I come from a land of a variety of rich traditions and cultures and rich spiritual heritage. Significance of festivals interest me.
Krishna Janmashtami festival is the perfect time to strengthen family ties. It is all about family time, nice clothes, bright and happy atmosphere and loads of gifts. Festive special recipes are brought out and delicacies prepared with much enthusiasm and offered to Lord Krishna. As per lore Krishna had a great fondness for butter, milk and other milk ingredients, most of Janmashtami recipes are rich in these products. Various sweets and savories are also prepared in the homes in the country. The major charm of Janmashtami is reminiscing on the childhood of Lord Krishna. Devotees decorate their homes by making imprints of baby Krishna’s feet from the entrance of the house to the puja room. Small cradles are decorated with the idol of the Lord in it, personifying Krishna’s birth cradle. Some people even decorate the swing of Lord Krishna with flowers and ornaments.
Normally on Janmashtami, lakhs of devotees visit various temples to offer prayers and seek blessings. But this time due to the pandemic, temples are following strict protocols and devotees will be allowed to join the celebrations from a distance. Most people prefer to participate virtually. Celebrations are expected to be low key in temples due to the prevailing health challenges. Many traditional cultural programs that are part of the celebrations have been shelved to contain the spread of the virus.
Janmashtami is a festival to celebrate the birth of Krishna. Since it is believed that Krishna was born at midnight, devotees fast and observe jagran (night vigil) chanting sacred chants and verses from the Bhagavata Gita. At midnight puja is performed and the fast broken. Prayers continue till sunrise. In some parts of the country, people hang pots filled with curd and buttermilk. Youngsters climb over each other and break the pot and get drenched in the liquid that pours out of the pot and sing and dance and indulge in revelry in a group.
Interesting Story of Krishna’s Birth
Krishna was born as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, in prison at midnight of Ashtami in the month of Bhadrapada Krishna paksha, some five thousand years ago. As soon as he was born, he was taken across the river Yamuna to Vrindavan by his father Vasudeva, in order to save him from the evil king Kamsa. As the king Kamsa who was the uncle of Krishna had heard a prophesy that the eighth son of his sister would kill him.
The King imprisoned both his sister and her husband. After killing their seven children born there he waited to kill the eight progeny of Vasudeva and Devaki to prove the prophesy wrong. It is said that when Krishna was born, the prison doors magically opened. There was a raging storm and the river Yamuna was in full spate. But when Vasudeva carried the infant Krishna in a basket over his head, it is believed that he was able to walk through the river Yamuna and reach the other side. All this time the serpent Nagashesha protected the baby from the storm by spreading its hood over the basket that his father carried. After safely entrusting the baby to Nanda, Vasudeva returned to the prison.
There he was brought up by Yashoda and Nanda. Thus, the father of all became the son of Yashoda and Nanda. He who is without beginning or end was willing to be tied down by the maternal love of Yashoda. We celebrate his appearance on earth today. He was said to be dark skinned, so was also called Kanha. His childhood was wrought with life threatening situations.
At every turn he faced challenges and hardships but was always balanced and calm. He faced everything and everyone with a sense of responsibility and yet remained unattached. Though he knew the past and the future, he always lived in the present. His life is truly an example for everyone to follow. This world and nature are god’s visible form. Our life is the blessing of God which we should accept and welcome by properly imbibing the principles of Dharma or righteous living. By doing this our life and the lives of others will be filled with happiness and peace.
Lessons Learned from Lord Krishna's Avatar
On the auspicious occasion of Janmashtami, on the birth anniversary of Bhagavan Krishna, we celebrate his arrival into this world to give us an opportunity to revive our spiritual bliss by re-spiritualizing our lives and rise above the pains and pleasures of this world. On Janmashtami we revisit the life of Krishna and reminisce on the Life lessons that we learned from him.
There are many lessons that can be learned from Lord Krishna’s avatar.
The Path of Bhakti or Devotion
According to legend, Krishna is the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu or an avatar. The word avatar means to descend. It signifies the supreme consciousness assuming a human form. Krishna is described as a Purna avatar as per the Bhagavatam. Meaning that Krishna always abided in the True Self, ever perfect with no mental disturbances. Krishna came down to the level of mankind to show them how to live life in a way that would bring peace to themselves and to others.
Through his life and teachings, Krishna awakes bhakti or devotion, Jnana or knowledge and the true spirit of Karma (right action) in us. Bhakti is love for the imperishable. In an objective sense, it is the love towards one’s goals without which one cannot move forward on any path. In any area of action. it is love that elevates a person. The foundation of any path is bhakti. It is nothing but constant or continuous remembrance of God. It may start as a trickle or stream in one’s heart but gradually grows to become powerful like the Ganga, filling our hearts with love for God. Filled with this love, all sensory attachments and desires weaken, mental insecurities fade away and one is able to transcend body consciousness.
One should strive and employ oneself to uplift oneself. One should never dishonour oneself. The self is one’s friend as well as one’s enemy.
— The Bhagavad Gita
We seek happiness always in life, be it from objects, relationships or through wealth. Our fight against problems is continuous. Apart from external factors like diseases, poverty, pollution, disasters, now covid, we also suffer from mental trauma, depression, anxiety, anger, and relationship issues. In spite of technological advancement and administrative reforms, our suffering continues, though the names and forms may be different. Disturbance is always there within and without.
Happiness is difficult to find and even if we find it, it vanishes quickly. So, what can be done to achieve everlasting happiness. Krishna answers this in the Bhagavat Gita, chapter 9, verse 33. He says this world is temporary, and is not a place for happiness. He advises us to perform Bhakti Yog and become happy. The nature of happiness is described in Chapter 6, verse21. Happiness is unlimited. It is spiritual and beyond our external senses. It is completely fulfilling. Relationships make us happier than anything else in this world. This happiness helps us to transcend suffering. For example, parents endure a lot of difficulties for the sake of their children. It is human nature to love and be loved. But we need to realize that worldly relationships are temporary and do not last, whereas a relationship with God is ever lasting, unlimited, attractive, and eternal.
Free from anger and selfish desire, unified in mind, those who follow the path of yoga and realize the Self are established forever in that supreme state.
— Lord Krishna
Relationship of Love with the Lord
The relationship with Krishna is spiritual beyond the influence of birth, death and other worldly suffering. Once this divine relationship with God is revived through Bhakti Yog, we can transcend the trials and tribulations of this world and remain unaffected. Krishna’s pastimes as narrate in the Shrimad Bhagavatam is evident of this.
The people of Vrindavan, during the childhood phase of Krishna, were tormented by numerous problems like storms, monsters, ghosts’ witches and cannibals. But they passed though all these situations because they were completely absorbed in a relationship of immense love and sweetness with Krishna. On Janmashtami we again try to revive our relationship with Krishna, participate in his sweet and colorful pastimes which can help us transcend our suffering within and without. This can be done by meditation, devotion and worship of Krishna as described in Chapter 9 verse 34 of the Bhagavad Gita.
What the outstanding person does, others will try to do. The standards such people create will be followed by the whole world.
— The Bhagavad Gita
Love of Life
We get to learn another very important lesson from the life of Krishna. His love for life. He is a man who went through a lot of hardships from the time he was born. But he went through them all joyfully, with a smile on his face. So, the most important lesson we learn from Krishna’s life is to stay balanced and calm, whether we experience joy or sorrow and do our duty dispassionately like doing a service to God. This will give us real happiness and Krishna always wants us to be happy. Pure love and surrender are the only qualifications for this. He descends in this world or takes avatar again and again to teach mankind the lesson of righteous living and to attain spiritual progress in life.
The self-controlled soul, who moves amongst sense objects, free from either attachment or repulsion, he wins eternal Peace.
— The Bhagavad Gita
Believe in God’s Will
Believers in the supreme power of the almighty dwell in the faith of God’s will. God’s will be their will. For them the thought of surrender is founded on obedience to God’s wish. It results in divine blessings. When we accept the reality as God’s will, stress levels start to diminish. By accepting that whatever has happened has been done for my advantage makes it easier to let go. The most important standard for total surrender is unconditional love. On acquiring this trait, we will treat and live peacefully with all our fellow beings.
We should be free from all malice, have no desire to harm others or have ill feelings and not get pleasure from hurting others. So unconditional love with friendly and compassionate feelings is an essential parameter to make one eligible for total surrender to God, as per Krishna. There are many benefits of total surrender to God. The negative thoughts of fear and worry which deprive us of happiness and peace get eliminated in total surrender, leading to total relaxation.
Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.
— Ved Vyasa, The Bhagavad Gita
Krishna assures such devotees ‘Do not worry, I shall absolve you of all your sins and sufferings. Krishna says’ for devotees who perform selfless actions and are devoted to me alone, without attachment and desire for fruits, I provide yogakshemam. This means that he attends to their requirements and also protects whatever is bestowed on them. The devotee will have the advantage of constant hope and positivity in every arena of life. As the confidence of such devotee goes on increasing, the ego decreases. This brings peace and happiness to himself and to society as a whole.
The Power of a Smile
Krishna came into this world with a smile and also left this world with a smile. The illustrious life and teachings of Krishna can be summarized as Love life, learn to welcome and accept all experiences, both good and bad with a smile. To lead a righteous life and believe in his causeless love for us. That is the way to be happy.
The Essence of The Bhagavat Gita
The essence of the Bhagavat Gita is in the last chapter, chapter 18 verse 66 where Krishna says to Arjuna ‘concentrate your mind on me, be my devotee, worship me, bow down in obeisance to me, then you will certainly attain me. This is the secret of God realization’. He tells him ‘Fix your mind on me, by this you will succeed in controlling all your problems, tribulations, with my kindness’. This is the concept of Purna Sharanagati-total surrender, when it is done by staunch believers.
- Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God – Swami Mukundananda
Read the Bhagavad Gita online with profound and easy-to-understand commentary by Swami Mukundananda. Unravel the philosophy of life and the spiritual essence of the Bhagavad Gita in the most practical and systematic way. With original Sanskrit verses
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 VIDYA D SAGAR
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 02, 2021:
Thanks Rosina for the visit and comments. Much appreciated. Yes reading about the life of Krishna is really wonderful. I am glad you enjoyed it. Have a great day and stay blessed.
Rosina S Khan on September 02, 2021:
It was intriguing to know about Lord Krishna, his life lessons, and Janmashtami. Thank you for sharing interesting aspects of your culture and beliefs. I found reading about them truly enjoyable, Vidya.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on August 31, 2021:
Thanks Flourish. I appreciate your visit and kind comments. I am glad you liked it. Have a great day.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on August 31, 2021:
Thanks emgee. I appreciate your visit and comments. I am glad you liked my work. Have a great day.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on August 31, 2021:
Excellent exposition of the Lord and his philosophy, Thanks for sharing
FlourishAnyway from USA on August 31, 2021:
Thank you for sharing your culture and beliefs. Beautifully presented.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on August 30, 2021:
Thanks Bill. I appreciate your visit and comments. I am happy you liked it. Have a great week ahead my friend.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2021:
Thank you for this lesson on culture. I enjoyed it greatly!
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on August 30, 2021:
Thanks Pamela for the kind words. Actually there are more wonderful stories about Krishna. His childhood pranks, adventures, his pasttimes as they call it. I could not fit into this hub. Maybe next time. Have a great day. Stay blessed
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 30, 2021:
This is such an interesting article, Vidya. This is a great deal of new information that I did not know before. The tenets you follow are such a good way to live life. I really appreciate learning something new about a different culture, Vidya.