The Tree of knowledge
Sri Krishna: The Upanishad man Aug
Sri Krishna Jayanti or Sri Krishna Janmashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna. It is also referred as Gokulashtami or Krishnaashtami or Sri Jayanti.
Sri Krishna Jayanti festival is not celebrated on the same day in all parts of India and this is due to the various regional calendars and the various calculations with respect to the time of the birth of Krishna. In 2011, Sri Krishna Jayanti is marked on August 21 in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and in some parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. In North India, it is marked on August 22. The Smarta Tradition observes the festival on August 21 and the Vaishnava Tradition on August 22.The true significance of Sri Krishna is that he is relevant in the present and even more relevant for the future.
A twenty-four hour fast is observed on Sri Krishna Jayanti and this is broken at midnight. The most important mantra recited on the day is ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.’ Temples and Hindu spiritual organisations conduct special bhjans and kirtan sessions. Processions with children dressed as Sri Krishna, Radha and Gopis are held on the occasion. Stories of Krishna are enacted on the day. In a 24-hour time span, we remember Sri Krishna superficially and quite often forget his true teachings.
The significance of Sri Krishna is that he used his life to explain to us the great teachings in the Upanishads. In a true sense, he is the Upanishad man. He lived in the moment. He was not an escapist from life. He accepted life in its entirety. He made life a celebration. He was the ever-smiling god and that smile continues to conquer millions of hearts. Throughout his life there was music and just before getting killed by the hunter’s bow he was playing the flute. Music and that immortal smile were present in his death. But what have we done to Lord Krishna? We are unable to accept him in his entirety, so we have compartmentalized Krishna. Some worship and like the young Sri Krishna, some like the Krishna with Radha, some like the Krishna who is delivering the Bhagavad Gita. This is because we are not used to a God who plays prank, dances, plays flute and solves the mysteries of life.
For many God is a commander, one who grants boons, one who automatically solves problems in life but Sri Krishna will never automatically solve your problems. This he demonstrated in the Kurukshetra while delivering the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna never took up arms but instead gave the right direction to Arjuna. In Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna was trying to make us understand the foolishness in expecting someone above (god) to deliver the goods. We have to perform the actions and each action will have a fruit. Sri Krishna is full of life. He showed us the way to live in modern society. He showed us the concept of Brahman – that life is a continuity. He taught us to remain detached and neutral. Live in the moment and life will be a celebration.
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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Janamashtami
Janamashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Ashtami is significant as it indicates a perfect balance between the seen and the unseen aspects of reality; the visible material world and the invisible spiritual realm. Krishna’s birth on Ashtami signifies his mastery of both the spiritual and material worlds. He is a great teacher and a spiritual inspiration as well as the consummate politician. On one hand, he is Yogeshwara (the Lord of Yogas — the state to which every yogi aspires) while on the other, he is a mischievous thief.
The unique quality of Krishna is that he is at once more pious than the saints and yet a thorough mischief-monger! His behaviour is a perfect balance of the extremes — perhaps this is why the personality of Krishna is so difficult to fathom. The avdhoot is oblivious to the world outside and a materialistic person, a politician or a king is oblivious to the spiritual world. But Krishna is both Dwarkadheesh and Yogeshwar.
Krishna’s teachings are most relevant to our times in the sense that they neither let you get lost in material pursuits nor make you completely withdrawn. They rekindle your life, from being a burnt-out and stressed personality to a more centred and dynamic one. Krishna teaches us devotion with skill. To celebrate Gokulashtami is to imbibe extremely opposite yet compatible qualities and manifest them in your own life.
Hence the most authentic way of celebrating Janamashtami is knowing that you have to play a dual role — of being a responsible human being on the planet and at the same time to realize that you are above all events, the untouched Brahman. Imbibing a bit of avadhoot and a bit of activism in your life is the real significance of celebrating Janamashtami.
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Sathya Sai Baba on Janamashtami
Today we celebrate Krishna’s birthday. Where was he born? In a prison. What were his possessions? Nothing. Born in a prison, he was taken to the house of Nanda, and then he went to Mathura. He owned nothing. But he became the greatest figure in the world. What does this show? Worldly possessions are not the secret of greatness. Krishna’s greatness consisted in His permanent state of bliss (ananda). If you recognise the distinction between Krishna and Rama, you will appreciate Krishna’s nature better. Krishna always smiled at the outset and carried out his task later. For Rama, the deed came first and then the smile. Krishna made women cry. Rama wept for the sake of women. Rama went into the battle only after having a strong cause for it. Krishna first provoked the conflict and then determined its outcome. The Krishna principle revels in delight. The Rama principle is based on the concept of obligation (baadhyatha).
The Ramayana is intended to promote the reign of truth and righteousness on earth. The Krishna Avatar was intended to give a perennial message to the world. He sought nothing for himself. He kept nothing for himself. He gave away everything to the people. He slayed his maternal uncle, Kamsa. He installed Kamsa’s father, Ugrasena, on the throne. He did not covet the kingdom. He befriended the Pandavas, defeated the Kauravas, and crowned Dharmaja as the emperor. He did not make himself king. He was a king without a crown. He was the king of kings. He had no kingdom of his own. But he ruled over the hearts of the millions. It is this profound truth that is proclaimed by the Krishna principle (Krishna thathva). If you enquire deeply, you will find that every Avatar has incarnated to convey a special message and carry out a particular mission
“The Avatar behaves in a human way so that mankind can feel kinship, but He rises to super-human heights so that mankind can aspire to those heights.”
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