Sunday, 29 August 2021 | Radhanath Swami
All starts from him and ends in him. As we celebrate Janmashtami, let’s rejoice Krishna in our hearts, writes Radhanath Swami
Krishna was born on the eight day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in Shravana or Bhadrapada, which overlaps with August or September of the Gregorian calendar. Krishna entered this world as Paramatma.
The planetary system was automatically readjusted so that everything became auspicious. Rivers, lakes trees, and nature, everything was extremely pleasant. To welcome the supreme personality of Godhead, the waning moon became full moon in jubilation. There was celebration everywhere.
The asuras or people having asura mentality think of the lord as a common man who was born and who died, but it would be ignorance to think so. Firstly, the lord was not afraid to be born in the prison of Kamsa. Second, although the lord is all-pervading, he had appeared from the womb of Devaki. Third, he was born with all gems well decorated. Fourth, Vasudeva’s worshipable deity was born as his son. In this transcendental jubilation, Vasudeva mentally collected ten thousand cows and distributed them amongst the brahmanas as a transcendental festival
Krishna was born in the jail of Mathura. There was complete terror and chaos during his birth. He was appearing as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva to fulfil their desire. The Lord then decided to leave the residence of Vasudeva and Devaki, in the prison house of Kamsa. Yogmaya, took birth as the daughter of Yashoda. By her grace, the guards fell asleep, the prison doors flung open and Vasudeva was able to leave the prison house and save the child from the hands of Kamsa.
In those time, Kamsa’s atrocities had crossed all limits. Because of Kamsa’s disturbances, the vedic ritualistic ceremonies had almost stopped. But on occasion of the lords birth the Brahmanas were very happy and pleased to perform their rituals with peaceful minds.
When Lord is all powerful then why do bad practices still exist in this world? Why are wrong doers not punished immediately? Many such questions comes in our mind. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” To answer all this, let us go to the dungeon of Kamsa where he had incarcerated Devaki and Vasudeva under the most atrocious conditions.
Their marriage was such a joyous occasion until that ominous voice from the sky announced that the eighth child of Devaki would be the cause of Kamsa’s death. Heaven dramatically changed to Hell! Kamsa had his sword at Devaki’s throat but Vasudeva intervened with the assurance that every child of Devaki would be handed over to him, unconditionally. Kamsa relented. When Vasudeva faithfully presented his first son, Kirtiman, to Kamsa the tyrant king returned the infant saying that he was mainly concerned about the eighth child.
All was well on the home front, till the sage Narada planted the seed of mistrust in Kamsa’s heart by warning him not to trust that hidden heavenly voice because any child of Devaki could be his killer. The enraged tyrant lost all traces of reason and consideration. He ordered his soldiers to arrest Devaki and Vasudeva and brutally murdered their first born innocent child.
Devaki and her husband remained completely undaunted. They had every reason to default. Instead, with unshakeable faith and determination they decided to perform their sacred duty of producing more offspring under the most harrowing conditions of Kamsa’s dungeon.
People seldom talk about the untold miseries of pregnant women. It is not uncommon to suffer from pre and postnatal depression. Who could ever imagine Devaki’s horrific anxiety, moment by moment, as she advanced in each of her pregnancies. She dreaded that moment when her demoniac brother would come and dash her new born helpless son to death on the dungeon walls. Kamsa paid no heed to her pleading nor could Vasudeva’s intervention prevail upon him.
Contrary to all expectations, this divine couple never complained. Neither did they question God nor blame Him for their deplorable predicament. Vasudeva stood by Devaki’s side like a pillar of fortitude, constantly enkindling hope within her heart whilst reminding her of their unconditional commitment to the will of divine Providence.
Devaki conceived for the seventh time — it was Sankarshan (another name of Balarama). However, one night, Devaki was shocked to notice that there was no embryo in her womb. Kamsa thought it was a miscarriage. But, in reality, Krishna had arranged (through His all powerful ‘yogamaya shakti’) for Sankarshan to be mysteriously transferred to Rohini’s womb. It was indeed a transcendental miscarriage. So far, Vasudeva and Devaki’s marital track record looked like a tragedy — six sons slaughtered by Kamsa and a seventh miscarriage. The odds were overwhelming but this staunch couple did not permit fear or superstition to get the better of them. Their hearts were sold out to that precious eighth child who must be born, and conceive they did.
On the eighth night of the waning moon, a son appeared at midnight. It was Krishna, who was fully attired and ornamented and more effulgent than innumerable suns. Devaki’s and Vasudeva’s joy knew no bounds!
Then came another severe test! Krishna desired to be taken to Gokula and exchanged with the daughter of Nanda and Yashoda. His heart torn with grief, Vasudeva executed that instruction, too, without hesitation or delay.
Also to clear some pending Karmas of past birth and to nullify them in the current birth, a human being goes through the so-called ups and downs of life. If one surrenders to Lord Krishna, one will experience the ease of going through the testing time and in this way, they will pay back their bad karma and come out of the bad situations of their life. In conclusion, when bad things happen to good people they clear their pending past birth karma and also it brings out the best in them so that wonders happen
Let us pause for a moment and ponder upon the selfless sacrifice and surrender of that incomparable couple, Vasudeva and Devaki, on this most auspicious occasion of Shri Krishna Janmashtami.
The writer is a spiritual guru at International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)