The birthday of
Bhagwan Krishna is on the eighth day of the dark-fortnight of the lunar month of
Bhadra. Some sources record this as his
5,236th birthday. Others add a few thousand years. Either way, this places
in the time of the Dvapara Yuga, the second of the four yugas in Hindu
cosmological reckoning of time.
Krishna's birth is full of miracles and intrigue. He was
born inside a prison cell in the Indian city of
to the imprisoned mother Devaki and father Vasudeva of the Yadava clan.
Vasudeva hid the newborn
in a basket and stealthily carried him out of the prison and across the
miraculously parted turbulent waters of the river Yamuna. He left him in the
care of the cowherd Nanda and his wife Yasoda (Jasoda). Vasudeva did it to save
the child from death at the hands of Kansa, the brother of Devaki and the then
Kansa had the routine
of killing each of his sister's sons because his death was foretold to occur at
the hands of Devaki's eighth son. Not taking any chances, Kansa imprisoned his
sister and Vasudeva so none of their children would escape his wrath. Vasudeva
was able to save
only because at the time of his birth, miraculously, the guards lay asleep and
the prison doors flung open.
Living with Nanda and
, along with other cowboys and cowgirls (gopis), tended cows and enjoyed a happy
and normal development. Tales of those childhood and youthful days are replete
with his pranks, transgressions and miracles in the company of various gopis.
This part of his life story is affectionately described as
baala leela and the young
is described as Baala Gopaala.
seemed to have lived in a relatively liberated society that allowed gender
equality at work and play. We need to cherish that heritage: a Glorious India
long before Gloria Steinem.
played and enjoyed life's pleasures to the fullest and gathered a few consorts.
He became a friend and teacher of Arjuna, the warrior-prince of the Pandu clan.
's message of the Bhagavat Gita was delivered to Arjuna in the battlefield.
helped his friends in need, and once rescued the Pandu princess Draupadi from
the atrocities of the Kuru clan. He acted as wise counsel during times of war
and peace. Much later, when Kansa was eventually killed, the revengeful
father-in-law of Kansa invaded
to drive Yadavas and
out, and thus the
was established in Dwarka on the western coast of
thus lived a life of a very complex personality. Since historic
was born, lived, fought, enjoyed life, and finally died as a human, he is an
example to emulate- an Avatar come to this earth.
was recognized as the Avatar of Vishnu. In the Avatar story, the esoteric
is the eternal Atman, Arjuna the individual Jiva inside the body represented by
Arjuna's chariot (used in the Mahabharata). Arjuna is the individual that has to
face the daily battle between good and evil and needs the message of the
Bhagavat Gita. Thus each soul has to surrender to the eternal Atman for guidance
and direction although we are responsible for our own Karma.
This much expanded
personality has allowed Hindus a versatile icon of Krishna for Bhakti that is
worthy of adoration in the form of an innocent venerated child, a friend, a
lover playing raasa leela with gopis, or mentor; and a vehicle to attain the
state of Vishnu. Thus we get the Krishna of Mirabai, or the bala gopala for a
mother's adoration. A poignant example is presented in this line from a Kashmiri
leela, "Jasada Nandagooris koon chhi wanan, wanan chhi Radha Krishan
au." Which translated is,"Yasoda, longing to meet
, tells Nanda that
and his consort Radha are rumored to have arrived". This is supplication
to and arriving into the state of Vishnu through Krishna Baala Gopala as
expressed through a mother's longing.
Just to add to the
complexity of the Avatar story, the number of
's consorts increases and equals the number 16,108--or roughly the number of
breaths we take in a 24 hour period.
's birthday is celebrated on the 7th of Bhadra, since that precedes the
was born. This is why we have Zanama Satam, which is actually called Zarama
Satam, and not Janam Ashtami. The day is celebrated with a fast during which one
is allowed to drink water, tea, coffee, milk, and fried dumplings made from
water-chestnut flour. After moon rise, the fast concludes with a meal of fruit
and halwa. May this year's moon rise bring rich blessings from
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