen of Vrndavana. Her son is like the representative of the Upanisads that are compared to the fruit of the desire creepers. By seeing his glorious son Nanda felt that he had attained happiness, perfection, and the fulfillment of all his desires. Meeting that embodiment of bliss overwhelmed Nanda with immeasurable satisfaction. He stood motionless, stunned; his hair stood erect and tears flowed from his eyes. He appeared like a person carved in stone or a figure drawn in a painting. For some time Nanda Maharaja remained in this semi-conscious state like a sleeping man about to awaken.
Let the celebrations begin…
Cymbals, damru drums, bherries, and big drums vibrated auspicious sounds in specific melodies. A celestial concert of precise poetical meters, proper rhythms, and metrical compositions suddenly manifested there. The musical ensemble inspired the society girls to sing and dance in mirth and merriment. Though not good singers, by the will of the Lord they sang with great virtuoso. Their wonderful songs filled Nanda Maharaja’s heart with joy. The combined vibrations of brahmanas‘ chanting Vedic hymns, the recitation of Puranic lore, and the panegyrists’ prayers transformed the ethers into sabda brahman.
The joy of Krishna’s birth celebration taxed the drains of Nanda’s capital city as they swelled to the brim with milk, yogurt, and other auspicious liquids. Soon rivers of this nectar flooded the streets of the town and permeated the entire atmosphere with a sweet fragrance. Disguising themselves as birds, the demigods descended to Vrajapura to happily drink the flood of nectar. The Vrajavasis decorated their cows with gold and jeweled ornaments. Then in great excitement they smeared them with oil, fresh butter, and turmeric paste. Beholding Krishna in their hearts, these fortunate cows looked like the essence of the earth’s auspiciousness. The whole world resounded with their jubilant bellowing. Absorbed in the ecstasy of Krishna’s birth, they forgot about eating and drinking. The festival drowned the gopis in an ocean of joy. After offering oil, vermilion, garlands, and utensils in charity to all the assembled gopis, Rohini, the wife of Vasudeva, asked them to bless Krishna. Upon completion of the sacrifice, Upananda and the other relatives felt constant happiness while taking their baths. Keeping the King of Vrndavana in the front, Nanda’s relatives offered opulent cloth, jeweled ornaments, tambula, garlands, and sandalwood pulp to the guests. Then they humbly requested all in attendance to bless that wonderfully auspicious boy who had just appeared in Vrndavana.
(Ananda Vrindavana Campu, chapter 2)
Reading about both, ‘our’ lila as well as Krishna’s lila, do we have any doubt on whose lila should we be thinking and meditating upon!
On this Janmashtami let us read the first 3 chapters of Krishna book, or same chapters from Srimad Bhagavatam, to our deities, praying Krishna that let His katha purify our heart and then beg Him that this Janamashtami let His lotus feet make an appearance in our heart. Let us think, feel that desire deep within us and then speak aloud unequivocally that I want Krishna’s lotus feet to be placed in my heart on this day. And then take a vow that from this very day I am willing to act and change my life to show my sincerity and determination.
The appearance of the form of Krishna anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhäma
All glories to the most auspicious Janmashtami.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.