Krishna Janmashtami

Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Krishna, is the most auspicious day on which Lord Krishna appeared in this world to please his devotees and annihilate the demons. Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm in India in the month of July or August. According to the Hindu calendar this religious festival is celebrated on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanthi.

Lord Krishna

According to Sanatan Dharma, Lord Vishnu (Krishna) is the purest eternal liberator of mankind and an important deity. Lord Krishna is a great philosopher whose knowledge of Gita is a guide to all mankind. Lord Krishna is praised all over India in some form or another. Shri Krishna is the source of “Bhagwat Dharma”.

Sri Krishna is considered as the one of the most powerful human incarnations of the Lord Vishnu. He was born around 5,200 years ago in Mathura. The sole objective of Sri Krishna’s birth was to free the Earth from the evilness of demons. He played an important role in Mahabharata and propagated the theory of bhakti and good karma which are narrated deeply in the BhagwadGeeta.

Lord Krishna is easily recognized by His representations. Krishna is usually shown with blue skin. He is often shown with a flute, wearing a yellow silk Dhoti and peacock feather crown. Tribhangi Mudra is the most popular pose of Lord Krishna in which He stands with one leg bent in front of the other and raises a flute to His lip in a relaxed pose.

Lord Krishna never married His childhood lover Radha but He is pictured with Radha in most of the paintings. It was Rukmini who was the legitimate wife of Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna was born in Mathura and raised in Gokul. Lord Krishna spent his childhood days with Radha and other Gopis in Vrindavan which is the site of an ancient forest.

Krishna’s Birth Calculation

Indian as well as Western scholars have now accepted the period between 3200 and 3100 BC as the period in which Lord Krishna lived on earth.

As per the scriptures, Lord Krishna was born around midnight. That night was the eight phase of the moon known as Ashtami Tithi. The moon was near Vrshabha, the bull, i.e the Taurus constellation that houses the star Rohini. The star Rohini is known as Aldeberan in modern astronomy. The month was Shravana, one of the 12 months in the Indian calendar.

Krishna Janmashtami also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti or sometimes merely as Janmashtami, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

Lord Krishna was born during Dvapara Yuga out of four cyclic Yugas described in Hindu scriptures. Based on scripture details and astrological calculations the date of Krishna’s birth is 18th July 3228 BCE and date of Krishna’s death, when Lord Krishna returned to His eternal abode of Vaikuntha, is 18th February 3102 BCE. The present Yuga which is known as Kali Yuga started after the death of Lord Krishna.

Time of Lord Krishna’s Birth- 18th July 3228 BCE

Krishna Death – 18th February 3102 BCE (the start of Kali Yuga)

According to above time lines Lord Krishna lived for 126 years and 5 months. If we had Gregorian calendar at the time of Lord Krishna’s birth it would had been 23rd June -3227 on Gregorian calendar. Panchang data shows that on 18th July 3228 BCE during Nishita or Hindu midnight both Ashtami Tithi and Rohini Nakshatra were prevailing. These details are clearly mentioned in the 10thSkanda, 3rd chapter of the Bhagavata Purana. The relevant sloka is, Shravana vada ashtami, Rohini Nakshtra, uditam Lagnam.

This detail combined with details of sky configurations for events that happened around Krishna’s lifetimes, namely the Mahabharata, leads us to the exact birth date for Krishna.
Such a search leads us to 27th July, 3112 BCE as Krishna’s date of birth in the Gregorian calendar.

In Indian tradition, Krishna’s birth is also called as “Sri Jayanthi“. The word “Jayanthi” has an interesting connotation in Indian Astronomy. Indian astronomers have accorded special names to lunar phases occurring at certain stars.

The phase of the moon occurring at Rohini star is called Jayanthi.
Hence, Krishna’s birth which happened when the moon was at Rohini star is called Sri Jayanthi.
Jayanthi also means celebrations and the word have thus come to be used to indicate birthday celebrations. Thus, the word “Jayanthi, over time, became popular because of association with Krishna.

Every year, for millennia, Indians have been celebrating Krishna’s birthday in the Shravana month, on Rohini Nakshatra, Krishna Paksha Ashtami (8th phase of the waning moon) based on these details in scriptures.

In 2014 Krishna Janmashtami is on 17th August.

Not only from Archaeoastronomy, but also from a holistic analysis of data across various disciplines, today we can conclude that Lord Krishna was born in 3112 BCE.

So, this year, 2014 CE, makes it the 5126th year since His birth, Sri Jayanthi. Let us celebrate this 5126th birthday of Lord Krishna, keeping in mind that India’s most beloved Divinity was indeed also a historical figure who had walked this planet about 5000 years ago.

3112 BCE-2014 CE = 5126 Years

 

Legend

The birth of Krishna is in itself a transcendental phenomenon that generates awe among the Hindus and overwhelms one and all with its supra mundane happenings.

Mother Earth, unable to bear the burden of sins committed by evil kings and rulers, appealed to Brahma, the Creator for help. Brahma prayed to the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who assured him that he would soon be born on earth to annihilate tyrannical forces.

One such evil force was Kamsa, the ruler of Mathura (in northern India) and his people were utterly terrified of him. On the day Kamsa’s sister Devaki was married off to Vasudeva, an akashvani or voice from the sky was heard prophesying that Devaki’s 8th son would be the destroyer of Kamsa. The frightened Kamsa immediately unsheathed his sword to kill his sister but Vasudeva intervened and implored Kamsa to spare his bride, and promised to hand over every new born child to him. Kamsa relented but imprisoned both Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.

When Devaki gave birth to her first child, Kamsa came to the prison cell and slaughtered the new-born. In this way, he killed the first six sons of Devaki. Even before her 8th child was born, Devaki and Vasudeva started lamenting its fate and theirs. Then suddenly Lord Vishnu appeared before them and said he himself was coming to rescue them and the people of Mathura. He asked Vasudeva to carry him to the house of his friend, the cowherd chief Nanda in Gokula right after his birth, where Nanda’s wife Yashoda had given birth to a daughter.

He was to exchange his boy and bring Yashoda’s baby daughter back to the prison. Vishnu assured them that “nothing shall bar your path”.

At midnight on ashtami, the divine baby was born in Kamsa’s prison. Remembering the divine instructions, Vasudeva clasped the child to his bosom and started for Gokula, but found that his legs were in chains. He jerked his legs and was unfettered! The massive iron-barred doors unlocked and opened up.

While crossing river Yamuna, Vasudeva held his baby high over his head. The rain fell in torrents and the river was in spate. But the water made way for Vasudeva and miraculously a five-mouthed snake followed him from behind and provided shelter over the baby.

When Vasudeva reached Gokula, he found the door of Nanda’s house open. He exchanged the babies and hurried back to the prison of Kamsa with the baby girl. Early in the morning, all the people at Gokula rejoiced the birth of Nanda’s beautiful male child. Vasudeva came back to Mathura and as he entered, the doors of the prison closed themselves.

When Kamsa came to know about the birth, he rushed inside the prison and tried to kill the baby. But this times it skipped from his hand and reaching the sky. She was transformed into the goddess Yogamaya, who told Kamsa: “O foolish! What will you get by killing me? Your nemesis is already born somewhere else.”

In his youth Krishna killed Kamsa along with all his cruel associates, liberated his parents from prison, and reinstated Ugrasen as the King of Mathura. However, till today, Lord Krishna is known as ‘Mathuradhish’– the Lord of Mathura. The famous temple of Krishna in Mathura is the live witness of this fact where his devotees come and offer prayers as if he was the King of Mathura!

Celebrations

To celebrate Krishna Janmashtami, devotees observe fasting early on and continue fasting till the auspicious time of baby Krishna’s birth arrives. Then they bathe the infant Krishna and adorn him with new clothes and jewellery, and rock him in a cradle. This is followed by ritualistic ‘puja’, ‘aarti’ and a whole repertoire of devotional songs and dance performances. Janmashtami ‘prasad’-“Panjari” & “Kheer” is offered to the idol of baby Krishna and devotees break their fast after partaking of this holy food.

“Aarti Kunj Bihari Ki” is one the most famous Aartis of Lord Krishna, which is recited with much fanfare on Krishna Janmashtami.

Bihari is one of the thousand names of Lord Krishna and Kunj refers to lush green groves of Vrindavan. Kunj Bihari means the one who roams in greenery of Vrindavan, the supreme Lord Krishna.

Janmashtami celebration in Vrindavan

 

Vrindavan and Mathura is the stronghold of Janmashtami celebration. In Vrindavan, which is home to Banke Bihari Temple, huge elaborate preparations are made including lighting and decoration. ISKCON temple, dedicated to Krishna consciousness sees large-scale participation of devotees. Apart from the devotional songs and mantras, ‘Raasleela’ is performed by several professional artists. Vrindavan sees huge gatherings of devotees from all across the country. There is no limitation to the number of plays and skits being staged in Shri Krishna Janmashtami programs.

Janmashtami celebration in in Mathura

Among Janmashtami celebration, Mathura is credited for its various unique ceremonies. Here celebration is for two days. On 17th August they celebrate birth of Krishna around mid-night. Then the infant Krishna is bathed and rocked, a prasad of ‘Chhappan Bhog’, a platter of fifty-six dishes is offered and is later given out for distribution. The whole city takes on a jewelled look as plenty of flower decoration and lighting is done in both temples and houses on Shri Krishna Janmashtami. ‘Jhanki’ is another traditional art form that focuses on bringing out pastoral and childhood scenes from the life of Krishna. On Janmashtami, several jhankis are put up, such as ‘janmlila’. ‘Ghattas’ is another unique feature wherein all the temples in Mathura are adorned with the same colour including the idol of Krishna for a month.

It will be a Holi-type celebration in Gokul on 18th August, next day of Janmashtami when people drench each other in a mixture of curd and turmeric.

Celebration takes place grandly in famous Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir temple located in the middle of the city Mathura, is a prison cell belonging to Kamsa, popularly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where lord Krishna was born. Janmashtami celebrations begin during mid-night with the birth of Krishna.

Krishna Janmasthan, or Kesava Deo Temple is a temple in Mathura, built over the prison which was believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Kehsav Dev (Krishna) is the deity of this temple. According to traditions the original deity was installed by Bajranabh, who was great-grandson of Krishna. It celebrates festivals as “lathamar
holi“, “chhappan bhog“, “Krishna Janmashtami” with cheerfully.

Janmashtami celebration in Dwarka

In Dwarka, the kingdom founded by Lord Krishna, the day starts on a zesty note, with ‘dahihandi’ custom being followed with full vigour and participation as it is brought to a nail-biting finish. While an army of people join in to create the pyramid to break the earthen pot, the group forming the pyramid is challenged with a constant gush of water. Crowds wait with bated breath as to how the buttermilk pot will be broken

Dahi Handi on 18th August 2014

Dahi Handi is a famous sportive event organized in the cities of Maharashtra and Goa. Dahi Handi is celebrated on the next day of Krishna Janmashtami. Krishna Janmashtami is also famous as Gokulashtami. Dahi translates to the curd and Handi translates to earthen pot used to process and keep the milk products. Dahi Handi celebration is also known as Gopalakala in Maharashtra.

Dahi Handi celebration commemorates the way of living of Lord Krishna. In His childhood, young Krishna was very fond of the curd and the butter. While growing up the fondness of curd and the butter increased and young Krishna became notorious for stealing it.

When Krishna and His troop started eyeing neighbourhood homes to quench their thirst for milk products, female folks in the entire neighborhood became cautious and started hanging milk products from the ceiling like a chandelier. The idea was to take advantage of short height of young Krishna and His troop and keep Dahi Handis out of reach of small hands.

To defeat the idea of female cowherds, Krishna devised the idea of forming human pyramid. Human pyramid was used as the ladder to climb up and reach the Handi. Since then it has become part of Indian folklore. Every year during Janmashtami this event from the life of Lord Krishna is played by the young troop of boys.

To make the task challenging Handi is kept at several floors high at the open ground or at the street crossing. Dahi Handi could be up to several floors high in the sky. Women folks who represent female cowherds from the tale of Lord Krishna thwart any attempts to create human pyramid by throwing the water or some slippery liquid on the pyramid formation.

In Mumbai Dahi Handi is getting emerged as a competitive sport. Hundreds of team participates every year in the event. Famous celebrities are invited to promote the event. In recent years the prize money has reached to one crore which is equivalent to 10 million of Indian Rupees.

With time the whole event has its own slogan “Govinda Aala Re!”

Krishna is the most adorable, mischievous son, the most romantic lover, the most compassionate friend. And on Janmashtami, devotees celebrate Krishna in all of these aspects. For just as Krishna reciprocates individually with His relatives and confidantes, he responds to the distinct feelings and desires held most deeply in the heart of every single worshipper.

So remember that whatever way you worship Krishna on Janmashtami, He will reciprocate with you accordingly. It’s a meditation that makes for an extremely rewarding devotional experience.


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