Janmashthami: Its Meaning

August 2000

They say that whenever there is darkness in the world, whenever strife and ignorance prevail, the Lord incarnates to shine His divine light on the darkness. He grabs hold of the faltering world, preventing it from drifting too far astray. 

However, the Lord does not simply incarnate, give wisdom and depart. No. His divine light, His divine message and His divine grace continue to shine, on and on, upon all future generations. His wisdom is such that, once given, it is timeless and eternal, infinite and universal. Lord Krishna’s message in the Gita, and the message of His entire life are not meant merely for those who lived 5000 years, in the lands of Mathura, Vrindavan, Kurukshetra and Dwarka  Rather, the messages are as timeless as His presence and grace.

At this time, as we celebrate the divine occasion of the anniversary of the date He came forth into this world in human form, we must ask ourselves, “why?” What was the message of Lord Krishna’s life? What darkness did He come to dispel? In what ocean of ignorance are we drowning, that He has come to save us?

Most Indians, and now many Westerners as well, are familiar with the Gita. We know that Lord Krishna’s verbal message to Arjun on the battlefield was “Stand up. Do your duty.”

However, we tend to forget that there are also  invaluable lessons and divine teachings embedded in the very life He lived, not only in His 108-verse Song of God. What are these messages of Lord Krishna’s life, and how do they apply to us today? Let us look at His life, chronologically, for these hidden treasures.

Messages from the Birth of Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna was born in the darkness of night, born into the locked confines of a jail cell where His mother and father were being held prisoner. However, at the moment of His birth, all the guards fell asleep, the chains were broken, and the barred doors gently opened.

There is a beautiful message here, even from the first moment of the Lord’s life: we may be living in the darkness of midnight; we may be bound and chained by so many attachments, temptations, angers, grudges, pains and by the binding force of maya. We may feel ourselves locked into the prison of our own bodies, the prison of duality. However, as soon as the Lord takes birth in our hearts, all darkness fades, all chains are broken and all prison doors open freely. Wherever the Lord is, there are no locks. 

Also, we can see that the door to the Lord – from any direction, inside or outside – is always open. The only lock is the lock of our own ignorance, our own illusions. As soon as that ignorance is dispelled, as soon as we see His glowing form, all the doors in this life and in all lives open to us.

The Childhood of the Lord

Beginning with His birth in a jail and the immediate rush to whisk Him away to a new family, across the river, in Gokul, the Lord was not given an “easy” childhood.

On the sixth day of the Lord’s life, Putna (the demoness) made Him drink poison from her breast. In His third month of life a bullock cart fell on Him. Then, when He was four, huge trees fell on Him.

At seven, He was in Govardhan. The people of Govardhan worshipped Lord Indra, singing his praises and making daily offerings to him. However, Lord Krishna admonished them and said that they should worship Lord Govardhan instead, since it was Govardhan who gave them land, water, grass for their cows. Yet, the people were afraid. Lord Indra threatened to wreak havoc upon their lives if they ceased his worship. As Lord Indra pummeled the beautiful land of Govardhan with rain, hail, thunder and lightening, the Lord – at the age of seven – had to hold up the mountain of Govardhan over the heads of the people, protecting them from the violent storm. However, as He held up this mountain on the tip of His finger, for days and days as Lord Indra grew more and more furious, we never see Him angry, nor frustrated, nor disheartened. No. He is always smiling, even in the midst of the torrential storm.

A few short years later, He is forced to kill His uncle, and before the age of twenty, He had to flee His home in Mathura, barefoot to Junagar, with nothing but a small pitambar. For years, then, this King of all Kings lived in a simple ashram, doing seva for the saints, with no facilities, no amenities. He had no coat for winter, no umbrella for the rains…

Yet, wherever He went, wherever He was, He was always blissful, always joyful, always shining His divine light upon others.

We, on the other hand, get stuck in one traffic jam and our days are ruined. We have one business failure and we feel dejected and broken. We become afflicted with disease and we lose our faith in God.

The Message of His Life

So, what is the Lord teaching us? If He chose His birth and He chose the course of His life on Earth, why did He choose a life full of obstacles, turmoil, trials and tribulations? Why, if He could have lived His entire life as a king, why did He spend so many years living in the jungle?

He did this to show us that the real palace is the palace of our heart – when the heart is full of God, then we live constantly in the most beautiful Golden Palace, regardless of where our bodies may be. He chose this life to teach us that regardless of what insults are hurled at us, or what obstacles we face,  we must remain immersed in Divine Connection and we will not become depressed or frustrated. His life teaches us that we cannot change what happens – it happens for various reasons – but we CAN change our reaction to it. The message of His life is “adapt and adjust.” Move forward. We cannot stop the wind from blowing, but we can change the direction of our sails, so that instead of capsizing our boat, we use the wind to take us to our destination.

Even in Lord Krishna’s death – shot to death by an arrow from a hunter’s bow, deep in the secluded forest – He was full of divine light and compassion, forgiving the guilt-ridden hunter. Never did He bemoan the ending of His life, nor did He cry out for help from His thousands of subjects and devotees… No. He died alone in the jungle, miles and miles from the glorious kingdom of Dwarka.

Death Alone  in the Jungle – Even for the King

We may be “kings” in this lifetime, living in palaces of gold, but at the end we are always alone. We must cross the threshold from this life to the next alone. Therefore, it matters not what riches we acquire, what status we hold. None of it can save us from the hunter’s arrow. None of it can come to our rescue at the time of death. All that matters is how we have lived our lives, whom we have helped, whom we have healed, to whom we have brought peace and comfort.

The Ultimate Divine Message

As we celebrate the divine occasion of Lord Krishna’s birth, let us also remember to take to heart the message of His life: never lose yourself due to external circumstances, never lose your smile, never lose your song…

Let us offer to Him, on this day of His birthday, not only our prayers and our aarti, but let us offer our lives at His holy feet, so that we, too, may become divine and pure. Let us pray:

Mein to kab se teri sharan mein hun
Meri or tu bhi to dhyan de
Mera maan to bhi undakar hai.
Meri ishwar muje gyan de
Chayay dukh ki rehn mila to kya, chahay sukh ki boar. 
Pat jhar me bhi jo khilarde hai.
Jo lo ter na fiki pared cabi muje vo madhur muskaan de.
Teri arati ka dia banu, meri hai yahi mano kamana:
Mere prana tera hi nam le, cara man teri hu aradhana,
Guna ghan tera hi me carun. Muje ye prabhuu vardan de.
Muje me hai rag aur dwesh bhi, Ninda parai mein carun
Ehenkar ko prabhu har lo tum
Muje divya ta ka daan de.
Tera roop sab me nihar mein. Muje vo nazar bhagwan de


Oh Lord, I have been waiting for you for so long, birth after birth, life after life.
Please pay just a little attention to me.
My mind and heart are clouded by a darkness known only to you.
Please, oh Lord, shine upon me the divine light which will dispel this darkness.
Oh Lord, let me be filled with Divine Bliss and joy, 
whether it is the dark night of sorrow or the dawn of joy.
Make me the flower which always blossoms, in every season of the year. 
Give me that sweet, loving smile which never fades, 
even during times of adversity.
Let me be the lamp of your aarti, burning in devotion to you.
Let my every breath chant your name. 
Let my heart beat only for you.
Let my mind and heart be engaged in your worship.
Let not only my lips sing your glories,  
but let my heart also sing your glories. 
Please, oh Lord, grant me this wish.
Oh Lord, I am afflicted by attachments and jealousy. 
I am burdened by the habit of condemning others.
Please remove me from this darkness. 
Annihilate my ego, my attachments and my pain.

Give me that divine vision with which I have your darshan in all I behold. 
Let me see all as your divine manifestation.







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